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XQUESTIONS & ANSWERS
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ABOUT EMOTIONAL SHOCK& TRAUMA...
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  • What makes an experience shocking?
    What determines whether an experience will be traumatic or shocking is a combination of the intensity (enormity) of the experience and the (in)adequacy of the defenses. An identical experience will be traumatic to some people, and shocking to others. The younger you are, the more likely an experience is to be shocking. Almost by definition, a trauma that occurs in the first trimester of gestation (rape conception, abortion attempt, loss of a twin, etc.) is likely to be shocking. A pregnant woman being in a car accident is more likely to be shocking to the baby early in pregnancy than later, and more likely to be shocking late in pregnancy than after birth, and more likely in infancy than childhood, etc.
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    One of the major factors in whether an experience is shocking is whether there been previous shocks. Having been shocked makes it much more likely that future traumas will be felt as shocks. Imagine a child of 2 months who is left with a foster mother. If that baby had a conscious conception, was wanted, had an uneventful pregnancy, easy birth and good bonding with parents after birth, he/she is much less likely to experience a stay with foster parents as a shock than a baby who had a conflictual conception, was unwanted, and had a difficult pregnancy, complicated birth, and poor bonding with parents after birth.
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    Traumas tend to be experienced along what Stan Grof calls coexes, or themes (think of guitar strings). Traumas are organized along these themes so that a rejection in elementary school will activate the feelings of previous "rejection" experiences, such as a rejection in childhood and the perceived rejection at birth for being the 'wrong' sex. However, that rejection in elementary school will not activate the grief coex or sexual abuse coex which threads through a different set of experiences. Each person has a different set of coexes, depending on their own traumatic experiences. Each coex (imagine a guitar string) will vibrate when stimulated, but one string’s vibration does not cause the other strings to vibrate (except in the most subtle way).
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    Shock, however, is not divided by themes. Every shock activates the whole shock pool - so every shock activates every previous shock, at the level of the most severe shock ever experienced.
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  •  What are some examples of traumatic/shocking experiences and their long-term effects?
    William Emerson, Ph.D., has written extensively on the long-term emotional effects of birth trauma, and a variety of ways we recapitulate unresolved traumas in the present. Below are a few examples to briefly illustrate how traumas and shocks occur and affect us in the long term.
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    It is possible to experience a trauma or shock at any stage of development. Many people experience traumas or shocks at significant events - such as embodiment (entering the physical world), as an egg leaving the ovary and being fertilized, as a sperm struggling to reach and fertilize the egg, as a fertilized egg during the journey to and implanting in the uterus, when the pregnancy is discovered by the parents, and during the many different stages of birth. Here are a few examples of specific traumas or shocks at some of these significant events.
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    Many people experience their embodiment (leaving the world of spirit to come into a body) as extremely painful. One recapitulation of this is an intense reluctance to leave home or undertake an unknown adventure. Another is feeling expelled or cast out. A trauma at this stage of development (pre-conception) is almost guaranteed to be shocking because there are no defenses against it. People who have been shocked in this way usually turn away from spirit - they have difficulty meditating or praying, and have no sense of relationship (or have only a hostile relationship) with spirit (or the Divine, or God, etc.). A small percentage of people who are wounded in this way take refuge in spirit - and can use their spirituality as an escape from the pains of the world. It is common for people to feel a sense of divine exile or divine homesickness.
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    If you experienced, as a fertilized egg, a traumatic journey through the fallopian tube (possibly due to the body of your mother being toxic or averse to becoming pregnant), you might have a chronic sense of urgency in your actions - a sense of 'I have to hurry, I have to rush' or a feeling of being driven to go. A similar feeling can result from a sperm's trauma - such as feeling ready to go but being thwarted when ejaculation was delayed for some reason.
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    As sonograms and ultrasound technology come into wider use, it is becoming clear that more single-birth pregnancies begin as multiple conceptions than we ever thought - up to 10% (not 70% as widely reported). It is not known yet why or how one conceptus fails to develop while the other succeeds. People who experience the loss of a twin during pregnancy share various scenarios. In some cases, the mother attempted to abort the pregnancy and succeeded in eliminating one child, unaware that there was another who survived. In other cases, there was a close bond between the two babies and one chose to leave for reasons such as:
    I just wanted to be with you for a while; will see you later.
    There’s not enough love/care/attention/room for both of us, so I'll leave.
    I changed my mind (for whatever reason) and am going back on our agreement to come here together.
    In some cases, the relationship is antagonistic. Many surviving twins report pervasive and intense feelings of guilt for having caused the death of their twin or have a sense of betrayal and abandonment from the twin's choice to leave. This often manifests in extreme difficulty trusting others and achieving intimacy. Many have a deep sense of longing and spend a lifetime searching for a soulmate to replace that relationship - often through a series of marriages or relationships.
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    The field of cellular consciousness has opened up a new therapeutic realm working with experiences during events surrounding conception. Physical movement patterns have been noted in people who are working with cellular memories. Regardless of culture, age, therapy experience or familiarity with the subject matter - they tend to exhibit similar body movements and report similar causal experiences for the movements. If you are interested in more information on this, see the Cellular Consciousness paper which is included in Additional Readings section.
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  • How can you tell if you've been traumatized or shocked?
    There are many typical symptoms in people who have experienced emotional shock. For a more complete listing, check out the checklist of Physical and Emotional Signs of Unresolved Shock in Adults and Children/Infants.
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  • How can you tell the difference between trauma and shock?
    There are tests you can take (such as the Adrenal Stress Index) which measure the bio-active stress hormones in your body - and this closely correlates with shock. There are also other indications, including extreme pallor or redness (particularly in the face); being out of normal range in various physical characteristics such as blink rate, heart rate, blood pressure; and a lack of presence (most easily detected by others; hard to spot in one’s self).
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    It is possible to palpate the energy in the various bodies (physical, causal, supercausal, etheric, etc.) of a client and read various trauma and shock vectors (patterns) or sites.
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    There are two characteristics that I have seen most often among people who have a lot of emotional shock:
    • One is a strong interest in or resonance with the concepts when they first hear about emotional trauma and emotional shock. Many shocked people are intuitively drawn to treatment for shock, often without being able to explain why.
    • The other is difficulty in shifting stubborn patterns in spite of doing good, deep, effective emotional healing work. When a client has done good work, gotten a lot of relief, and over time stops making progress, it is likely that he/she has been successful treating their trauma, but not gotten the treatment that the shock needs.
  • How do you treat emotional trauma and emotional shock?
    The good news is that not every emotional trauma or shock has to be treated. There are key emotional wounds that must be worked with - but not every experience must be dealt with directly. So, the awareness that emotionally painful experiences at any age may be recapitulations of earlier experiences can drastically shorten the time required to heal. Our bodies and our unconscious are highly skilled at protecting us from emotionally painful experiences until we are ready to deal with them. There is a basic peeling the onion approach to treating emotional wounds which allows us to be as efficient as possible, and still respect the innate healing pace of each individual.
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    The true healer is love and our techniques just allow us to get inside to the place where the love needs to go. So, whether we use the breath, movement, art, dream work, sandplay, massage or other techniques - the goal is always to go inside to the places where we are wounded, and then support in whatever way is necessary the natural healing process.
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    With adults working on emotional trauma, I use a variety of techniques (depending on the interests of the clients) including breath, movement, guided visualization, art, journaling, intuitive imagery, mindfulness, and dream work. Regardless of HOW we get there, the objective is always to go inside and tell the deepest truth(s) possible. We invite the help and support of whatever resources the client brings - including the unconscious, loving family/friends, subpersonalities, guardian angels, the higher self, spirit guides, and totem animals. I support and encourage the complete expression of all feelings in ways that are safe for the client, me and our physical surroundings. Only when feelings are accessed and released can the energy shift. The freeing of stuck energy allows change - often quite easily.
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    When clients are dealing with shock, I work with them to create a situation in the present that supports them in exploring their shock in a peeling the onion approach - going back in time from the most recent shock to earlier experiences - and providing appropriate treatment for each situation. This treatment can include reparenting, empowerment, developing appropriate (and healthier) defenses, interrupting and repatterning the shock physiology, resourcing, reprogramming dysfunctional belief systems and more. Because people who have been emotionally shocked are deeply wounded around trust, the work proceeds slowly to allow genuine contact at those most wounded levels, which allows true healing to occur.
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    Of course, working with babies and children requires a completely different set of non-verbal techniques. (I will do my best to elaborate on this at a later time. Stay posted.) Yes, even babies as young as a few days old can be very effectively treated for their birth and pre-natal traumas! And, people who receive treatment early, develop free of those emotional constraints and  are remarkably self assured, self possessed, creative, and connected. In fact, children treated in infancy or childhood end up breaking many of the norms of normal childhood development. It is obvious that most of what we consider normal development is based on children who carry a lot of emotional wounding. Because of this, treatment of babiees is one of the most exciting areas of treatment of shock!
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    The Future of Treatment
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    The whole field of treating emotional shock - and the recognition of shock as a separate category of wounding and treatment - is still developing. The pioneers and their trainees are doing this work on people who have already done a lot of trauma work, and now just need to have their shock healed. The next generation of clients will receive treatment from therapists who know about both trauma and shock, and will receive concurrent treatment. So, as this trauma-treated but still shocked group of clients graduates, there will still be some refinement of treatment techniques to be done. Because the field is so new, there are few therapists trained in treating shock. Many of us in training are learning by doing - attending trainings with the various pioneers, working with each other on our own shock, and offering the treatment to clients - always knowing that in the process of working with shock we are still defining the landscape of this new realm of treatment.
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