“thinking errors” caused by abuse/rape/trauma

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1.Hindsight Bias.

  • When you believe the you could have known what was going to happen before it was possible to know it.
  • Believing that you overlooked certain “signs”; such as a thought, feeling, dream, intuition, etc.
  • Sometimes people view prior “signs” as omens as it can give an illusion of control over the event
  • Some people will subconsciously alter their memories of an event to include these “omens” as it can be less painful to blame oneself for missing these “signs” than to feel powerless.

2.Confusing the possibility that you could have prevented the event with the belief that you caused it.

  • Often hindsight bias leads to the mistaken belief that you “could somehow have prevented” the event, and therefore you “actually caused it”.

3.Failing to consider or accet this biological truth:

  • Certain scientifically proven, involuntary, emotional and biological reactions to trauma or extreme stress are so powerful that they cannot be controlled by personal determination nor willpower.
  • Extreme stress can result in biologically based reactions such as dissociation or adrenaline surges which can impair mental abilities.
  • In traumatic or stressful situations time is often limited this combined with the effects of shock and confusion results in a lack of the luxury of being able to weigh up options or even to fully gather the facts of the situation.
  • Incases of sexual abuse or rape it is often common for the victim to become aroused. This is a biological and involuntary reaction and does not in anyway mean that the even was enjoyed, deserved or make the person a “slut”, “whore” or anything else other than human.

4.Evaluating what you did based on information that you discovered after the event.

  • It is not fair to judge yourself about the decisions you made during a devastating and stressful event by considering options that you thought of later, after you have had time to process what happened, or after discussing it with another. You can only weigh the merits of what you did against the alternatives that you thought of at the time, not against those you considered only with hindsight.

5.Considering only the possible positive consequences of an alternative action.

  • Do you feel guilty or ashamed due to feeling as if you should have reacted differently? Do you only look at the positive results of the path that you did not choose? Are you minimising that paths potential fornegative consequences?

6.Emotional reasoning.

  • Emotional reasoning involves judging the merits of an action or idea based solelyon your emotional reaction to it. Often this emerges as the thining of t”feelings being facts”, when in reality just because you feel a certainway does not mean that you are it. For example: “I feel guilty,  therefore I must be guilty”, however this is flawed reasoning as to verify that actions are guiltworthy more than just feeling guilty is required.

7.All-or-Nothing thinking.

  • This is basically seeing the world in black/white terms… so all bad, all good, etc.
  • Lifeis full of ambiguities and complex situations;  however, when someonehas experienced a life shattering event their entire concept of theworld c ould be changed.  The entire world can become “dangerous”, “scary”, etc. All men could become “bad”. But in reality the word has not become any more dangerous, it is the same as it has always been; only your perception has changed.

8.Exaggerating or minimising the meaning of an event.

  • The tendency either to exaggerate or minimise the meaning of a negative event is similar to all-or-nothing thinking. However, both of these paths of thinks can be damaging. It is erroneous to consider that the event was “nothing”, that you should just “get over it” or that it will not effect your life, but it is also wrong to consider it a defining moment or a core to your identity.
  • This event effected you, that makes it important, however, you are worth more than this experience and are not defined by it.
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4 Responses to ““thinking errors” caused by abuse/rape/trauma”

  1. Splinteredones Says:

    Once again, well done dear. The points about physical response, which is such a tough thing to reconcile, just is. We don’t see alot about this, not nearly as much as we should!

    • onrape Says:

      This is all so true. I wish there was a way to get info like this out to everyone, so that rape survivors could stop wasting time blaming themselves and start realizing that these are normal behaviors b/c of what happened to them. Thanks for writing.

  2. Pandora Says:

    It all resonates with me strongly; I think I am “guilty” of every one of these, even though I know it’s wring to tread into the territory of further self-blame.

    Anyway, it’s all so true. Thanks for posting.

  3. invisiblegirl Says:

    HEY, This was really helpful for me.

    Thank you. 🙂


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