THE CAR ACCIDENT

 Andy was already running late for work and now he was stuck in city rush-hour traffic. To make matters worse, he was so preoccupied thinking about a project he was working on, he was in the wrong lane while waiting at a traffic light. He was in the right lane and needed to be in the left lane so he could make a left turn just a few yards past the traffic light. “No sweat,” he thought. “I’ll just gun it when the light changes.” The guy to his left must have been late, too, because when the light changed, both he and Andy floored their accelerator and went screeching away from the light. “Damn! That SOB is not going to let me over,” Andy growled to himself. “Screw him!” Andy veered left, trying to force the guy on his left to slow down. In a fit of dual road rage, however, neither gave in and suddenly Andy’s car was flipping over and over down the street, careening directly into a concrete post on Andy’s side. The post rammed into Andy’s body, breaking his arm, several ribs, and knocking him unconscious. Andy awakened in the hospital with a severe concussion in addition to the broken bones. “You were lucky,” the doctor told him. “Just a couple of inches and your skull would have been crushed.”

Andy recovered nicely and before long was driving to work again. The first time he headed out for work, however, he was anxious and uneasy, and he decided to avoid the fateful intersection where the accident happened. In fact, as time went on, Andy found that he simply could not manage to get near that intersection. Just the thought of driving through it caused him tremendous anxiety. His heart pounded, he was sweating, and images of the accident flashed before him. For a month Andy avoided the intersection. He got pretty angry at himself because doing so added a good ten minutes to his normally thirty-minute commute. “What the hell am I doing?” he wondered. “I’m letting that intersection ruin my life!”

Question: What do you think Andy should do to deal with his anxiety about the intersection? Just post a comment with your thoughts. In a week or so we will post the actions Andy actually took and how they worked out.

5 thoughts on “”

  1. First he needed to deal with his PTSD using whatever worked best for him: tapping, eye movement integration, meditating, talk therapy. Then, with someone he trusted in the car with him, he needed to go thru that intersection over and over to bring down his anxiety.

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  2. Two things about Nancy’s comment are important: (1) Always work with someone you trust. (2)Find the approach that works best for you. In coping, one size seldom fits all.

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  3. I can recall a former professor of mine recalling a time where he was trapped in an elevator for a period of time. Finally once he was rescued and able to get off, people he was with all got out and “kissed-the-ground” so-to-speak. But yet, he did not. He decided that what he better do was immediately ward off a problem with facing elevators. So he got back on the elevator and rode up and down for awhile. This is the type of thing that we need to do, but surely we don’t really want to. Running off and kissing-the-ground sure seems like a nice idea in the moment. But we have to be aware this could lead to problems down the road. So, if something like this happens to you try not to avoid it and face that of which was the problem head on! You end up thanking yourself for what you don’t have to face later on.

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  4. This comment touches on a basic premise of PTSD. Procrastinating and not dealing with our trauma allows us to rehearse the event in our mind, which is basically like an additional experience. We reflect on all the terrible things that could have gone wrong. We rehearse (practice) a fear response, and that response will strengthen with practice. Psychologists used to talk about “incubation of fear,” noting that fear often seems to increase over time. The fact is, though, it’s what we do during time, such as dwell on how things could have been much worse, that makes our fear grow.

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