Why EMDR and Tapping Work for PTSD Symptoms

I’d been thinking that perhaps I needed to explain a bit more on EMDR and Tapping as to how they actually help alleviate the PTSD symptoms, then this morning I saw this NICABM post on my Facebook site that offers an online course for treating trauma by some of the top trauma therapists in the field.

If anyone is interested, I’ll put it all on here including the website for signing up to hear their experienced spiels first-hand, but I noticed in session 4 that Ogden and Siegel will directly discuss the WHY EMDR and Tapping are effective for treating PTSD:

“… Two distinct signs that your client might have impaired brain integration from trauma

How the midbrain holds the key to the freeze response…”

That’s the very reason EMDR and Tapping do work: The traumatic incident or incidences have NOT been fully integrated in the brain’s processing mechanism. They are “stuck” in the mid-brain which creates the immediate reactivity to similar situations without the rational ability to assess their true safety or danger to the body; and I’ll try to explain that more fully in limited verbiage later.

Anyway, for $97 you can listen to the entire course from NICABM and receive transcripts, etc, from folks who know a lot more than I do.  I’m just making the option available here.

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NICABM  nicamlogo.png

“What happens in the brain when someone experiences trauma, leaving the nervous system vulnerable to horrific feelings and painful sensations?

We asked this question to the top 5 experts in treating trauma in this brand new, focused short course (And there are 3 CE/CMEs available).

Dan Siegel, MD;  Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD;  Bessel van der Kolk, MD;  Pat Ogden, PhD;  and Stephen Porges, PhD; will get into:

✅  The key part of a traumatized brain that gives trauma such enormous power
✅  How the “survival brain” gets altered after a traumatic experience (and how to look for this in your client)
✅  Two hormones that leave the brain highly vulnerable when traumatic memories are forming
✅  What happens in the brain that makes some clients unable to distinguish threat cues from non-threatening stimuli
✅  One strategy to prevent dissociation and retrain a client’s trauma response
✅  Two distinct signs that your client might have impaired brain integration from trauma”

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“The Neurobiology of Trauma and How to Apply It to Your Work with Clients

( https://www.nicabm.com/program/a2-fb2-brain-trauma-1/?d=fbo.867.1.c&fbclid=IwAR0Alyetl4Xqi0Zgn0a9iWUK9aLkuGFHXxrVMbY304SfKEoB6Skx6esVqx0 )

During a traumatic event, the survival brain can take over and knock critical thinking offline.

To fully help clients heal from trauma, we have to understand what’s happening in the traumatized brain – while the traumatic event is occurring as well as how the client gets held hostage to threat cues long afterward.

The brain is so important to working with trauma that we wanted to create a program that solely focused on how to treat it.

We’ll look at the specific brain areas that get altered by trauma, and how this neutralizes the client’s ability to problem-solve.

5 of the top experts in the world will share how they treat clients who struggle with trauma. This brand new program brings together the sharpest strategies for working with a traumatized brain.”

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So back to my explanation of EMDR and Tapping and why they are effective for treating PTSD:  As I understand it, the brain is a complex of four separate parts stacked on one another in evolutional growth that have specific functions in the body.

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  • The brain stem was the earliest evolution of consciousness and was often called the reptilian brain. (Involuntary nervous system like heartbeats and breathing—pure reaction—eat, sleep, procreate, basic survival.)
  • The limbic system was the next evolution in consciousness and was referred to as the mammalian brain. (Emotions developed—how we FEEL as we react to whatever we experience—emotional response—fear, short-term memory of intense feeling/emotions, hormone producing—the processing point where affecting experiences are sent to the upper brain for classification as safe or unsafe.)
  • The human evolution of consciousness was through the development of the cerebellum and cerebrum which were primarily for memory, language development, reasoning skills, and data analysis abilities (highly developed nerve centers and memory storage systems).

The trauma problem arises when some frightening situations cause extremely fearful responses in us (they scare the dickens out of us), and the pure nerve reactivity of the brainstem hits the midbrain point where the limbic brain emotionally reacts to the situation with extreme fear, and the experience shocks the processing point to such a degree that it fails to register the experience further and disseminate it into the memory storage region of the cortex/cerebrum for analysis and comprehension of what actually just happened.

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See how the thalamus and the hypothalamus sit directly on top of the midbrain region of the brain stem?  That’s where the data processing point of that particular experience gets stuck.  The reactivity to fear is so strong there during that frightful situation that it freezes at that midbrain processing point and that memory sits there unresolved for further assessment by the higher brain. That terrorizing situation is like an awful experience stuck in midbrain that to us feels like it is in perpetual fear reactivity in the NOW, and it can’t be properly assessed as “in the past” because it always feels “in the present” and we are constantly reacting to it even when it’s no longer occurring to us.  That’s what leads to the hyper-alertness of PTSD and the instant over-reactivity to anything even remotely fear-inducing to us.

Anyway, the physical bilateral action of tapping or the physical eye-movement-desensitization utilizes the physical body’s ability to actually help move those ‘stuck in fear reactivity’ memories on into the cortex region for proper filing away in memory storage.  When the ‘once stuck horror situation’ is unstuck and properly filed away where it should be, which is IN THE PAST, the mind can begin to properly assess the horrific experience as it truly WAS, not still presently IS, and move through it with safer and more accurate assessments of what really happened to us.

I mean the memory of the horrific experience will still be horrible, but it will be past-tense horrible, not continually present-tense horrible. And that actually does make a difference in how we can better handle our present experiences and help us to move on with our lives.

Hope the above explanation helps. And you can check out the NICABM offering** listed for some serious detailed options available to you.

** (And yes, these online discussions are therapists training other therapists in how to successfully treat trauma clients, but the more information that you have available to you on how the top trauma therapists in the field best handle trauma-client situations, the better you can choose a therapist for yourself that might utilize these more effective techniques for dealing with your own extreme trauma.

Gathering information yourself on the subject is all about self-empowerment–you can then go into a therapy session armed with that newly-acquired knowledge of what might be happening in your brain’s processing centers and work together with your therapist on healing your mind/memories/reactions, rather than just sitting back in the office chair and expecting someone else to fix what might be wrong in your life. You actually take control of your healing by better informing yourself of your true treatment options.

At least that’s my opinion on gathering all the positive treatment information available to you.)

 

The Mind Recognizes Patterns–Understanding PTSD

I was examining a desktop image of a jaguar lying on the river bank in a jungle setting and thinking how easy it would be in real life for the jaguar to simply slip back about five feet into that tangled jungle maze and be completely disguised by the surrounding multi-fronds of tans and various shades of green dangling throughout this natural setting.

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Seeing the jaguar then would be like one of those “Find the beach ball in this mass of balloons” puzzle that tricks the eye and challenges the intellect. While the eye might distinguish differences among the numerous lights and darks and elongated linear shapes in the picture, the mind determines the recognizable patterns within the picture frame.

To even recognize cat-shape and leopard–spots you must have seen them prior and attributed a label or a “name” to that general shape and texture so that upon seeing a simile of a “spotted-cat,” the mind immediately tries to identify it in some way to determine the jagstalkingyou45relative safety for our personal being in the situation.

While seeing a picture of a jaguar sunning on a jungle riverbank isn’t exactly hazardous to our health, seeing the real thing lying only a few feet from us might be, and the mind reacts to that possibility with a subtle or a pronounced warning signal. If you’ve ever been in a close encounter with a jaguar, even the above picture itself could trigger a spurt of adrenaline through us by preparing us for a “fight or flight” response.

How we naturally react to whatever we encounter depends on our personal history with the situation or the subject matter.

This is the problem many military personnel face when they return from fighting in war zones.  No matter where they are, no matter the actual setting around them, metaphorically they see the density of the jungle surrounding them and expectjageyealertwatching the jaguar to be lurking there ready to attack them—except the jaguar would be in human form armed with rifles and explosives, and the “jungle” could be any suspicious setting—urban or rural—where human jaguars might lie in wait for them—ready to attack.  Those who have known some form of combat can’t relax because they know “the jaguar” is always there—ready to pounce if they simply let down their guard for a moment.

This is a trick of the mind when encountering remote similarities in our lives: Our minds try to protect us by alertly recognizing patterns that might prove hazardous to our being.

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Our minds often do not differentiate between the nuances of “home” settings which should be considered safe or of “war” settings which would be considered unsafe. The mind simply recognizes any patterns of possible “enemy concealment” in our surroundings along with the uncertainty of what lies beyond the next turn in the road or the ominous new direction of the curving path before us.

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) is quite real. And there should be NO stigma related to our mind simply trying to protect us from any perceived danger, even in supposedly SAFE settings (which in today’s world there seem to be fewer of).

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PTSD is our own mind simply trying to keep us alive the best way it can, because the world we have known in the past was a pretty scary place to be. 

There are many ways to help the mind retrain itself to be less reactive to what we might have once perceived as a threat.  Many therapists now employ techniques like EMDR, or Tapping, or hypnosis, or flashing light therapies, or even other techniques that I’m presently unaware of.

The therapeutic community has advanced considerably over the last decade, so if you’d like to learn a bit more about these newer therapies, I suggest these two books that I emdrmadesimplebookpersonally own: EMDR Made Simple: 4 Approaches to Using EMDR with Every Client, by Jamie Marich; and TAPPING IN: A Step-By-Step Guide to Activating Your Healing Resources Through Bilateral Stimulation, by Laurel Parnell. PhD.tappinginparnell.jpg

I wasn’t a combat vet but awhile back I had some PTSD of my own, and both books helped me to clear away the constant mental hyper-alertness and helped to uncover and release the deeply-held, hidden fears by utilizing those two techniques: EMDR and Tapping (Bilateral Stimulation).

You can give them a try just by reading the books.  Both of those books talk you through what to do. If they seem to help, you might then find a good therapist who offers one or both of those techniques to help reset your mind’s pattern recognition.

There is NO stigma attached to PTSD. It is simply the mind doing what it does naturally—trying to keep us safe from harm.

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That’s to be applauded, not condemned.

 

Life’s BIG Surprise

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What is that BIG surprise? We all want to know this.

Will it be a pleasant surprise or a not-so-much one?

How will we feel when we receive it? 

Happy?  Excited?  Shocked?  Horrified?

 

Well that’s why it’s a surprise because you have no idea what sudden “awakener” will drop on you from out of the blue.  It could even be a bit of space-junk that managed to clear combustion in the atmosphere and crashed through your new, just-paid-for roof and into your livingroom.

You were simply sitting at the kitchen table munching on your second spoonful of Cap’n Crunch, and “BOOM!” –the next room explodes with crashing furniture and plaster dust; and stunned you walks into the disastrous aftermath to see a steaming chunk of rocket debris where your coffee table once stood.  SURPRISE!emojisurpriseface

Yes, you’ll definitely have an unusual conversation piece for your next social gathering, but you might need to rearrange a few things to accommodate it—although the new natural skylight in the ceiling is an added bonus you hadn’t previously considered.

I think most of us try not to think about LIFE’s next BIG surprise because like the mock scenario above, some of our previous ones weren’t necessarily pleasant; and you can insert your own example here. I know that I certainly have mine.

But through that underlying anxiety of whatever LIFE suddenly “bestows” upon us without our knowledge or permission, we know that surprises are simply another aspect of LIFE. We learn through surprises.

We learn mainly about ourselves and our resourcefulness/resilience by having to work through their unanticipated debris-field afterwards.

Surprises either make us happy, or they make us stronger.  But we never let surprises break us.

So I vote for happy future surprises.happybabysurprised.jpg

But hopefully I’m well-prepared mentally and physically for whatever might occur instead because after all, that’s simply LIFE.

And if you haven’t seriously considered the possibility of a sudden “surprise” occurring for any of us, then perhaps you should consider it, because, you know,  …SURPRISE!

 

 

Watching History Burn

Like many others, I was transfixed watching flames consume Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.notredamefire45.jpg

Unlike many others, I was sitting there not so much in tearful grief at the enormous loss, but simply pondering a greater significance—wondering if this was some transformative metaphor for the masses, of an iconic religious structure whose ancient dry timbers were igniting to signify the destruction of the old ways of viewing cultural religious icons to make room for newer spiritual/cultural beliefs.

For certain I do not wish to condemn any faith or belittle the beliefs of others, but back when that cathedral was first designed and construction had begun in 1160 then largely completed by 1260, the intention behind the religious structure was far more than simply worshipping a deity and set of beliefs in a particular way. There was a lot of engineering genius and human grandiosity designed into that structure, especially for that time period in history. And I’m sure it will be rebuilt to closely match the original designs. I have no doubt that it will rise again as the Parisian icon that it truly is. There should be no worries to the contrary.

beforefireapr2019notredame78.JPGBut I want to reconsider WHY that iconic cathedral was created in the first place.

Back in 1160, the 1st set of Holy Crusades had ended and the 2nd set of Holy Crusades were underway (and I use the term HOLY only in the recognition that this warfare was sanctioned by the European Kings of the land and the Popes of that time period who governed the common people using their papal religious authority as reasoning for killing all who were not Christian, and reacquiring land that had previously fallen to those who were not Christian.) Lots of unholy deeds were done under the jurisdiction of and sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church through the ages.

So back in 1160, this massive French cathedral was built to honor God, Jesus and The Virgin Mary in one sense, but also to honor the hubris of men of power during that time, who believed that one religion was superior to others and this cathedral should signify it northrosewindowndc56.jpgby its sheer structural magnificence—the grander, the taller, the more beautiful and amazing, the better.

This religious structure was so significant that the French King and Pope of the time were even in attendance at the foundation setting.

“The chronicler Jean de Saint-Victor [fr] recorded in the Memoriale Historiarum that the construction of Notre-Dame began between 24 March and 25 April 1163 with the laying of the cornerstone in the presence of King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III.[17][18] Four phases of construction took place under bishops Maurice de Sully and Eudes de Sully”  (Wikipedia)

So there are a lot of reasons why Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is historically and spiritually significant.

But in terms of true religiosity, here is another quote from Wikipedia:

“French census data does not contain information about religious affiliation.[168] According to a 2011 survey by IFOP, a French public opinion research organization, 61 percent of residents of the Paris Region (Île-de-France) identified themselves as Roman Catholic, though just 15 percent said they were practicing Catholics, while 46 percent were non-practicing. In the same survey, 7 percent of residents identified themselves as Muslims, 4 percent as Protestants, 2 percent as Jewish, and 25 percent as without religion. [169]

insidenotredamecath345.jpgSo the current significance of the Notre Dame Cathedral is now more cultural and iconic (rather than religious), especially as a well-known Parisian landmark with amazing architectural consequence.  It represents many things to many people, and it should be and WILL BE rebuilt.

But please recognize it for what it truly is in its historical significance as French Gothic architecture rather than the symbol of present day Catholicism.

A lot of folks had deep feelings of loss over the structure fire. In fact while watching it, even to me it felt like a part of our western history was burning to the ground before our eyes. But more than that, to some it felt like the symbolic heart of the Roman Catholic Church was being Divinely purified from within.

And to those who felt this was an amazing Divine Cleansing of original corrupt patriarchal/papal intentions and deceitful practices in the name of religious belief, it was truly quite the sight.

 

 

The In-Between Time

There is a feeling one gets the day after Christmas (if you aren’t in the shopping mall) that allows one a bit of contemplative pause 2019imqge34before considering the possibilities of the new year only one week away.

Were this not the Age of Trump, this week might be full of joy and wonder and speculative potential for wondrous new things. But since it is the Age of Trump, we are filled with dread, uncertainty, and a pending sense of doom with thoughts of how dumbshitchristmascall.jpgmuch damage he can do in one short week with the government shut down and no one around to stop him.

I mean how stupid do you have to be to hold a Christmas Eve photo op of him talking to 7-year -olds about Santa Claus coming, and to say on national television: “Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at seven it’s marginal, right?”

Right.  It’s marginal Mr. President.

“Mommy, what does marginal mean?”

Well there goes a future prospective voter. Why on earth did the White House communications people think that putting a misogynistic, narcissist with no sense of empathy or humanity on national television speaking live to an impressionable female child about the plausibility of Santa Claus, was a good idea?presdienthomealomne5

Especially  Mr. “I’m HOME ALONE in the White House (poor me).”   Now there’s a Christmas message of hope and goodwill to all. (They rushed Melania back from Florida after that one.)

Don’t consider that the stock market took the biggest dive in December since the Great Depression, primarily because of Trump’s irrational behavior and tweeting—threatening to fire of all people, the Federal Reserve Chairman for raising interest rates.

MATTISflagsgenDon’t consider that firing the one buffer (Secretary Mattis—Defense Department) we had to keep Trump from starting a nuclear war or giving Vlad the keys to the White House, just scared the crap out of not only us but our allies around the globe.

Don’t consider that he makes national and foreign policy changes not on his Presidential Advisor’s opinions, but on the advice of FOX News consultants Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh (Is Hannity on the outs with him now?  I thought HE ran the Presidency.)

Don’t consider that Senate Republicans are likely soiling their drawers now wondering how they are going to actually handle the aftermath of all this Trump-created mayhem because it’s squarely in their laps for letting him do what all he’s done to date.

And the Democrats take over the House January 3rd.  Won’t that be a fun time for all!subpoena-forcongress.jpg

Watch those subpoenas fly—see those criminal investigations launching for the heavens like a new rocket to the moon.

Welcome to Washington—oh no, there will be no welcoming committee to Washington DC because the government is SHUT DOWN due to his latest temper tantrum!  Oh yes, that’s right.

So, during this time between your Christmas Cheer aftermath and your New Year ahead optimism, try to keep your head from exploding, stay away from the booze, and by all means, shut off the television. There’s nothing good for you on there now.

Trust me on this one.Washington DC Capitol Government Shutdown Text

Just Watching It All Play Out

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I would have commented on the midterm election results sooner, but I, like the rest of the country, am still awaiting the final tallies.

Clearly changes were made across the nation, with other changes still in the making.

And one thing remains the same for the time being: the insanity presently occupying the White House. The only difference is in how amped up it has lately become. Someone is definitely not happy there.

For the country and democracy in general, I think major progress was pushed forward, or let me rephrase that, major progress was retrieved from the garbage heap where it had been so flagrantly tossed 2 years ago when Obama left.

While we are nowhere near being out of the constitutional danger zone as a nation yet, I do think that some folks who were banking on voter apathy and inciting racial fears, were a bit disappointed in the election results. I also think those same folks will be even more disappointed when Mueller indictments start falling in the near future.furorpres18.jpg

You don’t have to like the guy in charge. You don’t even have to tolerate his tantrums and embarrassing displays of juvenile behavior around the globe. You only have to expect him to do his job in a conscientious and lawful manner. He is the President, after all.

And that is an expectation that is backed by the laws of the United States Constitution.

This isn’t a personality/popularity issue.  It isn’t a political hit job. It is simply a question of legalities that were violated and obliterated in some instances.

It isn’t even a morality issue because if that had ever been in play, he’d have been gone before he even started.

This is about violating laws. This is about trading influence for future rewards. This is about greed and corruption in the highest offices of the land.

meachumbooksoul.jpgThis is about taking back the soul of America—what we stand for—who we are.

This is about you and your family, and the kind of world you want your children to inherit.

This is about looking in the mirror across the entirety of the nation and liking what you see again—a diverse populace.

This is about getting real and serious on social change and helping others to make the best of their own lives. They don’t need handouts–they need hand ups. They need respect and acknowledgement of their basic right to personal dignity as human beings. This is who we are–this is what we do. We respect each other as human beings with shared goals for a better life for ourselves and for those we love.

This is the NEW America, we hope.

And this is our new agenda for moving forward with our lives.

For Christmas, get your new ballcap with the letters on it for “MAAA!”

Make America “AMERICA” again!capwithamericabeing.jpg

That’s what this midterm election just tried to do.

 

 

 

On Being Positive

If folks think that maintaining a positive attitude in today’s world comes easily, I can posemotibunch.jpgassure them that it isn’t.

When we are enveloped in such blatant cruelty to other human beings—strafed daily with offensive, verbal assaults on our person and our differing ideas—staying positive through all of THAT is quite a trick.

Every morning we have to armor up and set our defense shields to “DEFLECT” just tosupersademotri.png make it through the day. That’s a little sad, don’t you think? (Insert SAD- face emoji here for emphasis.)

Yesterday I watched a lovely, gentle person I know try to defend her immigration/child separation Facebook posts against cruel, heartless comments that countered her message.  I offered my simple “HEART-LIKE” (insert HEART emoji here) to her just to let her know that I stand hearteoti9with her, if only from a distance; but at the same time I know that when we engage on social media with people who strongly disagree with us and disagree with who we are as loving individuals, then they are NOT really our friends, even though they might be on our FRIENDS list.

And if we can’t handle their unkind comments, then we must either remove them as our FRIENDS or stay off the PUBLIC airwaves—it’s that simple.  But then it isn’t really simple, is it?  In fact, it’s a large, complex issue that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Unfortunately the level of venom in today’s public discussion has reached such fever ick emoti8.pngpitch that it’s like watching a foot-long hotdog being torn apart by two ravenous dogs. Something’s gonna give there—and within seconds that once-whole hotdog will never be seen again—at least in the same form that it previously was. (Insert “ICK!” emoji here.)

How can we be positive about the present state of our declining human condition?

A couple days ago I heard someone on a news show discussing what was happening to our sense of civility in general; and this person said something that I agree with: We are in an unmasking period in human interaction where the “shadow-side” of human nature is dislikeemoti84.jpgrising to the surface for all to view and assess.  No more pretending to “tolerate” others. (Never did like that word “tolerate”)

I agree.  Clearly we don’t tolerate dissension now. We don’t tolerate views that differ from our own. We don’t tolerate people who do not look like us or act like us, or talk like us. We don’t rise above our prejudices or biases—we embrace them, right? We remove the mask and say “Hey those of YOU who do not look or think, or act like me, … I hate you! And I’m proud of hating you!  So there!  Deal with it!”

As we now look closely at that unmasking of our deepest and darkest human natures, we say, “Yes, bigotry and prejudice, and racism, and homophobia, and xenophobia, etc….YES, …these all exist in our present world society and in each of us to some degree; and we are not as culturally and consciously advanced as the civilized people that we once believed our nation and the people who compose it, were thought to be.  We are barbarians still—pure and simple—we are still immersed in our primal fears of scarcity and fears of personal annihilation, and we are incapable of rising above those fears!”

We fear “otherness” in general, and in today’s permissive environment we act out those fears in the most putrefying and nauseating ways imaginable.horrifying emoti5

And that’s not just emoji “SAD-face” folks—that is emoji horrifying!    (Insert that nasty thing here.)

 

But yet, ….the POSITIVE from this great unmasking is that people can no longer hide behind who they once pretended to be—because they have been unmasked–unmasked by themselves in all their acrimonious glory–they have all exposed themselves for their true feelings on just about every imaginable subject—whether you wanted to know them or not.

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(Insert big “SMILEY-face” here.) ……

 

No, …that’s the “GAG-me” emoji.