Writing as Healing

This is now a hot topic – and plenty of people who have found out personally the benefits of memoir writing have come forward to tout the efficacy of this method. I agree. It is extraordinarily effective as a healing modality.

Yet, as I have learned it must be handled very carefully.

Trauma comes in many forms, and there’s a very real danger that when one unearths diificult material one will reignite the feelings that are attached to it. This is what they don’t tell us at workshops (or rarely) and it’s a major issue.

Trauma comes in two basic forms — Big T Trauma – which can be rape, incest, war, physical terror or something of that kind; and little t trauma, which is what most people encounter. Both can be hard to deal with. Both can paralyze us. The difference is that Big T Trauma requires a very different approach. Why is this? It’s a matter of brain chemistry. In order for trauma to be healed it has to be brought from the Unconscious, where it has been stored, and made Conscious. Big T Trauma is stored in an entirely different part of the brain, because at some level the individual knows that this is just too hard to deal with and the memories get locked away. Different therapies are required to cause it to surface. When it does emerge it is sometimes best not even to ask the individual to verbalize about those memories. They’re still too raw. Clearly, to get to such a place the individual must be allowed to feel completely safe – and that is not a task that is easy.

A blog post is not the place to go into details about Big T. My task here is simply to sound a warning. Writing can be immensely helpful. I’ve seen it work wonders. But it isn’t infallible.

And that’s why I do what I do. I can recognize the difference between the traumas and help the individual to cope appropriately, allowing the reprocessing without re-traumatizing.