Sunday, March 29, 2015

Using EFT for asthma

Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many physical diseases. What causes the inflammation? Chronic stress, poor eating habits, poor gut health/flora, food allergies and intolerances, not enough good quality sleep, not enough exercise. Chronic inflammation plays a huge role in chronic conditions such as asthma.

We are going to address the emotional contributors (i.e. emotional stress) to chronic asthma in this article by using EFT. Keeping your stress levels to a minimum will really help your body to deal with excess inflammation and hopefully you will see big improvements in your overall health. We often make poor health choices because of emotional stress, so dealing with it first can help us eat better and exercise more. Have a go at answering the following questions. Write them down, you might be pleasantly surprised at the insights that you come up with.

In traditional chinese medicine, lungs are the seat of grief, so any unresolved sadness and grief you have will be worth taking a look at. The lung point is at the side of the thumb, try tapping this point continuously whenever you feel sad, and see if it helps you release the sadness/grief from your body.

What was happening in your life around the time, or just before, you developed asthma?

Have you had asthma since birth? What was your birth like? Were you wanted?

How does having asthma make you feel? For example, smothered, panicky etc?

How does it affect your breathing?

What does it stop you from doing in your life?

Are there any advantages to not having to do certain things because of your asthma?

How easy/comfortable is it for you to receive? This might seem like a strange question, but one of the most basic things we receive from life is the breath. How easy is it for you to take in a deep breath and feel nourished by it? 

Do you feel you deserve to be here? Again, just go with these questions and see what answers come up. You might be surprised and the answers might be well worth tapping on.

Do you want to be here?

Friday, March 20, 2015

The intimate link between trauma and dissociation

I believe that traumatic experience is different from trauma, it does not necessarily lead to what we call trauma. Browne (1990) defines trauma as “unexperienced experience” and I agree with this definition. For an experience to remain unexperienced, or for trauma to occur, dissociation has to be present, as it is the mechanism by which an experience remains unexperienced. This is why chronic or persistent dissociation always results in trauma.

Why does an experience remain unexperienced? Because it has overwhelmed our coping mechanisms, we can’t process or feel it, so, as Browne says “instead of a way of avoiding external danger, it [dissociation] is now utilised to deal with the threat of internal destabilisation; whenever we are faced with an overwhelming experience that we sense as potentially disintegrating, we have the ability to suspend it and “freeze” it in an unassimilated, inchoate form and maintain it in that state indefinitely, or for as long as necessary”.

An overwhelming experience can be an external (any type of abuse for example) or internal (the way we perceive or appraise an experience) threat. Therefore there is no such thing as an objective stressor, if the symptoms of trauma are present, and there are many, not just the obvious ones like PTSD, we can say that someone is traumatised.

Some have asked whether peritraumatic dissociation can lead to trauma. While it does not necessarily lead to trauma because it is usually a temporary response, the exception seems to be the involuntary tonic immobility response (more commonly known as the freeze response). Tonic immobility is a somatic dissociative response that protects against overwhelming threat that could result in death. If not discharged, this usually temporary response can also become persistent and chronic leading to trauma.

Some researchers have argued that tonic immobility is inherently traumatic (Bovin, 2011), however Levine (2010) disagrees. He believes that it is the coupling of tonic immobility with intense emotions such as fear that renders the response traumatic. In fact, this forms the basis for Levine’s theory of trauma. That said, some trauma sufferers report that the experience of tonic immobility has been very overwhelming for them.

For example not being able to call out for help or being rendered physically immobile can feel very helpless. Then there are the appraisals of these same behaviors, such as “I should have fought back” or “I am so ashamed I just lay there”, which can also be extremely traumatising. Some of the reasons for these responses may be that tonic immobility is not as widely known or understood as the flight or fight responses. So many may be confused and/or shocked when they become immobile and can’t do or say anything. We also seem to have lost or shunned our connection with our evolutionary past and instincts. Therefore, it can be difficult to understand and accept survival behaviours such as tonic immobility.

Culturally, many of us are taught to fight when faced with threat, so there is a lot of criticism for rape survivors for example if they haven’t fought back. In fact, many times the perpetrator might not even be prosecuted because evidence of a struggle was not found. It is any wonder then that this response is so misunderstood? Tonic immobility is also referred to as “passive resistance or avoidance” many times in the psychological literature which I think is a derogatory and superficial evaluation and could in fact give impetus to appraisals such as “I should have fought back” or “I’m weak and to blame”.

Have we simply lost the ability to experience and discharge tonic immobility because of the cultural cage we live in that disowns many, if not all, of our survival instincts, particularly those pertaining to the body? Animals in the wild freely discharge the enormous survival energy that the response generates without feeling fear, helplessness or shame, which also ensures their survival. Maybe we should (re)learn something from them?


Bovin, M.J., & Marx, B.P. (2011). The importance of the peritraumatic experience in defining traumatic stress. Psychological Bulletin, 137(1), 47–67.

Browne, I. (1990). Psychological trauma, or unexperienced experience. ReVision, 12(4), 21–34.

Levine, P.A. (2010). In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.