Acute stress and attachment behavioral systems
Acute stress triggers one’s attachment behavior system by activating that innate human disposition to seek comfort and care from a familiar individual or group. At the point of stress, the person will feel vulnerable or in danger and will need something to offer them security.
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Normal people have a way of dealing with conflicts in an appropriate manner because they have developed a healthy attachment behavioral system. However, those with a disorganized attachment system will feel like victims when scared, in pain, or anxious.
They will revisit earlier experiences of the same and focus on it. Furthermore, such parties have negative views about themselves. They will worry about experiencing the same consequences that emanated from similar stresses in the past. These individuals will always be vigilant about a repetition of their past.
Some of them will display higher levels of hostility or anger during that period of stress in an attempt to defend themselves against past misfortunes. Therefore, a person’s attachment system is turned off when a negative experience such as fear, stress or anxiety is terminated.
At this point, the person experiences ‘felt security’. On the other hand, if felt security is not attained, then the person’s attachment system will be constantly activated. This will lead to extreme reactions to real and perceived moments of fear/ anxiety/ stress.
Helping somebody experiencing deep loss
An effective way of helping somebody experiencing deep loss or acute stress is establishing a support system. Since creation of ‘felt security’ is paramount in deactivating the attachment behavioral system, then one must establish this reaction through association with others.
Family and friends are vital in the grieving process because they provide the bereaved with an outlet that can offer them support through those trying times.
Since a person’s thought processes contribute tremendously to their coping ability during loss, then one can help the affected person by focusing on positive thinking.
For instance, the bereaved may have a perfectionist stance on matters. A counselor can help that person realize that it is alright to be less than perfect. The grieving person should be taught to avoid overgeneralizations.
Grief comes in various phases; denial, anger, negotiation, depression and acceptance. A person in the denial phase has not come to terms with the fact that the loss has occurred. A counselor or therapist can help such a person by urging him to face his feelings.
He or she should try to express his feelings creatively through personal journals, art, or writing a letter to the loved one. Alternatively, a counselor may assist a grief-stricken individual to cope with his stress by identifying and planning for possible grief triggers.
If a person lost his life-long partner, then anniversaries or public holidays may be particularly difficult. The person can talk about these days with a trusted friend or counselor and then plan what to do on that day. It should be noted that grief must be accepted and expressed in one’s own unique way.
Although helpers can assist an individual in coping with acute stress or deep loss, it is not acceptable to let other people prescribe courses of action.
No one should tell the victim to move on or to act in a particular way as the person will know when he or she is ready to move into another phase.
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How God can help
God can become a source of safety and security for those suffering from acute stress by helping individuals with the problem of loosing control.
Stress often immobilizes people because they do not feel like they can do anything about their situation. Faith allows one to focus on a higher power rather than the things one cannot do or can do.
God also provides a sense of security through spiritual groups that can support an acutely stressed person. Isolation often perpetuates depression because a person lacks a source of security. God allows such victims to find like-minded people who they can confide in.