Emotional Flashbacks – cPTSD

“The concept of Emotional Flashbacks brings them (patients/clients) a great sense of relief. They are able to make some sense of their extremely troubled lives” 
Pete Walker. Director, Teacher and Mental Health Professional.

I found a great article about managing emotional flashbacks,  written by Pete Walker. The link is below.

Emotional Flashback Management in the Treatment of Complex PTSD by Pete Walker

Here are the points of interest that I took from the article:

Emotional flashbacks typically manifest as intense and confusing episodes of fear, toxic shame and/or despair.

When fear is the dominant emotion in an emotional flashback, the individual feels overwhelmed, panicky or even suicidal.

When despair predominates an emotional flashback it creates a sense of profound numbness, paralysis and an urgent need to hide.

Feeling small, young, fragile, powerless and helpless is commonly felt in an emotional flashback.

Such experiences are typically overlaid with toxic shame which obliterates an individual’s self-esteem with an overpowering sense that they are worth less, stupid, contemptible or fatally flawed.

When people realise and conceptualise that they are having an emotional flashback they become free of the fear and shame that have made them isolate, overreact, or push people away at such times. They experience tremendous relief when they learn to interpret their overwhelming or excessively numbing experiences as emotional flashbacks, rather than as proof that they are bad, defective, worthless and crazy.
They begin to heal their core abandonment depression and their attachment disorders.

The realisation that one is having an emotional flashback will also release some pain from past trauma.

As the healing takes place, some people begin to realise that their addictions are misguided efforts to self-medicate.

Some begin to understand that the inefficiency of the psychological and spiritual answers that the persued and are in turn liberated from a shaming plethora of misdiagnosises.

Some can now frame their extreme episodes of risk taking and self-destructiveness as the desperate attempts to distract themselves from their pain.

They go on to form Earned Secure Attachment. 

Management Techniques for Emotional Flashbacks

Thought Stopping: visualise a STOP sign and say NO to your inner critic.

Thought Substitution: Remember and focus on positive things about yourself. Such as intelligence, successes, integrity, kindness and resilience.


The above is accomplished under guided psycho-educational psychotherapy.

(…something that I have been requesting from my Doctor since June 2016!)




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