PTSD Academy Podcast

When Healers Feel the Wounds

Episode 009: Surviving Life as Level-III Empath.

In coming episodes you’ll hear more about the physical components of how a body with PTSD eventually burns our early causing some predictable clinical syndromes. For now, we will focus on what an “empath” is. Even if you are not an empath or a “sensitive person”, there are many in our world and you won’t fully grasp what PTSD is until you understand how a group of people different than you experience the world.

What is a Level-III Empath?

  1. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone.
  2. Empathy is sharing the suffering with them in a compassionate way.
  3. Being an empath means that you actually feel what the suffer feels. Not only to you sympathize but your empathy is experience in your body. Bodily sensations of pain, anxiety, tension and tightness build whenever you’re around certain people or think about certain things. If this sound like you, you’re probably an empath and you should get yourself educated about what you can do about it. Judith’s book was a great start for me though quite a bit of it still sounds off the wall, so I create courses now in PTSD Academy to teach people how to heal from PTSD that are empaths.

Surviving life as a Level-III Empath

Two significant experiences led me to my current view on the “chemistry” between people and being an empath. The first happened when I was in psychiatry residency, I was surprised by the number of grandparent who were letting their children and grandchildren be disrespectful to them. None of the books or classes had prepared me for how to think about this problem, much less what to do about it. So, like I was trained to do, I did my own research and found a book titled Setting Boundaries with your Adult Children, by Allison Bottke that helped open my eyes to generational enabling behaviors. I was already familiar with enabling from Al-Anon, but somehow this was different.

The second experience was the physical tension, stress, and pain I felt when I first started doing PTSD work. It seemed like the client’s energy was transferred over to me and I began to listen closer to my friends that talked about “releasing” unwanted energy. That’s when my Amazon search led me to Judith Orloff’s book, The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People.  Sensitive people? When did I become a sensitive person?

Self-Care Redefined

So what are we really saying here? If you accept that you are affected by other's energy, than you can decide to learn what to do about it. See, in the background of the always distracting PTSD are some things you're supposed to be doing for yourself anyway - like continuing to grow up and be responsible.

The Four Adult Tasks of Intimacy

  1. Helping Others.
  2. Receiving Care.
  3. Negotiating one's own needs. Advocating for one's self.
  4. Feeling comfortable going your own way when you know it's right.

If you, or someone you know, suffers from the energy they absorb working with PTSD survivors, join PTSD Academy to learn tips and strategies for your to set energetic (and physical) boundaries!

“New Age” Healings for PTSD: A Sign of the Times

Episode 008. Ten or 20 years ago, you never could have convinced my undergraduate Biology professors, my allopathic medical school faculty, or my Emergency Medicine or Psychiatry attending physicians that I’d be writing about energy healing and metaphysical topics on a blog. To this observation I say, Welcome to Episode 8".

Mainstream Western Medicine Leaves Out 'Healing'

My academic life had been unusual only because it began while I was in the Army stationed in Germany in the late 1990’s. A few years later I was out of the Army and in school full time through the University of Texas, Texas A&M Health Science Center, and Baylor Scott & White’s educational systems. It wasn’t my fault that those experiences groomed me to think that modern medicine and the scientific formula had all the answers. My attitude out of training was simple: “If they didn’t mention it in my training, it must be inconsequential.” When I was in the mainstream, I never asked “Where is this stream going?”

Reiki Energy Healing Now Widely Accepted for PTSD

Imagine my surprise when, what I thought were New Age, energy healing was being used by the US military. Since then, I’ve read books like The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy, by Cyndi Dale. The particular book is the text book for the local Reiki class. Again, I found that my college chemistry, physics and biology classes had not prepared me to learn that there are at least two ways that people communicate “telepathically” that isn’t quazi-spiritual at all. We emit an electromagnetic frequency (EMF) that others can detect. Also, the variability of the pause between our heartbeats creates an EMF pattern that is detectable by other human brains. “Chemistry” between people, as it turns out, has a lot more to do with quantum physics.

Generally speaking, there is mainstream science knowledge I was taught in college, medical school, Emergency Medicine internship, and 4-year psychiatry residency. I was really ignorant about acupuncture, yoga, meditation for anything other than sobriety, reflexology, and Reiki energy healing. By “healing”, I mean supporting the body’s self-healing mechanisms.

If Hypnosis is Metaphysical, EMDR is Not.

The closest I got to any form of metaphysical therapy was a one hour, informal lecture on hypnosis. We were 4 residents and a teacher chatting about a few bullet points on a printout, which we were not required to read. The meeting actually contained about 15 minutes of educational value. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was also taught but has a more CBT flair.

Now, I don’t expect my allopathic medical school to devote the time and resources to teaching these subjects in any great detail. What I can say is that reading The Subtle Body and watching the documentary I AM left me feeling lied to and cheated.

What I’ve discovered since then is that there are dozens of modalities that PTSD survivors use successfully to self-regulate after serious trauma. I teach many of them personally in PTSD Academy, where we join mainstream folks with holistic, ancient therapies into the same room, looking at a common operating picture of health.

Peripherally-Related Energy Healings

  1. Somato-Respiratory Integration
  2. Reiki Energy Healing
  3. Trauma and Tension Releasing Exercise
  4. Traditional Massage
  5. Chiropractic Care
  6. Reflexology: visit www.ARCB.net to look up a Board-Certified reflexologist in your area.
  7. Prayer and the laying on of hands
  8. The Emotion Code
  9. Freedom Tapping Technique
  10. Tai Chi
  11. Acupuncture
  12. Mindfulness Meditation

References and Documentaries for PTSD Healing

Faith in PTSD Recovery

And now for the “sign of the times” reference in today’s title. Many of the Unitarians and Pre-tribulationist Christians I know believe that mankind is in the biblical “end times”. If you follow their logic, it really changes the commentary on what we may be witnessing happen as this revolution against traditional psychotherapy unfolds.

"End Times" Spiritual Healing

There are a couple of monumental biblical references that support such a view. Taken together, they posit that what we are witnessing is God’s Spirit being poured out on all mankind (Acts 2:17). So those in the energy healing, or even marginalized or fringe groups open to spiritual matters, as well as the Church, are experiencing an awakening accompanied with signs and miracles. Unfortunately, Jesus said many will say to me in that day “Lord, Lord. I cast out demons in your name.” But Jesus will say “Get away from me. I never knew you. (Matthew 7:21-23)” Therefore, one must be careful to keep one’s faith, history, archaeology straight and recognize that spiritual healing may be making a comeback.

THE END

The next episode is #9 titled When Healers Feel the Wounds: Surviving Life as a Level-III Empath.

The Ugly Truth about Prolonged Exposure: A Case Study in Medical Ethics

Episode 007: Assuming you don't believe that that past 100 years of psychotherapists were actually trying to cause harm to patients, you'll soon better understand how mental health interventions are a double-edged sword. History demonstrates that the Law of Unintended Consequences applies here.

Before we get into the weeds in prolonged exposure, let's first start off by discussing unintended consequences of a psychotherapy for PTSD that I actually do like and agree with - Cognitive Processing Therapy. Now, I'm putting references here so that you can follow the research trail for yourself if you need proof to show to your circle of influence.

In CPT, there are a couple of writing assignments at the beginning: The Impact Statement followed by the Trauma Account. As opposed to Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy does this brief, one-session account of the details of what actually happened during the trauma. The intent is to use the information explicitly during later stuck point work. The knowledge in that situation was worth it, we thought, to expose the patient to the anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks and sometimes depression and relapse with substances of abuse - all related to having to tell their story. For them, they are re-living it. Because they are.

No Trauma Account Needed in PTSD Therapy

  1. Resick 2015. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) without a trauma account written by the PTSD patients versus group present-centered therapy.

Many years later, we finally start asking the question - do we really need to do the trauma account? Here? Now? What if we do everything else in CPT, but leave that part out? Guess what they found. That's right, the reliving of every excruciating detail of the trauma wasn't necessary to relieve the suffering and improve quality of life! The lesson isn't that I instinctively didn't like the trauma account meetings I attended in training where veterans went through every detail. My resistance wasn't personal for me, for my ECS was not yet totally out of balance. I could handle and cared passionately for the work I was doing.

I was ok. No, the problem was I saw the torment through their eyes and their bodies were reliving it. We were doing this to them. And we still are - today. Just because a paper comes out that says we don't have to doesn't mean people stop the harm overnight. Of course, I firmly believe in an individualized treatment plan and this here is not medical advice per se. Trauma Accounts should be done on a case-by-case basis where the patient has every bit of informed consent as what I'm presenting in the entirety of this podcast, not having simply signed an informed consent piece of paper.

There are many options for PTSD symptom relief

Those that need body-based approaches are largely ignored by mainstream psychiatry. However, a few techniques have made it into the halls of military facilities for post-war reset programs. Acupuncture, Reiki energy healing, mindfulness meditation are good, but they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to different types of techniques that will work. If you ask me, I think the clinical scientists today are waiting a bit too long for randomized trials with the underlying science has already been worked out to show how similarly body-based techniques really work the same way.

For example, massage, acupuncture, putting your hand on a sore spot, using a heating pad, and a doing a hot water soak all do the exact same thing to a bruised elbow - they increase capillary blood flow, tune up the nervous system responses, and literally help move electromagnetic field waves stuck in various parts of the torso and extremities. Massage is no different than weight lifting for the Endocannabinoid Receptor System and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor - both of which depend on healthy nutrition, sleep, and quality of life balance. That's called rest, folks!

The Ugly Truth about Prolonged Exposure

In episode 3, I discussed the generalization of the fear-based response to threat. Well, Prolonged Exposure can be quite traumatic itself. The median number of follow up appointments once PE was explained was one. This means more than half of patients refuse to participate. Those statistics were left out of the effectiveness data when this approach was used for every type of PTSD. Many of the patients that do PE have a significantly worse quality of life for weeks afterwards.

The strategy of Prolonged Exposure is to get you more physically and emotionally calm when recalling memories or being triggered of your past in real life. The tactic is to have your write out the specific details of your worst trauma in excruciating detail. Then, read it out loud repeatedly during your psychotherapy” session. The hope is that by exposing yourself to the painful memories in a safe environment that the calmer feeling will persist. Suffice is to say that I’ve seen countless PE patients do worse, but have also had some say it helped them.

Caregiver Resource for PTSD

Therefore, I feel it’s best used in specific phobia-type circumstances after full disclosure on a case-by-case basis. I have trouble coming up with a good example of when to use it, but that’s just my professional opinion and the approach to my practice. I simply disagree with it being systematically rolled out for the masses to accept as a top 20 therapy for PTSD. That’s right in the courses at PTSD Academy, I teach how to use more than 20 approaches better than PE. I wrote more about Prolonged Exposure in my book The Warrior Class: Caregiver’s Guide to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Available at http://www.lulu.com/shop/daniel-williams/the-warrior-class-caregivers-guide-to-posttraumatic-stress-disorder/paperback/product-22999335.html).

Unfortunately, I think the real problem with PE isn’t PE itself. It’s a problem of some counselors that don’t foster and teach about felt safety to patients. That’s why the courses at PTSD Academy first teach felt safety. The only way to change this culture is from within with true leadership and the fairest conceptual frameworks we can find that actually work. When we work together to study the right outcomes, we can better understand the cultural problems behind PTSD and begin to prevent it. In order to do that, I need to also introduce you to other critical tasks of adult maturation.

Four major areas of adult maturity:

  1. Helping others.
  2. Receiving care from others.
  3. Negotiating one’s needs.
  4. Feeling comfortable with autonomous decisions.

This is a bit shorter episode, but reason I created The PTSD Blueprint in the first place is to get my ideas out to you to try and help. The only way you can put my messages into proper perspective is to know the type of psychiatrist and person that I am. Hence, my dislike of PE was important to include up front.

Moral Injury and Healing the Whole Self

Episode 006: Learn how to balance growth in the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional parts of ourselves. Going forward, each dimension will be pointed out during podcasts interviews and such. You will be able to search for future podcasts by the Wordpress tags on www.PTSDacademy.com. Now let’s get started… Annihilation Threat Injury Annihilation Threat Injury…
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Self-Sabotage: A Harbinger of All Things Bad

Episode 005: The Bottom Line Up Front is this: If you believe you deserve to succeed you will not self-sabotage. Shame is Self-Induced While that sounds simple on face value, the reasons behind low self-esteem come in infinite combinations. While helping a friend write a grant proposal for a non-profit, I developed a tool that…
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Trauma Secrets are the Enemy of Freedom

Episode 004: At the moment of a trauma, the victim’s voice is squashed. Their will and choice is taken. Recovery involves finding your voice, but PTSD likes to keep people living in fear and suffering from their secrets. My challenge here in Episode 004 is to demonstrate a degree of my own authenticity so as…
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What is PTSD? (part 3/3) Hypervigilance and Fear-Based Living

Episode 003: Welcome to the third part of our three part series on “What is PTSD?” You may have run across websites that list the symptoms don’t begin to touch on what it’s really like to have PTSD. We’ll continue this exploratory series on different traits that people wind up with that predict response to…
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What is PTSD? (part 2/3) Insomnia and the Effects of Stress

Episode 002: Previously, we discussed the negative impact of stress on the brain. Specifically, we looked at how chronic increases in adrenaline and cortisol shrink the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex areas of the brain. This negatively affects stress tolerance and the formation of new memories. In today’s episode, we’ll examine the components of success or…
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What is PTSD (part 1/3) PTSD Symptoms and Intimate Relationships

Episode 001: Hello world! My name is Elias Diam, MD, but folks know me as Doctor Dan. Welcome to the PTSD Academy Podcast!! In today’s episode, we will cover the DSM-V criteria, trust, what I call “the Big Three” (PTSD, Major Depression, and Insomnia), and the importance of a safe partner during trauma recovery. A…
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Normal Post Traumatic Symptoms

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Trauma and the Nuclear Family The pain and frustration of practically any type of loss, pain or trauma come home to roost. Intimate relationships can suffer, isolation and alienation set in, and if embarrassment is allow to take hold, trauma can drive a wedge between the closest of family members. It's as if the trauma…
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