Andrew Sercombe on: Invasive History Syndrome. Have You Experienced It?
Don’t know whether the medical profession has another more technical name for this, but IHS, in Auto Response Psychology, stands for Invasive History Syndrome. You first heard about it here.
Let me give you a brief introduction, but the chances are YOU can tell ME about it…
It’s what it says on the tin – when memories, thoughts, bad experiences, pain from the past, invade your present and threaten your future. Know what I mean? Typically, you can be carrying on as usual when someone says or does something and the emotions and remembrances of something in your history – a comparatively minor childhood trauma, a bad experience when you were 13, the rejection of a failed relationship, an unkind word spoken in jest – simply invade you.
It sweeps in, carrying all before it, like a tidal wave, so that you can think of little (or nothing) else. It may take hours, days or weeks to get over it, for your thinking to settle down and the pain (it is usually pain, though it can be other emotions too) finally subsides and you can carry on.
Invasive History Syndrome. IHS. It is a killer of healthy living, can affect the children, and other members of your family and social group, and exhausts you. You may need to sit down, go to bed early, or take a shower. You may need space. Or you may just take another tablet. Invasive History Syndrome has struck yet again. However tough you may be, you may feel profoundly intimidated by its power and end up shaky – and fearful for next time. It is associated with guilt, abuse, PTSD, insecurity and inadequacy, eating and sleeping disorders, and depression – and can sometimes be a strong, usually negative, motivational driver of unwanted behaviours like anger and violence.
But IHS may not be overwhelming. It may just appear above the surface like the Loch Ness Monster for a few minutes, and subside, leaving you wondering, without clarity or closure, awake at 4.00am. Where did THAT come from? Will it be back?
IHS can be treated. In fact it can be completely sorted for the most part. Gone. Finished. Most of the people who arrive in my client room come with IHS as a feature of their experience, and go away in charge of their life and future again.
No need to have your life distorted – however subtly – by your history invading the priceless quiet spaces of your day or night.
PS: IHS has an upside. It can be an overwhelming sense of joy, profound excitement, a deep sense of love – anything that invades your thoughts triggered from a moment in your history and stops you in your tracks.