Trauma, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition in which a person goes through a terrible experience (as we see in war veterans) and is then plagued by memory ‘flashbacks’, anxiety, panic, depression, sleeplessness and hyper-vigilance.
Here are the most common myths about Trauma:
- You never really get over it
- The trauma is stored in the Unconscious mind
- The problem needs long term therapy
- Treatment involves working through so-called ‘irrational’ emotions
- The cure arrives when the individual learns to control those ‘irrational’ emotions with the ‘rational mind’.
- The majority of people exposed to awful events do not develop trauma and many people with PTSD do recover
- There is no such thing as the ‘Unconscious Mind’
- EMDR therapy is extremely quick
- Successful treatment means getting rid of irrational ideas and reactions, not emotions
And here are some more facts:
- It’s fairly uncommon – only about 20% of people who go through a traumatic event actually develop a Traumatic reaction.
- Some types of therapy can make the problem worse rather than better if they focus on reliving the trauma
- It is not caused by out of control emotions
- It is caused by the over-attentive conscious mind
- Tt is relatively straightforward to eliminate traumatic memories and the symptoms that come with them
- Traumatic problems are best treated with EMDR.
When I graduated as a psychotherapist in 1990 I had been taught a lot of things that were never any use in therapy – watching out for ‘transference issues’ was one of them. I had also not been taught a lot of things that I really needed to know but only found out later. So like most therapists I had to make it up as I went along. But now I have been doing it for 23 years I have learnt a few things I am going to share with you.
Here is my list of seven things that really do work.
Do you have a troublesome or traumatic memory? Or so-called Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome – PTSD?
A common belief is that once you have one of these ‘memories’ then you are stuck with it for life and little can be done about it.
New research confirms that this is not true. if you interfere with the way in which people access these memories you can neutralize them. This is the basis for the EMDR technique which disrupts access to traumatic memories by asking subjects to keep their eyes on a moving finger while trying to recall the trauma at the same time. I must have used this technique countless times and have never yet seen it fail.
About 20 years ago we discovered that changing your eye-movements while you process a worry, a phobia or a trauma reduces – or eliminates – the problem.
Sometimes this process is called Eye Movement Integration (EMI), or Rapid Eye Technology (RET), or Rapid Eye Movement Technology (REMT), or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).
The basic premise is that eye movements signal the brain to process information in different ways.
Slowing down or holding eye movements still while you process a pleasant memory enables you to become more fully absorbed in it (try it for yourself).
Speeding up the eye movements while holding in mind a worry or a bad memory weakens its impact.
The fact that rapid eye movements appear when we dream shows that they are closely linked to brain cebtres that process information as dreams are partly a digest of that day's experiences. Interestingly, people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder often report with damage to the Hippocampus – a brain centre closely linked to memory processing.
If you want to erase a trauma or a phobia for yourself you could consult someone with a training in Reverse Therapy (I don't recommend you try it by yourself).
If you want to experiment with milder problems like a worry then just switch on the program at the top and stare at the X in the middle while you hold the worry in mind.
It works for most people.