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Healing from trauma with aphantasia

fighter8750 asked 10 months ago
369 views 2 comments

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?

Rachel C January 19, 2020 02:29 pm

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 10 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 10 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?

a.schroeck7 November 11, 2020 05:46 pm

Hi there, I have been having some similar struggles. I can recal the memories and often have vivid nightmares but during the day when I am awake and conscious I am not able to visualize the experiences/images. EMDR has been recommended but I am nervous about it because I know a large portion of that treatment modality is visualizing. I am wondering if you ever ended up trying EMDR and what your experience was like.

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