Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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Autism, Unpicking Trauma, Dissociation & Getting A Sense Of Actual Self

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Note This from a personal perspective

Language Processing Disorder & Dissociation 

It is normal for children to dissociate from their environments to up the to ages of 5 years, old and what I found interesting is that people with a higher level of language processing disorder may be more prone to going in and out of dissociative states. I was subjected to unintentional trauma through language and being spoken to directly this was secondary to exposure anxiety.

This meant there were pockets of both derealisation which is to separate from the environment around YOU and derealisation in which you separate from SELF.

This happened before I gained functional speech which again would on some developmental level have an impact my association with speech (echolalia was more fluid in phonics) and trying to speak on a “interpretative level” was stilted and laboured.

Dissociative Disorder Nos & Creating “Characters “

A dissociate disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) is a disorder that includes a dissociative symptom (i.e., a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment) that does not meet the criteria for any specific dissociative disorder. “Not otherwise specified” disorders are those that don’t fit into any existing diagnostic categories and are generally rare.

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Belinda- The Strong Assertive Persona

This female persona came about and was “born” through the judgement and ignorance of others where I lived, although my verbal skills weren’t very good and people where blaming my parents for my behaviour on their behaviour as parents, and the school was very concerned about me.

When my skills persisted and progressed the first word weren’t be me, but her she was directive, to the point and would fight for me she was on my side, in world where nobody was on my side nor my parents. I often refer to Belinda as the Guardian Persona  or The Keeper of the Gates“.

She is strong and assertive, she gets things done, she like problems resolved and also likes to help others in need, some of these traits are from the “core self”, but the person she is based on is my Mum hence the picture to your left. (she is wearing a tweed jacket which is multi-coloured she looks strong and confident).

Peter- The Passive Introverted Persona

This male persona was based very much on the passivity of both my Grandfather and Father both whom have had issues with dealing and managing issues in a similar ways. It was at this time at CAMHS, this alter was evading and would not be able to accept help with issues and would presume, respond and act like everything was OK.

This alter is shy and retreating doesn’t open up to people easily (as opposed to the confidence and drive “Belinda”), this would cause problems with understanding on both sides during my time at CAMHS in late childhood, they didn’t recognise the Autism nor were they recognising that as coping mechanism for the situations that I was dissociating.

The picture on the left is of my Grandfather in late childhood (sepia toned picture, my Gramp with a worried grin on his face), he is about 10 years old. Many of the personality traits of “Peter” come from him and how he dealt with problems.

Mr.G – The “Child/Elfin” Persona 

“Mr G” is a child/elfin persona which was created very early through observations and just looking at my surroundings during the time between early and late childhood.

“Mr G” became very prominent as a coping mechanism for the bullying in the workplace during my first job at the age of 16. He has many traits which are to do with being free and expressive, he likes to copy in an echolalic and echopraxic fashion and enjoys “silly” humour and have fun. He is an expression of many things. The other two personas do have very strong characteristics but perhaps “Mr.G’s” sense of being and why is the most poignant.

Personality Types Across The Characters 

As you can see by all three descriptions all three “characters” have a function in terms of personalty types, traits, and functions.  The female character fits the idiosyncratic personality type, the male character fits the serious and self sacrificing personality type, the child character fits the mercurial personality type.

 

ADDICTION TO TRAUMA

Some traumatized people remain preoccupied with the trauma at the expense of other life experiences137,141 and continue to re-create it in some form for themselves or for others. War veterans may enlist as mercenaries,128 victims of incest may become prostitutes,47,120,125 and victims of childhood physical abuse seemingly provoke subsequent abuse in foster families53 or become self-mutilators143a Still others identify with the aggressor and do to others what was done to them.21,39 Clinically, these people are observed to have a vague sense of apprehension, emptiness, boredom, and anxiety when not involved in activities reminiscent of the trauma. There is no evidence to support Freud’s idea that repetition eventually leads to mastery and resolution. In fact, reliving the trauma repeatedly in psychotherapy may serve to re-enforce the preoccupation and fixation.

http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/vanderkolk/

Sexual Abuse , Night Terrors & Trauma

An isolated incident of sexual abuse happened to me when I was teenager, this went and was buried deep in my unconscious mind until I developed nightmares in 2013.

Prior to this I was repeating the act on my body for during my late teens with no connection to why. I used to cry in overwhelm as my body and mind (conscious and unconscious) were in disconnect other information processing challenges such as a lack of internal mentalising, visual perceptual disorders, alexithymia and body agnosias aided in this problem with making this important connection.

I was referred to  mental health services and dismissed these “nightmares” as anything “real” this meant that closure had to be done on my own terms. I decided to go to the place in which it happened, stood there for some time head bowed in reflection then I walked away and slowly felt a sense of validation and closure.

I have not doubt that this incident has had an impact on the way I view my identity and sexuality, because in many ways it has and to come to terms with that is very difficult but is was a necessary effect on my part to come to a point of complete closure.

Conclusion 

The positive news is that I feel more “connected” these days it has taken me well over ten years, since I was in my early twenties to understand and be introspective to myself and gain a greater understanding of not just how I work but most importantly why I work the way I do (imperfections and all). I would not change a thing as life is teacher and I took the time to learn from it.

“Remember be the person you ARE, not the person you were TOLD to BE.

Paul Isaacs 2020

 


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The System of Sensing, Inverted Trauma & Dissonance

The System of Sensing

Is a world a still live in its world before ego, before conscious mind, before self and other, before interpretation of your sensory world it is where things are FELT, first it is a world of pattern, theme and feel, it is ethereal, not quite tangible in a logical and literal sense but very much about togetherness and the mergence.

FEEL speak is experienced by all human beings its called being baby in which your nervous system is underdeveloped, its sensory systems are young and interpretation of these senses isn’t there.

For me being profoundly meaning blind and meaning deaf meant that I lived this system (and continue to do so) for a far longer time, this mean I could merge with things, people and places.

Sensing Emotions, Trauma & Dissonance

If some one was to MERGE with someone on a sensing level that is picking up on frequencies that the other person may not be aware of this can mean I can get confused about “self emotions” and “other emotions”, I have unknown awareness of someone because I can SEE them in all their rawness it is beyond cladding, false projection, lying an manipulation.

I can FEEL peoples energies and I can put them into two camps.

Connected With The Sensing World

“Straight & Grounded” these people’s feel speak is well connected, they are natural empaths (who may also be able to sense), their interpretive “speak” marries up with their “feel” speak, I sense fluidity and balance and my communication does in general flow much better because their isn’t dissonance. I tend not to overly apologise to these people, can be assertive and not be triggered by exposure anxiety.

Disconnected With The Sensing World (to differing degrees and reasons)

“Wobbley & Uprooted” these people’s feel speak is not as well connected, they may be extremely empathetic but disconnected from their emotions in some shape or form (information processing, trauma, personality disorder and/or identity crisis) or they they have empathy erosion, they may well have learned to overly rely on the “interpretive system” to hide from themselves due to trauma and/or be deceptive and overly use this “interpretive” system for personal gain.

So these people do two things with the empathics I MERGE with their trauma to the point in which it is MINE on a sensing level and/or if they have empathy erosion they trigger my exposure anxiety and “self” gets protected.

My communication style for both the empathic and non-empathic people in this camp is stilted, laboured, I tend to apologise more and there is less fluidity because the cladding usually contradicts the feeling. I usually “go along” with interpretive thread regardless of if I want to or not. I on some level feel great empathy for them many of them are on journeys in their own right and I have since learned that MERGEING can in turn cause PROJECTION in which I sense the dissonance feedback BACK to the person. This is what I call the mirror effect. (for obvious reasons). If they consciously interpret this they may think that is MY Trauma.  

This causes me great stress and pain and I can get emotional dysregulation.

Dissonance In People Who’s Perceived and Actual Self are Warped

I tend to “sense” people who lie, manipulate and who are superficial because that is based on the ability to use you interpretive system to “pretend” you are something you aren’t, these people can be lost, lonely, friendly, confused, lack a firm sense of self and on the other hand they can be narcissistic, selfish, ego-focused and shallow.

I have a real personal peeve with people whom lie (as a form of control, emotional manipulation). Because I can see it.

Paul Isaacs 2020


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Autism, Mentalising, Alexithymia & Introspection

Note – This is from a personal perspective

Language Processing, Alexithymia, Visual Perception and Mentalising

As a child I was unable to process language with meaning this meant that the ability marry words with association, then the ability to reason those words into a meta-reality (context and how they “looked”). I was severely face blind, object blind and meaning blind this meant the inability to visual internally my external world meant that I had to use my body to EXTERNALISE to INTERNALISE in other words I mapped out my world through placement, smell, texture, movement and taste.

Body Disconnection, Exposure Anxiety and Dissociation

I was unable to map out my own body, its parts, their placement in association with me or the outside world so I had a level of body agnosias which meant my body with FRAGMENTED as well as my vision and internalisation of receptive language. My conscious mind was seemingly blank as I subconsciously took in the information around me in but was unable to consciously piece it together despite the fact is was near hiding in plain site, akin to playing smoke and mirrors but with my own self.

Exposure anxiety rendered me powerless when confronted with “self” the awareness of my own self existence was too powerful for me to handle. So I disassociated, created characters (each assigned duties, personality types, communication styles) to handle the task of being exposed, mutism, echolalic litanies (once functional speech was acquired).

However I seemed to retain the ability to have introspection, the system of sensing still means I FEEL first and then have to unpick the interpretation secound.
The Self and Other Paradox

Fast track to know I had an experience in which I got to that level which I have described bearing in mind this had not happened in roughly 23 Years! It was shock was unable to do a shared self and other (which can last up to two hours plus), language was losing meaning, visuals where fragmenting (I made error of taking my tints off) and I was feeling detached coming out with stock phrases and it made me think about how I was then

So with help, kindness and assistance of friends and colleagues I was able to map and piece together my emotional states through three videos.
Loss

This video signifies loss that the emotional roller-coaster of meeting loss head on, the process of emotion, the realisation, the impact it has on you and other around them and the great sense of vulnerability that comes with it.

Light and Hope

This video is more metaphor and symbolical in its reverence with me the smoke that plums as he enters the arena is has a great impact on me as it represents hope through the darkness, as he walks to the ring a single light envelopes him which for me feels that light can be achieved in times of such darkness, the creating of light towards end is hope.

This Detachment of Self and Other

The final video to me represents my sometimes lack of ability to get a shared sense of “self and other” and “shared social” in which my conscious thoughts are not married up straight away with other and vise versa, when I LOSE the ability to keep the process becomes mechanical, artificial the automata represents this aspect and also ALL SELF and Casanova represents ALL OTHER .

Paul Isaacs 2020


Is Bullying “Normal”?

Here is an interesting observation, many people who bullied me at school and during my time in education I have heard have always said they “observed” the acts never instigated implying overtly they were witness’ not people to take part in the act.

Let’s be frank you did on a daily basis commenting on my appearance.

  1. How I talked
  2. How I walked
  3. My weight
  4. My lack of friends
  5. My lack of intelligence
  6. My emotions
  7. My parents, my grandparents
  8. My social status.

This would happen at class, during breaks/lunchtime, waiting for transport home/during transport and at the place were I live from the ages of 5 to 16 years old.

This also included parents and teachers.

However just because I have made conscious and dedicated effort to see and take the good out of your actions, to not let them define me, to not be bitter or hold on to reductive actions of revenge or futile bitterness of the past that doesn’t not mean your acts were correct.

I can be objective and say it was your homelife, your sense of unfulfilment socially and/or academically, clashing of personality, the chemical imbalances that come with teenagehood, the peer pressure etc.

To which is true, however in terms of projection and hurt you flung on me was vile, cruel and cowardly you made me feel worthless and at multiple times I wanted to not live.

Bullying isn’t a “normal” part of growing up, it isn’t a right of passage, it isn’t a phase and the word itself trivialises the actions which is, psychological and/or physical abuse and projected trauma onto another human being.

I thank you for bestowing these actions on me because you gave me a framework how not to treat people, I understand a lot of you have families and children.

I hope you have matured and changed as you have grown and I sincerely wish your young one’s do not go through what I went through.

I refuse to be a victim of the past, for I do not want it to live in my future.

Paul Isaacs 2020


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Autism, Alexithymia, Dissociative Disorders & Trauma

Image may contain: Paul Isaacs, child and closeup

Note – This is from a personal perspective

Overview

In secondary school their was an isolated incident of sexual abuse which I was subjected to, this happened in the changing rooms and I have documented about how I had to get closure on this incident myself.

Alexithymia and dissociative reactions are two strategies that have been put forward as coping mechanisms to alleviate painful emotions. Adult studies reveal an association between alexithymia and dissociation. In line with the coping hypothesis, it was predicted that the relationship between alexithymia and dissociative tendencies would be partly mediated by current levels of stress and past traumatic experiences. Dissociation may also be related to enhanced fantasizing, although alexithymia has traditionally been associated with an incapacity to fantasize

Jennifer G. Schnellmann PhD, ELS 2005

Alexithymia has a common overlap with some people on the autism spectrum, in which the person has problems identifying, wording and extracting inner emotional states, having a language processing disorder no doubt hindered my ability to express (word finding and word losing), visual agnosias of varying kinds and degrees which hindered my to get gestalt perception and mentalise and thus extract the information and process it accordingly.

But imagine that as an autie you get tolerated in a mainstream school of bullying, exclusion etc…. so you try your butt off to pass as ‘non autistic’ or at least mirror others…. but on your own out comes your autie self… and over YEARS the ‘acting normal’ self becomes an ‘alter’ and has its own abilities, its preferences, its dislikes, the things its invested in, the things its disinterested in (like all the ‘autistic’ stuff… because it would attract more bullying, exclusion, etc)….

Donna Williams 2012

Dissociation Disorder & Repressed Memories

Coming to terms with my dissociation is to understand where it came from so here is the a list of events that interacted and caused dissociation and dissociative personas which then in tern effect the association of the “core self” which then in turn had an impact on my psychological and emotional development.

  • I was traumatised by children and teachers using functional speech and language at primary school because I could not keep up with it on an interpretive level (this wasn’t done on purpose nor was this anyone’s fault or intention).
  • I was put into adult situations at primary school with no advocate or caregiver present (teachers arranging meetings about “negative” behaviour prior and after functional speech so dissociation, personas and exposure anxiety were triggered).
  • Having body and pain agnosias meant without clothes on and/or pressure points meant I could detach and dissociate quicker.
  • Having prosopagnosia secondary to simultagnosia meant I bonded with the “person in the mirror” in toilets and washrooms.
  • Secondary school involved the use of three personas all with splintering personality types, learning and communication styles and “tasks” both motivational and/or otherwise to “protect” on a subconscious level the “core self”.
  • Only became self aware of being “different” at 16 and later was using word “autism/autistic” at 18, however lacked a self-awareness of my challenges to others and didn’t consciously change and/or suffer from avoidant and/or social anxiety/phobia.
  • PTSD in adulthood and repressed memories of sexual abuse came in later adulthood through nightmares and flashbacks in a distorted and fragmented fashion due to visual perceptual and language processing disorders.
  • Outlets for Alexithymia and emotional regulation came up more prominently in adulthood through art, poetry and creative writing and aided my ability to mentalise.
  • Being Mercurial and Idiosyncratic meant I could create novel, inventive and “odd” ways of distancing myself from emotional difficulties and pain.
  • Being in the “system of sensing” for far longer and still retaining aspects of it meant I valued the world and would sense the energies around me beyond their set interpretive “meaning”.

Accepting What “Brought me to the Dance”

I have no doubt that I have been coloured by my experiences, they mold people, influence, guide them, help them and sadly sometimes destroy them.

I have come to realise the value in experiences regardless of these being positive or negative I still learn from them.

They’re my teachers my reflectors and I refuse to live a half life in which my destiny is to be defined by things that were out of my control and contextual to the knowledge (or lack of) at the time.

Paul Isaacs 2020


In The Last Ten Years

Looking Back

The last ten years have been very intersting in 2009 I was recently out of the Mental Health Services with two personality disorders, auditory hallucinations and psychosis, I was self harming and attempted suicide.

Early Infancy

By clinical observations I was serverely autistic, I was profoundly meaning deaf, meaning blind, body disconnected, oral apraxic and didn’t gain functional speech till later in infancy. I was and am thankful to my parents who had no means of any interventions (in the late 80s many were dated).

In 2010 I was diagnosed with autism and OCD and my speaking career started off in which I went freelance in 2015.

“Standards of Success”

By “non-autistic” standards I “made it” in many ways I suppose. I was considered “retarded” by the village I lived in and was targeted and bullied by the children and adults till my mid-teens.

Education

I was targeted and bullied at school from primary to secondary when I finally left in 2002 (with an isolated incident of sexual abuse) in the latter.

I went on to do an ICT coursecfor a year and had the greatest experience of my life from and educational perspective it proved I could be educated.

Bullying and Employment

The bullying in employment started in 2002/3 so multiple jobs were lost and gained.

I was thankful to the autism base in Chinnor in around 2008/9 for supporting me as well as the start of my speaking career in 2010. Over that period of time I wrote and authored 5 books.

The bullying in employment stopped in 2015 when I went freelance and started working for My World.

This is longest time in employment that I have been safe, comfortable and seen as a part of the team.

I Am A Person-First

People wonder why I use “person-first language” this is why because I do not want to be defined by a “label”. I do not like serperatist “them and us, us and them” rhetoric we (as beings) are all a part of the human race

From 2013 onwards to now I am pleased to have met some of the most wonderful and friendly people in both my personal and professional life.

Love and Life

I lost my Gramp in March 2017 due to metatastic prostate cancer, one of my dearest friends and mentors Polly (Donna Williams) in April that year also to metatastic breast cancer and my Nan in December 2019 due to pneumonia. I shall always cherish my fondest memories of them.

I almost lost my Dad in 2011 due to chronic lymphocytic leukemia and then meningitis in 2018 as well as my Mum in May 2019 due to a complex thrombotic disease.

Creative Mindsets

I have had great fun dabbling in art, poetry and what I call “insta-modelling” in which to my surprise and support from my friends up north has been rather enjoyable!

I have been interested in androgyny for many years prior and have been told I look as such.

One of things I can do well is pluck my eyebrows which I consider an achievement as much as anything else! 😉

Conclusion

So look beyond what is here, look beyond what is heard, what is seen, what is touched and sense people because every cherished little person is special and of equal valor and humility in this world.

Paul Isaacs 2020


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A Tall Tail Of Somotisation Disorder

The Beginning

I started getting symptoms of this in late infancy around 11 years old this was related to mitigating factors both to do with neurological processing such as aphasia, alexithymia and visual agnosias, environmental factors bullying and emotional triggering.

Psycho-Somatic Trauma Based Response to Negative Environment Experiences?

I would get sensations of my body “melting”, headaches, stomachaches, tingling in limbs, face and lips and by the time secondary school came and chronic bullying persisted in the first two weeks the pain would start again as stated above.

In particular, the pattern of shrinking was observed in two parts of the brain called the putamen and the caudate, a change oddly reminiscent of adults who have experienced early life stress, such as childhood maltreatment.

These sensations would cause me to have intestinal discomfort ranging from chronic constipation to nausea.

I would go to the school reception during lunch break sometimes on a almost daily basis saying either about a stomachache and/or headache. I would sit in floods of tears wanting to go home this went on for approximately 18 months as my nervous system was also being pushed as panic attacks usually followed before and/or after an episode of pain.

This meant that obsessive-compulsive disorder manifested in persistent hand-washing, counting, checking and reassurance around illness and disease began which last from the ages of 12 to 15.

Psychological Pain Presenting as Physical Pain?

What is Somatic Symptom Disorder

People with somatic symptom disorder experience real physical symptoms — they are not imagined. These symptoms can vary in intensity from mild to severe and often include breathlessness, exhaustion, or weakness, though pain is the most commonly reported symptom. Doctors may be unable to pinpoint a medical reason, or there may be a clear and diagnosable medical cause. However, people with somatic symptom disorder are likely to experience the symptoms of their illness more severely than is common.

 

Fast forward to this year and very recently I woke up in tremendous pain it started with an “itching” sensation in my lower arms and legs, then they felt like they were on fire, I got up and moved my legs persistently for 40 mins trying to “release” the sensation

I went to the GP this week who confirmed somatisation disorder secondary to an anxiety disorder, PTSD, depression and hypercondriasis which makes sense.

Pain would be triggered by talking about illness in any context,so for example people on the bus sat behind me and in the GP waiting room for example the described pain would migrate and move from my lower back, to my upper back from upper limbs to my lower limbs my body would begin to shake and adrenaline fired through my body, my stomach muscles would cramp up and it would gurgle.

I went for a walk two nights ago and my feet went “numb” this caused great distress and panic as I walked home however bursting into tears was a great release for me.

Conclusion

Now most of pain has subsided but what does psycho-somatic pain represent? For me I feel it is unprocessed emotions, recent environmental distress and need for my body and brain to calm down.

Paul Isaacs 2019