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The Potential for Hypnosis After Experiencing Trauma

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It was Monday, April 15th, 2013, and thousands gathered at the historic Boston Marathon. Some were annual supporters of the event, some family and friends anxiously waiting to see their loved ones cross the finish line, and others were exhausted and triumphant runners thankful to be done and basking in their glory. It was in these last few moments where thousands of unsuspecting lives were about to change, forever.

Shortly after 3PM, Central Standard Time, the first of three massive explosions ripped through the crowd of innocents, killing three, and wounding 176 more. The perpetrators we nowhere to be found, but the victims were everywhere. Although countless critically injured people were rushed and admitted to the local hospitals for care and recuperation, thousands more simply walked or drove home unaware of their scars and wounds that they will forever carry with them.

All over the world individuals are left helpless in the wake of traumatic events only to struggle with a burden, pain, or psychological trauma that they don’t clearly understand. No one would question the psychological impact of a terrorism victim, but what many fail to recognize is that disorders that are remnants of harrowing events, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), are not limited to those who have survived an act of terrorism or the battles of war. It is imperative that we have a clear understanding of the levels at which one can be affected by traumatic events, the knowledge to identify the signs, and the wisdom to seek the right tools to cope effectively to move life forward in a positive direction.

Understanding the Symptoms

After the initial shock subsides, indicators can vary greatly from one individual to the next, however the American Psychological Association (APA) outlines the following as normal responses to trauma.

  • Feelings become intense and sometimes are unpredictable. You may become more irritable than usual, and your mood may change back and forth dramatically. You might be especially anxious or nervous, or even become depressed.

  • Thoughts and behavior patterns are affected by the trauma. You might have repeated and vivid memories of the event. These flashbacks may occur for no apparent reason and may lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating. You may find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions, or become more easily confused. Sleep and eating patterns also may be disrupted.

  • Recurring emotional reactions are common. Anniversaries of the event, such as at one month or one year, can trigger upsetting memories of the traumatic experience. These “triggers” may be accompanied by fears that the stressful event will be repeated.

  • Interpersonal relationships often become strained. Greater conflict, such as more frequent arguments with family members and coworkers, is common. On the other hand, you might become withdrawn and isolated and avoid your usual activities.

  • Physical symptoms may accompany the extreme stress. For example, headaches, nausea and chest pain may result and may require medical attention. Pre-existing medical conditions may worsen due to the stress.

If the aforementioned symptoms continue beyond a period of 30-60 days, then one may be experiencing the signs of PTSD. There are numerous ways to deal with these symptoms, the primary of which is to seek a mental health professional to guide you on your path to healing. For some however, the symptoms may not be as severe, but still fairly disruptive to your daily life, and seeking a more introspective, or self-governed path to recovery would be ideal.

Understanding Recovery

You must think of your mind like a computer. The unconscious mind operates like a hard drive, storing information, while the conscious mind works like RAM choosing what information is to be acted on moment by moment. Immediately, the supreme importance of the subconscious mind becomes apparent. Although we cannot change the memories (i.e. what’s been stored), we can indeed change how we react to them, or how we allow them to make us feel (i.e. what is engaged). In order to do this, the critical factor of the conscious mind must be bypassed. This is achieved through hypnosis therapy when the conscious mind is set-aside during the so-called trance state.

The subconscious is the part of your mind burdened with the job of protecting you. It will do anything – even adopt negative behaviors – in order to keep you safe. Behaviors exhibited and adopted by victims of stress and trauma are even more susceptible to this subconscious overdrive. Although the past cannot be changed or escaped, our emotional and intellectual attitudes toward it can be radically altered. We must first free ourselves from the trauma subconsciously, and then without fail, the conscious mind will quietly follow.

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