How to recover from childhood trauma

Blog post:

Monday 13th September 2021

Dr Jim Byrne

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Childhood developmental trauma – or Complex-PTSD – How to recover

Introduction

1, A New Dragons Trauma book coverEvery day you open the newspapers you will find new examples of childhood trauma, among pop stars, sports celebrities, and the residents of publicly funded children’s homes. It may be that up to sixty or seventy percent of children are traumatized in one form or another – through abuse or neglect – or by witnessing violence or drunkenness or drugged behaviours at home – and this represents a major disadvantage right at the start of life.

As a result, a high proportion of the populations of Western societies – especially in the Anglo-American world – is carrying life-destroying experiences, which often get passed on from one generation to the next.

And those early traumatic experiences also predispose the individual to being more easily traumatized by adverse adult experiences, including warfare, intense interpersonal violence and violent rape.

My experience

Metal Dog - Autobiogprahical story by Jim Byrne

Over a period of almost 25 years, I have “picked up the pieces” – the fall-out, if you like – of some horrible childhood histories.  I had a special capacity to deal with these problems because I came from a traumatizing background, and I’d spent many years resolving my own developmental trauma (using a wide range of therapeutic strategies), and learning to live a full and happy life.

Sharing that experience with others

Now I have written up the kinds of processes that I have used with my own clients over those years, in a form which is usable by self-help enthusiasts; but could also be a good learning resource for new counsellors who are moving, or planning to move, into the field of trauma work. These processes can be bracketed into three forms – which are addressed once the reader has achieved some degree of safety and security in their life.  Those forms are:

– re-framing of traumatic experiences (starting with low level upsets; and proceeding upwards with caution);

– confronting and completing medium range traumatic experiences;

– and, finally, digesting higher intensity traumatic symptoms; through processes including: writing therapy, combined with re-framing and completion; and with bodily sensations and breath-work; and several other whole body-brain-mind strategies.

The outcomes of trauma therapy

The benefits to be derived from this kind of work are enormous. Sleep is improved; digestion and breathing become normal; anxiety and depression are cleared up; social relationships become less stressful; physical and mental health improve; and on and on.

To find out more about this new, revolutionary new strategy, please take a look How to Resolve Childhood Developmental Trauma.

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Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

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Escape from the darkness and confusion of childhood trauma

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Blog post – 6th August 2021

Childhood Developmental Trauma and how to heal yourself

By Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, and Trauma Survivor

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Introduction

Cover of Drafons book, 2012Trauma is all around us. Many humans are seriously damaged by their families of origin, and by their cruel cultures.

It is no accident that I got into developing various approaches to trauma therapy.  No surprise that I became a psychotherapist, and worked hard to help many individuals to recover from the pain, confusion and loneliness of Childhood Developmental Trauma (or Complex-PTSD).

I got into this line of work because – without knowing it at the time – I am actually a Childhood Developmental Trauma survivor.

And I am making great progress – slowly – with my new book on Childhood Developmental Trauma, which is titled: Transforming Traumatic Dragons: How to recover from a history of trauma – using a whole body-brain-mind approach. Revised, expanded and updated: August 2021.

That book is now very close to being completed. I have finished the writing and editing. At the moment I am proofreading the text – and I am on page 159 out of 421, which is approximately a third of the way through – (or 37%).

When I have finished, it will be proofed by Renata Taylor-Byrne, my co-author. And then it will be published and made available via Amazon outlets.

Of course, I did publish an earlier, less developed book on this topic, which had two of the three processes that I present in the current book – but the current book is vastly superior, because of the addition of the ‘interoceptive Windows model’, which integrates writing therapy and body work, with breath work, and EMDR. (Plus additional insights into trauma and diet; trauma and exercise; trauma and sleep; how precisely to do that [writing therapy combined with body work] process; and so on).

This book should be a great help to many individuals who have the determination to do at least some of their own therapy at home; perhaps combined with some face to face counselling and therapy with a trauma therapist, because the interpersonal, right-brain to right-brain aspect of trauma recovery is so very important.

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My own trauma journey

Metal Dog - Autobiogprahical story by Jim Byrne

Of course, long before I got down to writing about the trauma problems of other people, I had to work on my own childhood trauma damage.  One of the ways that I did that was to write my own autobiographical stories about my origins and my ‘relationships’.

One of the main ways I did this work was to create an ‘alter ego’ – who I named ‘Daniel O’Beeve’.  I then (in my mind) put Daniel into those situations through which I have lived, and which I could dredge up from my memory banks; and I observed how he got on – from the ‘outside’ – (objectification!).  I then retrieved a lot of my old traumatic nightmares, and rewrote them in a literary style. And then I created a set of ‘alien psychologists’ who could observe Daniel’s journey, through a “wormhole in space-time”, and to make comments about how to understand what is going on in his life (using psychological concepts), in a way which Daniel and I could never have commented! (Clearly this has to be called “a fictionalized autobiographical story”; and none of the characters in this story should be confused with any real individual, living or dead!)

I published all of that work in a book called Metal Dog – Long Road Home. And this is the Amazon books description of that book:

Book description

Cover of Drafons book, 2012Daniel O’Beeve was a victim of childhood developmental trauma, before anybody had even thought to conceive of such a concept.  He was a victim of abuse and neglect long before anybody gave a damn about the emotional welfare of children.

Daniel’s parents were both born into highly dysfunctional families; poor rural families that lived from hand to mouth; families who had been trained by the priests to “beat the fear of God” into their children.

Daniel’s parents did not love each other.  They had an arranged marriage, and never learned to even like each other.

When Daniel was just eighteen months old, his father lost his farm and had to move to Dublin city, to eke out an existence as a gardener. Daniel was born into this mess. Unloved and unloving; beaten and emotionally abused; he grew up with very low emotional intelligence; no capacity to make contact with another human being; and a fear of everything that moved suddenly or rapidly.

He was then thrown into a city school at the age of four years, into a playground in which he was the only “culchie” (or hill billy) – in a sea of “city slickers” (called “Jackeens” by Daniel’s parents) – and this was against a backdrop of dreadful (‘racist’) antipathy between the Dublin and rural cultures in general.

In ten years of public schooling, Daniel did not make a single friend.

Metal Dog - Autobiogprahical story by Jim ByrneWith no map of healthy human love, or workable human relations, he entered the world of work at the age of fourteen, like a drunk thrown out of a pub, late at night, in total darkness, mind reeling, and feelings jangled; and from this point forward he has to try to make sense of life; to make sense of relationships with girls; and to make some kind of life for himself.

For more, please go to Metal Dog – Long Road Home. Where I reveal some of the ways in which my childhood trauma affected my difficulties with trying to “get off” with a girl or woman, in a way that might possibly work. For more, please go to Metal Dog – Long Road Home.

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Back to Jim

Jim and the Buddha, 2As it happened, I (Jim) did manage to find my way out of the darkness and confusion; out of the autism and dissociation; out of the fear and loneliness.  I did my therapy, and I got my reward!

Now I write books for others on the subject of how to overcome childhood developmental trauma.

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The new book on Childhood Developmental Trauma should be available at Amazon outlets in the next month or so, (because I keep getting distracted onto urgent survival projects).

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Bookstore Online UK

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

The Institute for Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy

Email: Dr Jim Byrne.***

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The child is ‘parent’ of the adult

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Blog Post C1: Theory of human development in emotive-cognitive embodied-narrative therapy

By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

23rd June 2021

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Three Principles of Childhood Development, which shape our later adult life…

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2021

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Front cover Holistic Couns reissuedThe theory of emotive-cognitive embodied-narrative therapy was developed by this author over twenty years of study and application, in private practice, with more than 1,000 clients.  It was also developed through many conversations with Renata Taylor-Byrne about stress, meditation, relaxation, sleep science, positive mental attitude, diet and nutrition, and various systems of physical exercise. (Subsequently, Renata contributed a lot of research, and we co-authored some books together.***)

In 2016, I set out to boil my learning down into a limited list of key principles, which I included in Chapter 3 of Holistic Counselling in Practice.*** 

What I came up with was a list of twenty core principles of E-CENT theory, which included the following three principles, which point up the centrality of early childhood experience to our lifelong prospects for happiness and close relationships:

The 20 core principles of human development

Firstly, I do not make the mistake of extrapolating from adult functioning in order to understand the psychology of human nature.  Instead, I begin with the baby in the mother’s womb (where the mother may be more or less stressed, and more or less well nourished, depending upon the actual circumstances of her life).  I then move on to the baby post-birth, which is colonized by a carer (normally mother) who may be more or less sensitive to the baby’s signals of comfort and discomfort; more or less responsive to the baby’s needs; and more or less caring.  And I also take account of how stressed the mother was, by her life circumstances, even before the baby was conceived.  These are the foundations of human emotional and general psychological functioning.

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Secondly, I accept the Attachment theory proposition, that the baby is born with an innate attachment drive, which causes it (after a period of about twenty to twenty-four weeks of development) to seek to attach itself to a main carer.  The attachment bond that is formed becomes either secure or insecure, depending upon whether the mother (or main carer) is “good enough” – meaning sensitive, responsive, and caring enough to soothe the affective states[i] of the baby.  Later father and siblings become important attachment figures for the baby. And the baby forms a set of internal working models of relationship based upon those earliest relationships.

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Metal Dog - Autobiogprahical story by Jim Byrne
Fictionalized story of  the life of Jim Byrne

Third, the first five or six years of life are taken to be the prime determinants of what kind of life the individual will live.  Very largely, the emotionally significant narratives (stories), scripts (maps) and frames (lenses) that the child learns and forms during this period – which manifest in the form of moods and emotional states, expectations, beliefs and habitual patterns of behaviour – will determine its trajectory through life, all other things being equal.  There is, of course, some degree of malleability of the human brain-mind, and so what was once shaped badly (by negative relationship experiences) can to some extent be reshaped into a better form by subsequent ‘curative experiences’, with a love partner, or with a counsellor or psychotherapist. (Wallin, 2007; Doidge, 2008).

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For more of these principles, please see Holistic Counselling in Practice.***

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That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Email: Dr Jim Byrne.***

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Endnote

[i] An ‘affective state’ is a state of the body-brain-mind of an individual, in which there is physiological arousal and a felt sense of emotional attraction (‘positive affect’) or aversion (‘negative affect’).  For most practical purposes, among counsellors, the word affect may be used interchangeably with ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’.

Covid anxiety is manufactured

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SOS: Emergency: Please share this with everybody you love.  The price of freedom is eternal vigilance:

Fear Is Contagious and Used to Control You

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

  • June 18, 2021

Story at-a-glance

  • In a newly released book, members of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour, a subcommittee that advises the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies in the U.K., admit government is using fear to control and manipulate the population
  • SPI-B, which advocated for the use of fear messaging, now says it was unethical, totalitarian and a regrettable mistake
  • Aside from the barrage of bad-news-only data — which was heavily manipulated in a variety of ways — fear and anxiety are also generated by keeping you confused
  • Giving out contradictory recommendations is being done on purpose, to keep you psychologically vulnerable. By layering confusion and uncertainty on top of fear, you can bring an individual to a state in which they can no longer think rationally. Once driven into an illogical state, you are easily manipulated
  • Government’s reliance on behavioural psychology didn’t just happen as a result of the pandemic. These tactics have been used for years, and are increasing

Governments are using fear to control and manipulate their citizens. That has now been admitted by members of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour (SPI-B), a subcommittee that advises the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) in the U.K. And they should know, because they advocated for it, and now say it was a regrettable mistake. As reported by The Telegraph, May 14, 2021:1

“Scientists on a committee that encouraged the use of fear to control people’s behaviour during the COVID pandemic have admitted its work was ‘unethical’ and ‘totalitarian.’ Members of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour (SPI-B) expressed regret about the tactics in a new book about the role of psychology in the Government’s COVID-19 response.

SPI-B warned in March last year that ministers needed to increase ‘the perceived level of personal threat’ from COVID-19 because ‘a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened.’

Gavin Morgan, a psychologist on the team, said: ‘Clearly, using fear as a means of control is not ethical. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism. It’s not an ethical stance for any modern government. By nature I am an optimistic person, but all this has given me a more pessimistic view of people.’”

Psychological Warfare Is Real

The Telegraph quotes several of the SPI-B members, all of whom are also quoted in the newly released book, “A State of Fear: How the UK Government Weaponised Fear During the Covid-19 Pandemic,” written by Laura Dodsworth:2

“One SPI-B scientist told Ms Dodsworth: ‘In March [2020] the Government was very worried about compliance and they thought people wouldn’t want to be locked down. There were discussions about fear being needed to encourage compliance, and decisions were made about how to ramp up the fear. The way we have used fear is dystopian.

The use of fear has definitely been ethically questionable. It’s been like a weird experiment. Ultimately, it backfired because people became too scared’ …

One warned that ‘people use the pandemic to grab power and drive through things that wouldn’t happen otherwise … We have to be very careful about the authoritarianism that is creeping in’ …

Another member of SPI-B said they were ‘stunned by the weaponization of behavioural psychology’ during the pandemic, and that ‘psychologists didn’t seem to notice when it stopped being altruistic and became manipulative. They have too much power and it intoxicates them.’

Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the COVID Recovery Group of Tory MPs, said: ‘If it is true that the state took the decision to terrify the public to get compliance with rules, that raises extremely serious questions about the type of society we want to become. If we’re being really honest, do I fear that government policy today is playing into the roots of totalitarianism? Yes, of course it is.’”

The Manufacture of Fear

For nearly a year and a half, governments around the world, with few exceptions, have fed their citizens a steady diet of frightening news. For months on end, you couldn’t turn on the television without facing a tickertape detailing the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

Even when it became clear that people weren’t really dying in excessive numbers, the mainstream media fed us continuous updates on the growing number of “cases,” without ever putting such figures into context or explaining that the vast majority were false positives.

People don’t enjoy being hoodwinked and they don’t want to live in a state of fear. We maybe need to be a bit bolder about standing up more quickly when something is not right. ~ Laura Dodsworth

Information that would have balanced out the bad news — such as recovery rates and just how many so-called “cases” actually weren’t, because they never had a single symptom — were censored and suppressed.

They also refused to put any of the data into context, such as reviewing whether the death toll actually differed significantly from previous years. Instead, each new case was treated as an emergency and a sign of catastrophic doom.

Fear Is Contagious

Fear has long been the tool of tyrants. It’s profoundly effective, in part because it spreads from person to person, just like a virus. The contagion of fear is the topic of the Nova “Gross Science” video above, originally aired in mid-February 2017. Among animals, emotional distress responses are telegraphed through pheromones emitted through various bodily secretions such as sweat and saliva.

As explained in the video, when encountering what is perceived as a serious threat, animals with strong social structures, such as bees and ants, will release alarm pheromone. The scent attracts other members of the hive or colony to collectively address the threat.

Humans appear to have a very similar capability. When scared or stressed, humans produce chemosignals, and while you may not consciously recognize the smell of fear or stress, it can have a subconscious impact, making you feel afraid or stressed too.

Humans also tend to mimic the feelings of those around us, and this is yet another way through which an emotion can spread like wildfire through a community or an entire nation — for better or worse. Behavioural psychologists refer to this as “emotional contagion,” and it works both positive and negative emotions.

For example, if you’re greeted by a smile when meeting someone, you’re likely to smile back, mimicking their facial expression and behaviour. If someone looks at you with an angry scowl, you’re likely to suddenly feel angry too, even if you weren’t before and have no subjective reason to — other than that someone looked at you the “wrong” way.

However, while both positive and negative emotions are contagious, certain emotions spread faster and easier than others. Research cited in the Nova report found that “high arousal” emotions such as awe (high-arousal positive emotion) and anger or anxiety (high-arousal negative emotion) are more “viral” than low-arousal emotions such as happiness or sadness.

The Nova report also points out that researchers have been mining Twitter and other social media data to better understand how emotions are spread, and the types of messages that spread the fastest. However, they ignored the primary culprits, Google and Facebook both of which steal your private data and use it to manipulate your behaviour.

At the time, in 2017, they said this information was being harvested and used to develop ways to avoid public messaging that might incite mass panic. But the COVID-19 pandemic suggests the complete opposite. Clearly, behavioural experts have been busy developing ways to generate maximum fear, anxiety and panic.

How to Inoculate Yourself Against Negative Contagion

At the end of the report, Nova cites research detailing three effective ways to “immunize” yourself against negative emotional contagions.

  1. Distract yourself from the source of the negative contagion — In the case of pandemic fearporn, that might entail not reading or listening to mainstream media news that for the past year have proven themselves incapable of levelheadedness.
  2. Project your own positive emotions back at the source of the negative contagion — If talking to someone who is fearful, they might end up “catching” your optimism rather than the other way around.
  3. Speak up — If someone is unwittingly spreading “negative vibes,” telling them so might help them realize what they’re doing. (This won’t work if the source is knowingly and purposely spreading fear or anxiety though.)

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Source: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2021/06/18/fear-contagious.aspx?

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Journal writing as therapy

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Blog post

11th June 2021

How to Write a New Life for Yourself: Using journal writing to improve your life

By Renata Taylor-Byrne

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“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life.

It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.”

Robin S. Sharma

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Introduction

Write a new life for yourselfIn this blog I want to outline some of the invaluable benefits of writing about yourself and your life, and then briefly explain some of the writing strategies recommended and described in Jim Byrne’s book:  “How to Write a New Life for Yourself: narrative therapy and the writing solution”.

Firstly, writing about yourself brings order and understanding into your life. Would you like to create some new structure and certainty in your life, after the constant changes that you have been experiencing as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic? One of the most effective ways to make sense of all the changes that have taken place, is to reflect on what has been happening to you and how your life has been changed.

Writing about your experiences, including your losses, acknowledges them, processes them and helps you move beyond them.  Getting in touch with your feelings helps you to reconnect with yourself. And in the process, you find out who you were, the things that shaped and changed your life, and the reasons why you want to create new changes or goals for yourself.

“I think writing really helps you heal yourself.

I think if you write long enough, you will be a healthy person.

That is, if you write what you need to write, as opposed to what will make money, or what will make fame”.  

Alice Walker

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Scientific validation of writing as therapy

Kindle Cover WriteANewLife (2)Secondly, the benefits of the writing therapy process have been scientifically assessed. It’s worth knowing that there are very real benefits to our bodies and minds which have been systematically researched: The benefits of writing things out of our system was investigated by Dr James Pennebaker of the University of Texas. He thinks that regular writing (he calls it ‘journaling’) strengthens our immune cells, called T-lymphocytes.  Other research has shown that regular writing reduces the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker also believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, and this means a reduction in the impact of these stressors on your physical health.

“My wife Cecily Adams was dying of cancer, my daughter Madeline was struggling to overcome an autism diagnosis, and my father was dying, all at the same time. Writing the journal was a cathartic experience, and an extremely positive one.” Jim Beaver

Philippa Perry (2012) has described the findings about people who keep a diary, and write about the events of their lives. Apparently they have stronger immune systems than those who don’t write them, they are admitted into hospital less, don’t need as much medical attention, and the function of their livers becomes more effective. Their ability to manage their emotions and moods also becomes stronger.

How to get started with your journal writing

Dr-Jim-Byrne8 (2)Jim Byrne’s book has a section which can help you if you feel unable to start the writing process, and he describes the different life transitions which he used on his own writing therapy, and which he has used for many years to help his clients heal and deepen their understanding of their lives. He describes the main life stories as: ‘The story of my origins”, “The story of my relationships” (especially your relationship with your mother), “The story of transitions” and the “Story of career difficulties”. He also describes the starting points used by other therapists, for example Noppe-Brandon (2018) who focusses on life stages.

And he describes the writing process developed by Julia Cameron. She is described by the New York Times as the “Queen of Change” and for many years has led workshops all over the world for creative people who are blocked in the self-expression of their creativity.

The-Artists-Way“Julia Cameron (1992) teaches a daily writing process that is designed to help the writer recover a sense of safety and identity; a sense of power and integrity; a sense of possibility and abundance; a sense of connection and strength; a sense of compassion and self-protection.  These goals are achieved by writing three pages of ‘streams of consciousness’ each day.”

She describes her technique as “writing Morning Pages”. It’s a technique whereby you write three pages (in your own handwriting – not on the computer) every day, early in the morning. She suggests that you just write down anything and everything that is on your mind: (she calls it stream-of-consciousness descriptions of whatever is on your mind or going through your mind).

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Key benefits of journal writing

To summarize, the three different ways that writing about ourselves can benefit us is by:

(a) Helping us process and fully digest past experiences which we need to complete (for example, making peace with past traumas or upsets, or forgiving people whose negative behaviour affected us badly).

(b) Enabling us to clarify our values and goals and the way forward for us in our careers.

(c) Helping us master the challenges we face daily, by fully expressing them in writing, problem-solving and writing about strategies to support ourselves – a self-coaching process which gets our problems outside of our heads, and onto paper. By putting our problems outside of ourselves, we can see them better and find solutions to them more quickly.

Here is a link to Jim’s book: https://abc-bookstore.com/writing-therapy-exercises/

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Health coach, Renata Taylor-ByrneRenata Taylor-Byrne

Lifestyle Coach-Counsellor

The Coaching-Counselling Division

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

01422 843 629

Email: Renata and ABC Coaching

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