Emotional trauma stored in the body

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In response to threat and injury, animals, including humans, execute biologically based, non-conscious action patterns that prepare them to meet the threat and defend themselves. The very structure of trauma, including activation, dissociation, and freezing are based on the evolution of reptilian, mammalian and primate predator/prey survival behaviors. When threatened or injured, organisms draw from a ''library'' of possible motoric responses supported by adjustments in the autonomic and visceral nervous systems. In response to threat and injury we orient, dodge, duck, stiffen, brace, retract, fight, flee, freeze, collapse, etc. All of these coordinated responses are somatically based-they are things that the body does to protect and defend itself. It is when these orienting and defending responses are overwhelmed that we see trauma.

The bodies of traumatized people portray ''snapshots'' of their unsuccessful attempts to defend themselves in the face of threat and injury. It is because they have been overwhelmed that the execution of their normally continuous responses to threat have become truncated. Trauma is fundamentally a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time. For example, when our full neuromuscular and metabolic machinery prepares us to fight or to flee, muscles throughout the entire body are tensed in specific patterns of high energy readiness. When we are unable to complete the appropriate actions and discharge the tremendous energy generated by our survival preparations, this energy becomes fixated into specific patterns of neuromuscular readiness. Afferent feedback to the brain stem generated from these incomplete neuromuscular/ autonomic responses maintains a state of acute and then chronic arousal and dysfunction in the central nervous system. Traumatized people are not suffering from a disease in the normal sense of the word. They have become fixated in an aroused state. It is difficult (if not impossible) to function normally under these circumstances.

Residual incomplete responses (the ''snapshots'' of unsuccessful attempts at defense) are the basis of (implicit) traumatic memory. Just as Mickey was unable to remember the source of his trivia information, trauma is not ''remembered'' in an explicit, conscious form. It is coded as implicit procedures based on biological survival reactions. These incomplete procedures seek completion and integration, not (explicit) remembering. The compulsion that so many trauma survivors have to ''remember'' is often a misinterpretation of the profound urge to complete the highly charged survival responses that were aborted or truncated at the time they were overwhelmed. This is a significant factor in the genesis of spurious memory.
http*//www.traumahealing.com/art_memory.html (old link no longer works, article also posted here: http://www.traumainstitute.org.il/Default.asp?PageId=205&FragmentId=340 )

Is there a connection to seizure activity? I wonder if there have ever been any studies done. Most of the info I can find on the subject are from massage therapy and Rolfing web sites.
You know, Bernard, that was an interesting article.

My seizure disorder began suddenly and most violently. About 6 weeks after I had had a total knee replacement, I was done with thearapy and puttering around the back yard watering my mint. My son had left the garden hose all tangled up and I was pissed. As I was bending over trying to untangle it, this queer feeling I had been experiancing changed. I looked at my daughter and told her to get her dad cause I was going to faint.

Now I have never fainted in my life and I had dismissed that "queer" feeling as a bit of dehydration. My daughter said I stood straight up then fell over backwards into a doozey of a grand mal. (the one and only GM)
I was aware of most of it.

I have always felt that the seizure was a residiual side effect of the knee surgery. That surgery was a very tramatic thing for the body to go through and I was awake during the surgery ( have a strong stomach and besides, I thought it was pretty cool to watch). I hate general anesthesia and opt of a spinal if available.

There is no known reason for my disorder onset. Like 90% of epilepsy. Now I had the other knee done this past November. At that time I was dianosed with Sever Obstructive Sleep Apnea, my oxygen stats were absolutely scary. But my seizures stopped after that up until I went home for my father's illness and then unexpected death. Now they are "knocking at the door".

The body remembers injury. Even now with surgey, surgeons will inject novacaine( or simular) into the site as the body reacts to the pain even if you are under a general. So if the body remembers, makes sense that the mind also reacts. Maybe that is way it takes about 18 months to 2 years to recover from trama, the body and mind work to recover and get back to business as usual.
As far as I'm concerned, the mind and body are so interconnected that you can't work on one without affecting the other. A physical trauma is emotionally devastating and emotional traumas are bound to show up in the body.
In Eastern medicine, the body has several "energy meridians" and "chakras", or energy focal points. Stacy's Chinese Qigong acupressure therapist told her when we first started seeing her that Stacy had "much anger" in her - specifically in the second chakra. This is the energy focal point for the reproductive system.

A psychologist told Stacy (separately) that there is a high likelyhood that she suffered sexual trauma (aka molestation) as a child.

Stacy's seizure patterns have changed dramatically (worsened) every time she got pregnant. There was also some correlation between her seizure activity and our "moments of shared intimacy".

It could all be a coincidence, but I think the possibility for a substantive causal effect between stored emotional trauma and seizures is valid.
I can believe that. My mother has just started to work with an accupuncturist and she believes that not only has the accupuncture helped her physical health (her blood pressure has dropped so much that she's been able to stop taking her medication and the lymphodema in her left arm - she's a breast cancer survivor - has dramatically improved) but she's finally grieving for my father. He died 20 years ago this June and, at first, Mom couldn't figure out why she was so upset at the end of each accupuncture session. With alot of urging, she finally said something to the practitioner and was asked if there were any sorrow that she knew of that had been held in. It really is amazing.
Yes, Stacy has only recently found her "angry voice" - the ability to express anger instead of internalizing it. I think the Acupressure therapy is primarily responsible. It's a much healthier situation to process emotions correctly IMO.
I find all of this very interesting. As I said in another post, this month was a dosey for seizures. Well, this month was the month that we went and on vacation to Florida. My Mom and Dad live in Florida and my mother and I have a very stressed relationship. My mother has done some things to me in my life time that are pretty unthinkable.( tried to get custody of my kids, when I got divorced, few years later tried to commit me, list goes on) But, I'm a forgive and forget person. ( well, at least I think I am) maybe I'm really just carrying anger around and it comes to a head when I have to see my mother, well and my father to for that matter. I never understood why he never stood up for me.
Maybe I need to figure some of this stuff out and I would be better off, who knows.
Elisa, I'm sorry to hear about your strained relationship with your folks (and your recent seizures).

Elisa said:
... maybe I'm really just carrying anger around and it comes to a head when I have to see my mother, well and my father to for that matter. I never understood why he never stood up for me.

Acupressure is similar in concept to acupuncture, except that the therapist uses their hands to manipulate (via pinching mostly) the necessary energy points. The advantage for the acupressure specialist is that they can also 'read' the body by determining how loose or tight you are in different places. I posted a link to an inexpensive Qigong Acupressure book in this diary entry if you want to read more about it.

Elisa said:
Maybe I need to figure some of this stuff out and I would be better off, who knows.

According to the article I quoted above, it is not really necessary to "figure it out" in order to dissipate the energy (if present), although attaining a comprehensive understanding may help improve your family relationships (or at least your position in the dynamic).
Abuse related.....???

I'm currently being treated for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and am also epileptic (Grand mal) and haven't given up on finding alternative ways of coping with epilepsy. I am also a survivor of incest which is partly related to the BPD diagnosis. I've often wondered if sexual abuse could be have been a trigger in the manifestation of the ceisures, approximately at the same time that I was diagnosed, my mother was in terminal phase of cancer. A lot of trauma tied in a knot around the same time nexus. I take valproic acid that controls it well, except for bouts of anxiety which it doesn't seem to do a lot for. My GP has prescribed anti depressants (Effexor Xr & Celexa). I really want to seek alternative methods of healing, I don't want to be dependant for the rest of my life on pills

Thank you for listening.

Hi Catherine, welcome to our forums!

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know that it is not easy to talk openly about such painful subjects.

I am not aware of any studies that have been done or might be in progress seeking a correlation between past emotional trauma and epilepsy / seizure activity, but I personally think that circumstancial evidence supports the hypothesis.

A lot of people have found greater relief for depression/anxiety with 5 HTP instead of anti-depressent drugs.
I thought 5-HTP was more for energy... which I have none of right now. It's only 9 PM and I'm about to fall asleep. GABA was prescribed by my Dr., who believes in natural drugs and western medicine alike. GABA makes me have really crazy dreams. Thing is, I remember them! I had lots of trouble as a child, and am trying to get over it. It's going to take time though.
Keep reading Stacy! I've posted info on both GABA and 5-HTP here (not this thread, they each have their own dedicated threads) for your benefit...
I found this page to be a fascinating read:

Psychiatrist Uses 'Emotion Medicine' To Heal The Mind


Servan-Schreiber, 44, was born in France, moved to the United States 20 years ago and is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. Servan-Schreiber was a pioneer in neurocognitive research in America. ...

... suggests seven methods to heal the mind through the body, all of which have been scientifically examined and verified: eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (an effective treatment in cases of severe trauma); heart coherence, in which the heart rate is stabilized through breathing (studies indicate that during prayer, monks experience the most well-balanced heart rate); setting the biological clock by natural light (which is known to reduce depression); acupuncture (capable of blocking off pain and fear zones in the brain); use of Omega-3 fatty acids (scientifically proven to produce happiness and ease depression, and found mainly in fish, flax seeds, walnuts and soybeans; it is recommended to consume them via the food itself and not in pill form); physical exercise; and development of emotional communication.


"I spent 20 years in Canada and the United States in medical schools, I developed a very conventional career as a scientist and psychiatrist," he says. "It took 20 years for me to find out that there are studies in the scientific literature on natural approaches to treatment of depression, anxiety and stress, which have been examined and verified. I began using them in my practice and realized that they are even more effective than the conventional methods, except that no one talks about them, because it is impossible to acquire them and make money from them."

The article has a lot more to it, but I don't want to copy the whole thing.
I saw where BirdBomb posted this on her site: http*//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060114/ap_on_he_me/trauma_pill ( old link doesn't work, article also posted here: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10806799/...th/t/could-pill-help-fade-traumatic-memories/ ):
Suppose you could erase bad memories from your mind. Suppose, as in a recent movie, your brain could be wiped clean of sad and traumatic thoughts.

That is science fiction. But real-world scientists are working on the next best thing. They have been testing a pill that, when given after a traumatic event like rape, may make the resulting memories less painful and intense.

Will it work? It is too soon to say. Still, it is not far-fetched to think that this drug someday might be passed out along with blankets and food at emergency shelters after disasters like the tsunami or Hurricane Katrina.


... post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, a problem first recognized in Vietnam War veterans. Only 14 percent to 24 percent of trauma victims experience long-term PTSD, but sufferers have flashbacks and physical symptoms that make them feel as if they are reliving the trauma years after it occurred.

Scientists think it happens because the brain goes haywire during and right after a strongly emotional event, pouring out stress hormones that help store these memories in a different way than normal ones are preserved.

Taking a drug to tamp down these chemicals might blunt memory formation and prevent PTSD, they theorize.


Memories, painful or sweet, don't form instantly after an event but congeal over time. Like slowly hardening cement, there is a window of opportunity when they are shapable.

During stress, the body pours out adrenaline and other "fight or flight" hormones that help write memories into the "hard drive" of the brain, McGaugh and Cahill showed.

Propranolol can blunt this. It is in a class of drugs called beta blockers and is the one most able to cross the blood-brain barrier and get to where stress hormones are wreaking havoc. It already is widely used to treat high blood pressure and is being tested for stage fright.

Dr. Roger Pitman, a Harvard University psychiatrist, did a pilot study to see whether it could prevent symptoms of PTSD. He gave 10 days of either the drug or dummy pills to accident and rape victims who came to the Massachusetts General Hospital emergency room.

In follow-up visits three months later, the patients listened to tapes describing their traumatic events as researchers measured their heart rates, palm sweating and forehead muscle tension.

The eight who had taken propranolol had fewer stress symptoms than the 14 who received dummy pills, but the differences in the frequency of symptoms were so small they might have occurred by chance — a problem with such tiny experiments.

Still, "this was the first study to show that PTSD could be prevented," McGaugh said, and enough to convince the federal government to fund a larger one that Pitman is doing now.

Meanwhile, another study on assault and accident victims in France confirmed that propranolol might prevent PTSD symptoms.

One of those researchers, Brunet, now has teamed with Pitman on the boldest experiment yet — trying to cure longtime PTSD sufferers.

"We are trying to reopen the window of opportunity to modulate the traumatic memory," Pitman said.

The experiments are being done in Montreal and involve people traumatized as long as 20 or 30 years ago by child abuse, sexual assault or a serious accident.

"It's amazing how a traumatic memory can remain very much alive. It doesn't behave like a regular memory. The memory doesn't decay," Brunet said.

To try to make it decay, researchers ask people to describe the trauma as vividly as they can, bringing on physical symptoms like racing hearts, then give them propranolol to blunt "restorage" of the memory. As much as three months later, the single dose appears to be preventing PTSD symptoms, Brunet said.


Practical matters may limit propranolol's usefulness. It must be given within a day or two of trauma to prevent PTSD.

How long any benefits from the drug will last is another issue. McGaugh said some animal research suggests that memory eventually recovers after being squelched for a while by the drug.

Overtreatment also is a concern. Because more than three-quarters of trauma victims don't have long-term problems, most don't need medication.
Another article on propranolol:
If the drug works on PTSD, experts say it also might help with drug addiction, stage fright, trembling, epilepsy and other conditions caused by changes in the brain's wiring.

The idea that a drug could affect memory flies in the face of a century of scientific belief. The thinking was that memories exist in an unstable state only for roughly six hours and then get "consolidated" and stay that way forever.

But Karim Nader, a McGill psychologist, was able to show that long-term memories aren't nearly as hardwired as scientists had thought.

http*//www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/sfl-amemory03mar03,0,1280008.story?coll=sfla-news-nationworld - New drug to control traumatic thoughts (article no longer exists)

My intuition tells me that messing with this drug for PTSD is not a good thing. If the emotional trauma can be released by natural means (see first few posts in this thread), it seems safer to go that route than mess with a drug the side effects of which likely won't be known for several years.
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Hi: I have been useing acupuncture on and off for 25 yrs now to deal with the side effects of the epielpsy meds. I react really fast to treatment ,just like I did with the vns inplant. Both happened to work really well for me.

I would recommend acupuncture for many different aliments,but before you
go to any acupuncturists. Either go to the school for acupunture in your state. Or call the acupuncture assoc in your state or province and ask for a referral.When I lived in Montreal I got a great acupuncturist from the referral service.

Best wishes
Positve Person
Thanks PP. My mother tried acupuncture for a frozen shoulder once and it helped some, but didn't completely do the trick. She eventually found a physical therapy specialist who was able to help her fix the shoulder.

One thing is for sure though... She was definitely affected by the acupuncture treatments.
... In a second study, researchers compared 26 people whose nonepileptic seizures began when they were aged 55 or older with 241 people whose nonepileptic seizures started at a younger age.

Compared with the younger seizure patients, patients with nonepileptic, psychological seizures beginning later in life were roughly twice as likely to be male, and eight times as likely to have other severe health problems.

The older group was more likely to report health-related traumatic experiences (47% compared to 4%) and less likely to report a history of sexual abuse (4% vs. 32%).

"Our findings suggest that the development of physical ill health, especially when it has been frightening to the patient, may be an important triggering factor for nonepileptic seizures," says researcher Roderick Duncan, MD, PhD, of the West of Scotland Regional Epilepsy Service in Glasgow.

Health Trauma May Trigger Seizures
Ithink that epilepsy could be related to trauma as there is no medical history of epliepsy in my family and my seizures seemed to start just after my dad died unexpectedly and because i was young other children didnt undertsand and tended to be scared to talk to me so aound to years after this i had my first seizures
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