Sometimes as children or adults we find ourselves in positions that our brains are just not up to handling and we overload. And the effects may never quite leaves us. Like re-current aftershocks. So we can find ourselves catapulted back into the same intense feelings and behaviours years, sometimes even decades, later . Conversely, we may feel shut-down, numb. Feel we need to engage in dangerous activity just to feel alive again.
What’s going on?
Is it me? No. And, no! Put simply, part of the trauma has got stuck. It’s as if our brain was never able to completely digest the traumatic event(s) and they became lodged. Let me just say this again as it’s very important: It’s NOT you! It’s just the way your brain is currently storing the memory. And that is changeable. (More detail here)
Give Me The Science
Well, after the sensory input of a traumatic event is run through the information gathering part of the brain, the thalamus, it travels off in two directions:
a.The Amygdala interprets the emotional significance of the event data so it can advise the Hypothalamus on what hormones to load up on to defend us (eg Adrenaline)
b.The other route is via the hippocampus and anterior cingulate. The signals arrive at the prefrontal cortex (the rational brain) for refined assessment: “Oh, it’s not a snake, its the garden hose. Phew”
Now the second route takes several micro-seconds longer than the first. So by the time we understand we are in danger (or not) our body may already be reacting. Our respiration may have changed, our heart rate, etc.
Within a crisis, the thalamus can break down and not put all the pieces of sensory input together coherently. Sights, sounds, smells are encoded as isiolated fragments rather than a part of a lineal experience. Memory processing disintegrates. Time freezes and the event feels like it will last forever.
If the interpretation of the data by the Amygdala is too intense, or the filtering system of the pre-frontal cortex too weak, (as often happens in PTSD), you can tend to lose control over your automatic emergency responses, like prolonged startle or aggressive outbursts.
So What Does All That Mean?
Today, with the advent of modern imaging equipment such as PET (Poitron Emission Tomography) and fMRIs (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), we can look at the brain-engine. Pinpoint what parts of the brain engage and disengage in various circumstances, when remembering a traumatic episode or feeling the attendant emotions.
What we know from this is that a trauma knocks some of the brain’s mediating structures off-line and we have to gently bring them on-line again. And it’s in the process of bringing them back on-line and strengthening these structures that the brain can finish digesting what has lodged, and the effects of trauma can begin to dissolve.
I Don’t Want To Go Back Into The Past And Dredge It All Up Again
Some people have done the rounds of therapists and the thought of wading around in all the details and emotions again isn’t a particularly attractive prospect. In fact, sometimes this can do more harm than good and even re-traumatise the individual.
The kind of work you will do at Quantum Hypnotherapy will be safe and gentle. The focus will be more on the present and future. Any processing of the trauma will be done using techniques that keep you at a safe distance.
We will gently and carefully re-organise how your mind carries the memories and the associated emotional responses. The goal will generally be for you to be able to respond to stimuli that previously triggered extreme responses to change to a more appropriate and less extreme level. To assess your environment more accurately and be able to comfortably moderate your response.
We won’t tamper with the memory itself, just the way it hooks up with your emotional brain. The aim being to dampen down the extreme-auto responses that your nervous system has locked into. Bring it back into balance.
Suprisingly, some of the techniques you will engage with are very simple and uncomplicated, and fast.
If you’re ready to take that next step now, your first appointment with a FREE first 20 minutes to decide if Strategic Hypnotherapy is for you, is only a click away.