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Is This A Flashback?

Question:

Hello,

I have suffered physical and emotional abuse during my childhood many years ago but it’s still affecting my life. Sometimes I experience a sudden flash with some image that most of the time I can’t recognize because it disappears in the next second. It’s like a very tiny part of a larger picture. Sometimes, it can be just the darkness of the night or a cloudy day, others it can be for the image of something I had in my room when I was a child. The flashes produce very deep feelings. I can’t describe them but I think it contains a mix of sadness, loneliness and other feelings I can’t distinguish. The flash appears and disappears in one second but the feelings stay with with me for a very long time. Sometimes I’m feeling well and a flash appears without apparent reason and I feel really bad in the next second. There are weeks that it happens over and over and other weeks it doesn’t appear at all.

Could it be some kind of flashback?

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Answer:

Basically, a flashback is sudden and unexpected re-experiencing of a past experience or the elements of a past experience. The emotions that arise by this re-experiencing are usually strong and powerful. Flashbacks are of traumatic experiences and are the result of that trauma. The answer to your question is, yes you could be having a kind of flashback.

When we speak of flashbacks, people usually think of soldiers and veterans of war such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, combat is not the only type of trauma that people go through. Childhood abuse, whether physical, emotional or both, is traumatizing. The effects last long years after the initial trauma. In other words, people do not just grow out of it. The flashback experience takes the individual back to that time.

PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can result from having experienced such natural events as hurricanes, earth quakes, tornadoes, and other natural phenomenon. These are terrible things to go through but, in terms of the most powerful trauma of all comes from those committed by people against people. For example, PTSD is particularly intense as a result of having been in a war. The enemy are people who are determined to cause bodily harm and death. Child abuse and neglect are another example of this. Therefore, the impact of your child abuse should not be minimized.

You should know that, along with flashbacks, people experience depression, nightmares and anxiety.

Treatment would be a good idea for you. Cognitive Behavior Therapy with meditation and deep relaxation techniques would go a long way to  help you.

Best of Luck

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