Residual Shock

I think I first heard Rick use the term ‘residual shock’ a while ago and I remember the idea making an impact on me…it made sense. I was laying in bed a couple days ago thinking about some events in my life and realizing how I still had residual shock in my nervous system…in my organs…in my thoughts. I was kind of surprised in a way because I hadn’t considered it in that manner before. I mean, I was well aware that these memories troubled me, were uncomfortable for me to feel but I hadn’t thought of that unpleasantness as the symptoms of residual shock. But it made sense. I could still feel the shock in my system.

I suppose that’s what trauma is fundamentally, residual shock. All trauma is ‘shock trauma’ I think. Shock still reverberating through the various systems of our bodies and minds after an event has actually ended…ended on the ‘outside’ but continues on the ‘inside’…sometimes for many years. The residual shocks that I was becoming aware of were mostly what I would call mundane in nature. No car accidents, not war or violence…just the little shocks and assaults on my nervous system adding up day after day. Many of these shocks accumulated during the years I raised my two daughters as a single parent who was neither emotionally nor financially well resourced to do so in a ‘Thriving’ manner…I would say much of the time through those years I was in ‘Primitive Brain’ style parenting. And then there were as well actual dramatic incidents embedded throughout those years…it all feels like a singular sort of SHOCK!..the shock of an era or a period of time.

I’m becoming more aware of these various residual shocks. I’m thinking my nervous system is one that has been ‘groomed’ for shock as a result of my childhood and adolescence and perhaps my ancestral inheritance. Some nervous systems seem much more resistant to being shocked.

Our cat, Mickey, is an adopted fellow. We don’t know much about his past, only a few details but he’s provided me with some important learning about nervous systems. Most of the time he’s a pretty mellow guy but every once in awhile he gets weird and very aggressive. Only toward me, not my wife…so it would seem that there was likely a negative incident, or incidents, that happened involving a male and that would make sense knowing the bit that we know about Mickey’s past life. Here’s what I’ve learned: once Mickey’s nervous system has been activated in that ‘primitive brain’ way anything I do simply adds to the level of activation. Whether I speak calmly to him or try to pet him to calm him (dangerous!! lol) his nervous system simply continues to respond to those actions as continued threats and it only increases the activation of his survival response. All I can do is leave him alone…sometimes I have to get a chair or a guitar in my hand between us to back him up and close a door between us…(yes, it gets that crazy!!) ‘Co-Regulation’ is not always a viable possibility in all circumstances it would seem…lol. I give him some time on his own to regulate himself and then we’re fine again.

That’s a display of ‘residual shock’ I would say and once in that state there is the tendency for the nervous system to stay in that state (for survival reasons) and for any further sensory input (regardless of intent) to be interpreted as (possible/probable) aggression/danger and to remain in that survival state. I see that same behaviour in myself and others, which makes sense, since, as mammals, we all share the same basic nervous system functions.

I think exploring ‘residual shock’ would make a really interesting and useful ‘Real Skills Workshop


I remember when Cathy and I were doing the Reprogram Your Primitive Brain program. It struck me how yes, indeed, EFT Tapping is really helpful for the big (obvious) traumas from our past. Many of the “one minute miracles” were around those. I’m grateful to have such a tool we can use to address such clear significant events.

It’s the “adding up day after day” part that I feel we’re still working on. Those seem to build grooves in our psychobiology that are impactful decades later.

Take hypocrisy. It builds up in me. I can’t point to many events that were both big and personally impactful. The ones I can feel a “2” or so, since I have tapped on them more than once over the decades.

Still, my reaction to hypocrisy is still grooved. I’ve been using social media feeds to see if I can shift that a bit, so when it hits, I am trying to pause and tap.

Harder than I thought it would be, honestly. The “residual shock” seems to go to a quick flare of repulsion and then find someplace to hide, or disconnection – I can observe myself blanking and still scrolling.

Interesting, eh?

Feels like a spring clearing is in order.


Take hypocrisy…please. (said with the voice and timing of Henny Youngman)

Oh boy Rick…that one hits me hard too…it’s embedded into our daily lives…we’re swimming in it…it’s ubiquitous…it’s the primary language of authority systems…and it’s largely left unchallenged (and too often unrecognized). It’s hard for me to reconcile. I can push it (my PB response) away for awhile (a couple of days sometimes) but, like the tide, it will predictably return and I can feel my disgust and anger return with it. And I don’t know, maybe that’s okay…I think to myself that maybe that’s the appropriate response. I mean I wouldn’t want to ‘tap away’ my feelings of anger and disgust at seeing innocents being abused by bullies and get to a point where I can passively observe without feeling the need to intervene…simply walk past because the highest priority is that I don’t go into an unpleasant state of mind. And maybe I’m conflating two very different scenarios…I’m not sure…just some thoughts I’ve been having lately.

Wow! That’s brave of you…ha! You confront the monster head on…no baby steps… :slight_smile: I love that you are so insistent and consistent and sincere…so much the opposite of hypocritical. I appreciate that so much…thank you.

1 Like