Healing from Trama With Aphantasia

DiscussionsCategory: QuestionsHealing from Trama With Aphantasia
fighter8750fighter8750 asked 3 months ago

I grew up in a domestic abusive environment and my primary coping mechanism for dealing with that was disassociation (essentially tuning the world out). I’m now in therapy and It’s been frustrating because I can’t seem to recall any memories.

I feel that part of that is due to the trauma and disassociation but the other part I think is aphantasia. My therapist asks me to think back and try to recall images from memories and I feel extremely frustrated because I’m unable to.

Has anyone else encountered this barrier? How can I heal from my trauma if I can’t truly recall any memories/images?

Colm RoeColm Roe replied 3 months ago

I was sexually abused (many times) for about three months when I was 12. And I often wondered why it didn’t affect me badly. I’m nearly 60, male, and over the years I’ve came to empathise with paedophiles; especially those who don’t act on their compulsions! They didn’t choose to be the way they are. The man who abused me lived (he’s dead) only a few miles from me. I could (when I was older) have taken revenge (I’m a stone mason, and I know how to swing a hammer) but I didn’t…courtesy of Aphantasia! I often wondered why/how I forgave him. I realised I’m an aphant only recently, and also realised that the lack of ‘photo-type’ recall non-aphants are inflicted with was the key. I never saw myself as a victim/survivor, how could I? I can’t visualise the horror.
This might sound strange, but I really believe that I’m a better person because of what happened to me; and it’s given me the ability to look at both sides of every story.
To hell with therapy (in my case). Aphantasia is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!
If you can’t recall bad things…sounds like a good thing to me. I mean, if someone told me they could help me visualise the bad stuff…seriously! Stop being a victim! All recall is doing is continuing his control over you…move on, and start enjoying life 🙂

4 Answers
Rachel CicconeRachel C answered 3 months ago

I feel that. I’ve found it very difficult to try to go to therapy to talk about my own issues because I just can’t seem to remember instances of trauma, either. I haven’t really found a good way to overcome this barrier, and it’s why I gave up trying cognitive behavoural therapy.

The one thing from CBT that I liked and I’m trying to get back into are thought diaries. There’s an app on my phone that I use that I can write down my thoughts and the situation they came from, and I can challenge the negative thoughts that come with it. At the time of finding the app, I didn’t exactly know why I preferred writing it down rather than doing it mentally, but then found out I have no internal voice. So it feels downright impossible to stay on task in my head and challenge negative thoughts when I can’t even hear myself think.

I can also use it as a written down memory to talk about certain things to the therapist. Maybe it’s not as helpful now because you can’t remember trauma from your past, but it might be a good idea to start logging instances now that might relate to your past trauma to try to help you heal from them. i.e. you may not remember the trauma from your past, but can log and remember how it affects your life now. If that makes sense?

fighter8750 replied 3 months ago

I’ve found writing really effective too as you mentioned. I’ve been keeping a little journal where I write down all sorts of stuff (present, past, etc.). Have you ever heard of EMDR? I was going to try it next week with my therapist. I heard lots of people have had success with it, but it seems like it relies on picutring images from your past…it will be interesting to see how/if it works with me.

Rachel C replied 3 months ago

I haven’t, but I’d like to know if it is effective for you to!
Have you thought about bringing up your aphantasia with your therapist either before or after the treatment?

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