THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION :
We have seen how the experience of significant and protracted childhood trauma increases our risk of developing both serious psychological and physical problems as adults – e.g. see the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.
Therefore, therapies for those who, as adults, are suffering the effects of childhood trauma – in the most serious cases in the form of cPTSD (complex posttraumatic stress disorder) – include not only treatments for the mind, but also ones for the body. (And, because the mind and body are interconnnected, treatments for the body will also, to varying degrees) benefit the mind.
THE FIGHT/FLIGHT/FREEZE STATE :
If we have grown up in an environment in which we were frequently made to feel afraid or threatened (physically, psychologically or both) it is possible the early physical development of our brain has been disrupted in such a way that now, as adults, we find ourselves perpetually, tense, anxious and hypervigilant, or, in other words, continuously in the fight/flight/freeze state.
One result of this is that it can cause us to store up a vast amount of physical and muscular tension.
EXCESSIVE AND CHRONIC TENSION IN THE PSOAS (‘Fight or Flight’) MUSCLE :
A main location in the body where muscular tension accumulates is called the PSOAS muscle (sometimes also referred to as the ‘fight or flight‘ muscle ; it connects the lumber spine to the legs.
It is sometimes called the fight/flight muscle because when we feel threatened, anxious or fearful, or in response to significant loss, it becomes energized in preparation to assist us with the actions of running away or fighting.
And, if, during childhood, we have frequently been in the fight/flight state this muscle may have become perpetually tensed up to the extent we have habituated to this feeling of tension to such a degree that we no longer register it as abnormal; notwithstanding this, it is an indication that we are still being adversely affected by painful emotions linked to our traumatic childhood (if only on an unconscious level).
TRAUMA RELEASE EXERCISES (TRE) :
Bercelli, PhD, devised six trauma release exercises designed to alleviate this stored muscular tension. The idea is that the tension is released by a ‘muscular shaking process’ known as ‘neurogenic tremors’ and its purpose is rid us of our deep-seated, chronic, early life trauma-related bodily tension.
RESOURCE : You can learn much more about TRE by visiting Dr Bercelli’s website – click here.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).