Trauma Survivors and Stuck Points


The word stuck means “fixed or frozen” and can mean a lot of things. A jar lid stuck on a refrigerator may be the perfect example of stuck. A car stuck in traffic might be the opposite. Even indecisiveness can be described as stuck. The verb stuck is derived from the Old English word stician, which means “to pierce” or “to remain fastened.”

When a person is grieving, they struggle with thoughts and memories about their loss. Sometimes, they confuse distressing thoughts with feelings, which leads to a downward spiral of negative thinking. Others get distracted by their emotions and fail to address the root cause of the stuck point. The consequences of being stuck are far-reaching and affect one’s power, esteem, and intimacy. And rigid beliefs can negatively impact a relationship. So, what can we do to overcome stuckness?

Trauma survivors often experience “stuck points” in their recovery. These stuck points are extreme statements that focus on certain cognitive processing themes. Themes that can be affected include safety, trust, power/control, esteem, and intimacy. Avoid moral statements as these can reinforce the belief that you are unable to cope with the loss. If you are in the process of recovery, consider the following ideas to help you get through your stuck points. If they are keeping you from moving forward, then you can work to break them.