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..SYMPTOMS OF SHOCK 
..IN ADULTS AND 
..BABIES/CHILDREN
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PHYSICAL & EMOTIONAL INDICATORS..
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This information was developed by psychologist William Emerson. Note that many of these symptoms are paradoxical. A lot depends on whether a person:
  • has sympathetic or parasympathetic shock 
  • is in the early or late stages of adrenal fatigue/burnout 
  • is a direct, avoidant or other style of recapitulator (for more information see Recapitulation.)
Every symptom listed below can also occur because of reasons other than shock. However, these symptoms are common in people who have experienced emotional shock (severe emotional trauma). This checklist is an anecdotal diagnostic tool; the Adrenal Stress Index provides a biological measure of adrenergic hormones and is a very accurate measure of unresolved shock levels.
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IN ADULTS
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Here are some commonly-reported symptoms of unresolved emotional shock in adults: 
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Physical symptoms
  • Lack of focused eye contact; stuporous or fixed gaze (zoning out) 
  • Vacant or distant look (preoccupied) 
  • Molded skeletal or muscular cranial/facial features 
  • Fixated postures and/or movements 
  • Body numbness 
  • Cold, clammy hands and feet 
  • Immobility 
  • Restlessness 
  • Amnesia: inability to remember blocks of time, patchy or absent memories of childhood 
  • Over- or under-tense musculature (hyper- or hypotonic) 
  • Nervousness or tremors 
  • Loss of speech; change in speech pattern 
  • Very fast or very slow speech pattern 
  • Fainting or dizziness when aroused or stressed 
  • Pupils fixed (very large or small) 
  • Dryness in eyes 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Tight jaw 
  • Chronic muscle tension 
  • Shallow breathing 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Frequent sighs 
  • Chronically tired 
  • Poor general health 
  • Speedy, racy, hurried 
  • Extreme precision in physical movement; physically cautious 
  • .
    Emotional symptoms
    • Hypervigilance
    • Chronic repetition of stressful situations
    • Frequent crises
    • Abrupt changes in affect or behavior
    • Easily startled
    • Excellent at getting along, being compliant, being "good"
    • Appear (or believe themselves to be) trusting, but actually lack trust on a deep levelOverly expressive, hysterical
    • Fear bad things will happen again, so tend to be quite controlling
    • Locked in hindsight; regretful; looking back and saying "I shouldn't have done that and if I had done that differently…."
    • Reactive rather that proactive
    • Try to predict and anticipate life; difficulty going with the flow
    • Unaware of their true inner power; re-enact helplessness
    • No inner trust; doesn't look inward for answers
    • Need (and try) to possess
    • Afraid of the unknown
    • Dominating
    • Clingy
    • Use/abuse others to meet their own needs
    • Difficulty taking in love; subtle feeling of deprivation and entitlement
    • Live in the head; try to theorize, figure things out intellectually
    • Heart closed because it's "too scary"
    • Believe their needs will not be met
    • Insatiable; nothing is ever quite enough
    • Seek safety; obsessed with being safe (even unconsciously)
    • Highly defended - often hypersensitive
    • Has talents and abilities but they are forced, not free-flowing from a place of creativity and proaction; so contact with talent is transient and lacks deep connection/conviction/passion, so not deeply satisfying
    • Get involved in "fatal attractions" (bond with somebody from a wounded, infant, shock place)
    • Feel damaged or flawed
    • Don't "belong" or "have no place"
    • Everything is "life and death"
    • Tenacious; persevere (even in the face of profound hopelessness)
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    IN CHILDREN AND BABIES
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    In babies, signs of shock include excessive crying (some say more than 45 minutes a day of unexplained crying), inability to sleep for the lengths of time appropriate to their age, colic, asthma, digestive upsets and more. In older children, symptoms can include learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder, autism, extreme shyness or extreme gregariousness, stealing, violence....and more!
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    Physical symptoms
    • No crying at all, or excessive crying that is unexplained 
    • Low affect, little emotional expression 
    • Strong preference to face outward when being carried 
    • Not very present; dissociated; out of body 
    • Lack of focused eye contact; stuporous or fixed gaze (zoning out); vacant or distant look (preoccupied) 
    • Chronic postures or movements 
    • Molded cranial and facial bones and musculature 
    • Chronic repetition of stressful situations 
    • Physical sensitivity at trauma/shock sites (places on cranium, face, etc.) 
    • Frequent crises 
    • Development delays 
    • Development precocity (can indicate artificial acceleration of effort) 
    • Abrupt changes in affect or behavior 
    • Easily startled 
    • Body numbness 
    • Cold, clammy hands and feet 
    • Immobility 
    • Restlessness 
    • Hypervigilance 
    • Amnesia 
    • Over- or under-tense muscles (hyper- or hypotonic) 
    • Tremors 
    • Fainting or dizziness when aroused or stressed 
    • Pupils fixed very large or small 
    • Dryness in eyes 
    • Dry mouth 
    • Tight jaw 
    • Chronic muscle tension 
    • Shallow breathing 
    • Difficulty breathing 
    • Frequent sighs 
    • Chronically tired 
    • Poor general health 
    • Allergic 
    • Speedy, racy, hurried 
    • Extreme precision in physical movement; physically cautious 
    • Hypersensitive 
    • Inability to sleep for the lengths of time appropriate to their age 
    • Colic 
    • Asthma 
    • Digestive upsets
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    Emotional symptoms
    • Easily frustrated 
    • Lack of confidence to try new things 
    • Gets unreasonably angry (out of proportion to the cause) 
    • Overly expressive, hysterical 
    • Fear bad things will happen again, so tend to be quite controlling 
    • Not very present; dissociated; out of body 
    • Locked in hindsight; regretful 
    • Reactive rather that proactive 
    • Try to predict and anticipate life; difficulty going with the flow 
    • Unaware of their true inner power; re-enact helplessness 
    • No inner trust; doesn't look inward for answers 
    • Need (and try) to possess 
    • Afraid of the unknown 
    • Dominating and clingy 
    • Use/abuse others to meet their own needs; difficulty taking in love 
    • Feeling of deprivation and entitlement 
    • Live in the head; try to theorize, figure things out intellectually 
    • Heart closed 
    • Eternally on the alert and hypervigilant 
    • Believe their needs will not be met 
    • Insatiable; nothing is ever quite enough 
    • Seek safety; obsessed with being safe (even unconsciously); highly defended 
    • Feel damaged or flawed 
    • Don't "belong" or "have no place" 
    • Everything is "life and death" 
    • Feels threatened by everything; hypersensitive 
    • Tenacious; persevere (even in the face of profound hopelessness) 
    • Excellent at getting along, being compliant, being "good" 
    • Appears trusting, but actually lacks trust on a deep level 
    • Learning disabilities 
    • Attention Deficit Disorder 
    • Autism 
    • Extreme shyness or extreme gregariousness 
    • Stealing, violence and other sociopathological behaviour
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    Now that you've read this list I bet you're saying "But these are signs of trauma!" That's the point! For too long we have failed to recognize the signs of shock and mistaken them for trauma.
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    No one has all these symptoms; people with shock will exhibit at least a few, often many. Some people manifest these symptoms to a severe degree, others to a lesser degree. Again, these are not prescriptive, they are descriptive.
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    Most importantly, we must remember that it is much easier to resolve early emotional wounds in babies than it is in adults. Children who were wounded early on and given an opportunity to release and heal those experiences reap tremendous benefits, including depth of character,  tenderness, compassion, and deepened capacity for intimacy.
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    Last updated May 1, 2005