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View Diary: What a Flashback feels like. (82 comments)

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  •  EMDR can work wonders. (8+ / 0-)

    I am not trained it in and have never done it, but some of the people I worked with in the domestic violence field did very well with it.  I would love to learn more about doing it.

    I have done some hypnosis work related to PTSD, and I suspect the underlying principle is the same:  accessing the buried emotional charges in a really, really immediate way ... feeling them in all their fury -- but in a safe, contained setting -- and over time, in a controlled way, letting them burn themselves out.  

    (I always likened those emotional charges to toddlers having a temper tantrum.  If you just let them go, finally they wear themselves out.)

    You're right, that's where the emotional draining part comes in.  One client I worked with likened it to being emotionally constipated -- but, boy, do you feel light and free when it has all come out.  

    •  Not to belittle its effectiveness, but I can't (7+ / 0-)

      imagine that getting certified to administer EMDR is a difficult process. I seem to recall my counselor saying it was very short training. The simplicity of simulating REM to process brain trauma is frankly, amazing.

      If you work in DV counseling, learning EMDR could help in a genuinely tangible way; and long term. How often do you get to really do that in DV?

      •  The experience is so odd. I would go through a (8+ / 0-)

        treatment and then, at some random point within three days of the treatment, I'd start to go through intense flashbacks. And then, at some point, all the colors around me started to look brighter and I started interpreting things differently and realizing I was in a different place in a different time.

        PTSD is like being a time traveler. Parts of ourselves are left behind somewhen else. We have to go back, find that person and bring them forward into the present. Otherwise, we remain stuck at the same age we were and unable to mature or work through whatever it was that happened.

        And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

        by TheFatLadySings on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 05:06:05 PM PST

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        •  The mind is really, really strange. (5+ / 0-)

          I always said that down in the subconscious, time goes all funny.  

          To the emotional energies living down there -- waiting to be felt and dissipated -- it is still the time when they were first formed.  They don't know it's 2001.  To them, it may still be 1968, or 1945, or 1910.  

          They may have been waiting years to be fully felt and processed, so when they finally get to pass through consciousness and be felt (which is all they really want), it can be really disorienting to the person in question.  If the energies come out too fast and intensely, the person can actually have flashbacks and think she or he is really back in that time.

          I had one woman -- who had had a whole life of horrible abuse -- call me, saying she had fallen to the floor and was feeling waves of terror, which she couldn't understand at all because her life was safe and stable now.

          We talked about all this stuff, and she put it perfectly.  She said, "So these emotions are real?"

          ME:  "They're definitely real.  I mean, you're on the floor, aren't you?"

          HER:  "But ... [thinking it out] ... they're out of time."

          That's it exactly.  Knowing that -- how the mind processes these things, and that she wasn't "crazy" -- she could let herself let all the old rubbish flow out, riding it out, and afterward she called to say she felt very light.

          I love this stuff!

      •  Very strange. What I've been told is it's ... (6+ / 0-)

        ... a pretty long-term, intensive training.  I've heard of one process where (I seem to recall) you do the first stage training, then have to get a certain number of supervised hours, then a second stage training ... and so on.

        Of course, I suppose that is if you want to do EMDR well and safely.  Now that it's become more popular and well-known, I think I've also heard there are other less -- well, safe trainings.

        EMDR can be quite dangerous and traumatic itself, if done by a bad therapist.  I always say the subconscious has a built-in safety mechanism:  It won't let more come up than you're ready and able to deal with.  That is a HUGE thing I've come to respect when doing hypnosis.  You simply do not mess with those energies down there.  You walk really, really lightly.  

        Unfortunately, some therapists don't respect that safety mechanism, and try to yank open the door to the subconscious by force, going too far too fast.  I worked with one woman who was really traumatized by an EMDR therapist who did that.

        How often do you get to really do that in DV?

        I always felt there were three levels of DV counseling.  The first is the crisis management -- which usually has little effect unless it moves to the second level ...

        ... which is the educational aspect.  It's more in-depth, and can be very helpful, but things were likely to fall back into the same patterns unless the clients moved on to the third level ...

        ... which I call "personal transformation" counseling.  That is the EMDR level, like physics or chemistry of the mind, where you really go and work with the deep, powerful energies and forces, releasing some, letting others expand and grow ...  

        When you do enough of that, there's little chance of backsliding, because you're changing on a really basic level.  I always said, in reference to that level of counseling, that a butterfly can't backslide back into a caterpillar.  Unfortunately, most people aren't willing to work at that tough, rather scary level.

        •  I agree EMDR has significantly (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          niemann, AllisonInSeattle, DawnN, kurt

          improved PTSD treatment. Initially there were problems and I don't remember parts of the story. What I recall is the woman who discovered it was unwilling to share some of the basics because she was afraid it would not be done correctly and cause problems. That led to a lot of demand that could not be met because her training program was not expanded enough.

          I think since other people got involved in the science, equipment, treatment and training, it has really gotten much better.

          I have many anxiety/stress issues that I lost control of a few years ago with the crash. Last summer I started counseling with a very exceptional PhD. He uses EFT as well as EMDR and I have found both very helpful. The EFT has been very effective for PTSD also. I had read about it in The Promise of Energy Psychology. It wasn't until Dr Price had me do it repetitively during a session that I had results.

          I have 34 years working with vets from every war since WWI. Lots of PTSD, including the only WWI vet. The triggers described here are all familiar. Note to all: memories are often linked to odors, music, and others described here. It I get a whiff of the brand of soap my grandmother used, the mental image of their green tiled bathroom with sun coming through the window is right there.

          The vets have always been a personal nightmare because they were too often from unnecessary wars and always ignored, disgraced, shamed, etc. The probable PTSD casualties (and injuries with lousy pain management) for Iraq had me in the streets for months before 3/03.

          Then they pulled the stupidest, most dangerous tactic to give the impression the soldiers were getting treatment. Soldiers in combat zones who complained of PTSD symptoms were give prescriptions for SSRIs, and immediately sent back
          to the combat zones - with their guns, etc. Many here will know that these drugs can take 4 to 6 weeks to work and sometimes they cause really bad side effects fairly early. (Nor are they particularly effective for PTSD)

          Last summer I ran across a report of an initial study done in Switzerland. My reaction was, Finally... They discovered that a large percentage of nurses with 15 + years of experience have ongoing traumatic effects.  One of our dKos members was a paramedic for decades. Like many of them, he suffers from years of traumatic experiences.

          DMW, Great diary, thank you. You seem to be on a good track and I hope your recovery keeps progressing- we're here and happy to listen, share or whatever as needed. I think the discussion has reinforced PTSD is a long standing and widespread problem for vets, with many other individuals experiencing it in civilian life. Maybe we should have a PTSD community?

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 07:19:32 PM PST

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