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Human Stress Continuum

 

Stress Symptoms:  Cognitive-Emotional-Physical-Behavioral-Spiritual

 Cognitive Symptoms:  Memory dysfunction, difficulty concentrating, anomia, dyscalculia, difficulty solving problems, denial (readiness)Emotional Symptoms:  Anxiety, depression, lability, flat affect, uncontrolled anger/irritability, panic.

Physical Symptoms:

Fatigue or mania, muscle tremors, gastrointestinal distress, neurodermatitis, vertigo, difficulty sleeping.

Behavioral Symptoms:  Withdrawal, dramatic change in usual behavior, aggressiveness, changes in eating/drinking patterns, self-medication.

 

Trauma Symptoms

 

Intrusive Symptoms:  Recurrent images, thoughts, dreams, flashbacks, distress on exposure to reminders of the traumatic event (s).

 

Avoidance Symptoms:  Marked avoidance of stimuli that arouse recollections of the trauma, such as thoughts, feelings, conversations, activities, places and people.

 

  -Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma.

 

 -Restricted range of affect.

 

 -Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others.

  -Foreshortened sense of future.

 

Arousal Symptoms:  Difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance, exaggerated acoustic startle response, restlessness.

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Amygdala and Fear   Affect Dysregulation in Traumatized Individuals

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It's natural to be afraid when you are in danger, or in dangerous situations.  It's natural to be upset when something bad happens to you or someone you know.  But if you feel afraid and upset weeks or months later, it is time to seek help, as these are all signs of posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD.  This is a real illness, occuring after living through or seeing a dangerous event, such as war, hurricane, tornado or a bad accident. PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid even after the danger is over.  it affects your life and those around you.  It can happen to anyone at any age, including children, too!  You don't have to be physically hurt to get PTSD. You can get it after you see other people, such as a friend or family member, get hurt.

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Some causes of PTSD are:

  • 1.Being a victim of or  seeing violence.

  • 2.The death or serious illness of a loved one.

  • 3.War and/or combat.

  • 4.Automobile accidents and plane crashes.

  • 5.Hurricanes, tornados, and fires.

  • Violent crimes, such as robbery or a shooting, or rape.

  • 6.Loss of a significant other, death, divorce, estrangement, child, any relative or close friend.

  • 7.Loss of employment.

Symptoms of PTSD

  • Bad Dreams

  • Flashbacks, or feeling like the scary event is happening again

  • Staying away from places and things that remind you of what happened.

  • Feeling worried, guilty or sad.

  • Feeling alone.

  • Trouble sleeping.

  • Feeling on edge.

  • Angry outbursts.

  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or others.

PTSD Symptoms in Children

  • 1.Behaving like they did when they were younger.

  • 2.Being unable to talk.

  • 3.Complaining of stomach problems or headaches a lot.

  • 4.Refusing to go places or play with friends.

PTSD starts at different times for different people. Signs of PTSD may start soon after a frightening event and then continue.  Other people develop new or more severe signs months or even years later.  PTSD can be treated by a doctor or mental health professional who has experience in treating people with PTSD. Treatment includes therapy, including "talk" therapy, medication, EMDR, or all three.  Treatment is not the same for everyone.  Drinking alcohol or using drugs will not help PTSD, may even make it worse.

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Traumatic stress is found in many competent, healthy, strong, good people.  No one can completely protect themselves from traumatic experiences.  Many people have long-lasting problems following exposure to trauma.  Up to 8% of persons will have PTSD at some time in their lives. People who react to traumas are not going crazy.  What is happening to them is part of a set of common symptoms and problems that are connected with being in a traumatic situation, and thus, is a normal reaction to abnormal events and experiences.  Having symptoms after a traumatic event is NOT a sign of personal weakness.  Given exposure to a trauma that is bad enough, probably all people would develop PTSD. By understanding trauma symptoms better, a person can become less fearful of them and better able to manage them. By recognizing the effects of trauma and knowing more about symptoms, a person will be better able to decide about getting treatment.

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"...traumatized people are frequently mistreated in the mental health system.  Because of the number and complexity of their symptoms, their treatment is often fragmented and incomplete.  Because of their characteristic difficulties with close relationships, they are vulnerable to become re-victimized by caregivers.  They may become engaged in ongoing, destructive interactions, in which the medical...system replicates the behavior of the abusive family." (Judith Lewis Herman, M.D., from Trauma and Recovery-The Aftermath of Violence-from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (1992,p.123)

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Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

"The essential feature of Dissociative identity Disorder is the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states (Criterion A) that recurrently take control of behavior (Criterion B).  There is an inability to recall important personal information, the extent of which is too great to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness (Criterion C).  The disturbance is not due tot eh direct physiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition (Condition D.).  In children, the symptoms cannot be attributed to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play.

Dissociative Identity Disorder reflects a failure to integrate various aspects of identity, memory, and consciousness.  Each personality state may be experienced as if it has a distinct personal history, self-image, and identity, including a separate name.  Usually there is a primary identity that carries the individual's given name and is passive, dependent, guilty, and depressed.  The alternate identities frequently have different names and characteristics that contrast with the primary identity (e.g., are hostile, controlling, and self-destructive).  Particular identities may emerge in specific circumstances and may differ in reported age and gender, vocabulary, general knowledge, or predominant affect.  Alternate identities are experienced as taking control in sequence, ore at the expense of the other, and may deny knowledge of one another, be critical of one another, or appear to be in open conflict.  Occasionally, one or more powerful identities allocate time to the others.  Aggressive or hostile identities may at times interrupt activities or place the others in uncomfortable situations.

Individuals with this disorder experience frequent gaps in memory for personal history, both remote and recent.  The amnesia is frequently asymmetrical.  The more passive identities tend to have more constricted memories, whereas the more hostile, controlling, or "protector" identities have more complete memories.  An identity that is not in control may nonetheless gain access to consciousness by producing auditory or visual hallucinations (e.g., a voice giving instructions).  Evidence of amnesia may be uncovered by reports from others who have witnessed behavior that is disavowed by the individual or by the individual's own discoveries (e.g., finding items of clothing at home that the individual cannot remember having bought).  There may be loss of memory not only for recurrent periods of time, but also an overall loss of biographical memory for some extended period of childhood, adolescence, or even adulthood.  Transitions among identities are often triggered by psychosocial stress.  The time required to switch from one identity to another is usually a matter of seconds, but, less frequently, may b gradual.  Behavior that may be frequently associated with identity switches include rapid blinking, facial changes, changes in voice or demeanor, or disruption in the individual's train of thoughts.  The number of identities reported ranges from 2 to more than 100.  Half of reported cases include the individuals with 10 or fewer identities."

 

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 2000.  4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association

                                                       

Anxiety Disorders

 

“The following disorders are contained in this section:  Panic Disorder Without Agoraphobia, Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, Agoraphobia Without History of panic Disorder, Specific Phobia, Social Phobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Anxiety Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition, Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder, and Anxiety disorder Not Otherwise Specified.  Because Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia occur in the context of several of these disorders, criteria sets for a Panic Attack and for Agoraphobia are listed separately at the beginning of this section.

 

A Panic Attack is a discrete period in which there is the sudden onset of intense apprehension, fearfulness, or terror, often associated with feelings of impending doom.  During these attacks, symptoms such as shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, choking or smothering sensations, and fear of “going crazy” or losing control are present.

 

Agoraphobia is anxiety about, or avoidance of, places or situations from which escape might be difficult (or embarrassing) or in which help may not be available in the event of having a Panic Attack or panic-like symptoms.

 

Panic Disorder Without Agoraphobia is characterized by recurrent unexpected Panic Attacks about which there is persistent concern.  Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia is characterized by both recurrent unexpected Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia.

 

Agoraphobia Without History of Panic Disorder is characterized by the presence of Agoraphobia and panic-like symptoms without a history of unexpected Panic Attacks.

 

Specific Phobia is characterized by clinically significant anxiety provoked by exposure to a specific feared object or situation, often leading to avoidance behavior.

 

Social Phobia is characterized by clinically significant anxiety provoked by exposure to certain types of social or performance situations, often leading to avoidance behavior.

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by obsessions (which cause marked anxiety or distress) and/or compulsions (which serve to neutralize anxiety).

 

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by the re-experiencing of an extremely traumatic event accompanied by symptoms of increased arousal and by avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma.

 

Acute Stress Disorder is characterized by symptoms similar to those of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder that occur immediately in the aftermath of an extremely traumatic event.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by at least 6 months of persistent and excessive anxiety and worry

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Anxiety Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition is characterized by prominent symptoms of anxiety that are judged to be a direct physiological consequence of a general medical condition.

 

Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder is characterized by prominent symptoms of anxiety that are judged to be a direct physiological consequence of a drug of abuse, a medication, or toxin exposure.

 

Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is included for coding disorders with prominent anxiety or phobic avoidance that do not meet criteria for any of the specific Anxiety Disorders defined in this section (or anxiety symptoms about which there is inadequate or contradictory information.)

 

Because Separation Anxiety Disorder (characterized by anxiety related to separation from parental figures) usually develops in childhood, it is included in the “Disorders usually first diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence section.  Phobic avoidance that is limited to genital sexual contact with a sexual partner is classified as Sexual Aversion Disorder and is included in the “Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders” section.” p. 429-430

 

For more information about specific anxiety disorders, consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 2000. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association. p. 430-484.

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Our logo imagery-the eliptical orbit of the infinity circle, illustrates the evolving life cycles of human development, journeying from in-utero and birth, throughout the  developmental lifespan. Our perspective is from an holistic integrative view, asserting a basic point of departure for its view of human nature.  This basic point of departure is that we are all born with a divine spark.  Following birth, many things dynamically happen that impede or foster our individual and personal growth—both physically and emotionally.

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Website Inspiration

The inspiration for the concepts and ongoing development of this web site is from the myriad individual people and families whom I have had the privilege of meeting along the landscapes and life cycles of my journey, and by Homer's epic poems and writings–specifically The Odyssey.

Indeed, it is in The Odyssey where Odysseus–the Warrior King of Ithaca has been chosen by the gods to leave wife and his home in Greece on the day of the birth of his son, and to amass his army to set sails to journey and do battle in the Achaean expedition in Troy.  After more than a decade of war with Troy, he was given the insight to build the Trojan horse, and defeated the Trojans. 

It is The Odysseys (wanderings) of Odysseus throughout the world after the fall of Troy, and the faithfulness of his memory in his absence by his wife, Penelope,  that is also inspirational and spiritual, as Odysseus had to undergo and bear myriad of seemingly unbelievable adventures of pain and torment at the hands of the god, Poseidon.  With all of his ships and army lost and he being the only survivor, finally returns to Ithaca with the aid and support of the Phaeacian king.  Assisted by the goddess Athena, he is reunited with his wife, son and father.  

Although Homer's,  The Odyssey is more than 2,500 years old, it's mythological story provides us with a true understanding of Trauma, PTSD, DID, and the myriad Traumatic Stress and stressors of modern day life, as the social and psychological aspects of it's characters emerges as does a recently snapped polaroid picture comes alive as an instantly captured moment in time.

About The Odyssey:

"The Odyssey opens with Homer's invocation to the muse of poetry, in which he states the subject of the epic and asks for her (goddess Athene) guidance in telling his story properly.  It is, he says, the tale of a lonely man who has wandered throughout the world for many years and who has suffered many hardships before his attempt to return home was successful."

"When the story proper begins, all of the survivors of the Trojan War have reached their homes, with the exception of Odysseus.  He is being detained by the nymph Calypso, who hopes to make him her husband, and while most of the gods are sympathetic to him. Poseidon, ruler of the sea, bears him grudge and makes him undergo many torments."

From The Odyssey. Cliff Notes on Homer's The Odyssey, p.14

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To learn more about Homer's epic poems, including The Iliad, (another favorite of mine from Homer) click on the Amazon.com banner or Barnes & Noble or bookstore and make your selections to purchase.

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 Our vision and focus are at the nexus of trauma etiology as manifested during these intermittent life cycle stages. Specifically, we are tracking PTSD, dissociation and their related co-morbid connections throughout the human developmental lifespan.  We are following the holistic path to assess and consider the role of belief, wellness, resiliency and spirituality as essential and integral parts for achieving optimal health and Oneness--the synergy of mind, body, spirituality of the soul. We are mindful of the importance that self-care and resilience affords in the recovery from trauma and traumatic events. These events impact traumatically on our First Responders, who with neither question nor hesitation, engage the landscape of traumatic events, providing emergency mental health, aid, comfort and assistance to those affected by the man-made and natural disasters.  9/11, the Asian tsunami, Katrina, Iraq and the current Middle-East conflict  are rendering new meanings to PTSD, Dissociation, trauma and recovery.   more...

Best Regards,

John R High, CEO

 

Spiritual Injuries,

Traumatic Assaults on the Soul

www.johnrolandhigh.com

 

My Definition of

 ©Spiritual Injuries

*©Spiritual Injuries are the often conscious and willful attempts to deliberately degrade and diminish the development of the psyche of the child/ person and thereby alter and or re-direct the ongoing moral developmental stages of the moral, psychological and physiological structure of the mental, social and behavioral presentations of the individual (s), group, race, culture and their very livelihood.  Spiritual injuries are an attempt (s) to change and render ones complete character, sense of well-being and dependence to something or someone outside of themselves, in a dominating effort to subjugate and take over control of the person.

   Being analogous to Battered Women’s Syndrome (BWS) Battered Men’s Syndrome and Battered Children’s Syndrome (see Appendix M) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (see Appendix H), Spiritual Injuries describes someone who currently is or has been the victim of ongoing, consistent repeatedly severe violence to the point where this violence results in Psychological Trauma, the overwhelming demands placed upon the psychological system that results in a profound felt sense of vulnerability and/ or loss of control (van der Kolk and McFarlane, 1996.)  This is to include myriad forms of violence as in domestic violent intrusions, as mentioned earlier, and/ or consistent and repeated attempts at diminishing and degrading ones ego and self-esteem and survival systems.(see Appendix O, Psychological Trauma, The Human Stress Continuum).

 

Children are born vulnerable to the behaviors of their parents, caretakers and remain vulnerable throughout their latency stage, preadolescent, adolescent to their young adulthood.  Often, adverse early childhood experiences have a far-reaching impact on the children’s developmental stages.  Because of its sometimes subtle applications, Spiritual Injuries are often denied by the victim (s) who often expresses guilt and makes excuses for the abuser/ victimizer, relying on their hope, optimism and on their resiliency to recover from the abuse, and because of developmental circumstances, remain with their abuser.  In an attempt to escape their abuse, children often run away from home (a clear notice that “something is wrong in Denmark.”) 

       Unfortunately, even Social Services often miss or ignore these signs of abuse, often returning the children and adolescents to their family of origin or to a foster family, where often the cycle of Spiritual Injuries abuse begins over again.  This cycle occurs repeatedly, showing a pattern of abuse occurs in families, cultural groups, races, and is both episodic, generational and inter-generational.  This pattern of abuse is not limited to women and girls, but to boys and men, also. Men are not educated to perceive themselves as victims, and are often taught “grow up and be a man” that they are strong, tough, masculine and strong.

      Developmentally, the child needs its mother or caretaker through at least age three.  It is during this stage that the child is trying to find security and safety in its environment and is constantly looking at the mother/caretaker for repeated assurances.  This begins the affect regulation physiological stages for the child.  If the mother/caretaker is unavailable due to post-partum depression or is just too busy with other things and other children, the child suffers enormously as it is during this stage that the mother/ caretaker absolutely has to be there with unconditional love, that is, almost always undivided attention.  Since the child is wired for this stage, it has no alternative but to seek out these assurances from the mother/caretaker as it is absolutely impossible for a child during this stage to be in a position of fending for him/herself.

     In development courses, you see children during this stage seeking assurances but not getting them.  They indicate their frustrations by excessive wetting or urinating, crying, often kicking with their feet and hands as though they are indeed have a hard time.  Often the mother/caretaker ignores these attempts at attention0seeking of the infant, to the developmental peril of the child, and very often you will observe that the child at certain points is beginning to give up on having their needs met by the mother/caretaker.  This is often indicated by the varying intonations in their voices when they are crying and in despair.  To the daring ear and eye, it is readily observable and noticeable that the child is in despair and at the stage when it is giving up on having its needs met.

     In later life, these are the children that are abused and neglected, physically and sexually assaulted and abused, and are as adults today, in our institutions such as prisons, psychiatric wards, or court proceedings.  All of this, I believe, is a result of the lack of unconditional live during the first stages of life, birth to three years.  Further, these children most always find themselves in poor relationships with others, marriages or otherwise, as they do not have the ability to receive love as well as give it because in the very prime stages of their life, they were not exposed to the mother’s/caretaker’s unconditional love.

    Recovery from Trauma

“The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections. Recovery can take place only within the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connections with other people, the survivor re-created the psychological faculties that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience. These faculties include the basic capacities for trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy. Just as these capabilities are originally formed in relationships with other people, they must be reformed in such relationships.

      The first principle of recovery is the empowerment of the survivor. She must be the author and arbiter of her own recovery. Others may offer advice, support, assistance, affection, and care, but not cure. Many benevolent and well-intentioned attempts to assist the survivor founder because this fundamental principle of empowerment is not observed. No intervention that takes power away from the survivor can possibly foster her recovery, no matter how much it appears to be in her immediate best interest. In the words of an incest survivor, “Good therapists are those who really validated my experience and helped me to control my behavior rather than trying to control me.” (Herman 1992, 133)

 

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Resilience

          Ability to bounce back from trauma and get on with life.  Learn from negative experiences and translate them into positive ones.

 Resilient children are not invulnerable to trauma or immune to suffering.  They find ways to cope, set goals, and achieve their goals despite myriad obstacles like drug-addicted parent, dire poverty, or physical disabilities thrown into their paths.

 Being resilient does not mean a life without risks or adverse conditions, but rather learning how to deal effectively with inevitable stresses of life.

 There is no such thing as life free of losses and setbacks.

People who lack resilience are less able to rise above adversity or learn from their mistakes and move on.  Instead of focusing on what they can control and accepting responsibility for their lives, they waste time and energy on matters beyond their control.

As a result, the circumstances of their lives leave them feeling helpless and hopeless and prone to depression.

 When things go wrong or don’t work out as expected, they tend to think “I can’t do this” or even worse, “It can’t be done.”

 Children learn to become resilient under parents and guardians who enable and encourage them to figure things out for themselves and take responsibility for their actions.  They need to learn that they are capable of finding their own way.

   Parents who are too quick to take over a task when their children complain “I can’t do this” or children learn from their mistakes.

Resilience

 Ability to bounce back from trauma and get on with life

    Learn from negative experiences and translate them into positive ones.

  Resilient children are not invulnerable to trauma or immune to suffering.  They find ways to cope, set goals, and achieve their goals despite myriad obstacles like drug-addicted parent, dire poverty, or physical disabilities thrown into their paths.

   Being resilient does not mean a life without risks or adverse conditions, but rather learning how to deal effectively with inevitable stresses of life.

 There is no such thing as life free of losses and setbacks.

People who lack resilience are less able to rise above adversity or learn from their mistakes and move on.

 Instead of focusing on what they can control and accepting responsibility for their lives, they waste time and energy on matters beyond their control.

As a result, the circumstances of their lives leave them feeling helpless and hopeless and prone to depression.

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John Roland High,

PhD Candidate

MA (High Honors) EMDR Level 2+

Author and Trauma Clinician and

Consultant

 

 

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We are a secure website, designed for both sensitive research and eCommerce, thereby protecting and encrypting private and sensitive research data and information, enabling the presentation of private research, as well as business and financial information and data. This is extremely important when receiving private essays and narratives, and in collaboration with myriad researchers, some are listed on our site.   

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  On our site, you will also find research abstracts on the Physiology of Behavior, Body Dysmorphia, developmental neurobiology, developmental traumatology, the trauma of African Americans, the trauma of Homelessness, plus a pletheora of related neurobiological co-morbidities to posttraumatic stress disorders,  and covering the scope of lifespan developmental schemas.

   We welcome any communications you may wish to extend to us in improving our site, as we mindfully seek to become a leading provider in and of the ongoing study, research and practice in the search for new pathways to access and assist with optimal wellness, enhanced imagination, and authentic creativity.

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     At Life Cycle Journeys, we will mindfully seek to become a leading provider in and of the ongoing study, research and practice in the search for new pathways to access and assist with optimal wellness, enhanced imagination, and authentic creativity--as well as myriad schemas to provide insight, helpfulness and support and to aid and assist in the alleviation of the  "Overwhelming Demands Placed upon the Physiological System" that results in a 'profound felt sense' of Vulnerability and or loss of control. Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, Alexander C. McFarlane, Traumatic Stress: Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society.

     We hope to intuitively engage collaboration, observing related trends, news, practice and research, and to enable possibilities that may make differences in overcoming the overwhelming nature of psychological and physiological LifeSpan trauma, amid some of the traumatic events unfolding in our lives at the dawn of this new millennium, and assisting with the illumination myriad pathways along the landscapes that points to the north star of our wellness and resilience!

     Indeed, We are honored and privileged by your visit to our website!  Our flashing lighthouse beacon is our symbol of continuous searching for pathways of hope!Hope for the solutions and the alleviation of the psychological stressors of ongoing developmental lifecycles from inutero through old age.

     The multidimensional eliptical orbit of the infinity circle (our logo) depicts our logo imagery by design, illustrating  the life cycles of human development, journeying from inutero and birth throughout the developmental lifespan.

     Our perspective is from a holistic integrative view, asserting a basic point of departure about human nature...that we are all born with a divine spark.  Following birth, myriad life force dynamics happen that may often impede or foster ones  individual and personal growth—both psychologically and physiologically.  Our vision and focus are at the nexus of trauma etiology as manifested during these intermittent life cycle stages.

Specifically, we are tracking and researching the relationship between  PTSD and DID, (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder), and their related  co-morbidities throughout the developmental lifespan and path to assess and consider the role of wellness, resiliency and spirituality as essential and integral parts for achieving optimal health and Oneness--the synergy of mind, body, spirituality of the soul. We are mindful of the importance that self-care and resilience affords in the recovery from trauma and traumatic events. These events impact traumatically on our First Responders, who with neither question nor hesitation, engage the landscape of traumatic events, giving emergency mental health support and intervention, aid, comfort and assistance to those affected by the man-made and natural disasters. 9/11, the Asian tsunami, Katrina, Iraq and Afghanistan and the current Middle-East conflict are rendering new meanings to PTSD, Dissociation, trauma and recovery.

At Lifecyclejourneys, we hope to enable myriad clinicians-especially trauma clinicians, with the insight and ability to then enable their patients/ clients with the understandings of the allostatic load/ homeostasis plays in their ongoing lifecycles.

    In the biology of the human living system, 'allostasis' refers to physiological mechanisms that enable the system to adjust beneficially to diverse stressors through adaptive changes in physiology and its behavioral manifestations, in the process mitigating potentially seriously injurious external and internal perturbations of system viability.

 

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     Recovery from trauma and traumatic stress are essential to our well being.  Because trauma is also complex, myriad points of departure are used for addressing and aiding in recovery. One such aid has been the use of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). EMDR has not only been useful in treating PTSD, Dissociation and their co-morbidities, but shortens traditional therapies by years, often becoming successful in just a few sessions by a trained and certified EMDR therapist.

   At Life Cycle Journeys, we will seek to mindfully become a leading provider in and of the ongoing and continual search for pathways to assist in the recovery from the overwhelming nature of Psychological and Physiological Trauma.

 Secure Attachments as a Defense Against Trauma

 “All people mature and thrive in a social context that has profound effects on how they cope with life’s stresses.  Particularly early in life, the social context plays a critical role in suffering an individual against stressful situations, and in building the psychological and biological capacities to deal with further stresses.  The primary function of parents can be thought of as helping children modulate their arousal by attuned and well-timed provision of playing, feeding, comforting, touching, looking, cleaning, and resting—in short, by teaching them skills that will gradually help them modulate their own arousal.  Secure attachment bonds serve as primary defenses against trauma-induced psychopathology in both children and adults (Finkelhor & Browne, 1984).  In children who have been exposed to severe stressors, the quality of the parental bond is probably the single most important determinant of long-term damage (McFarlane, 1988).”

     van der Kolk, Bessel, Alexander C. McFarlane, and Lars Weisaeth, eds.  1996. Traumatic stress: The effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society.  New York and London: Guilford Press. .p. 185

 Affect Dysregulation in Traumatized Individuals

“As children mature, they gradually become less vulnerable to over-stimulation and learn to tolerate higher levels of excitement.  Over time, their need for physical proximity to their primary caregivers to maintain comfort decreases, and children start spending more time playing with their peers and with their fathers (Field, 1985). Secure children learn how to take care of themselves effectively as long as the environment is more or less predictable; simultaneously, they learn how to get help when they are distressed.  In contrast, avoidant children learn how to organize their behavior effectively under ordinary conditions, but they remain unable to communicate or interpret emotional signals.  In other words, they know how to handle cognition, but not affect (Crittenden, 1994.

     Cole and Putnam (1992) have proposed that people’s core concepts of themselves are defined to a substantial degree by their capacity to regulate their internal states and by their behavioral responses to external stress.  The lack of development, or loss, of self-regulatory processes in abused children leads to problems with self-definition: (1) disturbances of the sense of self, such as a sense of separateness, loss of autobiographical memories, and disturbances of body image; (2) poorly modulated affect and impulse control, including aggression against self and others; and (3) insecurity in relationships, such as trouble functioning in social settings; they tend either to draw attention to themselves or to withdraw from social interactions.  Thus, they tend to display either angry, threatening, fearless, acting-out behavior or meek, submissive, fearful, incompetent behavior.  Problems in articulating cause and effect make it hard for them to appreciate their own contributions to their problems and set the stage for paranoid attributions.”

     van der Kolk, Bessel, Alexander C. McFarlane, and Lars Weisaeth, eds.  1996. Traumatic stress: The effects o overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society.  New York and London: Guilford Press. .p. 187

 

Girded by our research on Psychological and Physiological Trauma and Attachment, we are mindful of the role that early attachment disruption has on the allostatic load in the establishment of a secure base for optimal health throughout the developmental stages of the human lifecycle.

     Our vision and focus are at the nexus of trauma etiology as manifested during these intermittent life cycle stages. Specifically, we are tracking PTSD, dissociation and their co-morbidities throughout the human lifespan. We are following the holistic path of Health and wellness to assess and consider the role of wellness, resiliency and spirituality as essential and integral parts for achieving optimal health,  and Oneness--the synergy of mind, body, spirituality of the soul. We are mindful of the importance that self-care and resilience affords in the recovery from trauma and traumatic events.

"Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims." Judith Lewis Herman, M.D., from Trauma and Recovery-The Aftermath of Violence-from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (1992,p.1)

    These events impact traumatically on our First Responders, who neither question nor hesitate to engage the landscape of traumatic events, providing emergency mental health, aid, comfort and assistance to those affected by the man-made and natural disasters of 9/11, the Asian tsunami, Katrina, Iraq and the current Middle-East conflict are rendering new meanings to PTSD, Dissociation, and lifeSpan trauma.

    Recovery from Trauma

“The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections. Recovery can take place only within the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In his/ her renewed connections with other people, the survivor re-created the psychological faculties that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience. These faculties include the basic capacities for trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy. Just as these capabilities are originally formed in relationships with other people, they must be reformed in such relationships.

   The first principle of recovery is the empowerment of the survivor. She must be the author and arbiter of her own recovery. Others may offer advice, support, assistance, affection, and care, but not cure. Many benevolent and well-intentioned attempts to assist the survivor flounder because this fundamental principle of empowerment is not

observed. No intervention that takes power away from the survivor can possibly foster her recovery, no matter how much it appears to be in her immediate best interest. In the words of an incest survivor, “Good therapists are those who really validated my experience and helped me to control my behavior rather than trying to control me.”

(Judith Lewis Herman, MD Trauma and Recovery 1992, 133)

 Recovery from trauma and traumatic stress is essential to our well being. Because trauma is also complex, myriad points of departure are used for addressing and aiding in recovery. One such aid has been the use of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).  EMDR has not only been useful in treating the co-morbidities of PTSD and Dissociation, but shortens traditional therapies by years, often becoming successful in just a few sessions by a trained and certified EMDR therapist.   

     EMDR has a broad base of published case reports and controlled research which supports it as an empirically validated treatment of trauma. The Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs Practice Guidelines have placed EMDR in the highest category, recommended for all trauma populations at all times. In addition, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies current treatment guidelines have designated EMDR as an effective treatment for PTSD (Chemtob, Tolin, van der Kolk & Pitman, 2000) as have the Departments of Health of both Northern Ireland and Israel, which have indicated EMDR to be one of only two or three treatments of choice for trauma victims. Most recently, the American Psychiatric Association Practice Guideline (2004) has placed EMDR in the category of highest level of effectiveness." Shapiro, 1999, 2001, 2002.

DID-PTSD-EMDR

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

"The essential feature of Dissociative identity Disorder is the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states (Criterion A) that recurrently take control of behavior (Criterion B).  There is an inability to recall important personal information, the extent of which is too great to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness (Criterion C).  The disturbance is not due tot eh direct physiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition (Condition D.).  In children, the symptoms cannot be attributed to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play. Dissociative Identity Disorder reflects a failure to integrate various aspects of identity, memory, and consciousness.  Each personality state may be experienced as if it has a distinct personal history, self-image, and identity, including a separate name.  Usually there is a primary identity that carries the individual's given name and is passive, dependent, guilty, and depressed.  The alternate identities frequently have different names and characteristics that contrast with the primary identity (e.g., are hostile, controlling, and self-destructive).  Particular identities may emerge in specific circumstances and may differ in reported age and gender, vocabulary, general knowledge, or predominant affect.  Alternate identities are experienced as taking control in sequence, ore at the expense of the other, and may deny knowledge of one another, be critical of one another, or appear to be in open conflict.  Occasionally, one or more powerful identities allocate time to the others.  Aggressive or hostile identities may at times interrupt activities or place the others in uncomfortable situations.

Individuals with this disorder experience frequent gaps in memory for personal history, both remote and recent.  The amnesia is frequently asymmetrical.  The more passive identities tend to have more constricted memories, whereas the more hostile, controlling, or "protector" identities have more complete memories.  An identity that is not in control may nonetheless gain access to consciousness by producing auditory or visual hallucinations (e.g., a voice giving instructions).  Evidence of amnesia may be uncovered by reports from others who have witnessed behavior that is disavowed by the individual or by the individual's own discoveries (e.g., finding items of clothing at home that the individual cannot remember having bought).  There may be loss of memory not only for recurrent periods of time, but also an overall loss of biographical memory for some extended period of childhood, adolescence, or even adulthood.  Transitions among identities are often triggered by psychosocial stress.  The time required to switch from one identity to another is usually a matter of seconds, but, less frequently, may b gradual.  Behavior that may be frequently associated with identity switches include rapid blinking, facial changes, changes in voice or demeanor, or disruption in the individual's train of thoughts.  The number of identities reported ranges from 2 to more than 100.  Half of reported cases include the individuals with 10 or fewer identities."

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 2000.  4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

"The essential feature of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one's physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate (Criteria A1).  The person's response to the event must involve intense fear, helplessness, or horror (or in children, the response must involve disorganized or agitated behavior) (Criterion A2).  The characteristic symptoms resulting from the exposure to the extreme trauma include persistent reexperiencing of the traumatic event (Criterion E), and the disturbance must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (Criterion F).

Traumatic events that are experienced directly include, but are not limited to, military combat, violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, robbery, mugging), being kidnapped, being taken hostage, terrorist attack, torture, incarceration as a prisoner of war or in a concentration camp, natural or manmade disasters, severe automobile accidents, or being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.  For children, sexually traumatic events may include developmentally inappropriate sexual experiences without threatened or actual violence or injury.  Witnessed events include, but are not limited to, observing the serious injury or unnatural death of another person due to violent assault, accident, war, or disaster or unexpectedly witnessing a dead body or body parts.  Events experienced by others that are learned about include, but are not limited to, violent personal assault, serious accident, or serious injury experienced y a family member or a close friend; learning about the sudden, unexpected death of a family member or a close friend; or learning that one's child has a life threatening disease.  The disorder may be especially sever or long lasting when the stressor is of human design (e.g., torture, rape). the likelihood of developing this disorder may increase as the intensity of and physical proximity to the stressor increase. The traumatic event can be re-experienced in various ways.  Commonly the person has recurrent and intrusive recollections of the event (Criterion B1) or recurrent distressing dreams during which the event can be replayed or otherwise represented (Criterion B2). In rare instances, the person experiences dissociative states that last from a few seconds to several hours, or even days, during which components of the event are relived and the person behaves as though experiencing the event at that moment (Criterion B3).  These episodes, often referred to as "flashbacks," are typically brief but can be associated with prolonged distress and heightened arousal.  Intense psychological distress (Criterion B4) or physiological reactivity (Criterion B5) often occurs when the person is exposed to triggering events that resemble or symbolize an aspect of the traumatic event (e.g., anniversaries of the traumatic event; cold, snowy weather or uniformed guards for survivors of death camps in cold climates; hot, humid weather for combat veterans of the South Pacific; entering any elevator for an woman who was reaped in an elevator).

Stimuli associated with the trauma are persistently avoided.  The person commonly makes deliberate efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event (Criterion C1) and to avoid activities, situations, or people who around recollections of it (Criterion C2).  This avoidance of reminders may include amnesia for an important aspect of the traumatic event (Criterion C3).  Diminished responsiveness to the external work, referred to as "psychic numbing" or "emotional anesthesia," usually begins soon after the traumatic event.  The individual may complain of having markedly diminished interest or participation in previously enjoyed activities (Criterion C4), of feeling detached or estranged from other people (Criterion C5), or of having markedly reduced ability to feel emotions (especially those associated with intimacy, tenderness and sexuality) (Criterion C6).  The individual may have a sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., not expecting to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span) (Criterion C7).

The individual has persistent symptoms of anxiety or increased arousal that were not present before the trauma.  these symptoms may include difficulty falling or staying asleep that may be to recurrent nightmares during which the traumatic event is relived (Criterion D1), hypervigilance (Criterion D4), and exaggerated startle response (Criterion D5).  Some individuals report irritability or outburst of anger (Criterion D2) or difficulty concentrating or completing tasks (Criterion D3)."

 Manifestations

 of the Absence of Self-Regulation

“The lack or loss of self-regulation is possibly the most far-reaching effect of psychological trauma in both children and adults.  The DSM-IV field trials for PTSD clearly demonstrated that the younger the age at which the trauma occurred, and the longer its duration, the more likely people were to have long-term problems with the regulation of anger, anxiety, and sexual impulses (van der Kolk, Roth, Pelcovitz, & Mandel, 1993).  Pitman, Orr, and Shalev (1993) have pointed out that in PTSD, hyperarousal goes well beyond simple conditioning.  The fact that the stimuli that precipitate emergency responses are not conditioned enough and that many triggers not directly related to the traumatic experience may precipitate extreme reactions is merely the beginning of the problem.  Loss/lack of self-regulation may be expressed in many different ways: as a loss of ability to focus on appropriate stimuli; as attentional problems; as an inability to inhibit action when aroused (loss of impulse control); or as uncontrollable feelings of rage, anger, or sadness.  The results of a study by McFarlane, Weber, and Clark (1993) of event-related potentials in people with PTSD illustrate these various effects.”

Van der Kolk, Bessel, Alexander C. McFarlane, and Lars Weisaeth, eds.  1996. Traumatic stress: The effects o overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society.  New York and London: Guilford Press. .p. 187

   Self-Mutilation, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse, Dissociation 

 EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

"Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)1 integrates elements of many effective psychotherapies in structured protocols that are designed to maximize treatment effects. These include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies2. EMDR is an information processing therapy and uses an eight phase approach.

During EMDR1 the client attends to past and present experiences in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Then the client is instructed to let new material become the focus of the next set of dual attention. This sequence of dual attention and personal association is repeated many times in the session.

Eight Phases of Treatment

The first phase is a history taking session during which the therapist assesses the client's readiness for EMDR and develops a treatment plan. Client and therapist identify possible targets for EMDR processing. These include recent distressing events, current situations that elicit emotional disturbance, related historical incidents, and the development of specific skills and behaviors that will be needed by the client in future situations.

   During the second phase of treatment, the therapist ensures that the client has adequate methods of handling emotional distress and good coping skills, and that the client is in a relatively stable state. If further stabilization is required, or if additional skills are needed, therapy focuses on providing these. The client is then able to use stress reducing techniques whenever necessary, during or between sessions. However, one goal is not to need these techniques once therapy is complete.

   In phase three through six, a target is identified and processed using EMDR procedures. These involve the client identifying the most vivid visual image related to the memory (if available), a negative belief about self, related emotions and body sensations. The client also identifies a preferred positive belief. The validity of the positive belief is rated, as is the intensity of the negative emotions.

   After this, the client is instructed to focus on the image, negative thought, and body sensations while simultaneously moving his/her eyes back and forth following the therapist's fingers as they move across his/her field of vision for 20-30 seconds or more, depending upon the need of the client. Although eye movements are the most commonly used external stimulus, therapists often use auditory tones, tapping, or other types of tactile stimulation. The kind of dual attention and the length of each set is customized to the need of the client. The client is instructed to just notice whatever happens.    

After this, the clinician instructs the client to let his/her mind go blank and to notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind. Depending upon the client's report the clinician will facilitate the next focus of attention. In most cases a client-directed association process is encouraged. This is repeated numerous times throughout the session. If the client becomes distressed or has difficulty with the process, the therapist follows established procedures to help the client resume processing. When the client reports no distress related to the targeted memory, the clinician asks him/her to think of the preferred positive belief that was identified at the beginning of the session, or a better one if it has emerged, and to focus on the incident, while simultaneously engaging in the eye movements. After several sets, clients generally report increased confidence in this positive belief. The therapist checks with the client regarding body sensations. If there are negative sensations, these are processed as above. If there are positive sensations, they are further enhanced.

   In phase seven, closure, the therapist asks the client to keep a journal during the week to document any related material that may arise and reminds the client of the self-calming activities that were mastered in phase two.

   The next session begins with phase eight, re-evaluation of the previous work, and of progress since the previous session. EMDR treatment ensures processing of all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress, and future scenarios that will require different responses. The overall goal is produce the most comprehensive and profound treatment effects in the shortest period of time, while simultaneously maintaining a stable client within a balanced system.

   After EMDR processing, clients generally report that the emotional distress related to the memory has been eliminated, or greatly decreased, and that they have gained important cognitive insights. Importantly, these emotional and cognitive changes usually result in spontaneous behavioral and personal change, which are further enhanced with standard EMDR procedures." www.emdr.com

1Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols and Procedures (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
2Shapiro, F. (2002).
EMDR as an Integrative Psychotherapy Approach: Experts of Diverse Orientations Explore the Paradigm Prism. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Books.

 

At LifeCycleJourneys, we will seek to mindfully become a leading provider in and of the ongoing and continual search for pathways to assist in the recovery from the myriad traumas of the landscapes; the overwhelming nature of Psychological and Physiological Trauma.

 

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Spiritual Injuries,

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Spiritual Injuries, Traumatic Assaults on the Soul

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