OK. This – is awesome!!! Treat yourself to these slightly under eight minutes in order to see living proof of how incredibly hard it is to unlearn something embossed in your neural pathways and try to relearn it in a different way! I’m now consciously taking this example totally out of context in order to illustrate how cognitive-behavioral therapy or dialectic behavioral therapy with patients of PTSD are almost destined to fail. “It’s as easy as riding a bike, you’ll never forget how to ride a bike”. We all heard this saying before. This movie proves how profound the concept behind this saying actually is. It’s even more profound and spot on when your neural pathways have been trained to respond to fear in a heartbeat – over and over and over again. Think about the fear response system in survivors of PTSD as an ultra-strong muscle: You’ve been going to the gym for years on end, going from the smaller weights to the middle range ones and ultimately to the very heavy lifting. And you’ve been doing this for years and years and years. What’s the result? You’re likely to have become your own version of the “Incredible Hulk”. The brain is no different in that regard: It strengthens those neural pathways that get the most exercise. And now some treatments expect us to “reprocess” those patterns that got almost literally set in stone from reliving traumatic situations by way of getting triggered any number of times? Ridiculous!
I’ve always felt that these concepts are poorly designed to say the least – and coming from people, who simply fail(ed) to have a good understanding of what trauma actually does to a person. I feel corroborated on this “gut instinct” of mine. (I put it in quotes, because it is less of a gut instinct, but rather the – rather bitter, disillusioned – conclusion after so many failed attempts at any number and shape of conventional therapy I’ve undergone earlier in my life…).
Until learning of Rachel Hope and her story and her stunning case and recovery I had become more and more sceptical that events so profound that they impact your entire being from the ground up can be healed. I had rather been leaning towards a burgeoning assumption that dramatic events – particularly when happening very early, e.g. in infant ages – rather leave irreversible outcomes. Luckily not! So the good news is: You can be healed 100% from very unfortunate events in your past life! But it takes almost equally dramatic healing approaches in order to give the brain an opportunity to be relieved from outcomes of drastic events in a person’s life that sort of “switched” their nervous system into ongoing survival mode, which it can’t snap out of by itsself or by approaches that hinge on the prefrontal cortex as a prime lever for change. According to Rachel’s story, her recovery happened by way of a dramatic reset of the brain in that she set out on rewiring those brain areas that stored the traumatic content.
Anyway. I wish, all CBT/DBT therapists made this small video a must-see content of their education. I don’t mean to say that CBT/DBT can’t have good effects in regards to a person’s concept of self and other, emotional issues. But I’ve always felt it’s just not the appropriate angle to come from when actually an entirely different area of the brain – the fear response system, the amygdala etc. – is at the root of the problem. To me, it always sounded like fighting a giant fire with a water gun …
But apart from all that and if for no other reason – it’s still an educating and as such entertaining little clip. Enjoy!