Iran, a reflection: Constriction


by Monda

In response to "Iran, a reflection":

When a person is completely powerless, and any form of resistance is futile, she may go into a state of surrender. The system of self-defense shuts down entirely. The helpless person escapes from her situation not by action in the real world but rather by altering her state of consciousness.

A rape survivor describes her experience of this surrender: "Did you ever see a rabbit stuck in the glare of your headlights when you wre going down a road at night. Transfixed- like it knew it was going to get it - that's what happened." In the words of another rape survivor, "I couldn't scream. I couldn't move. I was a rag doll." These alterations of consciousness are at the heart of constriction or numbing, a cardinal symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sometimes situations of inescapable danger may evoke not only terror and rage but also, paradoxically, a state of detached calm, in which terror, rage, and pain dissolve. Events continue to register in awareness, but it is as though these events have been disconnected from their ordinary meanings. Perceptions may be numbed or distorted, with partial anesthesia or the loss of particular sensations. Time sense may be altered, often with a sense of slow motion, and the experience may lose its quality of ordinary reality.

The person may feel as though the event is not happening to her, as though she is observing from outside her body, or as though the whole experience is a bad dream from which she will shortly awaken. These perceptual changes combine with a feeling of indifference, emotional detachment, and profound passivity in which the person relinquishes all initiative and struggle. This altered state of consciousness might be regarded as one of nature's small mercies, a protection against unbearable pain. A rape survivor describes this detached state: "I left my body at that point. I was over next to the bed, watching this happen...I dissociated from the helplessness. I was standing next to me and there was just this shell on the bed...There was just a feeling of flatness. I was just there. When I picture the room, I don't picture it from the bed. I picture it from the side of the bed."

That's where I was watching it from.


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Good one Monda.

by Anonymouse on

Good one Monda.  I think it explains the feeling of rage and helplessness which is how I believe many in Iran feel, at the same time there is a feeling of getting back, fighting back.  If there is one I can say for sure it is the fighting back, maybe not at the moment but certainly later.

As for flatness I meant what I was seeing outside Iran in response to events taking place which I'm not sure if it is reflective of what we're hearing and seeing here.  So I think you're right it does to some extent explains it.


Everything is sacred.

Shazde Asdola Mirza

Media coverage helps the victims, by breaking their loneliness!

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Every voice counts! Every action counts!


Dear Nazy

by Monda on

I am glad you liked this excerpt.

I look forward to seeing you on the 25th and 26th. 



by Monda on

Dr. Herman's seminal work offers the most clear and concise description of that "flatness" which I think Anonymouse had referred to in his blog.

As Iranians, we have adapted, by acting out some of our trauma, through so many creative defenses, mainly seen in our interpersonal lives.  


Mehrban jaan

by Monda on

I am hopeful too, that the function of this uprising is the means to an end of trauma that Iranians have endured for so long. 

As Sima commented, I wish we could see some of the Iranian folk dances on clips. When I find them I will add to that piece.

Nazy Kaviani

Dear Monda

by Nazy Kaviani on

Thank you for this informative blog. It sheds light on some of the feelings I have experienced of late. I have found that getting together with other Iranians has been really helpful in trying to make sense of what is happening in Iran. I remember the exact same feelings as the 1979 revolution was unfolding in Iran. Up until recently, I thought I had felt so numb then because I was so young and couldn't understand it. Now I know that age and experience have less to do with it than the sheer element of distance from Iran.

Thank you very much for accepting the call sweet Monda. I'll see you in San Francisco on the 25th. Don't forget to come to Association of Iranian American Writer's reading at San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts on Sunday, July 26th at 2:00 p.m.

Multiple Personality Disorder

Thank you Monda,

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

I wish I could read the entire book, Trauma and Recovery, by Dr. Judith Herman, but I neither have the attention span nor the time.  It's a shame really, because knowledge is the key to solving ills of societies.

The excerpt you provided is so relevant to how some people feel nowadays, nothing.  Someone even wrote about it, that the person didn't feel anything.  This piece gives an insight to a reason why.

Thank you, 



Monda jaan

by Mehrban on

Thank you for this piece.  People of Iran may be shaking off their numbness from the assults towards them in the last thirty years.  Thank god!

I also wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your piece on Iranian dances.  I should have said it before but I got distracted by the events.  It is so important to keep joyous traditions of Iran alive.  Now, am I acting numb..... talking about joyous tradistions at this time? or defiant?  I wonder.


over the long run Sima?

by Monda on

Wasn't 30 years long enough? 

I don't engage in suicidal ideation. However this uprising did bring about many flash backs for me. I need to consistently be mindful about centering myself in relation to the ongoing events.


Yup, numbness

by sima on

I wonder what happens over the long run?

Someone wrote that she felt she wanted to get shot in the heart. I wonder if that happens after you observe things in self-inflicted numbness for a long tme. Then you long for intense pain, blood and gore.

Javad Yassari

Very true

by Javad Yassari on

So descriptive of our helplessness and surrender to events over which we have no control. Thank you.


Thank you for reading Flying Solo

by Monda on

This is not the way I submitted it. Line breaks are all messed up!

Flying Solo


by Flying Solo on