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Trauma - Hypnosis Intervention ©

A young Central American M.D. trained in the U.S. presented numerous problems that had been bothering him for several years. He had physically recovered from being tortured three years earlier, but hadn't been able to sleep, eat, work, make love with his wife, or play with his children. I asked him to tell me the whole story. He reached a point in his narrative when he said, "And then I broke." I sat silently waiting for him to continue. Obviously he had survived. I wanted to hear the rest of his story. He didn't volunteer anything more so I asked, "And then what happened?" Often I will use present tense to keep the person attached to the emotional load that is in need of being released. In situations like this I use past tense to help the person detach from the intense emotions and embed the inferred message that they survived.

He told me the part he didn't tell to the doctors who had treated him, "I was floating at the ceiling, looking down at my broken body. I thought I was dead." " And then what happened?" "The men pulled their ski masks off. They were my childhood friends. They pulled my head up by my hair and said, 'because we like you we are going to let you live. Take your family and leave the country. Never come back." He did as he was told and moved to South Florida where he was treated and hoped to start a new life. He couldn't understand why he wasn't able to resume a fully functional, productive life. His physical healing was complete.

I asked, "Did you ever get back into your body?" He said, "What?" "Did you ever get back into your body?" "No one has ever asked me that." This is the issue I have with traditional medicine and academic training in mental health. There is spiritual phenomenon that exists outside of the scientific paradigm. The academically trained healers do not ask questions relevant to soul loss and retrieval. "Where are you in relation to your body?" "What do you mean?" "Let your hand point to where you are in relation to your body." His arm rose up, his hand extended above his head, his fingers pointed above him, "I'm still up there." "Would you like to get back into your body?" "How do I do that?" "Slide back in." "How do I do that?" "Like putting your hand in a glove, or your foot in a shoe. Slide back in." He did. It was easy. This was an easy case. The total session was about 20 minutes.

I was approached in public a year later by a young boy who stuck out his hand to shake mine, and said, "Thank you." "What did I do?" "My daddy plays ball with me, again." His father, the MD, stepped out of the crowd. He reported that he had resumed working, eating, sleeping, making love with his wife, and playing with his children.

Obviously the young MD had been getting some sleep and eating something during the three years between his torture and talking to me. I did not question the way he reported his symptoms pre and post session, I was seeking to gain entrance into his view of reality. I assumed he meant he wasn't sleeping enough to feel rested, and wasn't able to feel hunger or enjoy food, so he was forcing himself to eat to survive.

It is not uncommon for someone who has been traumatized to get a sense of getting out of the unsafe situation by "leaving the body". Rape and incest victims will comment on how they "floated at the ceiling" while the sexual assault was occurring, or "a part of me went and hid behind the rock, another part of me went and hid behind the tree". It is my position that these splintered aspects of self need to be talked / coaxed back into the body so that the individual can live a fully embodied life.

During a lecture given by a former refugee at a traumatology conference, I listened as she used dissociative language to describe her experiences of being displaced, the difficulties of the refugee life, relocation to the United States, and the challenges of adapting to a new culture. She appeared to be acculturated, had obtained a degree and was a professor at a university. I joined her as she walked out of the presentation and asked, "Did you ever get back into your body." She responded, "That is not a part of a C ACREP accredited program." "But it is a part of the process of recovering from trauma." "You can't get back into the body until you know it is safe."

This therapeutic approach to traumatic response is not a part of the formal educational processes for licensure in the United States, and I have not encountered them in hypnosis training courses. They have been a common element in my work with trauma clients who have taught me what works in healing trauma.

Respectfully submitted
By: Monica Geers Dahl

PS:  In addressing the issue of emotional detachment - I forgot to mention the term alexithymia, which is the inability to identify or articulate feelings. It is prevalent in PTSD and addictions. When warriors refuse to get treatment, it may be that they have been encultured as men and as soldiers to turn off their feelings. This is a fine survival mechanism on the battlefield where a moment of compassion for the enemy could result in the death of a combatant; it makes it difficult to achieve intimacy in a civilian setting or in the family.


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