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Old 01-21-2019, 09:26 PM #1
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Default What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

One of the important aspects of attachment to a caregiver is the concept that they will soothe their infant. What if all caregivers were so hostile to such care that the ward can no longer conceptualize the concept of "soothing"?

I have been diagnosed with treatment-resistant Complex PTSD, and likely suffer from some type of attachment disorder, but it's so intense it has not been positively diagnosed. Every person I have encountered in my life, starting with my parents, have been actively hostile to my existence. As such, the very concept of "soothing" doesn't make any sense to me; I have no idea what it means. What does that mean in regards to my ability to deal with humanity? How can I survive - get a job, perform economic trade - with a species hostile to my existence?
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Old 01-21-2019, 09:34 PM #2
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Default Re: What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

This is an interesting question. I too suffer from an attachment disorder (Iím anxious attached). It took me a very long time to learn some self-soothing techniques and Iím still learning, because I prefer to pop a pill to suppress the anxiety and other feels that come up.

I think the first and most obvious step is to work with a therapist who specializes in attachment and learn some self-soothing techniques. Things I do include sitting in front of the fireplace (even in the summer. - I will turn it on and sit in front of it), go to Starbucks and get a latte, snuggle with one of my animals, have a nap (this helps me both self-soothe and avoid negative feelings), go for a massage or hair appt, text my therapist or try to book an extra session.

As a single person in my mid-40s who has never been in a relationship, I donít know what it would be like to have someone else soothe me. That concept is completely foreign to me.
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Old 01-21-2019, 09:42 PM #3
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Default Re: What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

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Originally Posted by piggy momma View Post
This is an interesting question. I too suffer from an attachment disorder (Iím anxious attached). It took me a very long time to learn some self-soothing techniques and Iím still learning, because I prefer to pop a pill to suppress the anxiety and other feels that come up.

I think the first and most obvious step is to work with a therapist who specializes in attachment and learn some self-soothing techniques. Things I do include sitting in front of the fireplace (even in the summer. - I will turn it on and sit in front of it), go to Starbucks and get a latte, snuggle with one of my animals, have a nap (this helps me both self-soothe and avoid negative feelings), go for a massage or hair appt, text my therapist or try to book an extra session.

As a single person in my mid-40s who has never been in a relationship, I donít know what it would be like to have someone else soothe me. That concept is completely foreign to me.
That concept is foreign to me as well - but in addition, I can't understand what soothing means. I've been to a trauma therapist and he couldn't get me to understand the very definition. I know it involves ideas like safety which I philosophically reject as false i.e. there is no such real thing a safety. Since safety is fundamentally non-existent, no real definition of "soothing" can exist. I literally cannot conceptualize comfort, and no therapist has been able to jump-start the concept in my mind. I can't "learn to self-soothe" because I literally cannot understand the goal.
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Old 01-22-2019, 09:12 AM #4
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Default Re: What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

I'm so sorry, TheUrOther It sounds like your life experience has made you unable to understand the concept of soothing. Usually a therapist should be able to work with this, but I believe it's not easy. It definitely takes a lot of time and a really good therapist. Don't give up your search. Maybe you can still find what you're looking for. I certainly hope so. I hope writing here helps a bit. Feel free to PM me anytime. Let me know if I can do something to help you. Wish you good luck! Let us know how it goes. Sending many hugs to you
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Old 01-22-2019, 09:42 PM #5
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Default Re: What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

I can understand why you don't understand the meaning of it. It's one of those things that human beings learn through experience I think.
I didn't have it in childhood and do not associate other human beings with any type of soothing. I have learned to give it to others though and through that i am learning also to give it to myself.

I learned about it through animals and young children. When an animal (or human) is scared their whole neurological being is activated. They are flooded with stress hormones and their defensive responses are engaged (fight, flight, freeze or fawn). The act of soothing by either self or another can reduce the physiological activation and gradually return the animal (or human) to calmness. Anything that helps reduce that physiological activation can be called "soothing".

I have a rescue cat who obviously experienced some trauma in her previous life and get scared very easily. When she gets scared I soothe her by moving slowly towards her, making sure not to make any sudden movements. I talk to her softly and when she is calm enough I pick her up and gently stroke her until she feels safe enough to relax.
I work with children who have experienced trauma and when they get triggered I help them return to baseline according to the individual needs of each child. One child is supported by pressure - rolling him in a rug, giving him a bear hug, encouraging him to push against a wall etc. One child needs space and time out to calm down, so she has a particular spot she can go to and everyone knows to respect her space when she is there. Another child gets stuck in a "go away, don't leave me" dilemma and I know to sit quietly without engaging her in any way until she is ready to fall into my arms in a flood of tears. For the children I work with, soothing them means supporting them to use the strategies that help them to regulate themselves. And just being there for them and being responsive to their needs.
I soothe myself by looking after me (and my alters, I have DID). When I am tired I make sure I get enough sleep, when my littles are triggered I take time out to support them in what they need (to know someone cares, to curl up with a favorite toy, to rock themselves gently). When I feel overwhelmed I take time out. I do what I can to reduce the load. I do self-caring things. I am still learning and sometimes forget to be kind to me.

I still can't imagine myself being soothed by any person. I can't imagine that ever being the case. But I am certainly developing trust in my own ability to develop kindness and caring towards me.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:33 PM #6
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Default Re: What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

One of the early symptoms of RAD is repetitive motion. The other is the inability to tolerate touch of any kind. Repeatedly rocking, rubbing surfaces, rubbing a body part like an arm can all stimulate soothing. Very young children who were denied any attachment use repetitive motion to soothe. Soothing isn't necessarily an emotional response. It's a physiological response. If you cannot emotionally appreciate soothing, try something that works physically. It's instinctive and it's neurological. I'm 58 and I rock, still, to physically soothe. I can literally sit on the floor and rock for hours in silence. I've come a long way with touch, but it always has to be on my terms with me initiating. It cannot be forced on me. Even incidental touch, uninvited, is torture. I have literally run out of theaters panicked because someone's arm brushed against mine. People know not to hug me. The first day I hugged my therapist was a huge milestone in my treatment.
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Old 03-13-2019, 10:44 AM #7
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Default Re: What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

While I'm glad that works for you, I don't think that would work for me. That type of repetitive motion would instead be aggravating for me.


Thank you though.
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Old 03-16-2019, 12:13 PM #8
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Default Re: What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

Back in the 60's they did an experiment with a baby monkey where they took away the mother and replaced the mother with this metal thing it could cling to. There was not fur or warmth or loving when this baby monkey was fed either. The wanted to see what would happen with this baby without any nurturing. Also, this baby was not exposed to any socializing or other monkeys.

When this baby got older they finally put it in a cage with other monkeys, it could not interact at all, was terrified and kept trying to get away from the other monkeys. It was so bad that they had to return it to it's own cage where it lived alone the rest of it's life. I was young when I watched that and thought it was so cruel and sad that I never forgot it.

So to answer your question, that can contribute to not being able to understand the concept of soothing and comforting.
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Old 03-16-2019, 04:01 PM #9
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Default Re: What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Open Eyes View Post
Back in the 60's they did an experiment with a baby monkey where they took away the mother and replaced the mother with this metal thing it could cling to. There was not fur or warmth or loving when this baby monkey was fed either. The wanted to see what would happen with this baby without any nurturing. Also, this baby was not exposed to any socializing or other monkeys.

When this baby got older they finally put it in a cage with other monkeys, it could not interact at all, was terrified and kept trying to get away from the other monkeys. It was so bad that they had to return it to it's own cage where it lived alone the rest of it's life. I was young when I watched that and thought it was so cruel and sad that I never forgot it.

So to answer your question, that can contribute to not being able to understand the concept of soothing and comforting.
I'm very familiar with this experiment, and that was basically what happened to me, complete with end result.
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Old 03-17-2019, 05:25 PM #10
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Default Re: What if one cannot conceptualize "soothing"?

Some of the affects are touched on here

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