1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

Derek S. TMS and trauma

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by North Star, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    That is just awesome, Walt. Love it. And that other friend…..his loss! It is a sad fact that many people can't handle reconciliation. The ego holds many fine people hostage.
  2. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    I don't mull over this a lot but the question pops up every time I read a new book and trauma is mentioned. (In this case, Dr. David Clarke's book, "They Can't Find Anything Wrong" and "The Body Keeps the Score" by Dr. Van der Kolk.)

    I was in a horrific car accident when I was 17. Many of my TMS symptoms were attributed to this since I had a fractured skull and vertebrae, among other injuries. (The pain issues didn't start until well over a year later - when my sister was dying.) My doctor said it was a miracle I survived.

    I have no memory of the accident other than some later blurry memories of when they stuck the chest tube in the ER. (Yeeeeow!) My friend, who was in the car was horribly traumatized by it…her injuries were non life threatening and she had nightmares for years over it.

    Even though I have no conscious memory of the event, could this be a contributing factor in my TMS?
  3. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Hey North Star,

    I suppose that the short answer to your question is "yes." It could be a contributing factor to your TMS.

    Now here is the long answer...

    While trauma and the emotions related to a trauma can play a role in your TMS, the real question for me is how much utility there is in trying to figure out how it is contributing and to what extent.

    Traumatic injury can create learned neural pathways, or "pain pathways," which exist in perpetuity. The physical trauma can create "grooves" in your brain that can be reactivated during times of stress. Case in point; your pain symptoms not becoming prominent for you until you were going through a stressful time over a year after your accident.

    Although trauma can play a role in TMS pain, I see far too many people falling into the trap of trying to figure out the exact event or repressed memory/emotion that is causing their symptoms.

    If you feel that it is important to work through the trauma, do so with the belief that you will get better whether or not you uncover something dramatic that has been eluding you. In my opinion, it is most important (and therapeutic) to focus on your emotions in the present, be they related to current issues or past dynamics or trauma.

    I would imagine that there was a time when the car accident was something that caused you a great deal of fear and uncertainty about your physical health. Do not allow the knowledge of the accident to create a similar amount of fear and uncertainty about your emotions. It is just another vessel for fear and preoccupation.

    Thanks for the excellent question!


    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    mike2014 likes this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, North Star. Derek sure has given you some good advice.
    For many people, dwelling on trying to learn the cause of a pain such as trauma from an accident can be stressful.
    I would "just" believe your symptoms are from TMS and not spend time worrying about why.

    It seems logical to me that if pain didn't start immediately after the auto accident but began a year later when your sister was dying,
    the pain is TMS. Could it have to do with your relationship with your sister, or maybe grief from losing her, and maybe even anger with
    yourself that you think you may not have been there enough for her, during your lives or when hers was threatened?

    But again, if thinking about all that is stressful, try just forgiving her and yourself in a general but total way. Let love heal you.

    Happy New Year!
  5. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    "Let love heal you"….truer words were never spoken, sweet Walt. Thank you.

    Derek, thank you so much for your reply. I really don't give it too much thought though that accident was pinned as being the etiology behind all the aches and pains…that I now know is TMS. I really don't know if I feel a tug to explore that at all….like I mentioned, I get curious when the question pops up reading something. I'm really trying to just rest that, as I continue to practice mindfulness and staying present, things will surface when they are ready to. (Or not! ;) )

    I do think having my memory of the event blocked out has been a blessing more than anything. I remember my dad was concerned about lingering anxiety about driving after the accident but not having any memory, driving just wasn't a big deal. (Until flash forward 30 years - panic attacks while driving which may or may not been triggered by the accident. Thankfully, I have overcome that through deep breathing and other mindfulness.)

    Thanks again, Derek. I am always SO grateful for the time and expertise you therapists give so freely here. Bless you!
    Derek Sapico MFT and mike2014 like this.
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    A longtime friendship with a college buddy ended a few years over differences in our politics.
    He stopped contact with me. I just phoned him yesterday and he seemed very pleasantly surprised to hear from me.
    I didn't mention our political differences, just chatted pleasantly as if time and issues had not come between us,
    and we chatted and updated each other on our lives. It felt good for me, and I believe it did for him, too.

    Maybe I'll make such a call to others, although I emailed another friend with whom we had political differences
    and he hasn't replied. He didn't reply all last year when I did the same, so I guess he has settled in to a position of
    not forgiving or wanting to resume the friendship, which more too bad for him than for me. At least I made the effort.
    Some people can't handle reconciliation. They suffer for it.
    North Star and Derek Sapico MFT like this.

Share This Page