According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of PTSD include:
- Bad dreams
- Frightening thoughts
- Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling strong guilt, depression or worry
- Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
- Having trouble remembering the dangerous event
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Having angry outbursts
- Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
- Distorted feelings like guilt of shame
How do you get PTSD?
Your brain is designed to respond quickly to danger. When your senses perceive danger, part of the brain called the amygdala instigates a whole-body response by releasing powerful stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, and you go into fight-flight-or-freeze mode. You are ready to do whatever you must to survive.
After the danger has passed, your brain and body are supposed to return to normal. With PTSD, however, that doesn’t happen. You stay in fight-flight-or-freeze mode, even though you no longer face a life-threatening danger.
PTSD is generally associated with a horrifying incident, such as natural disaster, terrible car accident or war combat.
But there’s another type of PTSD, called complex PTSD, which comes from chronic trauma that continues or repeats for months or years, according to the National Center for PTSD.
This is the type of PTSD that many people involved with sociopaths experience. The sociopath’s repeated rages, emotional assault and, in some cases, domestic violence, eventually lead to the PTSD reactions listed above.
Body Keeps the Score
I’m reading a book called The Body Keeps the Score – Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. In it, he explains:
As long as the trauma is not resolved, the stress hormones that the body secretes to protect itself keep circulating, and the defensive movements and emotional responses keep getting replayed.
When people have PTSD flashbacks, van der Kolk says, the flashbacks are often worse than the actual experience. Why? Because flashbacks can occur at any time, and the sufferers never know how long they will last. He continues:
If elements of the trauma are replayed again and again, the accompanying stress hormones engrave those memories ever more deeply in the mind. Ordinary, day-to-day events become less and less compelling. Not being able to take in what is going on around them makes it impossible to feel fully alive. It becomes harder to feel the joys and aggravations of ordinary life, harder to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Not being fully alive in the present keeps them firmly imprisoned in the past.
The Body Keeps the Score is a fabulous book, and I’m going to write more about it soon. But today I want to focus on a technique that has helped many, many people fully recover from PTSD.
With EFT tapping, you bring to mind a traumatic memory while you tap with your fingers on specific acupressure points on your face and upper body. PTSD goes away. Really.
It sounds silly and looks sillier. But quite a few Lovefraud readers have told me that they’ve used the technique and it helped them feel better.
I didn’t get PTSD because of my experience with a sociopath, so I can’t personally verify that it works for that condition. But I have used tapping to overcome stress and anxiety — conditions EFT is known to treat. And yes, my internal tension went away.
The good news with this technique is that you can learn it yourself by watching online videos and do it on yourself, for free. If your symptoms are really strong, there are practitioners who can help you. But even if you start by going to a therapist, you can eventually learn to do it on your own.
Tapping World Summit
Today is the perfect day to learn more about tapping, because today the 8th Annual Tapping World Summit begins online. This 10-day program features many experts in the holistic health field who use the technique to help themselves and their clients.
Some of the presentations directly address how you feel because of your involvement with the sociopath, such as the sessions on “Releasing Anxiety” or “Letting Go of the Hurt.”
But other topics are like self-help books, such as “Clearing Debt” and “Tapping for Unstoppable Confidence.” That’s because EFT tapping is not only good for dealing with psychological and emotional problems, it also works for performance enhancement.
The Tapping World Summit is free — all you have to do is log on to the Internet to listen to the presentations. There will be two presentations per day for 10 days, with a few bonus presentations thrown it.
Here’s the schedule:
How does it work?
So the question is, how exactly can you relieve psychological problems by tapping on your face? It seems too goofy to work.
In truth, the power of the technique isn’t totally understood. But Dr. David Feinstein, author of The Promise of Energy Psychology, which is another fabulous book, explained what is known and surmised about the process.
You can listen to his complete interview with Jessica Ortner, one of the hosts of the Tapping World Summit, below.
Or read the transcript:
Science behind the tapping
Dr. Feinstein explains that tapping on the specific acupressure points reduces arousal in the amygdala — the part of the brain, which I mentioned above, that sets off the fight-flight-or-freeze reaction. As a result:
There is no emotional response to what may have been a horrible scene. So the person still has a memory, but their brain is not going into a whole sequence that involves pumping cortisol through the system and adrenaline, etc. So that becomes the new normal.
Tapping also stimulates delta waves in the brain, which is the same brain frequency that occurs during deep sleep. Delta waves help the brain discard memories. Dr. Feinstein explains:
If you bring to mind a traumatic memory at the same time the brain is in high delta, that has the impact of just eradicating the emotional part of that memory.
Memory operates in different systems. The major systems are explicit memory and implicit memory. The emotional response is stored in what’s called implicit memory. That is you’re overwhelmed, you had a really strong emotion and it goes into this memory system as fragments. It may be that these are images or feelings or sensations. The delta waves eradicate that.
Neurologists call it depotentiation. Depotentiation means that the neural pathways literally dissolve. They no longer exist.
The third thing that tapping seems to do, Dr. Feinstein says, is affect what he describes as “organizing fields” that coordinate the activity of millions of neurons in the brain that operate instantaneously.
Studies in Rwanda
In the interview, Dr. Feinstein describes some of the research studies that have been done related to tapping. He admits that much more research needs to be done, but studies completed so far are promising.
One study was done in Rwanda, 12 years after the people in the country were decimated by genocide. A group of 50 teenagers in an orphanage were rated by their caretakers as having the highest ratings of PTSD. Most of the kids had seen their parents slaughtered with machetes.
The research team planned to give each teenager three EFT sessions. But another emergency broke out in the country, so there was only time to give each teenager one treatment.
The result? After only one treatment, 94% of the kids were no longer rated as having PTSD. A year later, 92% of them still did not have PTSD.
Those are dramatic results.
Another study of 145 adults in Rwanda had the same impact — after one treatment, the PTSD was gone.
The technique has also been effective with veterans of the Vietnam war, who had been suffering with PTSD symptoms for decades.
If tapping can help the survivors of genocide and combat, perhaps it can help you as well.
I encourage you to check out the Tapping World Summit. Yes, they want you to buy the CDs of the event, but you don’t have to. So it’s online, it’s free, and it may help you feel better fast.