Vampire Diaries and Dissociation
I love Vampire Diaries. For an emotional junkie like me, there are so many elements worth paying attention to, and one of them is the vampires abilities to “turn off” their emotions. They have a humanity switch that can be turned on and off when they need it. In this way, they can live with guilt, regret and the horrible things they have done. In real life, we have something similar called dissociation. To simplify, dissociation is when you split of parts of your experiences, that normally would overwhelm you. It helps trauma victims and others cope with emotions, memories and experiences that threaten their mental well-being. Dissociation is extremely helpful in some cases, like when we need to focus exclusively on something and can`t be distracted by unwelcome feelings that would drown us otherwise. But, when people “turn off” or “split away” their emotions to the extreme, it becomes a problem.
Before I knew what DID was or that I even had it, I had my own name for what would happen to me: I called it my “Kill Switch.” It was like all the humanity I had in my being would disappear or cease to function and what was left was the raw, reptilian brain, and the instinctual creature with just basic core components.
I just watched an episode of Vampire Diaries, where “Elena” had her humanity switch turned off after her brother died. Her friends did everything they could to evoke her emotions again, but she was terrified of opening up. Vampires have stronger emotions than humans, and she was afraid that she could not take it if she dared to grieve over her loss.
Are humans that different from the Vampires? When we haven`t had the chance to learn how to control our emotions, we come to fear them. Opening up is frightening, especially if it has lead to abuse before. How is it possible to trust others again if all you got when you grew up was criticism or hate? Daring to trust someone again, a therapist or a friend, takes time. Elena had friends that never gave up on her, even when she tried to kill and hurt others. Some dissociative have also done things that scared people who love them. In a dissociative state, some patients have lashed out on loved ones, to a degree that actually traumatized them. Sometimes emotions ARE scary, but it can be more destructive to keep split them off. When you build up a wall, not letting anything come through, decompensation happens. Emotions are not the problem, not facing them is. But traumatized people need to do so in a safe environment where they won`t be hurt again. This takes time, and that is okay.
Elena made it, she dared to face her demons and live with her pain.
If your day to day responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be? For me it would be to be that person who helps trauma victims deal with their dissocation. To prove that its possible to integrate all the confusing emotions, and live healthy life.
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