Repressed emotions during childhood or having lived through a traumatic situation can lead to chronic stress that exhausts us. Acting on these factors will help us take control of our life.
Releasing repressed emotions can unblock situations of chronic stress, which make us sick and exhausted, and enable us to manage our lives again. The origin may be in a lack of affective communication in childhood or a lived trauma.
As explained by Hans Selye, a pioneering physician in research on this topic, “a person is under stress when the accumulated dose exceeds its optimal adaptation threshold and the body begins to show signs of exhaustion.”
The date of appearance of this adaptation fatigue is variable, and depends both on the psychological profile of the person and on the amount and frequency of the adaptations experienced.
To differentiate the positive level of activation that every person needs to function (stress) from that which becomes pathological depending on the rhythm, history and particularities of each person, he called the latter distress.
Distress is not generated by wear and tear as a result of an accumulation of circumstances that cannot be dealt with in a harmonic and rhythmic way, but by a specific traumatic impact.
For example, a traffic accident, a robbery or a war experience, or by a situation that generates fear and impotence and persists for a time, as in the case of school bullying or child sexual abuse.
The impossibility of acting in the face of this dynamic of violence sets in motion the “action inhibition system” described by the French neurophysiologist Henry Laborit and provokes a biosystemic reaction of such a nature that, in the medium or long term, according to Laborit, “if it is not avoided, it leads to a depletion of the organism in its entirety, producing the so-called diseases of civilization: depression, ulcers, hypertension, autoimmune diseases and even cancer ”.
SUPPRESSED EMOTIONS THAT MAKE US SICK
Marta wanted to do psychotherapy because her doctor had ruled that the alterations in her blood tests and the emotional suffering, she suffered were due to the fact that she was “stressed.” She had just turned 38 years old, she lived with her husband and her two daughters, and for a few months she had felt more and more fatigued, irritated, helpless.
He suffered from episodes of rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, and dizziness. She slept badly, restlessly and with nightmares, and her sexual desire was almost gone. In a short time, he had tripled his tobacco use.
During the initial evaluation, we verified the existence of factors that could be influencing his situation (the so-called stressors): the death of his mother four months ago after prolonged suffering; the restructuring in his company, which predicted a considerable reduction in his salary and, perhaps, dismissal; and having to face alone the care of her daughters, aged twelve and eight, since her husband traveled frequently because of his new job.
In Marta’s case, it should be noted that she had a very marked way of internalizing reality and conflicts, determined by her masochistic character trait. Her tendency to complain, her attitude of victimhood and resignation in the face of vital situations that made her feel inferior to others, was a chronic characteristic of her personality, which was exacerbated to the point of influencing this distress process.
After carrying out an analysis of this characteristic attitude, the use of neuromuscular tools to channel her repressed emotions fear and anger, relax her deep muscles and modulate her breathing, which allowed Marta to improve in a few months. She felt happy, confident, serene, motivated and able to manage her daily life again.
TRAUMA AS A SOURCE OF STRESS
Juan was twenty-eight years old, and before coming to our center he had undergone various psychopharmacological and psychological treatments to try to alleviate the depression that had been diagnosed at the age of fourteen: unable to carry out any activity, he had shut himself up at home, refusing to go to school.
This episode subsided, but it was repeated shortly after arriving at the institute, when he left his studies permanently and returned to spend most of the time at home, an attitude that had been maintained, to a greater or lesser extent, until a few months ago.
Although he accused the bullying that he had experienced in the form of mockery, insults and marginalization, his defense mechanisms had made him forget the sexual abuse and humiliation to which he was repeatedly subjected by a group of classmates for years until one day, at last, she had had the courage to refuse to go to class.
During Juan’s psychotherapeutic process, we used psycho-corporeal and “deprogramming” techniques that are currently used in the so-called trauma therapies, as well as in the character-analytic vegetable therapy developed by the Viennese psychoanalyst and neurosychiatrist Wilhelm Reich around 1940.
Once the clinical process began, as soon as we detected in its initial evaluation that the depression and phobic attitudes that it suffered could be a consequence of a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those memories and their consequent emotions gradually surfaced when using the therapeutic tools in an environment of acceptance and empathy.
In a few months he began to improve and he was already able to gradually approach a social and professional activity, thus removing the ghost of his announced psychopathological chronicity.
CONNECT WITH LIFE TO OVERCOME DISTRESS
The outcome of Juan’s story clearly shows us that, if the pertinent preventive and psychosocial intervention measures had been known and taken during childhood and adolescence, all those years of suffering could have been avoided.
They would also have been very effective in Marta’s case, since they would have managed to halt the progressive development of a masochistic character trait, a trait that is always linked to compulsive upbringing and family relationships where direct affection and emotional communication are scarce.
In short, the prevention of distress involves recovering ecological and humanized relationships with the baby and child, both in the family and in education.
Pleasure and joy are the fundamental tools to regulate stress and overcome distress. Two emotions that have permeated our lives from the first years.
- Enjoy the road. Develop creative and playful activities from childhood where motivation, joy and the functional rhythm with which they are carried out prevail over the objective to be achieved.
- Become aware of the life cycle in the dynamics of all those daily activities that facilitate both assimilation or loading (nutrition, rest, study, affections, meditation) and expansion or discharge (creative work, body and emotional expression, peristaltic routine, sexuality).
- Collaborate with others. Frequenting groups based on cooperation, solidarity and mutual support among equals is of great help to overcome the feeling of helplessness and the attitude of vital resignation, the emotional basis of psychological and organic depressions.
- Take care of confidence. It is important to maintain an open stream of emotional communication with the youngest in a climate of trust that invites them to naturally transmit their conflicts or fears to us.