Table of Contents
Identity Loss © Martyn Carruthers
Do you sometimes feel lost in life?
Have you lost contact with your feelings and feel intellectual but empty?
If I ask you how you feel – will you say, “Not bad”?
Do you not-feel? Do you habitually hide your feelings?
Have you been discouraged from showing or discussing your emotions?
Some people hide their feelings so often that they appear dissociated. They may look normal and be intelligent, yet appear cold and shallow. If this is what they want – no problem – it is a useful state for police, military or emergency workers.
Dissociated people often say that they feel empty or hollow – but under the emptiness are usually layers of anger, fear, sadness and guilt – often compounded by self-sabotage, beliefs about unworthiness and an inability to feel good.
Probing this emptiness can disturb people who distrust their feelings – feelings that they may call irrational, bad or stupid. If something triggers these feelings, such people may crave drugs or distractions to lessen their discomfort – or just to feel something nice.
Emotional control is often like a volume control on a radio.
If you lower the intensity of one emotion – you lower the intensity of all emotions.
We help people befriend their emotions. We assist people to pull themselves together and remember who they are. We are careful when we help dissociated people as this often means exploring hidden feelings and exposing mostly-forgotten memories. We help people to feel better, think more clearly and be friendly to their own emotions.
Identity Loss, Dissociation & Dissociative Disorders
If you punish children for expressing their anger, sadness, anxiety or even fun, they learn to hide their feelings. Later, as teenagers or adults, when these hidden emotions are triggered – their reactions may seem exaggerated or even explosive. This expression of buried emotions is often called emotional disorders, personality disorders, complexes or psychosomatic symptoms, etc.
After five years of marriage, I hoped that one of us would get sick and die. I felt like an
empty shell. When my mother asked about my marriage, I just walked away. I was not
missing in action – I was dead on arrival! Nearly everything I used to be – was gone!
If your emotions remain dissociated, your loss of personal identity may impair your relationships (except, perhaps, with other dissociated people), inhibit your creativity, limit your intuition and decrease your flexibility. Dissociative disorders often refer to people who have hidden or forgotten unpleasant emotions associated with trauma or abuse. Then they often forget that they have forgotten them.
Few dissociated people can define their goals. Even endless encouragement may not help. The best goals they can state may be negative, abstract or conflicted, often stated as complaints, e.g. “I don’t want to feel so empty all of the time!”
[Include some psychobiology of cerebral cortex – hind-brain communication].
Can you enjoy your emotions?
Identity Loss refers to an inability to access and express qualities that are central
to a sense of self and a sense of life. This loss often manifests as chronic
dissociation or inappropriate emotions, obsessions and compulsions.
My definition of abuse includes acts that cause people to fragment their minds and “split-off parts” of themselves. Following abuse or therapy damage, people may lose access to some of their human qualities. Instead, they feel negative emotions, compulsive behaviors and emptiness.
I felt hollow, like I was disappearing. The only thing that gave me comfort was sleep.
I wanted me back. Nothing gave me real pleasure. I just wanted to sleep and cry …
During our sessions, I started coming back. Miami
Severe identity loss may be called an emotional or nervous breakdown. Did you feel angry and anxious, and then dull and empty, and now irritated and bored? Have you replaced a vibrant sense of life with a search for distractions?
I used to be full of life and had lots of energy, but since my divorce I feel empty …
I am 41 … I am diagnosed with chronic fatigue … but it’s more like a huge
part of me is missing. All I do is read and watch television. Leeds, UK
After three sessions I started feeling strange, and after a few more sessions
my crazy emotions started making sense. Now I can check how I feel about
things again – and I am starting to feel motivated! Leeds, UK
Do you want to manage or change issues such as:
- Little sense of self
- Cannot describe feelings
- Cannot say what is important
- Often nervous, anxious and shy
- Feel unpleasantly bonded to someone, yet cannot leave?
- Shows obsessions, compulsions and strong limiting beliefs?
- Goals swing between extremes (may be diagnosed as bipolar)
- Tries to live someone else’s life, showing chronic irrational emotions
If you feel emotionless or armored or invulnerable, we suggest that you seek help, especially if you feel desperate, or if you may harm yourself or others.
Many so-called therapies and New Age techniques are just ways to dissociate. Have you been told to ignore your emotions, to throw away your self-talk, to clear your feelings or to destroy your ego?
The long-term damage from such cures can be worse than the symptoms. Repeated dissociation can result in lasting identity loss; which is often accompanied by compulsive or obsessive behavior, as people try to feel human again.
We help people find lasting solutions. We help people learn from their pasts and create worthwhile futures. Do you want to manage your emotions and to resolve the relationship issues in which those emotions began?
See part 2: Solutions for Identity Issues
Do you want to solve the consequences of stress or trauma? Do you want to recover and change emotions that you denied, hid or split off? Have you suffered enough?