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Fractures

(This is an encore post from John Joseph.)

In a recent session, my therapist and I discussed fractures in the psyche. Fractures often occur as coping mechanisms in children who are traumatized by abuse, violence, instability, or loss. A fracture is like splitting off part of the personality that “takes over” to help the child survive. Though not as extreme as multiple personality disorder or schizophrenia, those fractures and their functions are identifiable.

It didn’t take me long in that session to realize that my psyche is made up of the innocent little boy, the victim, the addict, and the self-actualized adult. Of course they're all me because I'm the sum of my experiences. I can chart the years in which one or the other has been the dominant expression of my personality. Until age four, I was the innocent little boy. Being abused at four moved me into the victim state that emerged into the addict from ten to eighteen years old. From age eighteen on, I've worked to become the self-actualized adult.

In that session, I came to understand that I still move in and out of the fractures, depending on my mood and circumstances. For instance, I was embarrassed in a business meeting the other day, and the victim side of me emerged.

I felt abused for several days afterward even though no real abuse occurred. If I’m not careful about recognizing when I've fallen into the victim mentality, it can drive me into the addict mode and my acting out behavior takes over. That progression helps me understand the years of compulsive sexual behavior I've suffered and gives me one more tool with which to overcome the effects of my abuse.

2 comments:

Roger Mann said...

I have never thought of myself as a composite man, which is what I see here explained. I know that many times I have exhibited a different personality trait. I too have been the boy victim. I have also been that cold intellectual that tried to look at everything in a strictly logical sense, suppressing my emotional reactions. I too have been the sex addict under compulsion to act out not really understanding or examining why. And then trying to be the good son, loving father/husband and stable confident hetero male.

As I look back on it now I can see how insane that was trying to fit all of those wildly different people into my life. Fractured is a good word because in the end that is exactly how I felt at times wondering who I really am.

Anonymous said...

I see now that is how my former husband has functioned since he was sexually abused as a teenager. I could see he was torn emotionally when he left me after 31 years of marriage and 5 years of dating before, as he was confusing me in his affectionate behavior. I cut off seeing him or speaking to him, except by email or text, after the divorce pretrial, and that is when he turned to a woman 10 years younger who he had worked with, and who he befriended when her husband committed suicide. He is that teenager again, only feeling in control, and feeding his sexual addiction. The demons he had suppressed had begun to surface, as news of other sexual abuse scandals came out, and, when he left, I brought it out in letters and notes, trying to give him the means to help him. I turned to Celebrate Recovery for the codependancy, and still hold out hope that he could one day seek healing through CR.