NEW PARADIGM FOR HEALING EMOTIONAL SHOCK AND TRAUMA Emotional Shock and Trauma is a new approach to understanding and treating emotional wounds that are rooted in painful experiences of childhood, infancy, birth, or prenatal development (or before). Much of this work is influenced by the innovative developments and discoveries of William Emerson, Ph.D., and Graham Farrant, M.D. Research continues to point to earlier and earlier experiences as the foundation for most of our conscious and unconscious issues, patterns and struggles. We have discovered (and are continuing to develop) protocols for recognizing and treating the emotional wounds that result from these very early experiences. How these earliest memories are stored and transmitted is not understood at this time. However, there is clear evidence that these earliest memories ARE stored and transmitted, and I am certain that at some point we will understand how. Medical understanding has grown significantly in the past few years to accept that babies are more sensitive than previously believed, and the trend is toward accepting that that sensitivity begins at an earlier and earlier age. The recognition that emotional shock (the most severe level of trauma) is different in most ways from emotional trauma is an exciting and encouraging innovation. Most therapies and most professionals do not recognize emotional shock and do not differentiate between the treatment for trauma and shock. This lack of understanding and skill is a major cause for therapeutic failure (or failure-to-progress). Emotional trauma and shock usually arise from stressful experiences during our earliest development, including prenatal development and birth. Shock obscures access to full consciousness - including the deepest and most instinctual aspects of the Self - resulting in difficulties with intimacy, spirituality and self-esteem (just to name a few). Shock is held in the body and reactivated by events in daily life until it is resolved. Shock requires completely different treatment from trauma plus the additional step of deconditioning the physiological shock response. This physiological shock response, if untreated, keeps us in a state of "overdrive" that leads to adrenal fatigue and, eventually, adrenal exhaustion and adrenal death. This adrenal drain is a major contributing factor to many conditions and diseases.
In addition, research has documented specific behaviour patterns as well as emotional, psychological and physiological predispositions caused by trauma or shock at various stages of development and birth (going back to pre-conception). This "road map" allows us to work effectively with persistent conscious and unconscious issues - even those that have failed to shift with other therapies. In fact, the failure to respond to good, deep, otherwise effective therapy is one of the most obvious signals that you are dealing with shock instead of trauma.
INTRODUCTION Most people are familiar with the concept of emotional trauma - an event or circumstance that is emotionally painful, causing a wound (or trauma), the energy of which continues to affect our lives long after the event ends. The effects of these traumas can be subtle (preference for solitary activities) or profound (rage), functional (drive to succeed) or dysfunctional (inability to express yourself). Traumas tend to manifest in patterns of behaviour and ways of being in the world. How a person manifests emotional trauma varies widely - and the same trauma can produce very different patterns from person to person. However, in the last few years, pioneers in the field have discovered a lot about the most extreme levels of emotional trauma. The most startling finding is that extreme trauma (renamed shock, for clarity) has completely different dynamics and treatment needs than lesser levels of trauma. There are many ways to describe this difference. One way I describe shock is to imagine heating up a pot of water. For a long time, the water is the same - just with more heat. However, at some point, it gets enough heat in it and becomes steam. Now steam is not just hotter water - it is something completely different. Similarly, the most extreme level of trauma, shock, is not just MORE trauma. The severity makes it something different and that warrants a different name. Keep in mind the when we use the word shock we are talking about several things. Shock is: an event the resulting physiological reaction the resulting physiological cycle the persisting psychological pattern(s) an overall (usually unconscious) chronic state of the body/mind To introduce the concepts of shock and trauma, I use the following story. It is not literal, of course, but gives a good overview of the different paradigms. With emotional trauma, a painful experience happens to you. As this experience is flying toward you (think of standing on a curb and having mud being splashed on you by a passing 18 wheeler), you react quickly and put up whatever defenses you can (imagine a big catchers mitt) to ward off as much impact as possible. Some of it gets on you anyway, and it is messy and awful - but some of the experience (the mud) is caught in the glove.
Then, you scrape the mud from the glove and stuff it into a Ziplock速 bag, put that bag in a Tupperware速 container, wrap the Tupperware in a big box, seal it with strong tape, put the box in a safe, carry the safe into a cave, dig a big hole and bury the safe, seal the cave, surround it with an electric fence (and maybe a moat), post armed guards, and put up Do Not Trespass signs. (Whew!) Sometimes, we even put up a sign that renames the area Happyville. (You get the idea!) Each person has his/her own defenses, and some are more elaborate than others. However, the smell or energy of the stored mud still permeates your life - holding you in certain patterns and behaviours (in spite of your intentions otherwise). It is necessary to unearth that mud, deal with it, and allow it to resolve. So, you have to take down the fences, dig up the safe, find a way to open the safe, unseal the Ziplock, etc., etc. Then with your adult capabilities and with help - you face the stored-away mud, allow yourself to get muddy again, feel the messiness and pain of it, and deal with it in whatever ways are necessary. Eventually you get cleaned off and are no longer bound by the unresolved buried pain. So, the paradigm in healing trauma is to open, get closer to the pain (messy and muddy), to lessen defenses, become more vulnerable, and feel more deeply whatever it is that is stored away and unfelt. With trauma, feeling the hurt more is better. As you reach and express the stored feelings, they are released and healed, and the energy can then shift - providing profound relief from many long-term symptoms. With emotional shock, there is no aspect of the painful experience that is unfelt; nothing was caught in the mitt. Indeed, with shock, you virtually have no mitt (or at least not an effective one). This can be caused by two factors: the inadequacy or immaturity of defenses and/or the enormity of the experience. So a shocking experience happens, and you are fully impacted by it. Picture the same scene - standing on a curb, but the 18 wheeler drives off the road and runs you over. You are flat - squished. Whatever defenses you may have had were totally inadequate to protect you. There is no stored (unfelt) pain; you have felt it all. The long-term effects in life are not due to some stored away experience that needs to be felt; there is nothing that has been stored away. It would just be mean to encourage a person in this situation to feel their squishedness more deeply. To delve more deeply into the painful experience is just to torture yourself. The need in shock is to get away from the experience, to build defenses, to get perspective, become less vulnerable. Think of how you would react if you loved that person run over by the 18-wheeler. You would NOT invite him to feel his "squishedness" more deeply. You would rush to the site, pick him up, help calm his racing heart, reassure him it's over and he's going to be OK, splint his broken limbs, help him learn how to cross a street safely, de-condition the responses programmed into his body by the experience, reprogram the beliefs that he adopted as a result of getting run over, teach him to recognize (and avoid) 18-wheelers, etc. Well, this is basically how you treat shock. Of course, this is oversimplified, but generally accurate. So, in general, you need to get closer to, feel and release the energy of an emotional trauma (think Breakthrough); you need to get further away from, build defenses against and get perspective from an emotional shock (think Path of Least Resistance).
You repattern to treat trauma (shift defense patterns which worked at one time but are no longer necessary and can be let go of now) and pattern to treat shock (teach how to defend). In addition, the physiological reactions of shock, which get into selfperpetuating vicious circle, must be interrupted and the lessons learned in the one-trial learning of a shock experience (á la classical conditioning) must be deconditioned. While you can do very effective trauma work by yourself, the nature of shock makes it virtually impossible to treat your own shock. In fact, a person must be well resourced before doing shock work. Resourced means a person has (and has access to) the support needed to take this inner journey. Resources are anything that is supportive - including inner strength and resilience, loving friends/family, spiritual faith, and stability (or at least lack of chaos) in everyday life. In fact, resourcing is a major way of treating shock (more on this later). ●
To shift beliefs that result from trauma, you need to feel the feelings that gave you that lesson, express them, and discover the truth for yourself.
To shift beliefs that result from shock, you need reparenting or reprogramming from outside in order to learn a new truth.
GENERAL SIGNS OF SHOCK Signs of shock in adults include elevated stress hormones (as measured on the Adrenal Stress Index saliva test) as well as the inability to shift or heal: • • • • • •
long-standing patterns (productive or not) deep feelings of insecurity unexplained confusion or sensitivity irrational distrust or fear profound grief disconnection from spirit/soul/God
In my experience, one of the best indications that you will benefit from treatment for trauma and shock is being drawn to it (so trust your intuition). For a more detailed list, check out the checklist of Physical and Psychological Signs of Shock in Adults and Infants/Children. Most clients have a combination of trauma and shock, and it is not uncommon to do treat both trauma and shock in a single session. In fact, it is ideal to remain flexible and trust the body to bring up whatever is most ready to be dealt with, and to respond accordingly - without any preconceived agenda.
Terry Larimore All rights reserved
Last updated April 9, 2005