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Trauma and its Therapy


Maybe the worst of Tor’s symptoms was that he fell emotionally numb fe
desperately wanted to love his family but he just couldnt evoke any deg
Feelings for them. He felt emotionally distant from everybody, as thought,
heart were frozen and he were living behind a glass wall. That numbes
extended to himself as well. He could not really feel anything except loris
momentary rages and his shame. He described how he hardly recognizes
himself when he looked in the mirror to shave. When he heard himselfargu
ing a case in court, he would observe himself from a distance and wonder
how this guy, who happened to look and talk like him, was able to make such
cogent arguments. When he won a case he pretended to be gratified, and
when he lost it was as though he had seen it coming and was resigned to the
defeat even before it happened. Despite the fact that he was a very effective
lawyer, he always felt as though he were floating in space, lacking any sense
of purpose or direction.
The only thing that occasionally relieved this feeling of aimlessness was
intense involvement in a particular case. During the course of our treatment
Tom had to defend a mobster on a murder charge. For the duration of that
trial he was totally absorbed in devising a strategy for winning the case, and
there were many occasions on which he stayed up all night to immerse him-
self in something that actually excited him. It was like being in combat. he
said–he felt fully alive, and nothing else mattered. The moment Tom won
that case, however, he lost his energy and sense of purpose. The nightmares
returned, as did his rage attacks–so intensely that he had to move into a
motel to ensure that he would not harm his wife or children. But being alone,
too, was terrifying, because the demons of the war returned in full force.
Tom tried to stay busy, working, drinking, and drugging- doing anything to
avoid confronting his demons.
He kept thumbing through Soldier of Fortune, fantasizing about enlist
ing as a mercenary in one of the many regional wars then raging in Africa.
That spring he took out his Harley and roared up the Kancamagus Highway
in New Hampshire. The vibrations, speed, and danger of that ride helped

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