The Trauma Lines Blog

Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

“Frontiers of Trauma Treatment”

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“Trauma disturbs the primal instinct of purpose,” writes Raymond Bokenkamp in his blog post titled “Restoring the primal instinct of purpose.” Bokenkamp — contributing author to — attended Bessel van der Kolk’s two-day workshop in Lenox, MA titled “Frontiers of Trauma Treatment.”

Mr. Bokenkamp would like to share what he learned from the workshop with our readers:

The later morning session was by Van der Kolk on the basics of trauma. His lecture was easy to understand and is based both on research as well as 30+ years of working with trauma patients.

His basic premise was that even though trauma may have happened in the past, it can still be present now [if] there is still attachment to it. The most effective way to release this trauma is through what Darwin called the “Pneumogastric Nerve”, where the heart, guts & brain come together for all animals including humans.

The attachment is important, because when trauma happens it’s not the extend that makes it a traumatic event it’s the attachment to the unresolved issue. His examples were that soldiers in Vietnam who took heroin had much less PTSD due to the non-attachment to the experiences while there (and since heroin addition is situational, the soldiers could relatively easily kick this habit). Another remarkable example was that the level of PTSD of NYC citizens that survived 911 was very low due to the fact that this community came together and was able to resolve the internal emotions as a group in a safe environment.

When trauma is not released, the animal, back part of the brain stays in constant flux and the person lives in what can be described as a state of nothingness. This is the same for animals. Trauma disturbs the primal instinct of purpose.

The solution is through the body since the central nerve to the visceral system comes from the gut. Motion is very important factor in releasing trauma as well as getting in tune with the body. In the end it’s about giving the brain tools to restore itself as well as the primal instinct of purpose. The problem with medicine is that it’s only a bandage and it’s effect decreases quickly as time progresses.

It was a great morning session. Bessal shared his adventures to South Afrika with Bishup Tutu and Nelson Mandela as well as other remarkable experiences from his professional life.

–Raymond [Bokenkamp].

Van der Kolk’s mention that soldiers in Vietnam who took heroin had fewer cases of PTSD coincides with a “provocative” study from the U.S. Naval Health Research Center.

Coming Up Next: Can Morphine Help Prevent PTSD?


Written by traumalines

January 14, 2010 at 10:02 pm

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