Facts about Trauma and PTSD

brainatwarTrauma, 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’.

Some facts:

  • 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.

7 things they don’t teach you at therapy school

FoolWhen 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.

Continue reading

Removing traumatic memories from the brain

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.

Continue reading

Killer ways to stop negative thinking

Images3
This is the fourth in a series of articles which teach you how to cut out worry, obsessions and any other kind of negative thinking which triggers anxiety, panic, stress, depression or addictions in you.

In this article we are focusing on the second step in the 4-step method I am showing you.

The four steps are:

  • Change Position
  • Change Attitude
  • Change Focus
  • Practice Mindfulness

The key to making Step 2 work is to change your reaction to the negative thought. Typical unwanted reactions include getting upset, anxious, uptight, depressed, panicky or frightened. Others include getting obsessional or compulsive – as happens in many types of addiction in which the individual believes she has ‘no choice’ but to go ahead and indulge. Often, these reactions are so automatic that we are only dimly aware of the triggering thought (or image). That is why it is important to identify the relevant Headmind tape which is triggering the reaction.

We are looking to replace those reactions with boredom, ridicule or contempt.

Consider, for a moment, your attitude to a worry that you don’t have but someone else has. For example:

This plane is about to blow up

I just caught a disease from shaking that man’s hand

The government is spying on me

Unless you are one of the few that take these thoughts seriously your probable reaction to hearing about them will be incredulity. ‘That’s ridiculous!’ you might say to yourself. You might go on to wonder: how on earth do people learn to think like that?

It’s exactly that kind of attitude you now need to adopt towards the negative thoughts you have yourself. Remember that, by definition, all worries and obsessions are a kind of fantasy. They have no bearing on reality at all.

There must be hundreds of techniques you can use to change your attitude to the tapes in your head. I am going to mention just three tried-and-tested routines that work for most of my clients.

1. Ridicule

The first way is to make the tape (once you have identified it using this article) comical.

Think of someone who is absurd. That could be someone you have met but it could be a film or TV character. Now imagine that the ‘tape’ is being replayed back through that character’s voice in your head. It helps to exagerrate the ideas in the tape so that they sound ludicrous.

For example:

HomerOriginal tape = “It’s all going to go wrong”

Edited tape = “It’s going to be a total disaster”

Homer’s tape: “It’s not only going to be a disaster but you are going be seriously damaged and in need of psychiatry for the rest of your life. “

When using this method it helps to laugh. It doesn’t matter if the laughter sounds forced – just laugh (you can think of something genuinely funny at this point if it helps).

2. Contempt

Replaying dismissive remarks to yourself about the ‘tape’ works here. For example;

There it goes again. Really don’t have time to listen to this.

Same old same old rubbish. Time to move on.

This is getting boring. I have better things to do.

You can get aggressive about it, too. Once you identify the contents of the tape you say (out loud if you are on your own) things like:

What a load of crap!

Complete bollocks!

Fuck that!

(Anglo-Saxon swear words are particularly useful here as those add force to your new attitude).

3. Boredom 

BoredomIn a less dramatic way boredom is often the most effective response to negative thoughts. The reason for this is that boredom, when listening to tedious, repetitive people who talk rubbish is an emotionally intelligent response dictated by Bodymind. Think of the most tedious conversations, school lessons and lectures you have ever sat through. You didn’t bother trying to work out whether there was any sense to what was being said. Instead, your body pressed the ‘OFF’ button and sent you to sleep.

You can use a variation on the first technique here. Instead of replaying the tape using a comical voice you can use the voice of someone you know (or whom you have watched) who is deeply boring. Be sure to edit the voice so that it sounds slow, monotonous and, of course, tedious. You can help the process along by yawning out loud while you are doing this.

A lot of people burst out laughing when they try to do this – a good sign that the technique is in fact working.

The next article concentrates on Step 3 – Changing Focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMDR

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.

For example:

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.