Looking Through the Trauma Lens: The Trauma Behind our Psychiatric Symptoms and our Psychological Issues
Where do our symptoms and problems come from?
There are, in my opinion, two causes of psychiatric symptoms and psychological issues. The first is genetics. Our genomes predispose us to experience the world in a certain way and to develop certain dominant symptoms. Secondly, our sensory experiences become who we are. Our spontaneous behaviour, cognitions, emotional and physiological responses are formed by our sensory experiences. As we experience the world around us through all our senses, our emotional minds form emotional intentions to prevent negative experiences from repeating themselves and to ensure the repetition of pleasant experiences. These emotional intentions and sensory memories become our issues and our symptoms and are directed through the thoughts that guide our behaviour. Thoughts such as 'I will from now on never….’ and ‘I will from now on always ….’. These form our judgements about the self, about others and about situations and steer our spontaneous thoughts, behaviours, emotional responses and physiological responses in every situation. This notion is crucial in the understanding of how our symptoms and issues are formed and maintained.
Negative sensory experiences is trauma
Every negative sensory experience we encounter from foetus to death could be defined as emotional trauma. The reason why it should be defined as trauma is because of the subconscious effect the memories of these experiences have on us and how this shapes our spontaneous thoughts, behaviours, emotional and physiological responses. This notion explains how people can develop claustrophobia as adults through being stuck during birth.
Trauma may be thought of as all the negative sensory experiences we encounter on a day to day basis as humans. This could include the time your fell off your bicycle and got hurt badly, that needle they injected you with when you were five, the time the teacher embarrassed you in front of the class, the times you were forced to eat those vegetables, the time the clown scared you, the teasing at school, the stitches you got when you were four years old, the time your parents had that upsetting argument, that thorn you got in your foot when you were three years old, the fights between you and your brother, the fear you had when your dad forced you to swim to the deep end of the pool, the time your best friend abandoned you for another friend, the bad nightmares you had, the rude neighbour across the street whom you were so scared of as a child, the time your beloved pet died, the time the dog chewed up your favourite action figure, the disappointment you felt when you wanted a bicycle for Christmas but got pair of socks, the time you were teased at school for having big ears; and the list goes on forever, the hidings you got as a child, the time you were falsely accuses of something your friend actually did.
The subjective experience of life is shaped through our memories and our genetics. For one child it could be a wonderful experience to give a speech in front of a class; for another it could be traumatic. This is how we experience the world uniquely- through our genetics and our past experiences. Single event major trauma and acute shock is of course also defined as trauma. Trauma is experienced though different degrees of intensity but every experience influences us.
My psychotherapeutic philosophy is simple - if I as a therapist want to help a person to get rid of unwanted issues and symptoms I need to focus on what he/she experienced. The discovery of the root memories behind symptoms is not therapeutic; it is merely a means to an end. Once the memories behind issues and symptoms are discovered or uncovered, an extremely powerful tool is needed to change the dynamics of those memories.
How trauma becomes our psychiatric issues and psychological symptoms
We all experience dysfunctional thought patterns. Thoughts that lead to problems in our lives.
‘I am not good enough’
‘I am not popular’
‘I am incompetent’
‘I cannot commit in relationships’
‘My relationships always fail’
‘People don’t like me’
‘I cannot make friends’
‘People are untrustworthy’
‘I don’t trust easily’
‘People always try to hurt me'
‘I will always be poor’
‘I cannot get anything done’
‘Life is hard’
Such problematic thought processes are born through experiences - these experiences shape our negative believes and accompanying feelings and behaviours. These can lead to psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, feeling depressed, personality disorders, phobias etc.
Just as much as everyday trauma causes symptoms and issues, single event major trauma can cause severe symptoms.
Single event major trauma
Major trauma is often typified by acute shock. The intrapsychic operation of major trauma and acute shock is exactly the same as everyday trauma. It is merely on a higher level of intensity. Shock and its physiological responses reach havoc on the brain and body. The hormones released during acute stress and acute shock such as cortisol, catecholamine, vasopressin, etc. causes the body to react in hyper mode towards the threat and feel exhausted after the threat is gone. The psychiatric and psychological impact of major trauma is severe. Symptoms emerge afterwards such as flash backs, nightmares, anxiety, insomnia, emotional numbness, dissociation, intrusive thoughts, avoidant behaviour and even physical discomfort. These symptoms exist because of the stress response and the triggering of the memories of the traumatic sensory experiences after the incident. This triggering effect through sight, smell, visual, auditory or tactile stimuli can carry on indefinitely. Trauma therapy is recommended for acute shock, acute stress and acute trauma of any kind whether physical or emotional. TIR (Trauma Incident Reduction) is one of the world’s leading trauma therapy tools and works by changing the dynamics of trauma memories in the brain. This tool is used for the everyday trauma to resolve issues and symptoms and to treat the symptoms of acute single event trauma.
How TIR resolves trauma
TIR involves a simplistic repetition process. The process itself is very simplistic but what happens in the brain during this repetition process is extremely complicated. Change happens on many levels as negative emotional memories are processed. As the emotional charge associated with a memory decreases the brain can begin to look at the incident more objectively. When this happens, debilitating emotional mind intentions which were geared at the prevention of the repetition of the trauma fall away and the brain stores the memory with other normal neutral memories. The sensory triggering effect and the accompanied negative cognitive, emotional, behavioural and physiological responses then seize to operate. TIR thus converts a trauma memory into a normal memory and symptoms and issues resolve because of this.
TIR is healing
When a person suffers from unwanted feelings, emotions, sensations, attitudes and pains TIR opens up the neural pathways to the root emotional memory of these unwanted issues and symptoms. When the root memory is cleared out the symptoms and issues fall away.
Let me give an example; a man was declared temporarily unfit for work because he suffered from debilitating claustrophobia and was unable to go underground. A root incident to his claustrophobia was discovered using TIR. Something happened to him when he was about four years old which planted the seed of his claustrophobia and a number of incidents happened after that which strengthened the emotional mind intention of: ‘I will from now on always panic when I feel trapped’ to the point where he developed full blown claustrophobia. After the root emotional memory was processed, his symptoms disappeared and he was able to return to work.
Another example; a girl came in complaining that she feels a lot of anxiety in the workplace to the point where she gets panic attacks. She is scared of her boss and she constantly feels incompetent and uncertain of herself. We discovered a root incident using TIR. The root emotional memories were about her first job. Her boss was extremely verbally and emotionally abusive towards her. We worked through the root memories and she came back reporting that her anxiety was gone in the workplace and she felt confident about her work.
TIR is effective for any disorder and symptoms. As a standard psychotherapeutic endeavour, I make a list of trauma in a person’s life and work through it with TIR. It is wonderful to see the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and issues disappear in this process. People generally explain how it feels as if a mountain is lifted of their shoulders. The unique thing about TIR as a psychotherapeutic technique is that change happens spontaneously and does not rely on any form of willpower. Instead of adding skills, TIR extracts pain and emotional damage and healing happens spontaneously. Analogically; instead of teaching a person with a broken leg how to manage their crutches; we fix the leg and they run again.
If you are interested in TIR and would like to book a session with Susan, please don't hesitate to give us a call.