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Implicit Memories

Very often, the events or moments which become our trauma and triggers, also shut down the part of the brain that forms memories. Instead of event, narrative, cohesive memories. Instead we usually have emotional feelings or bodily states which resemble how we were in those moments. Resetting our SNS can help.

Common Trauma responses are to:

  • Fight – I’m gonna attack you, maybe even hit you!
  • Flight – I’m outta here! Or, I’m at least going to put some emotional distance between us. Maybe if I’m small I won’t be important to attack?
  • Freeze – I’m stuck! I’ve shut down and am barely engaging, maybe you won’t notice me.
  • Fawn – This most often looks positive, a lot of active people pleasing, the person may not even realize they are fawning in the moment. Just like a duck, calm on the surface and as soon as you leave I’m having a break down.

Implicit memories (aka trauma responses) are automatic, we can’t control them coming on. Many times we aren’t aware of what’s happening. One of the quickest ways for a therapist to spot an trauma response is either of these phrases:

    • “I feel really (emotion), I don’t even know why”
    • “I have (body sensation) suddenly”

Implicit memories can look like:

  • Intrusive emotions disproportional to the stimulus: fear,anger, shame, dread
  • Thoughts the predict threat or failure, as well as intrusive, contradictory, or ruminative thoughts
  • Body sensations of:
    • Spinning or dizziness
    • Pain
    • Heaviness
    • Floating
    • Tingling or numbing
    • “Noise” in the head
    • Loss of hearing or vision
  • Impulses to:
    • Run
    • Hide (under the bed)
    • Avoid going out
    • Relieving tension in the body with self destructive behaviors
      • Hurting the body (self harm or thoughts of suicide)
      • Starving the body
      • Abusing substances
    • Each of these thoughts and impulses try to “control” overwhelming emotions by combating feelings of helplessness
    • Addictive behavior also alters consciousness and can “treat” specific traumatic symptoms
  • Attachment challenges such as a yearning for connection, painful loneliness, and a felt sense of abandonment … sometimes really close or at the same time. We both need and fear being close and vulnerable with someone.
  • High-risk behavior to activate the adrenaline response
    • Re-enactment behavior to keep memories “in their place”


Have any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or comments on this article? Broken link? Wondering how to this can be applied, modified, or adapted to your polyamorous, swinging, kink/ BDSM, or otherwise interesting relationship? Feel free to reach out to us here.