• Dr. Jacob D van Zyl

Me and Tree Blog 22


by Dr. Jacob D van Zyl tel 013 752 2000

Practice @ 37A Ehmkestreet, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, SA

BLOG (22/3) posted on 2019/04/26 – check this blog for the next update in about two weeks to one month’s time THE TREE EXPOSED TO A STORM :


In the previous blog I put the focus on the aspect of loss regarding trauma as well as post-traumatic stress disorder – I emphasized the phase of shock and denial.

In this blog I emphasize the phases of aggression and anger; bargaining and depression.

The reaction of aggression and anger

The reaction of shock and denial is followed by feelings of aggression and anger. Sometimes the traumatised person directs the anger at himself/herself. This self-directed anger can often lead to extreme depression. It can even result in suicide, if the person does not receive help of some sort. The traumatised person can also direct the anger at other people.

The parents of a child who has died while under the care of a physician, may proceed to litigation against the doctor, in order that the doctor can “pay” for the death of their child. The victim hates the perpetrator, criminal or thief for what has been done to him/her. Anger may even be directed at the loved one who passed away. The person might say something akin to: ‘He failed me by abandoning me, how could he just have disappeared?”

The reaction of bargaining

Anger is followed by bargaining which take the form of statements such as: ‘If only I had locked the door’ or ‘If only we had left the scene instead of turning back, I would not have been shot’; ‘If only he lived a little longer so that I could have said goodbye’ or ‘If only we could have had one last holiday together’. This phase concerns the regrets people have about things they could have done to prevent the trauma, or even just to have made it not as bad as it was. This phase can even include a bargaining process with God.

The reaction of depression

The bargaining phase is followed by depression. The traumatised person feels depressed in one or more dimension of life: Cognitively (lack of concentration; focus and confusion); socially (withdrawal and isolation); emotionally (feelings of low self-esteem, tearfulness); physically (eats less or more, which leads to weight loss or gain); insomnia (has difficulty sleeping), or hypersomnia (wants to sleep all the time, as a way of escaping the trauma and memories associated with it). “I just don’t feel like going on…’ are words often heard spoken by traumatised people.

The five phases forming part of a person’s reaction to loss, do not necessarily occur chronologically. They are neither linear nor static, but form part of a dynamic process.

1. Shock and denial

2. Aggression and anger

3. Bargaining / Supposition and regret

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

In the next blog I hope to reflect on the important phase of acceptance.

Feel free to send your questions regarding trauma to or contact my rooms at 013 752 2000 in order to make an appointment.


© 2018 by 4 Keep Sakes 

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