Pete Walker’s information on Complex PTSD, has always resonated with me, and I have always assumed I am a mix of all the different trauma typology response, of flight/fight/freeze/fawn.
But, now there is no doubt that I am freeze, with the main aspects being hiding, isolating, and distracting with far too much time on the internet, watching TV, so I don’t think about the more painful things, to deal with my internal fear and abandonment fear/depression.
All my life, I have withdrawn, isolated and suffered with depression, where I can’t be around people, only since my breakdown in 2012, it has become much worse and now is at an all time full on isolation.
Pete Walker explains…
The Freeze Type and the Dissociative Defense
Many freeze types unconsciously believe that people and danger are synonymous, and that safety lies in solitude. Outside of fantasy, many give up entirely on the possibility of love. The freeze response, also known as the camouflage response, often triggers the individual into hiding, isolating and eschewing human contact as much as possible. This type can be so frozen in retreat mode that it seems as if their starter button is stuck in the “off” position.
It is usually the most profoundly abandoned child – “the lost child” – who is forced to “choose” and habituate to the freeze response (the most primitive of the 4Fs). Unable to successfully employ fight, flight or fawn responses, the freeze type’s defenses develop around classical dissociation, which allows him to disconnect from experiencing his abandonment pain, and protects him from risky social interactions – any of which might trigger feelings of being re-abandoned.
Freeze types often present as ADD; they seek refuge and comfort in prolonged bouts of sleep, daydreaming, wishing and right brain-dominant activities like TV, computer and video games. They master the art of changing the internal channel whenever inner experience becomes uncomfortable. When they are especially traumatized or triggered, they may exhibit a schizoid-like detachment from ordinary reality.
TX: There are at least three reasons why freeze types are the most difficult 4F defense to treat.
First, their positive relational experiences are few if any, and they are therefore extremely reluctant to enter the relationship of therapy; moreover, those who manage to overcome this reluctance often spook easily and quickly terminate.
Second, they are harder to psychoeducate about the trauma basis of their complaints because, like many fight types, they are unconscious of their fear and their torturous inner critic. Also, like the fight type, the freeze type tends to project the perfectionistic demands of the critic onto others rather than the self, and uses the imperfections of others as justification for isolation. The critic’s processes of perfectionism and endangerment, extremely unconscious in freeze types, must be made conscious and deconstructed as described in detail in my aforementioned article on shrinking the inner critic.
Third, even more than workaholic flight types, freeze types are in denial about the life narrowing consequences of their singular adaptation. Because the freeze response is on a continuum that ends with the collapse response (the extreme abandonment of consciousness seen in prey animals about to be killed), many appear to be able to self-medicate by releasing the internal opioids that the animal brain is programmed to release when danger is so great that death seems immanent.
The opioid production of the collapse or extreme freeze response can only take the individual so far however, and these types are therefore prone to sedating substance addictions. Many self-medicating types are often drawn to marijuana and narcotics, while others may gravitate toward ever escalating regimes of anti-depressants and anxiolytics. Moreover, when they are especially unremediated and unattached, they can devolve into increasing depression and, in worst case scenarios, into the kind of mental illness described in the book, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.