The Analogy Applies to Our Memories

Updated June 26, 2022

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On the other hand, at some point family and friends may no longer want to hear about the event or about your feelings, and they may expect you to “get over” it. At this point, it may be useful to find someone else to talk to, including a professional“ (SFDPH Pg. 4). This quote shows how talking to family, friends, or even a professional is beneficial to the victim. Talking about the event is an excellent coping mechanism. A great example of why it’s good to talk is written by David Trickey, “Imagine a well-organised wardrobe; each item is put away carefully with other similar items. When you need something, you know where to find it. You can take it out and wear it, and when you’ve finished using it you can wash it, occasionally iron it, and put it back in its place. There is a place for everything, and everything usually stays put.

This means that you can close the doors and get on with life” (Trickey Pg. 3). This analogy relates to our memories. Trickey explains further by stating, “Our memories for normal events work in a similar way. Each memory is stored alongside other similar memories. When we want to remember an event, we can recall it by bringing the memory to mind, and when we’ve finished with it, we can put the memory back. The memories usually stay put, which means that we can ‘close the doors’ and get on with other aspects of life” (Trickey Pg. 3). The first part of this analogy explains the normal process of memory storing. The author goes on to explain how trauma is stored. “If someone throws you a duvet full of stinging nettles and shouts, “Put it away – quick!” it would hurt to touch and so you might shove it away quickly and try to close the door. But, because it is not put away neatly, the doors would not close – you would have to hold them closed so you can try to get on with other things.

But, when you turn your back, the duvet would fall out, stinging you again” (Trickey Pg. 3). This is now an analogy for a person attempting to story a traumatic memory. Trickey goes on to explain the analogy. “Traumatic memories are like the duvet – painful to handle – and so we try to avoid them. We ‘shove them away’ rather than think them through. This means that they are not stored in the same way as other memories, so they fall into our minds when we don’t want them to. Avoiding them may work for a while, but often they intrude into consciousness again, just as we begin to relax. We need to take the duvet out – which might sting a bit – and we might need to get someone to help us.

We need to fold it up, make room by moving some of the other things in the wardrobe, and we need to place it carefully on the shelf. This will ensure that the duvet stays put. In much the same way, traumatic memories need to be processed. Sometimes this is best done with help from someone else (e.g. social support or therapy). We might need to adjust our view of the world a bit, but thinking the memory through enables the memory to be processed and stored with other memories so that it stays put” (Trickey Pg. 3). The author is simply saying that traumatic memories are usually more difficult to store away than normal memories. They eat away at the person’s mind until they seek help. Talking to family, friends, or a therapist is one of the best ways to conquer the trauma someone has been faced with. But what causes trauma?

Trauma is generated by any sort of deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Anyone of any age can develop a traumatic disorder. This can be further explained here, “Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans as well as survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, car accidents, disasters, terror attacks, or other serious events. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden or unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD” (U.S. Department of Health Pg. 4). Anyone that has experienced trauma of any kind could develop PTSD. There are other types of traumatic events that can influence a person to develop a disorder, such as domestic violence, early childhood trauma, medical trauma, natural disasters, neglect, physical abuse, refugee and war zone trauma, sexual abuse, terrorism, traumatic grief, community and school violence. Many conditions and the way a person is treated contributes to one’s mental health in the realm of traumatic disorders.

There are an immense amount of effects that result from trauma on one’s mental and physical health. Many different diseases can develop because of trauma. According to The Center for Health Care Strategies Inc., ”Multiple studies, including the original ACEs study and the Philadelphia Urban ACEs study, have linked childhood trauma with lifelong health problems, including: Chronic lung and heart diseases; Liver disease, viral hepatitis, and liver cancer; Autoimmune diseases; Sexually transmitted infections; and Depression and other mental health conditions” (Pg. 2). This shows how any health related issues can occur because of trauma. Mental issues can develop as well, such as depression and PTSD. In an article written by The Mental Health Organization the author states, “People experiencing PTSD can feel anxious for years after the trauma, whether or not they were physically injured….Depression is different from feeling down or sad. Someone experiencing depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away” (Pg 3). These articles show the many health related issues that come with the experiences of trauma.

Many people feel as if there is a better treatment or better alternatives to approaching victims of trauma rather than having the person talk about it. One example of this Art Therapy. For some people this may work. According to an article written by The American Art Therapy Association, the author states, “Art Therapy provides therapeutic, healing benefits for patients in hospitals and other medical settings, and is used with greater frequency to significantly reduce a broad spectrum of symptoms related to pain, anxiety, and discomfort. Art Therapy helps individuals cope with complex health-related issues, lifestyle transition, grief, expression and communication, and more” (Pg.1).

This article shows the healing benefits of art therapy on its patients, but unfortunately not everyone is artistically inclined and can find drawing and painting difficult and frustrating. Another alternative to talking about trauma is simply laughter. Laughter helps heal people like a type of therapy. In a theoretical essay written by JongEun Yim it is stated, “Laughter therapy is a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapies that could make physical, psychological, and social relationships healthy, ultimately improving the quality of life. Laughter therapy, as a non-pharmacological, alternative treatment, has a positive effect on the mental health and the immune system. In addition, laughter therapy does not require specialized preparations, such as suitable facilities and equipment, and it is easily accessible and acceptable” (pg. 1). This shows the outcome of laughter on one’s physical and mental health. Although, this may not be the case for every patient. This may not work for everyone, some people may have no sense of humor which would make them incapable of laughter.

In completion, talking about trauma, whether to a family member, friend or therapist, makes it less traumatizing for the person. There are many different types of treatments for trauma related diseases. Overall none of the other treatments compare to simple therapy.

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