Good Evening, God
I’m back on the topic of how to treat Post Traumatic Stress. Once again, I am listening to Bessel van der Kolk.
Let me just lay out what I have learned. First, traumatic stress an affront or shock to the Limbic System. The limbic system is on also known as the paleo mammalian cortex. And sits above the brain stem and on both sides of the thalamus. (The only part I recognized was the amygdala.)
This older part of our brain supports functions including “emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction. Emotional life is largely housed in the limbic system, and it critically aids the formation of memories.”
According to Dr. van der Kolk, healing this area involves calming the limbic system. Behaviors that calm the limbic system can help with PTSD. One method is EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). The therapist or individual recalls distressing images while generating side-to-side movements or finger tapping.
Other activities that calm the limbic system are: touch, rhythmic movement, physical action and activities that help put us in “tune” with others. Even working on a theatre project seems to help. One proponent of this Somatic approach is Peter Levine.
One striking point Dr. Bessel van der Kolk made was that — if during a traumatic event we can move — the event gets processed. He used the example people running/struggling toward home after the 9/11 attack. The fact that they could move away from danger and toward the safety of home helped tremendously.
ONE LAST POINT: Dr. van der Kolk said that trauma that happens as an adult . . . or as a discrete incident is easier to treat than the ongoing trauma of childhood abuse and injuries. Having an unsafe and unloved childhood makes for a different kind of trauma. But that is a whole other disaster.