This is part 2, please first refer to part 1 before reading (click here)
Last week we explored the conditioning of the nervous system from the perspective of driving a car, but also how the nervous system becomes conditioned with a bundle of reactions and reflexes which show up in the way we relate to others.
Let's follow on from that and continue to explore how the victim/abuser cycle perpetuates itself and how both sides of the equation live from and in a trauma response which is perpetuated by the dynamic within the relationship.
The dance becomes one of victim/perpetrator/rescuer. Usually our partner will mirror the opposite response to the one that dominates our patterning, if we are in a fight response and perpetrator role they will move into either a fawn, freeze or collapse (victim and rescuer).
The fawn or freeze causes them to be unable to leave the relationship, to walk on eggshells to...
To understand trauma it is helpful to know how our nervous system becomes conditioned, the body’s ability to adapt and automatically respond to situations based on past events is a useful tool in many circumstance, for example when we are learning to drive a car it can really feel like its “me” that's learning to drive and will be continuing to drive, but really our conscious mind is only there to assist in conditioning the body to drive for us.
Our cognitive understanding of how a car works, how to use the different functions, eg. gas and breaks and to really get a feel for what it’s like to drive we need our conscious mind.
As we do this something is happening on a deeper level, what we are essentially doing is we are conditioning the body to drive the car so “I” don't have to think about it.
We are imprinting the nervous system with specific movements,...
We often talk about Safety as an essential quality when it comes to healing trauma, but as with all language and wording people have their own presuppositions and perspectives on the word.
We may associate Safety with avoidance, like a "playing it safe" attitude, or we may associate it with feeling smothered, as our parents may have been over bearing in attempting to keep us safe.
In this article I am going to give some context around safety and integration, and also give voice to some pitfalls I have seen people and practitioners fall into whilst attempting to heal trauma.
Safety in the context of healing trauma is not an avoidance strategy, it is a quality that is conducive and essential for the integration and release of unmetabolized stress. Safety was what was lacking in the moment the response got stuck.
Lack of safety is the reason for trauma, we felt out of control, overwhelmed, alone, disconnected and unsupported in the midst of our distress and so we were unable...
There are many questions that arise when it comes to Somatic/Trauma Therapy.
Matt & Ryan first lay the foundations of this work then here's a taste of what is covered:
Embodied Processing Practitioner Training: https://www.thecentreforhealing.com/embodied-processing
Combining Embodied Processing & Root-Cause Therapy class: https://www.thecentreforhealing.com/blog/combining-root-cause-therapy-embodied-processing
TCFH Practitioner Directory: https://www.thecentreforhealing.com/courses-3
The science behind the nervous system has evolved in recent years due to the studies of Stephen Porges and polyvagal theory.
This discovery has given us deeper insights into the nature of trauma as well as the shutdown, freeze and fawn responses and what happens in our neurophysiology when we enter these states.
Understanding the nervous system is like having a map of Texas, we can use the map to navigate the terrain and walk through the different landscapes without getting lost in it. Though, it is important to remember that the map is never the territory.
In other words the map is a helpful tool but it is via exploring and navigating our own direct experience that gives us true insight and brings about transformation.
We can have read and understand every study there is about strawberries, what makes them grow, what they taste like, what environments are most conducive for them etc, all of which are helpful in navigating and understanding a strawberry, but it is only by biting...
Embodied Processing is the Bottom Up Approach to Healing Trauma & Nervous System Dysregulation
It is a Somatic Therapy based on a combination of ancient wisdom & the latest neuroscience in the field of trauma.
Navigating the Terrain
Guiding someone through the traumatic imprints, subconscious imagery & unconscious beliefs of their body can be daunting.
That's why having a map when we're learning is so important.
A lot of this process is one of Discernment.
- Discerning what is best to be investigated in that session.
- Discerning what is going to bring on a felt sense of safety for the client.
- Discerning the predominant emotion associated with the trigger
- Discerning the origin of the imprint
- Discerning which processing technique will help the client move through the emotion
- Discerning completion of the traumatic event
- Discerning the clients nervous system state throughout
With the right framework you can confidently start practicing and gaining experience.
In spiritual circles you might hear addiction described as a loss of the Self or Soul.
People often say the addictive behaviour is an attempt to get Home, a longing to experience their true self.
From a nervous system perspective the behaviour is actually trying to find Home....ostasis.
When someone becomes dysregulated due to their life circumstances they will get 'stuck' pinging between a shutdown response & over activation.
Using external means to try and regulate is a natural human inclination.
Some of these means are stigmatised by society, some are rewarded. The mechanism however, is the same.
If we only spend our time looking at the surface level manifestation of addiction then we can never truly understand.
We'll get stuck treating symptoms and telling people to "just say No"
This lens with which the collective has viewed addiction up until now has seen a slow steady increase in addiction rates over the past couple of centuries, despite a 'war' being declared...
3 Myths about Trauma
1 - Trauma is what happens to us
We classically think of trauma as a certain event, sexual abuse, veteran at war, car crash.
Trauma is actually what happens INSIDE of us as a result of external stimulus.
Here is what happens inside during trauma:
- A Nervous System in Overwhelm (Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn)
- Stored Emotional Energy / Survival Stress
- Creation of Painful Narratives
- Orphaned Parts
When we don't have a stable Resource of Safety to process the first 2, we then create the second 2.
This is the birth of a trauma & the associated trauma responses in similar life situations.
2 - What is traumatic for one person is traumatic for everyone
Based on the above point of trauma happening inside, we can see that different events may or may not be traumatic to a certain individual.
Some events will be traumatic to 95% of the population, some for 50% of the population and some events will only be traumatic to 5% of people.
We should never compare what...
Fight / Flight / Freeze / Fawn
I'm sure you've heard of these nervous system states at some point.
In the above video we talk about what that actually looks like inside the branches of the Autonomic Nervous System.
When our nervous system perceives threat in the environment it will make a decision (without our conscious awareness of 'why') as to which state will be most beneficial to our survival.
Now our nervous system is not only reacting to physical threat, it is reacting to threats to our identity.
The mechanism is actually the same.
Fight / Flight
- Intense Energy
Freeze / Fawn
- Shutdown or Collapse
Connection / Social Engagement
- Ventral Vagal
- Safe (no Fear)
- Meditative State
- Play & Fun
Being able to activate the Ventral Vagus will start to re-adapt the nervous system.
Meaning we can regulate in a more efficient manner, both with circumstances that arise in our daily life & when...
Orphaned Part = Split off part of one's Psyche & Being
Created during a time of extreme distress.
The Nervous System perceives threat and the 'threat response' never finds full completion.
The Orphaned Part, from that day forward, will keep an eye out for a potentially similar situation to occur.
We get stuck in a Hyper Vigilant state.
Most humans have dozens (sometimes a lot more) of these parts which become active during the day.
When we can never find relief from the hyper vigilance then we tend to turn to Coping Mechanisms, drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, shopping, sex, work, etc.
We hear the term Integration a lot in the healing world.
What we are integrating is these Orphaned Parts.
Finding them, locating their origin, understanding them, processing them & welcoming them back Home.
Ryan Hassan (Co-Founder at The Centre for Healing)