Emotional Shut Down

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Problem with being emotional shut off. I have a problem where I’m completely shut down, I don’t have pain, anger sometimes even happiness. Once I get to a point of sadness or anger its like a switch and I don’t feel anything. I was all types of abused as a kid from being burned by cigarettes, to broken bones and put into the hospital several times. I was neglected by my mother who had manic depression with had suicidal tendencies. Sliced her wrist and took pills. Both of parents did heavy drugs and drinking. She was put into psych ward multiple times. Leaving us with Pedophile, sexually abusing all of us. I was in and out of foster cares, When I was 5, I was in horrible drunk driver car accident killing my entire foster family and my twin sister. I was really close with my foster family and consider them my parents over my real ones. When I was 17 I enlisted into the Army been deployed several times. Lost a couple of friends. First time I was married who was also sexually ,physically abusive. When I was deployed he ran off with our kids I haven’t seen them in over 3 years. I feel lost and alone all the time. And when it does come out I feel like I’m in physical pain and feels like I’ m having a heart attack. I don’t communicate well,. I DON’T want my marriage that I’m finally in a healthy relationship to be ruined because I can’t show emotion.

A: I am sorry you had so many struggles with your childhood. Shutting off your feelings when they have been repeatedly hurt is one way the psyche defends against pain from abuse and many losses. I think it may be time to bring these concerns to therapy where you can start to peel back layers of emotional defense — and allow yourself to feel more. If we don’t feel pain, we don’t feel anything. Try the Help tab at the top of the page for someone in your area.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Emotional Shut Down. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/25/emotional-shut-down/