Alienation is a feeling of isolation and disconnection that can occur experiencing trauma. It can be very confusing and isolating, and most often people do not realise or understand what is happening to them and why they are feeling that way.
In this blog post, we will discuss what alienation is, the signs to look for, and how you can begin to heal.
What causes alienation after trauma?
There is no one single cause of alienation after trauma. It is a complex reaction that is caused by a combination of factors, including the nature of the traumatic event, the individual’s personal history and coping mechanisms, and the social and cultural context in which the event takes place.
One theory is that alienation is a form of self-protection. When we experience a traumatic event, our brain is overwhelmed by the intensity of the emotions and sensations. In order to protect us from being overwhelmed, the brain numbs us out and disconnects us from our emotions and bodies. This results in feelings of alienation.
Another theory is that alienation is a way of dealing with the sense of powerlessness that we feel after trauma. When we are faced with events that are beyond our control, it can be helpful to believe that we are not really affected by them. This allows us to maintain a sense of control and safety in a world that feels threatening and unpredictable.
Whatever the cause, it is important to remember that alienation is a normal reaction to trauma. It is not something that you have done wrong, and it is not something that you can just ‘snap out of’.
Signs and symptoms of alienation (after trauma)
Sometimes, after experiencing a traumatic event, a person may feel ‘out of step’ with the world around them. It is like they are on the outside looking in, or that they no longer have connecting them to their previous self or other people.
The symptoms of alienation vary from person to person, but there are some common themes. These include:
Feeling disconnected from your body – feeling like you are not in control of your body or your emotions. The sensation has been described as standing outside your body and watching yourself, almost as if your spirit has decoupled from your physical presence.
Feeling disconnected from other people – feeling like nobody understands you or that you are completely alone. This can manifest as feeling like you are invisible, or that people are talking about you without you being able to hear them.
Feeling disconnected from the world around you – feeling like everything is fake or unreal. This may include feeling like you are in a dream, or that the world is a stage and everyone else knows the script except you.
Feeling disconnected from your emotions – feeling numb, or like you are unable to experience emotions. This can be accompanied by feeling like your emotions are not your own, or that you are a puppet dancing to the tune of someone else’s music.
Feeling totally unsafe and alone – feeling like nothing makes sense anymore and that the world is a scary and dangerous place. The result is that the alienated person is hypervigilant, constantly on edge and expecting the worst to happen. Alienated people find it very difficult to trust anyone or anything.
These are just some of the signs that you may be experiencing alienation after trauma. It is important to remember that everyone experiences trauma differently, so not everyone will experience all of these symptoms.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist who is experienced in working with trauma can help you to understand your feelings and begin the process of healing.
How can I get better?
One of the most important things you can do is to develop a support system of people who understand what you are going through. This could be friends, family, or a support group for people who have experienced trauma. Connecting with others who have been through similar experiences can help you to feel less alone and more understood.
Another important step is to begin working on rebuilding trust. This may be difficult, but it is essential for healing. Start by finding someone you trust – maybe a friend, family member, therapist, or support group leader – and confide in them about what your experience and worries. This will help you to begin rebuilding your faith in others and the world around you.
Finally, it is important to be gentle with yourself. The process of healing can be long and difficult, and there will be setbacks along the way. But if you are patient and keep working at it, you will eventually begin to feel like yourself again.
If you are struggling with alienation after trauma, please reach out for help. There is no shame in seeking assistance, and there is hope for healing.