Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Panic attacks
Friday March 06, 2009


Dear Alice,

Last week I watched, on Italian TV, a program telling about attacks of
panic with participating of actors, journalists and others Italian VIP who
admitted to suffer of panic attacks - no one know and understand the
causes of it's problem, even the psychiatrist, taking part in this program,
was capable to explain clearly the causes.
I try to find some information about it on the internet but there is nothing
convincing me. During the program one thing surprised me very much, because
one women, an actor, said that she (very anxious normally) get panic
attack even when she feel strong emotions of happiness and gave an example,
it happened to her once when her husband, a film director, win a premium,
she felt very happy but get panic attack and she added that once it happens
to her even after she made love with her husband.
Can you explain on forum the mechanism of panic attacks, why it can happen
even if you think you feel happy, I will be very grateful.

Best regards, SG

AM: Panic attacks are always connected to traumatic childhood experiences. If we have access to our history we can sometimes easily find the memory and the triggers in the presence that explain the fear so that the fear disappears. In your example the woman feels panic after a happy experience. It CAN be that one of her parents or both envied her for her gifts and her success in school, in sport etc and critisised or ridiculed her after each achievement. Then, instead of being happy she felt bad, ashamed, guilty, and in her brain pleasure became connected with pain. The adult can later suffer from panic attacks after having been successful. The introjected parent repeats then what the real parent did to the child by destroying her pleasure out of pure envy. Is this understandable to you?

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