Why and how we disconnect from feelings and the body

I came across the following quotes from Sylvia Bretton Perrera’s book The Scapegoat Complex, which I wrote down a while ago today.  They really struck home :

The capacity to endure discomfort seems to be related to the early experience of touch, being held intimately, and with respect, both in attentive regard and in protecting and containing arms…. (this holding) gives a child a sense of a whole (versus a ‘split’ off) body… (it gives) self integrity and identity….provides a safe vessel.

Disruption in a sense of continuous identity (strong sense of self)… leads to….deep uncertainty and is the result of :

  1. An incapable parent who cannot mediate overpowering emotion and frustration.
  2. A poor psychological ‘fit’ (between mother and child)….

this leads to a sense of exile…. problems with bonding and feeling securely held.  Then, as a result, psychological pain can be associated with (undeserved) guilt, feeling wholely bad which leads to splitting, denial of self and feelings, distortions of body image, loss of feeling in one’s body (dissociation), difficulties assimilating food or eating… body armouring and rigidity.

The (person suffering from the scapegoat complex) has built a wall to ward off the pains of toxic shadow material (note : it is only ‘toxic’ because it has not been allowed integration) so therefore keeps a distance between inner feelings and the self, between the self and others, keeping up a shield (or defence) to protect the self and othe’s from the ‘bad’ self.

The ego (conscious awareness of the personality) become inflated with the affects and feelings it has learned to avoid.  This leads to profound suffering.

All hurts are felt with an exquisite sensitivity because they touch old, raw wounds…. (leading to) … victim identification… surrogate suffering (taking on the pain others don’t want to feel or own)… The result is… a need to get rid of feelings and an inability to tolerate painful ones… raw affect brings helpless panic and leads to addiction in an attempt to avoid the suffering.

Only when sufferers can begin to sacrifice the demand for perfect mirroring from the therapist and her family, as (they) begin to sacrifice demands for restitution of a lost paradise state, and to accept the true burden that was (their) life can (they) truly begin to break free and recover.

The realisation then slowly dawns that those who could not mirror her or understand her feelings also suffered in a different way.

Developing the ability to suffer and survive our true feelings enables the scapegoated individual to see there was nothing wrong with her or the feelings at all, the problem came from their rejection and from the exile from our own body and feelings that occurred so many years ago.

Please note that the above is not a verbatim quote from that book but has been modified in order to present it in what I hope is a coherent form here.

Published by: emergingfromthedarknight

"The religious naturalist is provisioned with tales of natural emergence that are, to my mind, far more magical than traditional miracles. Emergence is inherent in everything that is alive, allowing our yearning for supernatural miracles to be subsumed by our joy in the countless miracles that surround us." Ursula Goodenough How to describe oneself? People are a mystery and there is so much more to us than just our particular experiences or occupations. I could write down a list of attributes and they still might not paint a complete picture pf Deborah Louise and in any case it would not be the full truth of me. I would say that my purpose here on Wordpress is to express some of my random experiences, thoughts and feelings, to share about my particular journey and explore some subjects dear to my heart, such as emotional recovery, healing and astrology while posting up some of the prose/poems which are an outgrowth of my labours with life, love and relationships. If anything I write touches you I would be so pleased to hear for the purpose of reaching out and expressung ourselves is hopefully to connect with each other and find where our souls meet.

Categories Avoidant Attachment, Emotional Abandonment, Emotional Recovery, Self Awareness, Self Blame8 Comments

8 thoughts on “Why and how we disconnect from feelings and the body”


  1. An incapable parent who cannot mediate overpowering emotion and frustration.
    A poor psychological ‘fit’ (between mother and child)….

    I can relate to both of these! Blimey! Thank you for posting this and helping me to understand more why I dissociate in times of stress and happiness. I thought it was a defence mechanism but I see that is much deeper than that. Can I use your blog piece for my pschology degree in october?

    1. Yes, Amy I would love that. I want to quote a lot more from this book as I feel it will help those with BDP to see why they struggle so much with such intense and at times split off feelings. Its such a dilemma to have had this kind of inadequate parenting as the wound you are left with is so hidden, deep, powerful and confusing. ❤

      1. The Scapegoat Complex by Sylvia Bretton Perrera. She is a Jungian therapist and it takes that kind of psychodynamic approach but there is so much wisdom in it for those of us who in the absence of being felt got isolated from our true self then blamed ourselves for a wound far greater than us. Its a very very powerful book. xo

      2. I will get that from amazon soon! sounds really interesting. Well done on finding it hun x

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