I Got a Break from Reality for Christmas!

Corinna West

December 25, 2012

This whole month I’ve been moving through a separation from reality that was kicked off when I had a really tough week after a mess-up in self-care. I was telling a friend, Paul Cumming, about it, and he said, “Well, has it been a productive experience? I mean, have you learned things?”

I said, “Oh yes, many things, and while scary at times, it’s incredibly beautiful and spiritual and passionate. And I’ve really been able to re-connect with a great group of people helping to pull me back into the here and now who really care about me.”

The secret of the mental health civil rights movement is that we've learned to reach out to each other for help.

The secret of the mental health civil rights movement is that we’ve learned to reach out to each other for help.

Paul had a heart attack not too long ago so I asked him if it was a productive heart attack. He said, “Yes, I’d say so. I found that I now had a much stronger interest in making a way to get exercise and to look at some of the information on the foods I was eating before without really even noticing.”

So, although I’m not all the way moved out of this space, I wanted to share pieces of my experience from the last month with Mad In America readers for two reasons. First, to show that what the mental health systems calls “psychosis” is a normal response to abnormal situations, and it’s temporary and transformative. I wanted to model some non disease oriented ways to assist this situation and talk about it. I also want to put a call out for support and encouragement from anyone who wants to send me an email or post a comment or pick up the phone. I need a bit more help to figure a way out of this place of weakness but wisdom where I’m still a bit stuck. Watch for more blogs on this coming out on my business blog WellnessWordworks.com and my personal blog CorinnaWest.com.

Good physical health and mental health connects:

It started about two months ago when I went to a horrible conference at the Rosalyn Carter Center in Atlanta, GA, about social inclusion. This is a new term for what used to be called “stigma reduction.”  But there is a huge difference between social inclusion and stigma reduction, and it turned out very few people at this conference knew it, or even knew what a psychiatric survivor was. Six of us that were there ended up recording a statement about the risks of disease model approaches. The conference really bummed me out because I realized for the first time how completely blind and unaware that even “leading” mental health professional were about the problems with labels and medications. I often think of what they are doing as genocide, but my friend Ken Braiterman says genocide needs to have “intent.” Most of them are just simply clueless, even though it’s their job to “help” us.

Poetry for Personal Power is real social inclusion and we can use your vote for $25,000

Poetry for Personal Power is real social inclusion and we can use your vote for $25,000

So in my anger and despair and hurt I started neglecting my self care: drinking more often, smoking more cigarettes and other stuff, and missing workouts if I wasn’t disciplined enough to work out before I started trying to numb myself out. During the day I was still working on my entrepreneurial approach to providing effective mental health care that completely bypasses labels and medications. I had the beginning of a spiritual emergency where I realized I was still connected with my friend, Al Henning, who had been killed by psychiatry and I was trying to send him home. At the end of the month, I started feeling good about a possible $25,000 grant that I could get if I got enough comments and online votes. Your two minute comment here could make a huge difference to pull us ahead of many disease model organizations. While you’re there, help out Pat Deegan’s Common Ground and Joseph Rogers’ MHA of Pennsylvania who are also part of the mental health civil rights movement.

Click and comment here to help us get $25,000.

The meltdown:

I was at a party and I got accidentally exposed to a hallucinogen, then the next day my dog got mauled by a bulldog. I was still going through a spiritual emergency and I had a work freakout related to my trauma issues of having my ideas rejected for years. I’ve got blogs coming out about each of these pieces. My brain was a total mess for a whole week after this and it’s still clearing up. At one point I connected with a friend to help me relax and process the spiritual emergency I was still going through. I decided that helping people with spiritual emergencies was one more powerful tool in solving the mental health puzzle.

Ty Smith from Denver modeling a joke T-shirt from Alternatives. But once in a while people will actually drop things to help us.

Ty Smith from Denver modeling a joke T-shirt from Alternatives. But once in a while people will actually drop things to help us.

I tried to get back to work and plan for my initial funding meeting about the $200,000 grant. I started assembling a team of people to come to that meeting with me. One of my art mentors could tell by my emails that I wan’t really doing too well so he sent me this email saying, “I’m concerned about the effects of that hallucinogen you said you were accidentally exposed to.”

We emailed back and forth a few times and I said, “No, I’m not really OK, but I’m working with several people on all this and they’re helping me.” But then my next emails said, “I’m scared. I don’t know of what. Do you know anything about spirits? I have two of them chasing me.”

He didn’t email back at this point. He picked up the phone and called me, because he could tell something wasn’t right at all. I was pretty well freaked out at that point, pretty melted down, and he talked to me for a while until we realized that what I was afraid of was success. I was afraid of the money from this potential grant. He said, “Well, Corinna, you’ve handled so many difficult things in your life to get to this point, I’m sure you’ll be able to handle making this work out. Plus remember, the fears we imagine are much scarier than the fears that are actually happening.”  He reminded me of my theme poem for the week. “Scared of Greatness Descending.”

Spiritual emergency and a doctor who understood it:

But in the meantime my spiritual emergency started getting worse until I sent out a terrified 3 am email to all the spritual people that I knew and I started getting help from some Christian and some non-Christian people.Those blogs are queued up for posting, too. I had to work through all that, which took a while, but came to this beautiful ending where I finally found a spiritual home community in Kansas City after fighting my husband on this for a whole year. One of the questions I kept asking was, “Why are so many people helping me? Why me?”

Part of it was that I had reached out to them. I ended up with a list of something like 35 people who helped me through the process and the list is still growing since I’m still somewhat stuck in the middle of all this, with last night being the first real sleep I’ve gotten in a month, the first non-sedated sleep. But about a third of people that I asked for help came through in one way or another.

For instance, I have five or so doctor friends that helped me deal with the terror of being a psychiatric survivor who now needed to see a doctor to get something to help with sleep. Even though I had good recommendations for a psychiatry skeptical family practice doctor, and I’d met with her once before, I was terrified before the appointment. I was so scared that the road was swimming back and forth as I drove there, and flashes of light kept sliding by on the side of the road. The hair off my dog in the back seat kept blowing into my face like bullets from a death squad, and the morning sunlight on the horizon was burning holes in my windshield.

The only thing that kept me OK through that drive was a text message an hour earlier from my doctor friend who plays ultimate frisbee on bicycles with us. His expert area is tick and other insect borne illness. Like many doctors outside psychiatry, he understood the problems with psych labels and medications. I texted him to ask what he would tell his daughter if she was in this situation. He said, “just be honest about all that triggered this, from the dog, to the grant, and your busy, talented life. Also be honest about the likely hallucinogen you were given. Being up front is always the best.”

It was so powerful to have this ally going into the meeting who believed in me and my talent and my version of events. I just kept focusing on the idea, “This is not an illness, this is just a normal reaction to abnormal events.”

I should probably have ridden my bike there instead of driving, but it was 25 miles away, which isn’t a problem except that I would have had to leave my house at 5 am which was when I was finally about ready to drift off to sleep the night before. Which of course was why I was seeing her in the first place.

The doctor was a good doc and made sure I knew about my self-care mistakes and knew that I’d be OK once I started sleeping again. There was one point where I said, “Well, I’m here because my friends told me I needed to see a doctor and I tend to listen to them when I’m in this bad of shape.” So she pressured me on what “bad shape” meant and I talked about sleeping 3 hours a night for a week straight and the hallucinations and the spirtual emergency and the whole freakout about the grant possibility.

So being a Christian doc she got all that and was willing to leave me alone about the hallucinations when I said, “They’re just visual disturbances. They’re stuff that isn’t there but seems like it is. They’re not a problem, I know how to handle them, I’m not willing to let you treat me for them, and they’re going to go away as soon as I get some sleep.”

She just said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pressure you about something that you’re defensive about.”

I was so terrified of getting sucked back into the mental health system that I was flat, completely monotone, and she had to ask me everything twice since she had no emotional clues at all to work with. So I had to send her a thank you letter afterwards, for helping me with the sleep problem but not insisting there was anything psychiatric at all about it. And my church team instead told me to read Psalm 91 so of course I had to make it into a spoken word poem:

Avoiding mental health traps:

I lived through the week, then made it through my grant meeting by bringing a friend with me and planning the time out with my art mentor. After the meeting I was so drained I walked my glassy faced, hallucinating, exhausted self into his office and he said, “Corinna, just remember this is temporary. That’s in the mission statement of your business. This is a temporary situation.”

And all I could say was, “Oh yeah. That’s right. I’d started to be scared it wasn’t.”

Molly gets a rubber chicken for Christmas.

Molly gets a rubber chicken for Christmas.

So I guess that brings me to the moral of the story, which is that all things that end up with mental health labels have a trap, a circle. The trap of what the mental health system calls “depression” is that the more people stop doing things and stop talking to people, the less they want to do things and talk to people. It’s a loop. The trap of what the mental health system calls “mania” is that for some people, the more excited they get about ideas and projects and the less the sleep, the less they are able to sleep. The pattern of “anxiety” is that the more people are afraid of things, the more they avoid them, so the the scarier the things get. So none of them are chemical illnesses, they are life situations, and people just need to break out of the feedback cycle that gets going.

My friend Ken Braiterman taught me a long time ago how to escape the trap of what is called “psychosis.” The more we worry about the separation from reality, the more scared we get and the more separated we get. This month I found out about another trap. When you can see the beauty and spirituality and mystery and magic of what is going on, it’s tempting to do things to make it last longer and help yourself get further into it, like skip sleep or skip meals or use drugs. I had to fight those temptations often through this month, and still am, to be honest, because there is so much of this process that was not just scary, but glorious and giganticly interdimensional and impactful.

To end on a high note, here’s some really cool things that happened:

  • The heavy hitters and the cavalry at my new church home that banded together with masses of emails to help me through the spiritual emergency. Learning for once to to pray without fear, to re-connect with the creator, and to finally move beyond the night that had brought me into the mental health system in the first place. Finding a beginning idea of how to let Christians be both right and wrong at the same time so I can learn from my non-Christian spiritual allies as well.
  • Our family's newest addition, Jello, with the quartz crystal looking plastic hunks I found in a junkyard.

    Our family’s newest addition, Jello, with the quartz crystal looking plastic hunks I found in a junkyard.

    Exciting and beautiful moments of “Excess Profundity” like talking to the the strangers at the coffee shop at 3 am who somehow knew what I needed to hear in order to get though, banging hands with all the Judo kids at the Christmas dinner, putting my face on the belly of my humane society rescue greyhound, and yelling at the top of my lungs at the food drop on a 20 degree night with the homeless guys about the extra jalapenos in the mac and cheese.

  • Banging on a boulder of quartz crystal looking plastic hunks in a junkyard at midnight, then riding the bucket on my bike and showing them to everyone on the street on the way home. I gave a fist sized one to the guy hopped up on K2 at the convenience store and he thought he had just won the lottery even after I told him not to smoke it.
  • Learning how much easier it is to go through a break in reality in the era of Facebook when I know exactly who is awake at a given time so I can call them. Loving the era of Skype so I can call my new international advocate friends who are actually awake at 3 am.
  • Watching how many people pulled for me, so hard for so long, that all I had to do was ask for help.

Just knowing that people are there makes all the difference.

Corinna West

Wellness Wordworks: Corinna West  writes about the business she founded, which coordinates people with emotional distress who provide instant peer support for each other in exchange for helping anyone who is interested in expanding their online presence.

I Got a Break from Reality for Christmas! Comments RSS

15 thoughts on “I Got a Break from Reality for Christmas!

  1. Corinna, you are a great person! I love your posts, your openness and your enthousiasm. I have some idea of what you are talking about. I agree with you about things going around in circles and how stress and not getting enough sleep can propel one into a strange world. I have watched it happening to my son. I find he reaches a point when he is totally unable to fall asleep no matter how much he wishes to. When he reaches that point he needs the help of a sleeping pill. Once he stsrts sleeping, he is right as rain again in a few days. Like you, after his experience with the mental health services, he is very wary of pills and I find it very difficult to talk him into taking just one until he starts seeing flashing lights and every noise becomes very loud. Once he gives in, he recovers pretty quickly and is able to deal with what was stressing him out in the first place. Like you he experiences the spiritual side of things too.

  2. Corinna, this might be my fave blog of yours yet. It is very timely for me. Last week I made a mess of a situation in which I ended up disappointing some people that I greatly admire. I felt awful. But I sought out my friends and they comforted me. They weren’t professionals, just good people who care about me.

    Having people in one’s life who believe in you and who know that you are better than your moments of weakness is transformational. Yay for nonjudgmental support networks, may yours continue to grow and prosper…

  3. Corinna -

    I’m honored and delighted to read thay something I told you 5 years ago to help you through a crisis is sill helping you through your current crisis

    As you know, I’ve been going thru a spiritual emergency myself since September, related to a possible diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Diease (ALS), a hopeless disease with a certain horrible death.
    You helped me enormously by telling me about the mind-body connection and the biofeedback loop, where emotional distress causes physical pain, which causes more emotional distress, which cause…

    You also tried to explain, in intellectual terms I was too scared to understand, what another friend told me was ACCEPTANCE. That’s what allowed me to live with my fear and uncertainty, and start learning new, less frustrating ways to do simple things that had become very hard, that made me furious, and fed my biofeedback loop several times every day. I’ve resumed my normal activities and positive attitude, though my medical condition will remain uncertain for at least three more months.

    Here’s a link to the blog I posted about it Dec. 5 on Wellnesswordworks.com.
    http://wellnesswordworks.com/what-pain-and-fear-taught-me-about-serenity-and-emotional-distress/

  4. Psychosis is not new to me. I got screwed up by an antidepressant a few years ago. I stopped it on my own… causing psychosis and lots of trouble. After 2 years of various drug cocktails, and finally understanding that my diagnosis was incorrect… I decided in July to come off all meds. Once again, I did this without tapering… and psychosis developed. I began to think I could talk to God and I was getting replies in the form of goosebumps about 50 times a day. I could not sleep but did not feel tired. Luckily, I had read all about stopping meds abruptly, so I knew something like this could happen.

    For 2 weeks, I had countless ideas… curing cancer, treating cancer, solving the worlds energy crisis. I saw meaning in anything and everything. My puppy was teaching me so many things about life. I confided in a few friends about the psychosis… most wanted me to call my psychiatrist. I knew that would result in him declaring that I needed meds… or he would treat me for the psychosis with new meds. I asked my friends to bear with me and help me ride it out. After 2 weeks, the voices stopped… and I leveled out. Months later, I now see this as a normal side effect of the meds. I have to admit, it feels good to have all the answers. Euphoria is dangerous though… I could not see the negative side of anything.

    Psychosis can be a simple reaction to a drug, or life situation. It seems to be triggered by either meds or stress. My guess is it becomes dangerous if the person is more inclined to violence or anger. In my case, I have always wanted to help people and work for charity. My psychosis reflected this. Happy that I did not treat it with meds… which would have lead to more diagnoses.

    • windowman: your comment should be read by the *many* in our society – especially, ‘mental health’ pros – who are conditioned to think psych-meds are necessary to resolve or cure ‘psychosis’; you went through what you did, at last, without being further tripped-up, by psychiatry. You say, had you been treated with meds, that would have led to more diagnoses. (Undoubtedly, true.) Somehow, you were able to convince your friends to bear with you. What accounted for such ultimate success, on your part, I wonder? Perhaps, your conversations with God and/or your goosebumps and/or your puppy deserve more credit. ~J

  5. Corinna,

    You touch on so many issues with your post that it’s hard to know where to start…

    But I would like to start by expressing my gratitude for your honesty and willingness to share your experience. It gives readers hope – in too many ways to measure. We see your humanity, your strengths and weakneses, your willingness to get up, once again and work on becoming more whole each time.

    Thank you for your efforts to revolutionize the system – with all that you do as a spokesperson for a kindler, gentler approach; with an open dialogue with those you disagree with; and through you personal journey – of both triumph and ongoing struggle.

    You are, in my mind, a champion – in every sense… a former Olympic athlete and a fierce competitor for our cause. I have much to learn from you.

    “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up.” – Vince Lombardi

    In short, glad you’re back up!

    Duane

    P.S.: And thank you for the photos of you and your friends riding bikes. After seeing them, I pulled mine out off the patio several months ago, and have been riding since.

    • Oh, Duane, that is such good news! I do so love being a bicycle evangelist. I was doing a Bible study last week with a friend and he says, “Knowing Scipture is the way out of bondage.”

      I said, “All my communities say that their thing is the way out of bondage. The Judo people say Judo is magical, the bike people say the revolution will not be motorized, the poets say our art can change souls, the gardening people say just eat what you plant….”

      And my Bible study friend said, “Well, they’re all right. Those things are all ways out of the trap of our culture.”

      • Biking is great. I grew up riding a bike in Austin, and doing so now brings back such good memories. I’m glad to hear your Chritian friends were helpful. The teachings of Christ call for reaching out and giving encouragement, without judgement… something we all need to do more of.

        Again, Glad you’re back up… You’re an inspiration!

        Duane

  6. My friend is having a crisis too. A little scary, he hasn’t had one for about two years. But also he is more available to people, me included, than he used to.

    We had a nice Christmas, which he cooked, and we watched a film together, but he was also off in some strange fantasy, which he has not done for a long time. It was all about getting a new identity and ditching the one he has. A little worrying, but I hang in there and try my best to go with it an understand it all in the context of he current life situation and what he has had to face in the past.

    Also, it is Christmas which is a difficult time for many as it is a family time and families are so often the things that drive us mad. In my friends case that is partly the problem but also the desire to be so much more than he is at the moment. He got fairly stable over the last few years and has been even enjoying a lot of his life, but he struggles with wanting to move beyond that to try to grasp the things he wanted before the breakdown.

    Unfortunately the day centre where he goes and sometimes gets paid for doing peer support panicked at some of his behaviour and phoned the crisis team behind his back. They have been knocking on his door for the last two weeks, demanding he turn up at the clinic. That too added to his difficulties and he ended up staying in bed and sleeping lots.

    He seems to be planning to return to his day to day activities but I also think that it is right that he should struggle as he thinks through and gathers his courage to face the next part of his recovery.

      • Thanks Chris, I might go to the day centre, especially the members meeting, and suggest they review how they deal with crisis. Maybe I’ll offer to design and put on a short course for them? They must face people having crisis quite often and calling the services is the last thing many people want to happen.

  7. \\\…all things that end up with mental health labels have a trap, a circle. The trap of what the mental health system calls “depression” is that the more people stop doing things and stop talking to people, the less they want to do things and talk to people. It’s a loop. The trap of what the mental health system calls “mania” is that for some people, the more excited they get about ideas and projects and the less the sleep, the less they are able to sleep. The pattern of “anxiety” is that the more people are afraid of things, the more they avoid them, so the scarier the things get. So none of them are chemical illnesses, they are life situations, and people just need to break out of the feedback cycle that gets going…///

    Corinna, that’s well said. It seems to me, you have a great intellectual grasp of what you went through. In particular, you are aware that a lot of your angst was triggered by (well-founded) fear of having the mental health system intervene, as it did in the past. And, by the way, you are a *very* skilled writer. I love how you described that fear arising, in your car ride: “I was so scared that the road was swimming back and forth as I drove there, and flashes of light kept sliding by on the side of the road. The hair off my dog in the back seat kept blowing into my face like bullets from a death squad, and the morning sunlight on the horizon was burning holes in my windshield.” Wow. (So beautifully descriptive.)

    Also, I love that you conclude, “there is so much of this process that was not just scary, but glorious and giganticly interdimensional and impactful…”

    As far your difficulty with getting sleep goes, it seems you felt a need for prescription meds. That’s fine. You are taking care of your current needs, that way. But, I wonder if, in the long run, you might be able to benefit from hypnotherapy.

    A good hypnotherapist can possibly help quite a lot, recommending ‘tools’ (i.e., techniques – and, perhaps, too, effective audio) for getting good sleep, when sleep, otherwise, seems elusive.

    Just a thought. :)

    I’m glad you’re well!

    ~J

    • Corinna, I am so glad to hear you are working your way through this successfully! I agree with Jonah by the way that your writing about the “trap” is really important. Psychiatric explanations make people feel defective, that they have an “illness” that others don’t have. But if people can see that the “trap” or potential vicious circle is really out there waiting for anyone who might fall into it, and furthermore that we don’t need to keep falling into it once we know how it works, then people will feel much more able to regain control.
      Anyway, that’s the kind of stuff I talk about in the mental health education that I do.

  8. “Avoiding mental health traps:

    I lived through the week, then made it through my grant meeting by bringing a friend with me and planning the time out with my art mentor. After the meeting I was so drained I walked my glassy faced, hallucinating, exhausted self into his office and he said, “Corinna, just remember this is temporary. That’s in the mission statement of your business. This is a temporary situation.”

    And all I could say was, “Oh yeah. That’s right. I’d started to be scared it wasn’t.”

    Is the comment about getting scared an indicator of “uncosciously” triggered fear, and a rationaliztion of the “physiological” nature of past trauma experience and trap of trauma re-enactment? Please consider;

    “Madness & the Chaotic Energies of The Trauma Trap?

    Is a new understanding and appreciation of Trauma, re-defining our view of Madness & Mental Illness?
    Is the experience of Mental Illness being re-defined, as The Trauma Trap?

    Does the Human Mind, actively block a Natural Process, of Trauma Resolution? Resulting in the signs and symptoms of Mental Illness?

    Its hard for us humans to give up our egoic conviction, that the mind is the center of the known Universe (no pun intended, of coarse). Yet are we entering an era of science research and spiritual yearning, which may be ushering in the golden age, so many Mad Euphoric’s, have long predicted?

    Is Religious Ecstasy, for example, one of the positive symptoms, now considered an illness in our objectively rational, modern era? Of coarse, the negative symptoms of mental illness, still holds sway, in our normal judgment.
    Sadly, our shadow, is still taller than our Soul?

    Trauma and Spirituality:
    In a lifetime of working with traumatized individuals, I have been struck by the intrinsic and wedded relationship between trauma and spirituality. With clients suffering from a daunting array of crippling symptoms, I have been privileged to witness profound and authentic transformations.
    Seemingly out of nowhere, unexpected “side effects” appeared as these individuals mastered the monstrous trauma symptoms that had haunted them- emotionally, physically and psychologically. Surprises included ecstatic joy, exquisite clarity, effortless focus and an all-embracing sense of oneness. _Peter Levine, PhD. Author of the quintessential guide to trauma resolution;
    “In an Unspoken Voice.”

    So what does “Trauma Trap,” actually mean?

    In his 1997 book “Waking the Tiger,” Peter Levine described his unique views on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as trapped survival energies needing to be discharged. His ideas and success in treating trauma sufferers with his unique approach, helped lead a revolution in the mindful approach to emotional issues in a wide variety of therapeutic practices.

    In “Waking the Tiger” Levine asks a simple, yet potent question? “Why do animals living in the wild, not suffer post trauma effects, after the kind of experiences that cause the symptoms of PTSD in many humans?”

    It takes a momentary suspension of our normal reasoning, to imagine an unconscious nervous system, mediating much of our everyday social behaviors, as the evolved nervous system we share with all other mammals. As an evolved aid and defense of survival, mammals have an innate ability to feign death as a last ditch, instinct for survival. When there is no possibility of fight or flight, no possible means of escape from immediate and overwhelming threat, mammals escape into a simulated death state. “The Trauma Trap?”

    Humans share an evolved autonomic nervous system with other mammals, although evolutionarily adapted to our unique needs. If we imagine such human reactions as shock, fainting, freezing in fright or even in the sensations of acute embarrassment, when we feel that desire for the ground to open beneath us. It becomes possible to see a “continuum” parallel, with a mammalian ability to feign death?

    Recent advances in our knowledge of the autonomic nervous system, have altered the famous fight/flight notion of the human stress response, to a freeze/flight/fight response, as the order of our instinctual responses, to the kind everyday environmental stress we encounter. Again, it takes a momentary suspension of our normal, everyday reasoning, to imagine a continuum of response, by degrees? This unconscious trick to aid survival, the stimulation of a temporary death state (an extreme “freeze” response), adapts to a subtler state of “tonic immobility,” an important aspect of “The Trauma Trap.” Please consider;

    “Traumatized people are too “suppressed,” too stuck in “primal defenses” more appropriate to our amphibian or reptilian evolutionary predecessors. So what is a therapist to do with human beings hurt and beaten down by past trauma? Help people listen to the unspoken voice of their own bodies and to enable them to feel their “survival emotions,” of rage and terror without being overwhelmed by these powerful states.

    In what ethologist’s call “tonic immobility,” helplessness, we are “scared stiff.” In human beings, unlike animals, the “state” of temporary freezing becomes a long-term “trait.” A paralysis of will, shame, depression and self loathing following in the wake of such imposed helplessness. The mental states associated with trauma are important, but they are secondary. The body initiates and the mind follows. Hence “talking cures” that engage the intellect or even the emotions, do not reach deep enough. Trauma is not a disease, but rather a human experience rooted in survival instincts.

    When an organism perceives overwhelming mortal danger (with little or no chance of escape), the biological response is global paralysis and shutdown. Ethologists call this innate response “tonic immobility.” Humans experience this frozen state as helpless terror. Humans, in contrast to animals, frequently remain stuck in a kind of limbo, not fully reengaging in life after experiencing threat as overwhelming terror or horror.

    Rather than being a last ditch reaction to inescapable threat, paralysis becomes a “default” response to a wide variety of daily arousal. I discovered it was crucial to “titrate” (gradually access) these physiological reactions so that they are not overwhelming. I also learned that, shaking and trembling, which constitute the discharge reactions, were often so subtle as to be barely noticeable to outside observation. Often the manifestation of the discharge was a gentle muscular fasciculation or temperature change, noticeable in the hands and face.

    I was exploring how various imbalanced patterns of muscular tension and postural tone were related to symptoms – and how releasing and normalizing these entrenched patterns often led to unexpected and dramatic cures. The Alexander technique is an approach for reducing harmful postural habits that interfere with both the physical and mental states of an individual. (see The Physiological Foundations of Mental Anguish?

    At the right time, traumatized individuals are encouraged to and supported to feel and surrender into immobility/NDE states, states of profound surrender, which liberate these primordial archetypal energies, while integrating them into consciousness. In addition to the “awe-full” states of horror and terror appear to be connected to the transformative states such as awe, presence, timelessness and ecstasy.” _Peter Levine.

    Selected excerpts from “In an Unspoken Voice,” by Peter Levine, PhD.

    http://www.bipolarbatesy.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/madness-chaotic-energies-of-trauma-trap.html

    Best wishes,

    David Bates.

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