Many are the events that human beings experience that can lead to shock: events of war are high on the list, but also loss of a child or beloved, a sudden loss of physical functioning, the dissolution of trust in something that one had believed in and had based one’s life on.
Shock dismantles all that we know to be true, and in its place creates a loss of grounding in the reality of that which is familiar. Shock leads to numbness, feeling dazed, feeling out of oneself, and difficulty recognizing what is happening. In the presence of shock, one is trying to absorb and integrate a new reality.
Because we are psycho-physical organisms, shock can affect all levels of our psychic and physical functioning, interrupting life as we know it and bringing it to a halt. All of this takes place as part of a process of healing, an effort to get over that which has caused the shock in the first place.
On the mental and emotional level, because of the intensity of the event that has given rise to shock, one may have the feeling that it is impossible to go on living. The period of feeling dazed, then, may be seen as creating a ‘time-out’ for the body and mind, in which one does not have to deal with external reality.
There is a great need in the presence of shock to be in an environment in which patience can be practiced and the body and mind allowed time to recover without being forced to do so prematurely. One must trust this timing, knowing that the internal process that one goes through operates according to an intelligence of its own.
It is possible to recover from most forms of shock, but more difficult to do when one does not have a means of spiritual anchoring.
When life-changing events occur suddenly and unexpectedly, it is easy for most to go into a mild or more pronounced state of shock. The mind has to adjust itself to a new reality and this takes time. The body has to recover from whatever overload to the nervous system has taken place, and the brain needs to reconfigure itself along neuro-synaptic pathways to absorb the overstimulation that has affected its cortical network. The important thing is that this recovery not be rushed.
Overstimulation of neuro-synaptic pathways, the cerebral cortex, and the nervous system in general is a common denominator in shock. One’s nervous system has been overloaded by a sudden jolt of intense energy and emotion, and so a recalibration has to happen.
Recovery from shock can often occur on its own, simply through the passage of time and the fuller integration of the new reality into everyday life. However, sometimes, shock is sensed as too great to bear, and in such instances the will to live must be reinforced by surrounding it with love, compassion, and support so that it seems possible to the one suffering from shock to go on living.
Each human being has a capacity to adapt to changed realities. Each is equipped with the means to make alterations in the psychic structure so that new information can create a new inner reality. Nevertheless, there must be a willingness to do so. There must be hope that the new reality will carry one into a more positive state. There are some who do not or who cannot arrive at this conclusion, especially those without external support, who linger at the border between life and death for a while, sometimes succumbing to despair, and sometimes succumbing, physically, to the next invasive physical disease or circumstance that may affect the body, not having the life-force to combat it. In such cases, it may appear that a person dies from a particular illness or condition, but in reality the condition became life-threatening because they could not recover from the shock to their psycho-physical system.
Many are the events that human beings experience that can lead to shock: events of war are high on the list among them, but also the loss of a child or beloved, a sudden accident and loss of physical functioning, the sudden dissolution of trust in something that one had held to be true and had based one’s life on. It is possible to recover from each of these events, but more difficult to do when one does not have conscious spiritual anchoring. More than anything else, such anchoring allows the sense of the viability of life to return sooner rather than later, and creates hope for the future. It bestows on the one going through shock, the knowledge of a path forward that can be taken, even when all hope seems to be gone.