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JR, M.A.
JR, M.A., Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 184
Experience:  I have a master's degree in clinical psychology and am currently finishing my doctoral degree.
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I have noticed throughout my life that whenever a traumatic

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I have noticed throughout my life that whenever a traumatic event occurs I feel like I become almost numb and space out.    While others may react around me it takes me longer to absorb what is going on & to react to it. I feel as though this is starting to affect my relationships with others. My friend recently told me that while her dad was dying of cancer she thought I didn't care because I didn't come around & talk to her as much. I felt really bad about this because it is not that I don't care but more so that I don't know how to cope with stressful events so I try to ignore what is going on around me.   When I was a child my cousin died suddenly & when my mom told me I just asked her if I could go watch cartoons & I never even cried. I was also touched inapropriatley once by my brother as well as a cousin. Is this why I always zone out in stressful situations? I'm trying to understand why I do this & I feel so guilty that I'm hurting others because I don't act how I should.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  JR, M.A. replied 8 years ago.

I am a psychologist and would be happy to give you an answer based on the information you have provided. It sounds as though you tend to almost disassociate from you body when you experience a traumatic emotion. That is, your mind is trying to protect itself from the potentially overwhelming emotion. Your early traumatic emotional and sexual experiences are likely contributing to your tendency to "zone out" and become unresponsive. As a young child, you were unable to cope with the emotional strain placed on you by these traumatic events and you had to find a way to survive through the pain. Some people disconnect from their emotions in order to prevent themselves from feeling as though they are falling apart. You are not strange for having this type of response, especially given the trauma you experienced as a child. If you have not sought treatment for these traumas, I strongly encourage you to contact a local clinical psychologist and make an appointment to talk about these issues. Unfortunately, if you continue to avoid confronting these painful experiences, you will continue to engage in this type of behavior with friends, and yes, it will hurt your relationships. Others will not understand the reason you disconnect the way you do. Your mind has develop a very strong shield to protect itself from re-experiencing this painful emotions. Every time you encounter pain in your environment, it unconsciously reminds you of past wounds and hurt. Please go seek psychotherapy...that is the next step.

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