Have you ever felt like Kevin in Home Alone? This image personifies what shock looks like. As we awaken to our lives we are often confronted with residual psychological debris and traumas that keep us from living in the present moment. In the book, Overcoming Shock there is a distinction made between trauma and shock- 'trauma is recorded psychologically and shock is recorded physiologically.' When stress triggers a memory or an experience we can suffer from recurring shock. Perhaps you notice yourself in any of these scenarios listed below:
Have you ever felt disoriented after the death of a loved one? Have you ever been disconnected and can't remember moving through significant life events? Have your children ever used drugs? Did a relationship suddenly end? Do you keep repeating the same destructive patterns in your life to no avail?
Diane and David, have dedicated their life to this very real physiological event that happens to each and everyone of us. In their book, Overcoming Shock, they identify shock as, "A physiological response to any distress that seems intolerable and in which a person feels intensely helpless. It is the body saying, I can't deal with this right now; I need a moment to collect myself." They go on to further identify shock is "our built in system for handling stress."
There are two types of shock that one might experience in moments of stress- a sympathetic response or the parasympathetic response. Here are some highlights to distinguish the two.
Sympathetic Shock: (The Fight of Flight Response)
1. An upsurge in emotion
2. Emotions that may be experienced- anger, fear, excitement, desire, hatred
3. People who experience sympathetic shock are often involved in frantic, constant movement, talking quickly with run-on sentences and no opening for anyone else.
4. Compulsive spending, shopping, and working.
5. Other nervous habits can include-insomnia, smoking, frequent accidents, or the need to control.
6. Physical symptoms may manifest as- ulcers, allergies, gastrointestinal distress and hypertension.
Parasympathetic Shock: (Freeze Response)
1. Described as 'coming down'
2. Human emotions include- disappointment, grief, shame, guilt, despair, or in a positive sense, contentment, peacefulness or satisfaction.
3. Laughter and tears are often both a sign of parasympathetic shock as they both reduce tension.
4. Learned helplessness is the persistence of the non-discharged freeze response.
5. An excessive parasympathetic brach leads to an increase in energy conservation which in turn decreases the heart rate and respiration and a sense of 'numbness' and 'shutting down' within the body.
This post hardly scratches the surface of shock, but it is my hope that it inspires you to further research how shock has been personified in your life. Perhaps your curiosity will be peaked? The research by David and Diane helps to explore the lifelong effects of shock. Untreated shock trickles into your relationships, into your intimate moments with lovers, into your addictions, into your ability to communicate, and the list goes on and on.
I hope that this post inspires you to gather up more resources for your journey! I will be posting more of their research in an attempt to ignite a new awareness among the readers of Sweetly Seeking.
May You Sweetly Seek:)
*The information contained within this post was taken directly from the book, Overcoming Shock by David Hartman and Diane Zimberoff.