The late Dr John Sarno, MD, was considered to be quite a maverick by the medical establishment. Over the last few decades of his life, his research and practice into the causes and cures of backache led him to the remarkable viewpoint that MOST of the body’s aches and pains were caused by EMOTIONAL ISSUES, and not physical wear-and-tear on the body.
Despite running a number of well-designed clinical trials which proved his thesis, and despite having thousands and thousands of ‘cured’ patients that the medical establishment had pretty much given up on, his peers in Western medicine still regarded Dr Sarno as something of a lunatic.
I mean, everyone knows that backaches (and hip aches, and neck aches and a few other things besides) only happen because of a physical cause or accident. The person strained themselves, stretched themselves, bent down funny, herniated a disk, wore-out a hip bone… Case closed, there’s nothing more to discuss.
Except…Western medicine is plain wrong on that score, as I’ve been going on about for years’ now, not least in a couple of my books: Talk to God and Fix Your Health: The Real Reasons Why We Get Sick and How to Stay Healthy, and How Your Emotions Are Making You Sick.
Chinese medicine and other reputable energy medicine practices like applied kinesiology have been making the link between ‘emotions’ and ‘physical health’ for millennia. But Western medicine, with its frankly lunatic need to see human beings as chemical compositions and bits of animated meat, has been so ‘anti’ the idea that a person’s emotions, or spiritual dimension, has anything to do with their physical health, that even medical doctors touting excellent research can’t really persuade them otherwise.
So, what is it that Dr Sarno actually says about it all?
(The best thing is to go and read one of his books, like ‘Healing back pain: the mind-body connection’, but let’s see if I can sum it up for you below).
CHRONIC BACK PAIN IS NOT USUALLY CAUSED BY STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS
First, he identified that in nearly all cases chronic back pain was NOT being caused by herniated disks, slipped disks, dissolving disks or other ‘structural’ issues. He discovered that in nearly all cases, a person’s back pain started up in response to some sort of notable stress, that got ‘somatized’ as back pain.
Somatization basically means that the human brain takes a big emotional pain that it doesn’t really want to deal with or face on the conscious level, and turns it into a physical pain instead.
He discovered that people were having massive attacks of debilitating back pain after having enormous problems at work, or in their marriages and families, or when someone they loved died, or when they were facing enormous financial issues, to name some of the most common reasons.
He also discovered that a particular type of person, one that he characterized as being ‘a worrier, overly-conscientious and responsible, compulsive and perfectionist’ was distinctly more prone to chronic and severe physical aches and pains.
But that still didn’t answer the question of HOW the body was transforming these ‘emotional pains’ into physical pains, which is the next question Dr Sarno set out to answer. He came up with what I’ll call a ‘Western Medical’ description of the problem, and identified a syndrome that he called Tension Myoneural Syndrome, or TMS for short.
He discovered that TMS could affect three different types of tissue:
He also discovered that most patients - 40% in one survey he conducted - believed that their chronic back pain began thanks to some sort of fall or physical accident that had happened a long time ago.
Sarno began to take issue with this belief, because as he notes in his book:
“Our body parts tend to heal very quickly when they are injured. Even the largest bone in the body, the femur, only takes six weeks to heal. And during that process, there is pain for only a very short time. It’s illogical to think that an injury that occurred two months ago might still be causing pain, not to mention one or two or ten years ago. And yet people have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea of persistent injury that they accept it without question.”
So Sarno started to look for an alternative explanation for what was causing the feeling of pain. After many years of exploring the question, he came to the conclusion that oxygen deprivation and the autonomic nervous system (ANS) was at the root of the problem.
UNDERSTANDING THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (ANS)
The autonomic nervous system, or ANS, is controlled by the primitive part of the brain that is responsible for all of the body’s involuntary functions, like breathing, digestion, heart-rate, sleep and - yes you guessed it! - the fight / flight / freeze / fawn stress response that I like to write so much about here, on spiritual self-help.
Sarno realized that the ANS controls the body’s blood flow - with exquisite, detailed precision - increasing and decreasing the blood flow to whatever part of the body it wishes.
When a part of the body gets less blood flow than it should- something that’s called ischemia in Western medical parlance - it also gets less oxygen. When human tissue gets lets oxygen than it requires, that causes a whole bunch of physical symptoms like pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.
Sarno identified that repressed anger and repressed anxiety were the main emotions causing the ANS to pull the ‘oxygen deprivation’ stunt in the body (and it’s no coincidence that these are the main emotions traumatized people try to repress, as discussed in detail in other posts.)
WHAT TYPES OF PHYSICAL CONDITIONS COULD BE TRACED TO TMS / EMOTIONAL CAUSES?
Next, Sarno identified some of the most common ‘illnesses’ that he believed were also being caused by a TMS / oxygen deprivation response to emotional triggers. As well as straight-up ‘pain’, these also included:
He also identified a number of ‘diagnoses’ that were usually given by medical doctors to ‘explain’ much of the pain his patients were experiencing as a result of the emotional-based problem of TMS, including:
Herniated discs, pinched nerves, the Facet Syndrome, arthritis of the spine, transitional verterbra, spondylosis, spina bifida occulta, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, osteoarthritis of the hip, chondromalacia, bone spurs, bursitis, tendonitis, coccydynia, neuroma, plantar fasciitis, mononeuritis multiplex, Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), inflammation, and soft tissue disorders including fibromyalgia (fibrositis, myofibrositis and myofasciitis).
Yes, these things may be observed in the body, but Sarno stressed again and again: this isn’t what’s causing the pain!!! The pain was coming from unresolved emotional issues that the brain was ‘hiding’ away as a physical pain problem via decreased blood flow / reduced oxygenation.
SO, WHAT’S THE CURE?
This next part of the story is my favorite bit. Sarno discovered that the main cure for his patients’ many forms of chronic pain was simply to understand that the unconscious mind was using them to ‘hide’ some sort of emotional pain, usually related to repressed anger and / or repressed anxiety.
In Sarno’s experience, even just two hours of ‘education’ about the emotional causes of their pain was enough to actually permanently ‘cure’ the problem - with the proviso that his patients HAD to believe in the diagnosis that the root of their pain was emotional, and not structural.
And his success rates were phenomenal!
In one study done in 1987 with a group of 109 patients who’d all been clearly diagnosed with ‘herniated disk’, 88 percent reported that they were ‘free, or nearly free of pain’ and enjoying unrestricted physical activity, 10 percent said they were ‘improved, with some pain, and some restricted activity’ and 2 per cent - the two that had the most severe and persistent psychological issues - reported no change.
WHY DOES JUST KNOWING THE PROBLEM IS EMOTIONAL CURE THE PAIN?
Sarno was of the view that the unconscious mind was using physical pain to ‘divert attention’ away from emotions that the person felt overwhelmed by, or didn’t want to face or acknowledge. As soon as the patient ‘blew the cover’ of the physical pain by accepting that it was caused by an emotional issue (usually repressed anger or repressed anxiety) - the body could no longer use the physical pain as a diversion tactic, so it quickly stopped doing it.
Again, his books are full of letters from the thousands and thousands of people who Sarno successfully treated with this approach, most of whom had completely exhausted every other avenue of help and relief.
THE LAST WORD: SURGERY AS A PLACEBO EFFECT
As a last word, I just wanted to mention Sarno’s conviction that most surgery for these conditions - when it worked - was simply because it was acting as a sort of ‘placebo’ affect for the patient.
He reported that while many of his patients experienced some sort of temporary relief from their original pain (in those cases where it actually worked), typically the pain or problem would resurface in some other area, as the unconscious mind continued its diversion tactics to keep the person away from painful and overwhelming negative emotions.
Again, there’s so much to say about this subject but for now, I recommend that people take a look at Dr Sarno’s books for themselves (and maybe also the two I authored, mentioned above) and next time they have one of the physical issues listed here, to take a deep breath and ask themselves:
What am I angry or anxious about, that maybe I'm finding it hard to admit?
I’m taking a break from posting about ‘Electric People’, as I haven’t got time over the Summer holidays, with the kids home, to do all the research required for the next chapter. It will return soon, BH!
In the meantime, I just wanted to share what’s been going on with my eye, which kind of underlines why I started exploring a more ‘spiritual self-help’ approach to mental and physical health in the first place.
For as long as I can remember, conventional medicine just hasn’t worked for me. Whether it’s been big problems, smaller problems, whenever I’ve turned to a conventional doctor, they never really had a solution that resolved my problems - and not for lack of trying.
Up until a few years’ back, I dutifully did whatever the medical experts told me - and usually not only did it not help, there were occasions when it even made things worse.
That’s when I started going down the more ‘alternative’ route, and initially, being super-fanatical about the food I was eating made a huge difference…
But not all the difference. And over time, the same health issues reappeared again, regardless of whether I was eating my sprouted spelt bread and drinking a green smoothie every day.
That’s when I started to realize that something else is going on here, when it comes to human health.
If the ‘problem’, whatever it is, is really only at the body level of a person - that they’re aren’t sleeping enough or eating enough vits, etc - then doing things at the ‘body’ level will resolve the problem.
It should be noted here that conventional medicine ONLY deals with health issues - bizarrely, even emotional and mental health issues - at the level of the body, and often in such a clumsy way, their ‘solution’ can end up causing more damage than the original problem.
But there are two more stages of the human experience that also profoundly impact our health, too, namely our mind, mental state and emotions, and our soul, or spiritual connection to God.
If ‘the health problem’, whatever it is, is actually rooted in either the mental / emotional or spiritual realms, then just tackling it at the level of the body simply isn’t going to work.
And that’s why conventional medicine really doesn’t work for me. Now that I eat well enough, and I exercise enough, and I sleep enough, there’s really nothing else to do on that front. All my health issues - yes, I’m talking about my physical health issues here - are rooted in negative states of mind, unhelpful subconscious processes and spiritual unfinished business.
No pill is going to help me get over the anger that’s causing my inner tension, headaches and eye strain.
Only changing my attitudes and behaviors (with a little help from God…), and really understanding why I’m angry in the first place, can do that.
Again, if the problem is rooted in the physical realm, then a physical response or medication will help to clear it up. But if it isn’t, or if some of the problem at least is rooted in mental / emotional and / or spiritual stuff, then taking a solely physical approach simply isn’t going to work to curing it.
And that’s why conventional medicine really doesn’t work for me - and that’s also why it’s increasingly not working for a whole bunch of other people, too.
Today’s science, particularly medical science, effectively ignores and misses the ‘electro-magnetic’ dimension to human health because they study dead cells and inanimate material in laboratory conditions.
When a cell is in a living body, it has electrical properties, and is effected by electro-magnetic forces, that simply can’t be replicated in a fertilization dish. When there is an electric field being produced, there is also a magnetic field being produced, and this electromagnetic force is constantly changing, and producing different affects on the cells and processes within a living body.
Again, this is BIO-PHYSICS, as opposed to the current approach of BIO-CHEMISTRY, and it has enormous repercussions for how human health should be viewed and treated.
Even when those rare medical researchers do appear who are willing to challenge the accepted norms of modern medicine in their quest for real answers, their work still goes ignored and challenged by the mainstream medical community.
One such doctor is Dr Ray Makela, who has been producing a wide body of research into the bio-physical nature of human health for decades, already. Some of Dr Makela’s major findings include:
This is a lot to take in, isn’t it!
Over the next few posts, I will BH bring more of the research to show how solar flares, environmental factors, stress and negative emotions are all linked together, electro-magnetically, and affecting every aspect of our mental and physical health.
The take home message from this post is this:
The body is bio-electric. Cells are profoundly shaped by electro-magnetic forces, and the way those electro-magnetic forces play out in the body’s cells is the basic cause of all physical and mental illnesses, including heart disease, strokes, cancer and depression.
A key way of reducing the negative aspects of the body’s electro-magnetic activity is by talking to God on a regular basis.
Brainwaves are at the foundation of every thought, emotion and action of a human being. ‘Brainwave’ is a term used to describe the synchronized electrical pulses that is part of the communication process that occurs between the different neurons in the brain.
There are different types of brainwaves, operating at different frequencies, and they change depending on what a person is thinking about, doing, or feeling.
Slower brainwaves are usually linked to dreamy-states, or when we feel tired, sluggish and ‘spaced-out’. Higher frequencies come to the fore when we’re active, or feeling ‘wired’, high, or focused and on the alert.
The speed that these ‘brainwaves’ pulse at is measured in Hertz, or cycles per second.
HOW BRAINWAVES AFFECT OUR HEALTH
A human being’s brainwaves reflect what’s going on in our bodies and psyches - and is also affected by a number of external factors, as we’re describing in these posts.
When our brainwaves aren’t ‘working’ properly, that can cause all sorts of mental, emotional and physical health issues, including:
…..And a whole bunch of other things that modern science hasn’t yet managed to link up our mental and spiritual state, because they’re still convinced that humans are just animated bits of meat, and that health is a purely chemical equation.
ALL OF THIS STUFF IS CONNECTED TO THE C-PTSD IDEAS WE ALREADY COVERED IN PREVIOUS POSTS
You can refresh your memory about how trauma, and especially C-PTSD type trauma affects our perception and behavior (and consequently also our mental, emotional and physical health…) by taking a look at these posts:
To put this another way, when someone’s BRAINWAVES are out of sync, they’ll often have serious mental, emotional and physical health problems.
Trauma, especially chronic trauma and abuse in childhood, plays havoc with a growing brain (that’s the C-PTSD link).
BUT, brainwaves can and ARE also affected by external issues too, including the geo-magnetic forces of planet earth, the sun’s cosmic rays that bombard the planet in the form of radiation and the solar wind, and other disruptions to the earth’s electro-magnetic fields that are caused by other perturbations in the celestial realm.
(In every sense of the word, ‘celestial’….)
TO PUT THIS ANOTHER WAY….
The neurons in the brain are part of every thought, word and deed we undertake in our lives. The way these neurons communicate with each other, bio-electrically, is referred to as ‘brainwaves’.
The brain has a number of different brainwaves, and depending on which pattern of ‘brainwave’ is the strongest at any given time, a person will feel drowsy / alert / high / low / tuned-in / spaced-out / happy / sad / relaxed / stressed, etc.
In turn, these feelings lead to physiological processes being triggered in the body (also bio-electrically), that directly impact physical health.
(More on this in the next post, BH.)
As well as being affected by a person’s own thoughts, words and actions, brainwaves are also affected by changes in the environment, and especially in the electro-magnetic fields of planet earth.
A big solar storm or solar flare can bombard the planet with enough low-level radiation (‘cosmic rays’) to create big changes in the earth’s own electromagnetic field, directly affecting the ‘vibration of creation’ that humans (and all other living creatures) are attuned to.
This directly affects our bodies’ bio-rhythms, moods, and mental states.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TALKING TO GOD
I’m going to develop this idea in much greater detail in a future post, but scientific studies are showing that one of the best ways to get your brainwaves functioning at an optimal level is to spend some time every talking to God, in quiet meditation on the meaning of life.
There’s a bunch of scientific studies that back this up, and BH I’ll pull that stuff together for a future post.
But let’s conclude with this: the best way of maintaining the correct ‘vibration of creation’ that will lead to optimal mental, emotional and physical health is by regularly talking to God.
In the next post, we’ll look at some of the research linking solar activity to big spikes in heart attacks, strokes and other physical health issues.
I've started writing a new book, with the working title ELECTRIC PEOPLE, that will hopefully explain how bio-electricity is the 'missing link' in human health, and that will hopefully give you, dear reader, a much better idea of HOW different treatments, both alternative and conventional work - and why they often don't work.
I don't have time to post on spiritualselfhelp AND write the book, so I've decided to stick up chunks of the rough draft as I go along. Please feel free to comment (respectfully...) on anything you'd like to hear more about, or have more details about, or if something doesn't make sense, and I'll try my best to answer your queries in future posts.
The idea that people are just chunks of animated meat is fairly new, and like many things that have corrupted the world of modern science, it can be laid at the feet of Charles Darwin.
Before Darwin came along with his theory of evolution, the idea that people had souls, and that there was a spiritual dimension to life, and that God existed and had created the world, was a given for nearly all scientists. Of course, there were always a few dissenters in the corner, but they normally kept their atheistic views to themselves, in much the same way that modern-day scientists who believe in God are forced to keep quiet, or see their career and reputation disappear down the tubes.
Then Darwin showed up, and challenged the God-centric view of the world in a number of key ways.
Firstly, he suggested that far from there being a specific plan behind, and a specific goal leading creation, everything in the world occurred due to random happenstance.
To put this another way, Darwin’s theory took an axe to the principal of ‘cause and effect’, and reduced everything in the world down to some kind of happy accident.
The next piece of mischief that the theory of evolution wrought in scientific minds is that it planted the idea that the world HAD to be incredibly old. After all, it would take billions and trillions of years before an amoeba could turn into a monkey, or a fully-sentient human being - if it could happen at all.
Sadly for Darwin, pioneering molecular biologist Douglas Axe recently proved conclusively that the amount of time it would actually take for even one of Darwin’s ‘happy evolutionary coincidences’ to occur was a number so big, it’s practically impossible. The world simply isn’t old enough for all the millions of evolutionary tweaks that could turn an amoeba into anything remotely similar to a biped - or even something more modest, like an earthworm or fruit-fly.[i]
Sadly for Axe - and everyone else who believes in God - the theory of evolution was so compelling for those individuals who wished to find an ‘intellectually satisfying[ii]’ way of denying God’s role in creation that no amount of scientific investigation, facts or research has been able to dislodge it.
And so, modern science continues to claim that the world is billions of years’ old, and to view every discipline through the lens of ‘evolution’, disregarding any of the uncomfortably mounting evidence that categorically disproves it.
Definition of vitalism
VITALISM VS MECHANISM
All this set the scene for the big schism that occurred throughout the 19th century [CHECK] between the ‘vitalist’ and ‘mechanist’ biological schools of thought. Again, until Darwin arrived on the scene, practically every scientist considered themselves to be a ‘vitalist’, inasmuch as they believed that some sort of invisible animating force, or soul, that they called the anima or elan vital, must be working through the physical body. This idea was so self-evident, it was axiomatic.
Vitalism held that this animating force was what separated living beings, including man, from the rest of the inanimate landscape.
But post-Darwin, when a new, God-less paradigm for life started to come into focus, many of the scientists of the day developed an almost religious zeal to root God and spirituality out of every last vestige of scientific endeavor - including the question of what animated man, himself.
This latter school came to be known as the ‘mechanists’, and they posited the idea that man was really just an intelligent collection of chemical compounds and cells, and was ultimately governed by the same laws of chemistry and physics that applied to inanimate matter.
Much of the debate between the vitalists and the mechanists took place around the subject of embryology, or the study of development. Ironically, Darwin himself gave the new field of embryology its name, and vainly hoped that the study of how life ‘developed’ would provide ample support for his theories of phylogeny, or what he termed the history of evolution.
Yet, despite the fact that the field was eagerly embraced by leading mechanists like German scientist Wilhelm Roux, that didn’t happen. As the field continued to develop (pun intended), embryologists like Roux and his colleague August Weismann soon confirmed that a fertilized egg appeared to be an unstructured single cell that continually divided, proliferated, and then somehow became a collection of differentiated cells.
While the vitalists argued, correctly, that epigenesis, or the external imposition of order on the cellular chaos of a fertilized egg, had to be coming from some intangible ‘vital’ force, the mechanists had a much more scientific explanation for what was really occurring: there had to be a little man, called a homunculus, in the sperm.
By the time Roux and Weissman were working on the problem of how a bunch of apparently simple cells could become a living creature, or a human being a hundred years’ later, the homunculus theory had fallen out of favor. However, the mechanists were still determined to find an alternative explanation for the creation of ‘life’ that didn’t include God or a spiritual element, so the ‘scientific’ search for how embryogenesis actually occurred continued unabated.
Weissman came up with a theory which postulated that the fertilized egg contained specific chemical structures called ‘determiners’, that would code for all the different cell types required. According to Weissman’s theory, once a cell had turned into muscle cell, or a blood cell, or a nerve cell, its function had been permanently fixed.
This was the earliest description of what came to be known as ‘genes’, and before long, DNA took the place of the homunculus in scientists’ minds, as the guiding force behind the development of life.
The father of modern genetics, American embryologist Thomas Hunt Morgan, proposed the theory that just as the genes contained inherited characteristics, they also contained the ‘code’ that would tell which cells to differentiate and become the endoderm (which gives rise to the glands and viscera in the fetus); the mesoderm (which gives rise to the bones, muscles and circulatory system) and the ectoderm (which becomes the skin, nervous system and sense organs.
At this stage in the game, it was believed that once a cell had been ‘coded’ at the beginning of the process to fulfill a particular function, that was set in stone and couldn’t be changed.
A MODERN TAKE ON DNA
It was only after work progressed on the human genome project that the cracks in this particular theory were discovered. Recent research has shown that there is no such thing as ‘one gene, one result’.
Science has now established that many genes work together to trigger a particular outcome. What’s more, the genes themselves are not ‘fixed’ and can be turned on or off by environmental factors that trigger biochemical messengers which in turn signal the gene to activate, or de-activate.
This process is called ‘methylation’, where environmental factors and experiences trigger a cluster of carbon and hydrogen atom, called a ‘methyl group’ to the outside of the gene. When this occurs, that gene is rendered less sensitive or hyper sensitive to the messages it’s being sent by the body.
What’s more, this pattern of peculiar gene expression, or ‘methylation’ can be passed on to the person’s descendants, in a process called ‘epigenetics’.
RNA vs ‘Determinors’
Weissman and then Morgan suggested that once a cell had been coded, or ‘determined’, it somehow lost the rest of the genetic blueprint that was initially available to it before it differentiated, and got ‘stuck’ being whatever it now was - like a piece of skin, or a heart muscle, or a nerve ending.
But later research showed that wasn’t true, and that the full genetic blueprint could still be found in every cell nucleus. In theory, these genes could be re-activated in the future, and each cell could change into a different type of cell via a process called ‘de-differentiation’.
Something called the RNA decides which bit of the cell’s genetic code gets switched off, and which is activated at any given time.
But the question still remained (at least for the mechanists and modern science): how was the RNA itself making these decisions, about which parts of the genetic blueprint each cell should repress, and which parts should be activated?
Meridians are the bodies electro-magnetic 'energy pathways', and the body uses them to signal a whole bunch of stuff, including hormonal changes, biochemicals, gene expression (RNA) and emotional states and moods, to list just a few.
(I write about all these things in much more detail in my books Talk to God and Fix Your Health, and How your emotions are making you sick, both of which can be downloaded for FREE from the Store page. If you're a member of the spiritual self-help website, you can also access a full, FREE guide to how to trace your meridians from the Resources page.)
There's a lot of 'bio-electrical stressors' in our modern world, including i-Phones, wifi, FM radio, microwaves, power lines, military communications networks, airfields and also, the earth's atmosphere itself, which is electrically-charged and deeply affected by things like solar storms and solar flares.
So, as well as the body's bio-electrical grid of meridians being stressed / overcharged / blocked / weakened by internal factors like stress, negative emotions, lack of sleep and bad diet (to name but a few) it can also get fried-out by these external bio-electrical stressors, too.
And that is definitely happen at the moment!
To give but one example: A couple of days ago, I got severely 'zapped' by my damp laundry as I was taking it out of the washing machine. The static electricity had built up to such a high level, it discharged a 'shock' that was actually pretty painful.
Here's the thing: I'm much more susceptible to attracting these discharges of static electricity than the other people in my house, presumbably because my body's bio-electricity is more out of whack at the moment. (I'm currently researching this angle, to try to get a definitive answer of how static electricity and the body's bio-electricity interplay, so this part is still guesswork at the moment).
In the same way I can get 'zapped' by my washing, I can also disrupt computers and mobile phones, and again, that tends to happen much more when I'm feeling under the weather etc.
I HAVE been feeling pretty stressed-out and fatigued again recently, so there are two things going on here:
1) There is more static electricity build-up in the external environment at the moment
2) My 'bio-electric- grid (i.e. the meridians) are not functioning as well as they could be.
I can't really do anything about the external environment, so I have to try to manage the problem my end, by strengthening the meridians - and that's where the following videos comes in!
If you'd like to see a man tracing the meridians very slowly, please go to this LINK.
If you'd like to see a woman tracing the meridians, please go to this LINK.
There's a ton more stuff about the meridians here on the spiritual self-help website. If you pop in 'meridians' in the search box, it will bring up many more useful resources.
And in the meantime, get tracing!
The washing waits for no-one.
Finally, we’ve arrived at the core post of this whole journey: how to properly acknowledge, tackle and ultimately overcome C-PTSD.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that the spiritual self-help approach to mental and physical health issues always need to tackle the problem across the three levels of:
Most of the posts I’ve written about C-PTSD have been focussing on the mind / emotions level, but let’s see if we can now pull everything together to give a clear picture of how you can tackle C-PTSD,
and with God’s help, eventually overcome it.
TIPS TO TACKLE C-PTSD AT THE BODY LEVEL
The key thing to remember here is that traumatised people are physically very stressed and tense people.
The more primitive parts of their brain is continually sending them messages that the world is a scary, threatening, dangerous place, which means:
HOW TO CALM DOWN A C-PTSD BODY:
NOTE: If someone experienced any form of physical abuse, then even touch can be a very triggering event for them. In these situations, ‘pet therapy’, or having a safe bond with a dog, horse, or other ‘loving’ animal can be an important first step to desensitising the C-PTSD body to physical touch.
(Click the blue for more details and / or information for how to do each of these things):
Other things to try include:
HOW TO CALM DOWN A C-PTSD MIND / EMOTIONS
We’ve covered this a great deal over the last few posts, but let’s pull it all together now.
HOW TO CALM DOWN A C-PTSD SOUL
But that’s not all! Taking the time to centre and ground yourself every day, and to talk to God about everything that’s going on in your life also strengthens the functioning of your frontal lobes, which acts like the ‘brake’ on your more primitive impulses and feelings.
The stronger your frontal lobes get, the harder it is for your primitive brain to ‘hijack’ you and send you spinning off into an emotional flashback. So the more you talk to God, the safer you’ll feel, the more ‘in control’ of yourself you’ll feel, and the easier you’ll find it to ride out and overcome the five C-PTSD reactions listed in the previous section.
To learn how to talk to God, download your free guide HERE, or buy the How, What and Why of Talking to God HERE.
If I was writing these things in a more logical order, I probably should have done this one a little earlier on, because it’s so crucial to understanding the mechanism of how C-PTSD actually operates in real life, and how it can take your ‘emotional legs’ out from under you.
Let’s remind ourselves first about what causes C-PTSD:
It’s when you have an experience, or more usually a number of experiences, where you feel threatened or abandoned by your primary caregivers.
Small kids are very simple creatures, with very simple needs. They are also very vulnerable, and very reliant on the adults on their lives to fulfil those simple, basic - but still absolutely crucial - needs.
When that doesn’t happen, when a small kid experiences their primary caregivers as being ‘absent’ from the picture when they really, really need their help (which happens with emotionally absent parents) AND / OR experiences them as ‘dangerous and threatening’ (which happens with abusive parents) - the small kid experiences some huge emotions of fear, shame, and abandonment.
These are the main overwhelming ‘flashback’ states that this small kid kind of gets stuck in when they grow up as an adult with C-PTSD, and that then automatically triggers their preferred fight-flight-freeze-fawn response (what Pete Walker calls the ‘4Fs’, in his book: C-PTSD: From surviving to thriving).
As we’ve also learned previously, many C-PTSD people feel overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, depression, people-pleasing behaviours and anger a great deal of the time, especially if they haven’t yet figured out what’s really causing the problem.
It’s comes with the territory of C-PTSD that not only is your ‘4F’ response (or responses…) to ‘stress’ more intense than for other people, and also lasts longer, but it’s also much more easily triggered for a C-PTSD person, than for someone who wasn’t traumatised in the same way.
DISSECTING HOW C-PTSD FLASHBACKS WORK
OK, so now we’ve set out the stall again, let’s try to dissect what exactly a C-PTSD flashback is, and what it does to you.
Say, you’re trying to get the lid off the spaghetti sauce jar, and you can’t. Unbeknownst to you, this small problem is enough to trigger a sense of helplessness, hopelessness and powerlessness that immediately segues into a ‘flashback’ feeling of when you were small and felt so abandoned, useless and powerless.
Typically, what now kicks in is your ‘inner critic’ aka evil inclination, who usually starts up with heaping doses of abusive name-calling and degradation, like:
“You’ll always be a failure!”
“You can’t do anything right!”
“What sort of loser can’t even make pasta for supper?!”
Etc. Very often, these will be the same sorts of things you were actually told in childhood, either by other people, or by your own evil inclination, that was going all out to make you feel even worse than you already did.
Now that your ‘inner critic’ has painted the situation in the worst possible colours, and pointed out how terrible it is that you can’t even make pasta (making a ‘mountain’ out of a molehill); and / or made it seem like you are completely incapable of taking care of yourself or others in any useful way, that usually kicks off some more huge feelings of fear and shame.
Fear shows up whenever we feel we aren’t ‘safe’ or that we’re in terrible danger (like, of starving to death or having our kids taken away by the social services, because we can’t even make pasta for them….)
Shame, (and I’m really talking about toxic shame, here), shows up whenever our self-esteem has been given a huge battering, and we lose all confidence in our abilities to do, or even to just be.
As a result of all these overwhelming feelings of fear and / or shame, we launch straight into our 4F response, as follows:
FIGHT TYPES - will get furiously angry at the jar, at themselves, at the people they’re trying to make supper.
FLIGHT TYPES - will suddenly remember they have something else urgent they need to do, and will find a way to duck making the pasta.
FREEZE TYPES - will head to the couch, and do their best to ‘escape’ the problem by zoning out, feeling terribly depressed, going to sleep, turning on the TV, aimlessly surfing the net, downing a whisky, popping a pill.
FAWN TYPES - will leave the pasta sauce to spend the next 2 ½ hours 'self-abandoning' by being a shoulder to cry on for their suffering friend.
Of course, I’m generalising wildly, but you get the idea.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT….
What happens next is that if the C-PTSD person doesn’t work out what’s really going on, they will now add ‘opening lids’ to their long list of subconscious things that should be avoided at all costs, if they don’t want to feel bad again.
And this is the way that more and more very mundane ‘triggers’ accumulate, that can really start to have a huge impact on the daily life of someone who has C-PTSD.
HOW TO STOP A ‘FLASHBACK’ IN ITS TRACKS
1) NAME THE PROBLEM: Say out loud: “This is a flashback, it’s from the past, nothing ‘bad’ is happening now.”
2) REASSURE YOURSELF: Tell yourself that you’re not in danger, and that you haven’t done anything wrong. You aren’t going to get into trouble with your parents.
3) ACKNOWLEDGE THIS IS A PASSING PHASE: While the feelings of fear, shame and overwhelm used to seem as though they would last forever when we were small, as adults we know that these feelings are temporary and won’t last forever.
4) IDENTIFY THE FEELINGS UNDERNEATH THE ‘FLASHBACK’: This is crucial for reconnecting to that small, terrified ‘lost’ part of yourself that you’ve actually just ‘flashback-ed’ to, and for helping him / her to start feeling better. Here’s some common examples of the real feelings that are hiding underneath a flashback: small, overwhelmed, scared, ‘no-choice’, powerless, stuck, petrified, sad, heart-broken, lonely.
5) COUNTER THE ‘INNER CRITIC’: Again, this takes some practise, but as soon as the inner critic / evil inclination starts trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, and paint the situation in the worse possible colours, or make out like you are the most disgusting, awful person in the world - close them down! Tell yourself: “This is my evil inclination talking, and it’s trying to kill me…”
6) GET ANGRY AT YOUR ‘INNER CRITIC’: When you were little, you couldn’t stand up for yourself, or put things in the correct perspective. As an adult, you don’t have to accept the insults and lies that your evil inclination is telling you! Fight back and defend yourself! Insults and abusive comments are completely unacceptable - even when they are coming from yourself!
7) ASK GOD FOR HELP, AND FOR EMUNA TO KNOW THAT EVERYTHING IS COMING FROM HIM, AND IS REALLY OK: While I’ve put this down here at 7, you can do this at every stage of the process. Connecting to God like this can instantly stop a flashback in its tracks all by itself.
8) FOCUS ON YOUR BODY AND YOUR FEELINGS, INSTEAD OF YOUR THOUGHTS: This will bring you back to the ‘present’ and get you out of your flashback mode. Take a few deep breaths, stand still or sit down and stop rushing around, if you feel scared, or ashamed, don’t fight it. Accept that feeling these feelings is part of your healing process, and that they won’t last forever.
9) ASK GOD TO SHOW YOU WHO OR WHAT TRIGGERED YOUR FLASHBACK, AND WHY: This is another crucial part of the healing process. Once you figure out what set it off (in our case, the feelings of powerlessness that came from being unable to open the spaghetti jar), just knowing that means that you’ll be able to do things differently or better next time around.
10) BE ON YOUR OWN SIDE: Reassure yourself that you are really good, and that all those negative feelings you were feeling in flashback mode - like something terrible is about to happen to you; like you’re the most disgusting person in the world; like you are the biggest waste of space on the planet and don’t deserve to be alive, God forbid - aren’t real, or true.
Be on your own, ‘small kid’s’ side, and tell yourself that you are allowed to make mistakes, that you struggled mightily growing up, through no fault of your own, and that with God’s help, it’s all going to turn around for the good very soon.
This is not going to get fixed in five minutes, and you shouldn't expect too much from yourself too soon, or start beating yourself up when you can't deliver on the overly-ambitious timetable you may have set for yourself.
This is long-term work, so please give yourself the time and space it requires, and relate to yourself with as much compassion, caring and love as you can, when you catch yourself reverting to ‘flashback’ mode.
While there is always SO much more to say about the subject of personality disorders, both on what causes it (trauma…), what heals it (primarily, a strong connection to God and the more spiritual dimension to life), and the terrible pain and suffering it can cause others (leading to more trauma, mental illness and personality disorders…) this last word on the topic, for now, is the key to really ‘leaving the cult’ of narcissistic personality disorder once and for all.
So what is this magic formula for emancipation?
In a nutshell, cultivating the strong belief that: you are not a victim.
Now, I don’t write these words lightly. There’s a stage every ex ‘cult’ member goes through where it’s actually good and healthy and part of the healing process to recognize the wrongs that were done to you, and the emotionally-ill mind games you were trapped in, and all the guilt trips, and destructive criticisms and blame games you were made the scapegoat for.
You can’t leave the cult if you don’t acknowledge just how bad cult behavior, and cult thinking really actually is. If you try to short-cut this part of the process, you’ll end up excusing things you shouldn’t, and justifying all sorts of evil attitudes and cruel actions, and then as soon as you whitewash those things, you’ll inevitably carry on doing them yourself. That’s human nature.
So stage one is definitely to recognize just how bad things were around your NPD relatives (and others), and to acknowledge and validate your own, very real, pain and suffering.
And depending on how bad things were, and how badly your own life was messed up as a result, that stage can often take a pretty long time - even years - to properly process and digest.
But that angry, raging, furious place you have to pass through in order to leave the cult is NOT the place to stay, long-term.
Because here’s a little secret you should know about people with personality disorders and other mental illnesses: Every single one of them justifies their crazy, horrible, selfish and destructive behavior, and has a million excuses why it’s ‘OK’ for them to do it.
Every single mentally ill person out there feels like a victim - of life, of their parents, of circumstances, of horrible siblings, of racists, of anti-semites, of nasty neighbours, mean classmates, grasping employers, lazy colleagues, unreliable friends, the tax man, the other guy….
The list goes on and on.
And the way ‘victim think’ works is that as soon as your evil inclination has convinced you that you’re a victim, it’s a piece of cake to convince you that you DESERVE to treat others horribly, and to be treated specially, and not have to take anybody else into account in your mad rush to get what you need and want, because life owes you big for all the suffering you’ve already been through.
This state of mind is present in all mental illnesses, to one degree or another, but has pride of place in Narcissistic Personality Disorder-ed people. Every single narcissist out there, whether they admit it or not, feels like a victim, and that any ‘bad behaviour’ you could ever ascribe to them is only and ever in response to being victimized by others.
To put things another way, staying in a place of perpetual victimhood paves the way to developing full-blown mental illnesses like NPD, and that’s really not where you want to end up.
So how to resolve this feeling of being a perpetual victim? Again, I should state upfront this is a process, and often a long one. It’s not straightforward, it’s not linear, and there’s often a lot of going forward just to fall back again. That’s life, in all it’s imperfection. But it IS still possible to see some big changes and movements very quickly, by doing some or all of the following suggestions:
But I want to leave you with this: The main reason God put you through all this terrible, horrible stuff with your NPD relatives is because He wanted to give you a reason - a big, unmissable reason - to get back in touch with your soul, and with Him.
If your life hadn’t been so hard and challenging and painful up until now, maybe you’d live your time out in a completely superficial bubble of materiality. God doesn’t want that for you. He wants you to dig deep, and to start asking some hard questions about what life is really for, and why it’s so hard.
There’s really one solution to the problem of NPD people, and that’s get God involved in the process, ASAP. If you do that, sooner or later, the clouds will part, and you will find the way out to true happiness, acceptance and peace of mind.
As I mentioned in the last post, my personal view of going ‘no-contact’ with personality disorder-ed family members is that unless they are literally a threat to your life (and sometimes, things really can and do get that bad), you should go the ‘least possible amount of contact’ route instead.
If you take that route, you don’t have to make any big announcements telling them why you’re stepping things down so much and not answering their calls / attending their events / responding to every Facebook post.
Narcissists can’t hear the truth anyway, so you’re wasting your breath. And worse, if you try to tell them that their behavior is affecting you in a negative way, they will (ironically…) start treating you even worse, accusing YOU of all the things you’re suggesting they’re doing to you.
That’s just how it is with NDP people.
So what can you do instead? In a nutshell, you have to learn to ‘play their game’ a little bit and simply ignore anything they say that you don’t want to respond to, or your feel is a lie. (I know, that’s usually most things.)
This will leave you with a few very superficial topics - the weather and the news are often big hits, or alternatively the latest shopping bargains or celebrity gossip, depending on what type of NPD person you’re dealing with - but these superficial topics are the ‘safe space’ where the narcissist can still show off, opiniate, put other people down etc - but it won’t be you on the receiving end of all the criticism.
Keep your true feelings and your true emotions away from the NPD people, because they can’t handle ‘real’ and they can’t deal with ‘truth’. Every time you break these rules, you will pay for it dearly even if you have the very best intention of trying to air things out in order to ‘fix’ them.
Again, take a look at this post on acceptance, because while it’s taking you a couple of minutes to read this post, it could well take a few years before you really integrate what I’m describing into your handling of NPD people, especially those who are very close family members.
The feeling of being let down, having your feelings invalidated and blamed for ‘everything’ that’s going wrong in the relationship with an NPD person can be completely overwhelming. While you’re struggling to accept that there is literally ‘no one to talk to’ on the other side of the equation, you will probably feel enormously angry, vengeful, hurt and disappointed.
The single best way of dealing with all these negative emotions, that still need to be expressed, validated and then let go of in some way, is by talking to God about it all (click HERE to download a free book I wrote about how to do this, called The How, What and Why of Talking to God).
As part of your talking to God sessions, I highly recommend incorporating a few visualisations to help acknowledge and then release all these highly distressing feelings. The part of the brain responsible for the fight / flight / freeze response doesn’t differentiate between a real experience and an imagined one. (Which is why you can scare the pants off yourself by watching a horror movie, or reading a scary novel, or even just listening to the news.)
So when you say whatever you want to say to the NPD person as part of a purely mental visualization, and take whatever actions you feel you need to defend yourself (in your head…) - the brain considers the whole experience as ‘real’. As far as your brain is concerned, you just defended yourself, validated yourself, protected yourself, asserted yourself - whatever it is you need to do to stop feeling so helpless and like a victim, vis a vis the NPD person or people in your life.
So in the next post, I’ll share one a very powerful visualization for dealing with NPD people, called ‘The River’.
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