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The Need for Pain

I was abused as a child, locked alone in a room for five years with no food or human contact. Ten years later, I am married and we just bought a house, but it seems some of my demons are moving with me.

Several years ago I tried to kill myself. I haven’t had any attempts since then, but I have gotten very low. And it’s then that I imagine my worst tortures, usually on other people. If my thoughts became manifest, I would be arrested on the spot for any number of crimes.

I can’t stand being around people other than my husband. Big groups, small groups, I am terrified of even people I know well. By the same token, I also come up with the most sadistic ways of torturing people. Contradictory to that, however, I am starting an EMT career. I enjoy the work. It can be very exhilarating.

But therein lies more contradiction. I am jealous of some of the people. Recently I was on the scene of an accident with a critical patient (spine injury, arterial management, the whole works). And I desperately wanted to be her, the patient. I wanted to be in her place. I *wanted* to be in her place.

Sometimes I want those things to happen so bad, I could shove a knife through myself just to relieve the physical pressure that builds up (never have, but have come close). It’s not about killing myself per se, but feeling that pain and those injuries and experiences. I hate being touched by anyone except my husband, and yet in EMS training where I have to be the patient and things get very touchy, I enjoy it because they’re looking for what’s wrong and they’re going to fix it.

I’m told that these desires are related to my past abuse, the intense feelings of psychological pain that I want to be manifested physically because physical wounds can be healed.

I understand exactly what you’re saying about the need for pain. Thank you for having the courage to write about this and wanting to change. You seem to have very clear understanding of your (very intense) causes. I believe individual therapy with a counselor familiar with childhood abuse is important. I would do this sooner rather than later. The volatility of your thoughts indicates this is something you don’t want to delay in attending to.

I believe connecting past abuse with current symptoms is a good start. However, just as physical wounds can heal with treatment — psychological wounds can heal with the right care.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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