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Dr. Alexander How Do You Work With It ?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by RikR, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. RikR

    RikR Well known member

    Once you have identified the repressed emotion what have you found is the best way to work with it to get it to stop expressing as TMS?
  2. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    i know rik- you can change the negative repression to have no negative charge
    all you really need to do rik is face them- let them float over you
    and then move on to a good memory
  3. G.R.

    G.R. Well known member

    I am so sorry but I am not sure I understand your response to RikR.
    Would it be possible to explain this in a bit more detail?
    What do you mean let the negative repression float over you?
    Can you explain in a little more detail?
  4. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    GR - how are you my friend
    facing would come first in this concept
    facing is when you accept and love yourself regardless of the pain or anxiety you have-
    it also means not to run from the problem but to face it
    floating- is when you have done faced the problem
    but the pain or anxiety wants to rear its ugly head and this is when you set there
    and let the anxiety or stress from the pain float over you and just bask in it.
    see GR by doing this your showing the pain your not scared of it or the anxiety
    Mermaid and OtterMan like this.
  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great points Eric! TMS is caused when we resist our emotions and try to push them away. If we change this and learn to simply sit with our emotions we will learn that they are not nearly as frightening as we think they are. Facing your emotions may be very uncomfortable, but that is what our mind wants us to think. The more and more you allow your emotions to simply be, the more you will be able to overcome the negative charge of that emotion. To me, this is way mindfulness is so helpful. Has anyone had success with it?
  6. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks forest, its really a good way to stand up to the bully ya know
    when we stand and stop running -the bully wonders wow- then fades
    time is important here as we know-
    id rather do this and be better in time than in time still be wondering what if?
    its sorta like going to school for that degree- if ya just hang in there- in time it will arrive
    good to hear from ya forest- oh and the mindfulness is awesome
  7. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    My experience is that Sarno is right: emotion we are aware of doesn't cause symptoms. When I have the slightest hint of a repressed emotion I dig deeper, journal, apply the techniques of Jungian dream analysis, open a dialog with the repressed "part" -- that sort of thing. All this helps greatly but has not yet rooted out the core which is, it seems, a tenacious beastie who doesn't wanna come out to play.

    Lately, I am most impressed by Alan Gordon's techniques. He seems to use strong energy to attack the creature in its lair. I like that.

    You have mentioned elsewhere that catharsis proves ineffective in the long term. Do you have links or could you explain more?
  8. Dr James Alexander

    Dr James Alexander TMS author and psychologist

    Rik (for the sake of others who may not have read other posts)- the most effective (in fact, the only effective) way known to modern neuroscience for losing the emotional sting which goes with either repressed or unconscious traumatic memories, or repressed negative aspects of our current experience, is captured under the term 'reconsolidation'. This is achieved by a process which changes how the brain stores away (consolidates) our experiences into the memory system. Upsetting experiences are easily consolidated and stored as they contain useful information for survival purposes- the emotional distress (with cognitive and physiological aspects) which they contain can then 'repeat' on a person forever, unless s/he undergoes a re-consolidation experience- this is what happens for a PTSD sufferer. During the reconsolidation process, the emotion experienced at the time of the process becomes 'built into' the autobiographical memory, such that the new laying down of the memory also contains the new emotional (more positive) context in which it was reconsolidated. Reconsolidation therapies will deliberately help the person to have a different, more positive experience during the process- this is not achieved by just telling people to be more positive, or to just let go of negative emotions or memories (see below).

    The reconsolidation experience can result in many different ways, but there are some specific characteristics of the experience that neuroscience research demonstrates must be in place for the process to work. Firstly, the person must be in touch with the distressing experience, and must re-experience it in all its emotional/cognitive/physiological fullness. (This is achieved in EMDR via the set-up procedure which occurs prior to the bi-lateral stimulation. In coherence therapy, this is done via inviting the client to imaginally re-experience the upsetting event). Some people will criticise this as rehashing past negativity, but it is an essential step in the reconsolidation process (which, if successful, will result in no emotional distress in relation to a bad incident). Some people will cope with being in touch with the distressing event on their own just fine; but other people will be re-traumatised by doing this, and therefore will need the assistance of a therapist experienced in working with psychological trauma. I think it was Eric who posted that he is able to do 'inner-child work' on his own. What he reports sounds very much like successful self-applied reconsolidation- the result is that he no longer feels upset about the memory (Eric- can you elaborate on this?). It is also known that reconsolidation can occur spontaneously at times as well, with no prior expectation or knowledge that this is what is happening (I have an experience of this which i could share if anyone wants to know about it?). I am sure there are many people who, from a certain spontaneous experience, went from being highly distressed about something only to have the distress melt away like snow balls on a hot plate (that was my experience in relation to a depressive episode).

    The second requirement of successful reconsolidation is that there needs to be an experience of dis-confirming emotional knowledge. This needs to be more than just a cognitive knowledge, and explains why approaches like CBT often don't work above placebo rates. The change needs to occur in the emotional brain (ie. limbic system and mid-brain areas), and not in the neo-cortex (thinking brain). Some people will be able to provide for themselves an emotional experience which disconfirms the emotional knowledge associated with the upsetting event, eg. " I am worthless and unlovable". Eric described going to his upset 'little boy' and giving him some of the nurturance he needs (all in his imagination, which the brain does not distinguish from reality) . This is an example of a different emotional experience (which effects the emotional brain- whereas the neo-cortex is indifferent to it), and which violates the emotional 'knowledge' obtained in the distressing event via a juxtaposition of expereinces- one is emotionally upsetting ("I am unworthy and unlovable"), while the other is emotionally uplifting (eg. seeing the young you being supported, loved, etc). Both of these experiences need to be felt, ie. a cognitive awareness of them is not sufficient to create reconsolidation.

    When these two conflicting emotional knowings can be held together (and actually experienced, rather than just thought about), then reconsolidation can occur. The brain/mind needs to resolve the conflict between these two knowing by letting one go. This can then result in the person remaining aware that the bad experience happened, but no longer feeling the distressed emotion which has typically gone along with it. It is a succession of these bad experiences (and their emotional/cognitive/physiological components) which result in problems like poor self worth, extreme pessimism, fear of people and the world in general, chronic pain (and the associated anxiety, panic, anger, rage, depression etc that you would expect to go along with these). It is likely that any one distressed or pained person will need to have more than one reconsolidation experience to overcome their syndrome- but, bit by bit, this is entirely possible and regularly happens in effective therapy.

    Where spontaneous reconsolidation does not occur, and where the person is not able to initiate their own reconsolidation experience (either because their trauma is too great, or they dont know how to), then certain types of psychotherapy are able to achieve this outcome. These are not therapies which remain working on only a cognitive level, such as CBT. Nor does it include the other excellent approaches such as mindfulness, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, regular meditation, or other calming soothing techniques- as great at these are in their own right, all they can ever achieve is a counteracting of the distress, never a complete resolution (I discuss this further in the final chapter of 'The Hidden Psychology of Pain', and give these approaches the thumbs up for all sorts of reasons, but not because they will resolve chronic pain as they generally will not, unless they accidentally trigger a spontaneous reconsolidation experience).

    The types of psychotherapies which are capable of producing reconsolidation experiences are referred to as 'transformative', as opposed to counteractive therapies. The list includes EMDR, Gestalt therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy, brief psychoanalytic therapies, Hakomi, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Therapy, NLP (not an exhaustive list- I'm sure there are many others that i do not know of) . And Coherence Therapy is designed specifically to replicate the reconsoldiation process as demonstrated in the neuroscience labs with animal and human subjects.

    The fact that Sarno's psychologist colleagues had success in resolving chronic pain in patients indicates that the therapy they use also creates reconsolidation. There appears to be many paths to this type of emotional/psychological transformation via reconsolidation (and some approaches just wont do it). The much touted book-cure which most therapists have seen with TMS books is also an experience of reconsolidation, although this appears to occur via cognitive information. Where most people in our culture have been emersed in the the dominant culture of bio-mechanics (aka the mechanistic bias), which explains all chronic pain in relation to structural pathology, we have built up a solid 'understanding' of what generates chronic pain. This is our 'pain schema', and includes theories of causation as well as expectations about its outcome. When people come across TMS information for the first time, it can be such disconfirming information (vis-a-vis the mechanistic bias information) that a spontaneous reconsolidation can occur. This will be aided by the person's ability to apply the TMS model to themselves, and see what unconscious forms of distress could be relevant to their chronic pain. This will never happen to the person who is not seriously considering the model, as their emotional brain is not engaged in the information which they are processing- to them, it is just data, and dodgy data at that. And when it comes to making changes in the emotional brain, data will not do the job. Information which holds a degree of emotional importance to the person has a chance of effecting this change.

    For more information about reconsolidation listen to interviews with Bruce Ecker on Shrink Rap Radio (a link from my home page: www.drjamesalexander-psychologist.com)
  9. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    this is very good Dr. Alexander- i love your works i just flip the negative memory to make it short and fast you mentioned the child, yes that works to on timelines i found that diffrent people have to be approched from different angles according to their beliefs but there comes a time when they need to put all those beliefs to the side for a moment and believe your counselor-
    Dr.- therapist- or coach, espessially if theve walked on the same rocks as in tms as you have
    most i deal with have some very distressing issues- and they dont even want to think of it as you stated. i took a lady today for instance- shed seen a puppy get hit and beaten on it was causeing her pain, she didnt even know it but i did cause thats all shed talk about. i told her to think of the memory and she didnt want to but i said its already there- right? she said yes- so here i knew the fight was brewing as in fight flight or freeze. i said look at the image and change it to black and white- she did her distress lessoned, then i told her to make it yellow and then white. i told her to blink and when she did- i said do you see the image as painful anymore
    not to lesson the puppys hurt, the puppys fine. but to lesson her hurt and when she looked at the image again in her imagination there was no more negative charge

    i asked her how her arm felt and the pain wasnt there- now as you know Dr. Alexander this was just a flip-nlp, swish ya know- and yes this has been a power house of discharge for a long while and yes i agree just plain positive thinking isnt the cure but im sure you would agree-its better to think positive and not charge the pain more than it already is.

    see Dr. James i get a lot of talk about how thinking positive doesnt heal but wouldnt you agree. its the better option- for those that think they dont need this positive outlook or thinking
    assume they can think negative and still heal and it doesnt work like that- in other words i know at least a hundred ways to reframe and the main component in my studies has always been to think in a positive manner- it helps their faith and you know as much as i do folks that use acceptance with a choice to think on the better outcomes instead of being pessimistic
    always heal better and faster than those that dont use these crucial components.

    see when i was 29 and decided to start living in a more positive manner by using acceptance
    and positve thinking-(peale) it wasnt long before the pain in my body got to about a 2 and stayed there for around 9 years. now i assumed i was healed-( still had sciatica- so it wasnt a complete cure) but compared to the pain that i thought was going to kill me. I couldnt even stand for a few seconds at a time. so compared to the former pain without the better thinking i was hurting a lot more but with this new found acceptance and hope i got to where i could run , lift very heavy weights and do anything i wanted again as long as i had pillows for the conditioning like i said it was still a 2 ya know . so i always worried if the pain would ever come back and i developed fear of this.

    i went through a lot of traumatic issues and stopped thinking positive for about a year and this pain that i thought was gone came back with a vengence-this time bedridden with my wife tying my shoes on the good days when i could get up. DR. Alexander it wasnt the positve thinking alone but mixed with faith it carried over to a releif that lasted almost ten years, till the fear set in but then almost a year later i got sarnos book and wham it was like a light going off- ring -ring all these years of study and application had finally came to fruition. i got it and i havent looked back.

    See i started deep studys when I was just around 15- of course this was at the time id hurt my whole body in that accident but to make a long story even longer. I agree with all your writings above- its so true that you can dis-charge a negative emotion.

    With the applied technoligies that you listed and doc i gotta get your book -- I've been so busy-
    tell me james and ill be getting it cause you think like i do in the sense that negative emotions
    can be discharged and they will remember it but it wont be so painful ya know, the nlp- eft-gestalt therapy-and so forth all are very helpful in discharging and the facing that sarno has laid out is awesome, but sarno had more-something special.

    it seems to simple to people and thats one reason why some dont get to far because of not applying sarnos therapy effectivly when i told my shoulder to stop hurting and it did aftyer 24 yrs of pain i knew then that self healing was in see ive helped heal more good folks than i can count but i never thought i could heal myself even though i have done it on two other occasions. The problem then was I didnt know how to retain the healing now I know the tools that go to the belt. I totally agree that some as dr sarno and you have stated do need psycho therapy and have to be walked through the trauma or distress as in ptsd- thats why i help by phone as often as possible.

    Here's the main issue with this question to me -- I have talked to certain people and when you start to do an emotional release or a reframe so the pain can decrease. They say oh that wont work. that's the sad part -- saying it wont work and never even trying cause they just cant believe its true like were all just making this up or something- no - I've went through to much pain and walked those rocks to many years to say hey i will help you
    and then not be able too
    - no this program works just do as sarno says. Do it without dis-belief- believe in the power of your mind and get yourself healed
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
    zclesa and Forest like this.
  10. Dr James Alexander

    Dr James Alexander TMS author and psychologist

    thanks for that Eric- a great post; very informative and helpful for people to read. Yes, i certainly agree that being positive and optimistic is preferable to the opposite. Thats exactly how i managed to overcome my trauma (psychological as well as physical) from nearly being killed as an 18 year old. I know the power of it, and at times, its necessity as well. As you will read in my book, i think that this wonderful cultivated positivity also came at a cost to me- 18 years of chronic pain. Well, to be exact, it wasnt the positivity which gave me the pain- it was the trauma from the accident. However research by Baliki and others (referred to in my book) shows that people who use the thinking/brain patterns which are associated with maintaining positive moods are also the people who are the most susceptible to chronic pain.

    I have no doubt that when i was in the pits of despair and depression in the aftermath of being nearly killed, and was a virtual cripple on crutches/walking stick (after having been a vigorous, fit, health, energetic young man), feeling humiliated and beaten by life at the ripe old age of 18- i needed a different mind set, and being deliberately positive did this for me. It may have saved my life, in regards to taking me away from suicidality. I needed to put a lid on my negativity in order to just move forward, and it most certainly helped. But once i was in a better space psychologically, it would have been better for me to drop the denial of what i had been through- stop pretending to myself and everyone else that i was fine, and just deal with the trauma. I didnt have the maturity, the courage or the know-how to do this. So, instead, i suffered chronic pain for the next 18 years, until i had developed what it took to get over it. Everyone is different, but thats my experience. I am grateful for the positivity which i found when i needed it; and i am also grateful for the willingness to look at the negative aspects of my life when i had developed the courage to do so. This is what helped me finally overcome the chronic pain.
  11. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thats awesome Dr.Alexander, i totally agree that good hearted people seem to be the most suseptible
    to being a tmser- its the goodist, perfectionest qualitys that we have to make so much right
    when we really need to just live life and lighten up on ourselves alot
    be mindful and take life not to serious- that was one of my traits, life was just to short for me to be wasting the days ya know
    and in all realilty i was setting myself up for a huge let doun
    theres no doubt that a lot of factors play into the hands of a tmser, but thank god Dr.Alexander for those hard times- right
    with out those times we wouldnt have the knowledge to help those we help now
    im so glad to have finally got to speak with you - your a great person for what you do
    im glad everytime i see your post pop up- you went through alot and your here to help
    i want to thank you so much for your courage and for taking us on your journey
    in which we see ourselves and we can find the door to the cure
    God bless you james
    Forest likes this.
  12. Dr James Alexander

    Dr James Alexander TMS author and psychologist

    Eric- i am humbled by your gratitude. It is people like you who i look up to.
    eric watson likes this.
  13. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Dr. Alexander, I would like to buy your Kindle ebook but it isn't available in Canada for some reason. Too bad, I was looking forward to reading it.
  14. Dr James Alexander

    Dr James Alexander TMS author and psychologist

    njoy- it is available as an e-book from Amazon.com as well as from my book website (via: www.drjamesalexander-psychologist.com)- is this kindle? I wouldnt have a clue- still enjoying the pleasures of a paper book in my hands!
  15. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Thanks for your response. Canadians have recently been barred from using amazon.com and your book is not available (in Kindle format) from amazon.ca.

    I also tried on your web site and have asked the publisher for help. Perhaps I can buy the book there.
  16. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Dr. Alexander, you said "It is also known that reconsolidation can occur spontaneously at times as well, with no prior expectation or knowledge that this is what is happening (I have an experience of this which i could share if anyone wants to know about it?). I am sure there are many people who, from a certain spontaneous experience, went from being highly distressed about something only to have the distress melt away like snow balls on a hot plate (that was my experience in relation to a depressive episode)."

    So, I'd like to hear more about your experience.
  17. Dr James Alexander

    Dr James Alexander TMS author and psychologist

    njoy- this is the account i put on the tms help site for someone else who also wanted to know about my spontaneous reconsolidation experience.

    10 years ago i took my young family (wife, 3 kids- then 13, 11, 8) on a venture to live in Scotland for a year. I was on my ancestral trail, seeking the places where my people came from. It was a romantic venture, and i was overly optimistic about my chances of it all going well. When we arrived in the UK, we bought a camper van which allowed us to travel around and see Scotland during their summer. Eventually, we established ourselves (on the other side of the world with no contacts) in jobs, schools etc.

    The plan was that the re-sale of the van was our ticket home- it was old and a bit rough, but worth about 3 1/2 thousand pounds- enough to fund our return journey. During the middle of the cold, long bleak Scottish winter (which was challenging enough just because of what it was), the van engine blew up! In the days that followed, i was offered 500 pounds for it. All of a sudden, i felt trapped on the other side of the planet, with a family who were happy (albeit living on minimal funds), and no way home- and it is a long way from Scotland to Australia. The whole thing crashed in on me, and i sunk into the pits of despair. For only the second time in my life, i became extremely depressed (the other time being in the aftermath of being nearly killed as an 18 year old- which (coindidentally?) also involved catastrophy in a van- perhaps this experience brought up some unresolved trauma from my near death experience in a van as an 18 year old?). This went on for weeks and weeks. It was even impossible to get a mechanic that was able to look at the van engine for months (they were in short supply). The days stayed long, cold dark and gloom, and my mood matched. There seemed to be no way out of the mess that i had landed ourselves in (although we were earning reasonable money, the cost of living was quite high as well and didnt allow us to get ahead financially).

    After a couple of months in this depressed state (nothing could lighten me up, and i was trying every CBT type trick in the book just to keep my head barely above water), i was in the commute train going to Edinburgh for work one morning. It was dark and bleak outside (as usual), and i was wallowing in my quagmire. Months earlier, before i had left Oz, i decided that i wanted to make a book of quotes from my favourite spiritual philosopher, Allan Watts. To this end, i had typed out a few hundred quotes from the many of his books which i had. I printed these out and put them in my brief case and forgot about them- until this morning on the train into Edinburgh. For some reason, i decided to see what was in an obscure pocket of the brief case and found this collection of Allan Watts quotes.

    As i was reading the first one, i felt an immediate lifting of the depression. It was virtually instantaneous, and was not related to the actual message in the quote. I was stunned that this depression that had been with me for months was just melting away like snow on a hot plate. In a matter of seconds i felt liberated (not enlightened!) and free of any emotional burden.

    In the years since then, i have struggled to make sense of what had happened. Sure enough, i had years of really enjoying reading Allan Watts- i had a whole bunch of very positive emotional associations with his writings. Since learning of reconsolidation, i can see that the necessary conditions sponteneously fell into place. Firstly, i was in the experience of the despair (a lived emotional reality). Then, in a moment, i was back in touch with the positive emotional associations i had with Allan Watts (independent of the actual quotes). It was these associations which i then got a burst of. This was the disconfirming juxtaposition which neuroscientists talk of as necessary for reconsolidation to occur. And it was not essentially a cognitive experience- it was primarily emotional. As i said, the depression just melted away, and i felt that whatever happened, it was all going to be OK. This positivity required no effort whatsoever.

    Thats my spontaneous reconsolidation experience. I dont think it is remarkable, and probably just demonstrates the reconsolidation of ordinary everyday life. I dare say others have had similar experiences, and it would be interesting to hear of them.
    North Star likes this.
  18. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Thanks for the post. I think I am beginning to understand what you are saying. I took a lot of NLP training, at one time, and still use it informally with friends and family who are open to such things. It's been extremely successful at times and has never done any harm. But I'd more or less forgotten about the swish. I must go back and see if I can make it work for me.
  19. Dr James Alexander

    Dr James Alexander TMS author and psychologist

    njoy- i think i know what you are referring to as the 'swish'. Certainly, some NLP processes are prime candidates for reconsolidation experiences. In my book, i refer to 'cognitive control training', which is just the name that a particular psychologist has given to a lot of these processes, such as NLP ones. His PhD research was on using these with PTSD, and he found them to be effective- this suggests reconsolidation has occurred.
  20. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Warning: GORE ALERT!

    Still reading? Long before I formally studied NLP I used to gather up whatever anxiety I was having and roll it up into a tight little ball which I pitched over the nearest mountain. At first, it eventually regained consciousness, and began to slowly crawl back to me. So I had a bear gobble it up, slowly digest it, and poop it out. Worked a treat!

    Today, I had a series of computer glitches and felt an anxiety attack coming on. I quickly related it to one of the many times my little girl was bullied and rushed by my father, something that always threw me into a fit of panicked incompetence. My adult self grabbed the bastard, gutted him like a fish, and threw him overboard where some very pleased sharks swallowed the remains. Then I gathered up my baby and told her I will be looking after her from now on!

    Now I am yawning like crazy.

    Would that be an example of reconsolidation?

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