Blog

Overcoming childhood trauma

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Blog Post

Update on my Trauma Book…

Transforming Traumatic Dragons:

How to recover from a history of trauma – using a whole body-brain-mind approach

By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

12th January 2021

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Copyright (c) Jim Byrne 2021

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Introduction

Front cover 2, Dragons Trauma book June 2020If my memory serves me well, I was confident that I could complete my book – How to recover from a history of trauma – before the end of 2020.

However, my plans were blown off course in August 2020, because I had a list of extensive reports to write for some of my couple’s therapy clients; which kept me busy up to Christmas Eve.

Now I am back working on that Trauma Book; and I hope to complete it by Easter at the latest. I know some individuals are patiently waiting for it.

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About the book…

Dr Jim's officeI wrote this book to help individuals (who had traumatic experiences earlier in life) to be able to digest those traumas, and resolve any negative symptoms of having been traumatized.

This book is designed to help you

– to understand what trauma is;

– the various forms of post-traumatic stress;

– including the nature of complex childhood development trauma;

– and also, most importantly, to help you to recover from your traumatic past. 

My major aim is to teach you how to slowly and cautiously process, or digest, old emotional traumas, so they can be healed.

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The ‘interoceptive’ detour

The body keeps the score, bessel van der kolkThis book is a greatly expanded version of an earlier book I which I did not pay sufficient attention to the role of the body in the storing and restimulation of traumatic memories.  I was woken up by Bessel van der Kolk’s book, ‘The Body Keeps the Score’, and so I have been adapting my own trauma therapy processes to include a good deal of body-based ‘interoceptive’ elements. 

What is ‘Interoception’? “Interoceptive awareness is the awareness of inner body sensations, involving the sensory process of receiving, accessing and appraising internal bodily signals (Craig, 2009).  Interoceptive awareness is fundamental to mindfulness-based approaches, involving focused present-moment awareness on internal sensations, most often introduced by attending to the sensations of the breath (inhaling and exhaling), or by engaging in a body scan.  Interoception is recognized as a possible mechanism underlying mindfulness-based approaches (Farb et al., 2015; Garland, 2016), and learning interoceptive awareness skills may improve well-being and enhance capacity for emotion regulation (de Jong, et al., 2016; Price, et al., 2018).” From Price (2019). 

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My three main processes

Window frame for Lifestyle couns bookhave developed three main processes to help you to reframe and digest your problematical feelings and experiences.

The first – which is called the Basic Nine Windows Model – is intended to be a basic training in how to think-feel-perceive any problem, so that it shows up as being of manageable proportions, in terms of its impact on your emotions and your behavioural responses. The idea is to work on day to day problems of a non-traumatic nature, so that you do not overwhelm yourself. Gradually, you will build up your resilience muscles, and can confront and digest bigger and bigger problems.  (This is described in Chapter 4).

The second process – which is called Completing Your Experience – is intended to surface more difficult emotional memories, including some traumatic memories, and to reframe and digest them. (This is described in Chapter 5).

Front cover, Discounting our bodiesAnd the third and final process – which is called the Interoceptive[1] Windows Model[1] – is designed to involve your body, brain and mind in the processing of previously non-conscious traumatic memories. This includes reflecting upon your body’s sensations; controlled breathing; visual memories; writing down memories; eye movement desensitization[2]; and physical movement/exertion.  (This multi-element process is described in Chapter 6).

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Deviation

Dr-Jim-Byrne8 (2)I am enjoying the process of rewriting the current chapter – 6 – but I have had to deviate to develop an appendix on Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory.  This is an important part of the process of understanding how the body features in the processing of traumatic memories.  The appendix begins like this:

Appendix L: Some insights into the Polyvagal Theory of Dr Stephen Porges

By Jim Byrne, 9th January 2021

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Introduction

Front cover 2, Dragons Trauma book June 2020In this appendix, I want to introduce a brief set of insights into the Polyvagal theory, which is central to Dr Bessel van der Kolk’s approach to Developmental Trauma Therapy; which has also influenced my own system of Interoceptive Processing of Intense Traumas.

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Before I look at some of the papers and books that gave rise to this system of understanding the human body-brain-mind, I want to present my own summary understanding of the polyvagal theory:

What is the polyvagal theory?

Here are some of the most important elements of the polyvagal theory:

Our physiological state is the substrate, or foundation, of our emotional states, attachment states, social connection capacity, and so on. And when we focus on the body as the foundation of the individual, we have also to consider the question: what are the best ways of treating the individual for unhelpful emotional states – such as panic and traumatic over-arousal – which are grounded in the body?  Clearly, talk therapy has a role to play, but there has proved to be an array of physical interventions which calm down the body-brain-mind and emotions much more effectively than talk therapy, especially when the client is very anxious, stressed, or traumatized by extreme experiences.

The polyvagal theory also gives counsellors and therapists a new way to explain to the client why they are having overly-aroused reactions to situations that others take in their stride. For example: “Your body is overly aroused, sending signals to your brain that you are not safe!” The solution is to calm the body (because ‘the body’ is really shorthand for ‘a socialized-body-brain-mind’).  One effect of this shift is that, instead of focusing on the client’s ‘presenting problem’, the counsellor can focus instead on the state of the client’s body (in terms of tension/relaxation). But this should not be taken too far, as some focus on the client’s story can be very helpful – for example,  in the use of writing therapy to transform a story from one that causes over-arousal of the fight-flight response, to a revised story which triggers the calming effects of the parasympathetic nervous system.

It would be a mistake to go from the idea that “it’s all in the mind” to the equally simplistic idea that “it’s all in the body!”

The point has to be how to move the client’s body-brain-mind from a state of feeling “I’m in danger” to one in which they feel “I am feeling safe!”

Front cover 2, Dragons Trauma book June 2020While the Polyvagal theory emphasizes how the client’s “body” responds to threats and dangers – including the recalling of, and flash backs to, traumatic experiences – we in E-CENT counselling always seek to keep the focus on the “body-brain-mind” of the client!  We know that the body is primary, from the beginning of life; but the body-brain is shaped by socializing experiences which change how they are wired up.  What we take from the Polyvagal theory is this: The triune brain is organized vertically, and the lowest level, the brainstem, has a huge influence over our survival strategies and survival responses to threats.  But the brainstem and the limber system, in the midbrain, are changed by social experiences, including traumatizing social experiences, like rape, domestic violence, bullying, mugging, war, captivity, and so on.  Thus, when a client has a deep trauma to be resolved, it is not going to work to engage their upper brain, which will be switched off by the dorsal vagal nerve… (And then the vagal nerve subdivision have to be explored!) …

…End of extract…

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Conclusion

Dr-Jim-Byrne8 (2)As we approach the middle of January, I am fairly confident that I can complete this book by the middle of March. That should allow enough time to get it published and on to Amazon for Easter.

I am excited by this development, if only because the extent of traumatic suffering has been greatly increased over the past ten months by the arrival of Covid-19, and all of its destructive effects on the lives of so many families and individuals.

For more information about this book, please see the revised page of information.***

Best wishes,

Jim

Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

The ABC Bookstore Online

The E-CENT Institute

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

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Email: Dr Jim’s Email Address***

Telephone: 01422 843 629 (from inside the UK)

Or: 44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

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Footnotes

[1] Definition: “Interoceptive awareness is the awareness of inner body sensations, involving the sensory process of receiving, accessing and appraising internal bodily signals (Craig, 2009).  Interoceptive awareness is fundamental to mindfulness-based approaches, involving focused present-moment awareness on internal sensations, most often introduced by attending to the sensations of the breath (inhaling and exhaling), or by engaging in a body scan.  Interoception is recognized as a possible mechanism underlying mindfulness-based approaches (Farb et al., 2015; Garland, 2016), and learning interoceptive awareness skills may improve well-being and enhance capacity for emotion regulation (de Jong, et al., 2016; Price, et al., 2018).” From Price (2019). 

[2] Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed in 1987 to help people overcome the effects of psychological trauma. Trauma is defined as something that happened that still affects you today. It is recommended by NICE (the UK standards agency for medical processes) as an effective individual treatment for PTSD and other forms of trauma.

[1] Price, C. (2019) ‘Research on Interoceptive Awareness Training: An innovative approach to develop awareness and body connection’.  Psychology Today, online blog: URL: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ us/blog/mindful-body-awareness/ 201902/research-interoceptive-awareness-training. Accessed on 8th June 2020.

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Craig, A. D. (2009). ‘How do you feel – now? The anterior insula and human awareness’. Nat Rev Neurosci, 10(1), 59-70.

De Jong M, Lazar SW, Hug K, et.el. (2016) Effects of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy on Body Awareness in Patients with Chronic Pain and Comorbid Depression. Front. Psychol. 7:967. doi: 10.3389/ fpsyg. 2016.00967.  

Farb, N., Daubenmier, J., Price, C., et.al. (2015). ‘Interoception, Contemplation, and Health’. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:763.

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The Lancet must tell the truth about the origins of Covid-19

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Covid-19: We are not being told the truth about its origins

https://www.cdc.gov/sars/lab/images/coronavirus.pngWe cannot trust The Lancet to tell the truth about Covid-19, so long as Peter Daszak is leading the commission of enquiry on this subject.

It seems there is very real evidence that Covid-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan, and did not occur in nature.  It is a weaponized form of virus.

According to an article by Dr Joseph Mercola:

‘November 5, 2020, U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), an investigative public health nonprofit group, filed a lawsuit1 against the National Institutes of Health after the agency failed to respond to its July 10, 2020, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

‘The USRTK’s lawsuit sought access to nonexempt records of gain-of-function experiments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the EcoHealth Alliance, which partnered with and funded the Wuhan Institute.2

‘In a November 18, 2020, article,3,4 USRTK reports that emails obtained prove EcoHealth Alliance employees were behind the plot to obscure the lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 by issuing a scientific statement condemning such inquiries as “conspiracy theory”:

“Emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know show that a statement5 in The Lancet authored by 27 prominent public health scientists condemning ‘conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin’ was organized by employees of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit group that has received millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funding to genetically manipulate coronaviruses with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The emails obtained via public records requests show that EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak drafted the Lancet statement, and that he intended it to ‘not be identifiable as coming from any one organization or person’6 but rather to be seen as ‘simply a letter from leading scientists.’7 Daszak wrote that he wanted ‘to avoid the appearance of a political statement.’8

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To read more, please click this link: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/12/16/covid-conspiracy.aspx?ui=8f3b5b212f496363b48e7badfefc217ce91cbfd78f18381946a1d0fd99dd5f71&cid_source=dnl&cid_medium=email&cid_content=art1HL&cid=20201216&mid=DM739594&rid=1035562710

The problem with psychiatric drugs

How Little We Really Know About Psychiatric Drugs

Joanna Moncrieff reflects on what has and has not changed in the field of psychiatric drug treatment in the years between the first and newly published second edition of the Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Drugs.

Joanna MoncrieffBy

Joanna Moncrieff, MD

October 6, 2020

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I am not opposed, in principle, to the use of psychiatric drugs. I believe, as I say in the book, that “some psychiatric drugs do help some people in some situations.” Having said this, I think it is likely that the vast majority of people who take psychiatric drugs derive little or no benefit from them, and yet are susceptible to all the harms they can induce.

Psychiatric drugs, the bookIt is people’s right to know how little we really know about these drugs. People should be informed that the story they have been told, implicitly or explicitly, about having an underlying chemical imbalance that drugs can correct is just that—a story—with very little evidence to back it up.

They need to know that these drugs are doing things to the brain that we do not understand properly, and people should be aware of how little research there has been into the long-term effects of the drugs and the difficulties of coming off them. I hope the second edition of A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Drugs will enable people to make better-informed decisions about whether to start or continue these sorts of drugs.

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For more, please click this link: https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/10/how-little-we-really-know/?mc_cid=96593ebe8d&mc_eid=eeb578926d

Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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Relaxation and de-tensing for health and happiness

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An occasional blog

6th October 2020

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Tension can cause physical illnesses and emotional problems:

Relax your way to a better life!

By Renata Taylor-Byrne, Health and Lifestyle Coach-Counsellor

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A, Progressive muscle relaxation book, 2I have been interested in relaxation systems since 1986, when I used Ainsley Mears’ Passive Progressive Relaxation system to cope of with the stress of preparing for a surgical operation for which I had been scheduled – (a hysterectomy).  I found his system helped enormously to calm me down, and also to cope with the post-surgical pain.

I subsequently used various systems of audio-based relaxation, by various hypnotherapists, some from the US, and some (like Dr Robert Sharp, Paul McKenna and Glenn Harrold) from the UK. I have found these systems to be very good ways to reduce my stress level (when combined with Chinese exercises, stress reducing diet, and adequate sleep) in my role as a college lecturer for over thirty years.

Then, about a year ago, I rediscovered Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), which I had encountered many years ago; and I began to experiment with this system.  The results were so helpful that I began to do a lot of research on the subject, reading a dozen books directly on the subject, and seventy sources of related information in total.

Health coach, Renata Taylor-ByrneI then felt obliged to write a book about the amazing range of benefits of this system of de-tensing the body: based on my reading and my personal, daily experimentation. I wanted other people to benefit from using this easy to learn, re-energizing technique.

For example, PMR brings relief to insomniacs. It helps them sleep better, when the insomnia is caused by muscular tension and intrusive thoughts.

It also takes pressure off our internal organs; reduces anxiety, stress, and fatigue; and provides relief from pain and illness for those who haven’t been, and can’t be, helped by conventional medicine (for example tension headaches which have not responded to prescribed medication: (Bernstein, Borkovec and Hazlett-Stevens, 2000)[1].

It helps with stomach and digestive problems, test and exam anxiety, and handling the pressures of public performance, including sports performance, and musical performance anxiety, and all forms of public speaking.

Dr Edmund Jacobson, PMR creatorThis book is brief, easy to read and concisely summarises the priceless insights of Dr Edmund Jacobson, who researched the amazing health benefits of relaxation for over seventy years, at the Universities of Harvard and Chicago, in the US, in the early part of the last century. In 1936 he set up his own institute to research scientific relaxation.

And in my researches I found several more recent books on this subject, by authors who want to keep this system alive; and lots of research articles, from the past few years, which verified the amazing benefits of this system.

My book is written in an easy to understand language. It summarizes the scientific research (with case studies and research experiments) which provide lots of evidence of the effectiveness of this system.

It teaches you how to develop this easily-acquired skill of relaxation which rids your body and mind of toxic tension.

The numerous benefits include the following:

– Lowered stress levels;

– Lowered blood pressure and heart rate;

– Decreased muscle tension;

– Reduced fatigue and anxiety;

– Improved quality of life and reduced blood pressure among people with heart disease;

– Reduced migraine headaches;

– Reduces some forms of chronic pain;

– Improved sleep, and insomnia relief;

– Help with smoking cessation;

– Improvement in cognitive (thinking) performance for people with dementia;

– Increasing or activating the production of opiates (or our innate pain killers);

– Promoting optimal immune function.

– Improving public performance skills for athletes, sportspeople, actors, teachers, students and media presenters;

– And increased mental and physical energy and the development of a feeling of well-being and autonomy.

A, Progressive muscle relaxation book, 2I am sure that if you experiment with this system, you will make enormous gains for a few minutes of practice each day. And to learn it is very, very cheap. Once learned, it will strengthen you for the rest of your life with a few minutes of daily practice.

It sounds invaluable, doesn’t it? I have written a page of information about this book. Please take a look at how to Relax Your Way to a Better Life!

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That’s all for now.

Renata,

Renata Taylor-Byrne

cropped-abc-bookstore-maximal-charles-2019-1.jpgLifestyle & Health Coach-Counsellor

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

ABC Bookstore Online UK

The Institute for E-CENT (Research and publishing)

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Endnote

[1] Bernstein, D.A., Borkovec, T.D., and Hazlett-Stevens, H. (2000) New Directions in Progressive Relaxation Training. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers.

Covid-19 stress debunks psychiatric diagnoses

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When society makes us sick, should we then allow “specialists” to blame us, and call us “patients” with “mental illnesses”?

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Coronavirus poses a challenge to psychiatric and psychological diagnoses of anxiety and depression

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Promoting an article from the ‘Mad in America’ blog:

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COVID-19 Challenges Our Faulty Assumptions About Normative Wellbeing

Sadie Cathcart, Author at Mad In AmericaLucy Johnstone addresses how limitations to models for psychological health and treatment have been spotlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic–which may not be a bad thing.

By

Sadie Cathcart

September 21, 2020

In a manuscript recently accepted to BJPsych Bulletin, released in a pre-print format, psychologist Lucy Johnstone calls for a drastic shift in the discourse surrounding wellbeing in the context of COVID-19. She writes that the conceptualization of the COVID-19 pandemic as parallel yet separate from an epidemic of “mental health” has the effect of minimizing appreciation for contextual determinants of distress. According to Johnstone:

“In the current jargon, popular in both psychology and psychiatry, we need a [re]formulation – a shift from ‘patient with illness’ to ‘person with a problem.’”

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For more, please click this link: COVID-19 Challenges Our Faulty Assumptions About Normative Wellbeing.***

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