Sunday, June 10, 2012

Trauma & Dissociation: Pulling the Cord

From The New Yorker: Black Box, by Jennifer Egan.
... Remind yourself that you aren’t being
paid when he climbs out of the water
and lumbers toward you.
Remind yourself that you aren’t
being paid when he leads you behind
a boulder and pulls you onto
his lap.
The Dissociation Technique is like a
parachute—you must pull the cord at the
correct time.
Too soon, and you may hinder your
ability to function at a crucial moment;
Too late, and you will be lodged
too deeply inside the action to wriggle
You will be tempted to pull the cord
when he surrounds you with arms whose
bulky strength reminds you, fleetingly, of
your husband’s.
You will be tempted to pull it when you
feel him start to move against you from
You will be tempted to pull it when his
smell envelops you: metallic, like a warm
hand clutching pennies.
The directive “Relax” suggests that your
discomfort is palpable.
“No one can see us” suggests that...


Anonymous said...

My nightmares. Why?

Unknown said...

Why did you post something this provocative and traumatizing without some context? Anyone with any kind of history of sexual abuse, or who works with sexual abuse victims would have a strong reaction to this excerpt. Until I read the piece this was from, with context, I was imagining this happening to a child. I don't know what sort of reaction you were hoping to garner from your readers, but now I'm pretty gun-shy about reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

That story is terrifying. I suspect that it is also brilliant, but I don't know, because I can't bring myself to finish it.

I agree that some context would have been helpful.

Anonymous said...

I actually see this as a story that many patients try to do.
--Try to lure the therapist into their world...
Especially those patients who are over the edge, or have psychosis.
They want to be connected to one more human being, and this is yet one more chance to connect, to reel in...

Sunny CA said...

I clicked on the link, and loved the whole article, and was very happy to have discovered it through your post. However, as someone who dissociates from my feelings, I can tell you that the section you quoted does not capture my inner world accurately. In a high stress situation, I tend to remain in the present intellectually, but my feelings are absent. I have found that this allows me an ability to function in emergencies or stressful situations that other people don't have, so there is a positive that comes with this negative.