7 chapter 7

feedback feedforward

I have a feeling that there is something important about how the brain circuits feed information back to other regions of the brain at the same time they are feeding information forward.

The cerebellum is involved in our movement, both of our bodies and of our thoughts, and is the body’s time keeper.  Yet the research is saying that this region of the brain does not shrink in adult PTSD but is an area shrunken in children who have been abused.

I wonder how this is tied to dissociation, as they say that early dissociation experience is a precursor to later dissociation if an adult undergoes trauma – and dissociates in the peritrauma of the experience.
They also say that if someone experiences a sense of time slowing down or speeding up – alterations in the perception of time – while experiencing a trauma, they are at greater risk for developing PTSD.

What do dissociation experience and experience of time alterations have to do with PTSD?

I am wondering, if PTSD and preoccupied attachments have to do with trauma reliving itself in the present – and trauma reenactments being reliving of past trauma

Is dissociation connected not only to reliving traumas from the past, but to reliving traumas in “future memory?”

It seems to me as I wrote in, I think, the learning chapter, that the present is a cognitive concept that is not based in fact and is not “real.”.  The brain is continually processing information in a feedback, feedforward manner so that, in my thinking, it knows that the past is constantly morphing into the future.  When a trauma hits us, that sense of time alteration might be connected to the conflict we feel between our illusionary cognitive representational concept of the “present” and the brain’s very real processing of the future as it is really happening all of the time – except we can usually pretend that we have an extended present.  Trauma wipes that illusion from us, rips it away.  We are left at trauma moments with every part of us paying attention to and involved with the experience of the trauma – which is unfolding upon us in real time, not pretend time.

So there is a discrepancy between our made-up version of how time passes and how it actually does transpire in our brains – as in the peritraumatic condition of acute trauma.

From that point onward, those of us who dissociate are able to “remember the future” through our body’s continual monitoring of the environment in hypervigilance, hyperalert.  It is a sort of future monitoring.  This is related to our experience in the past that has been so threatening that the body makes constant assessments to see if the trauma is NOW again threatening us with extinction in the very next millisecond of our lives.

We want to be able to “remember the future” by using our conceptualizations about the future, our representations of “the future” as we consider it cognitively.  Acute trauma has very little time for cognitive decision making.  We are going to have to react instantaneously using whatever active competency skills we have gathered up until that

Do we feel safe in the future?  Were we safe in the past?  Do we have a secure attachment system/style that lets us internalize our own “secure base” that we can carry around inside of us?

If trauma threatens us enough to get carried into future memory, when that memory becomes activated it may feel like dissociation as surely as it can when past memory takes us over.
To the degree/extent that the past overwhelms a person, they are to that degree not conscious in the present instant that is a continual ongoing evolution into the future.  If, in addition, they have suffered a trauma severe enough to become projected into the future memory of the body, that memory will feed itself continually forward into the future one instant at a time as the past experience is also feeding forward from the past.

I see this somehow like an infinity sign.  The person is not free to experience any part of this supposed cognitive construct of the present – which at most is the tiny dot in the center of the two loop ends — because the body’s entire focus and effort is involved in the feedback feedforward circuit loops based on continual assessment of the oncoming future as it has been conditioned by threat-to-life in the past.  This can make for a dissociated experience – a conscious unconsciousness – in this exact moment of experiencing the present.

Reminds me of a snake that swallowed two rabbits….

The future is always our death.  Trauma brings that reality home into the body so strongly that cognition alone is not going to convince the body otherwise.

I was thinking about all of this this morning when I went to make my second pot of coffee – about how there is no present, just an oncoming future – and that we never know what that future instant is going to bring or create in our lives – thinking as I poured the water into the pot, but in the filter and the coffee, and turned the pot on.  I went on about my morning’s tasks until I realized the coffee pot was doing exactly nothing.  I moved the pot to a different wall plug, and it still did nothing.  It just died – after 13 years of hard work – exactly at that moment where the past (of it working fine) morphed into the future (where it ceased working completely).


These are times I call, for myself, states of disorientation and disorganization. It is almost continual for me now, where I can’t shut out or modulate/moderate the “noise.”

  1. But how do we do FMRIs on real-time peritrauma?   That’s like getting a FMRI of a child abuser’s brain while the abuse is going on?  (Which reminds me – how silly is it to do studies on dissociation in a population of college students?  How can we generalize that info – and to whom?)

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