Conditions for Abreactions during Alpha-Theta Training and How to Handle Them
Dr. rer. nat. Uwe Gerlach, Germany
With the development of the classical spectral band neurofeedback, the alpha-theta training is its youngest branch, a kind of stepchild and supreme discipline. Few dare to work with it seriously. A kind of tacit reverence accompanies it and affects its reputation as a "bearer of secrets".
Therefore, its development has occurred only occasionally since the early nineties. Most of the time it "persisted" and remains still in hibernation. The best-known applications and further developments are the pioneering work in the Menninger Foundation and the Peniston-Kulkosky protocol. Up to this work with clients who had severe traumatic disorders, it was not known that the sliding down of the client/user may also be applicable for the processing of such personality disorders in the hypnagogic state. The useful application for healthy individuals for the purpose of the general increase in creativity, the stabilization of transient negative consequences induced by periods of chronic stress was already known, in particular mediated by the book of Alyce and Elmer Green "Beyond Biofeedback " .
Topic of this elaboration is to describe in detail how exactly a controlled workup of severe persistent disorders may function and what conditions must be met. As some of our readers know, there are experiences and systematic knowledge that come from other therapeutic (border) areas in psychotherapy, in particular the Arthur Janov „primal therapy“ and LSD therapy or the "holotropic breathwork", both of the latter were developped by Stanislav Grof. Many individual therapies of the two pioneers were so spectacular that their descriptions were not taken for serious by the usual media and scientific public. Most professionals have not believed and displaced them as crass individual cases which showed no systematic structure. However, their new therapeutic insights could no longer be ignored, when Janov`s and Grof`s books richly documented their cases and systematics and became thus known worldwidely. Their scientific quality also could therefore no longer be doubted. Until then, these case histories were relegated to the field of esotericism, dismissed as paranormal or assigned to the range of shamanism in ancient tribes, not belonging to normal science and thus no need to be taken seriously.
It is now here on demonstrating that the access to deeply into the brain engraved trauma is possible by alpha-theta training. The advantage of this is that trained therapists
can control access by EEG and
are able to define the boundary conditions which enable reliving of past events longtime ago in childhood or even before that caused the trauma.
these two core points, the EEG control and the structure of the boundary conditions give the alpha-theta training the seriousness that is necessary for the gradual dissemination of the proceedings into classical psychotherapy.
The general structure of A-T training is known and can be found elsewhere „googling“ the topic, it will not be discussed in further detail here. Getting into a possible phase of abreaction and other kinds of trauma consciousness formation is our core issue. We and our readers know from earlier work in scientific literature that this opportunity is given in general terms, if the "crossover" phenomenon in the EEG of the client appears visibly and is clear enough or in sufficient time visible length. It is to elaborate about what outer and inner psychological conditions must be met in the client's condition.
The trauma is „visible/definable“ to the expert, specialized and psychologically trained therapist. He/she must continue to approach the visibility/recognition by uncovering the usual, in the normal reality indispensable defense mechanisms of the client. These already are consciously and systematically weakened at the beginning of therapy or they had been weakened throughout the personal history of client. One can facilitate this process through repeated linger in the "crossover " state, but it is then more likely to be attributed to chance, if a direct memory takes place at the origin of trauma. The "crossover" state in general is no guarantee that the latter actually is taking place. It may well happen that by the deepening of the trance state during alpha-theta pendulum process, the actual main trauma continues to be "covered" and thus the opposite is achieved of what is intended.
It is essential that this phenomenon is understood and described in detail. There is much confusion about it, even among experts who deal with relaxation, hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Relaxation (muscle and mind) generally causes serotonin release, so it has a natural tranquilizer function. If the client/user realizes that he/she can provide relief in this way again and again, he is trying to establish this method for himself and expand the extent that the actual and necessary therapy for trauma release is "pushed back" and adjourned. In case of urgency a large branch of the pharmaceutical industry takes over and supplies artificial tranquilizers. Activating natural tranquilizers - the body's self-generated serotonin - or consuming artificial ones, the result is the same: the real problem is postponed - principle of repression. The same functional principle is well known since ancient times. It is valid for the consumption of all types of drugs causing addictive behavior, no matter whether they are of chemical origin or are generated endogeneously. If the individual is busy with his favourite pursuit passionately, in many cases addictive behaviour can be diagnosed. One must distinguish between two different types of body's serotonin, the first causing relaxation (muscular and mental) and those that lead to eustress. Both physiological phenomena must clearly be separated from each other, because only relaxation has no negative consequences. To make this very clear, I want to reiterate and emphasize. The favorite activity can result in addictive behaviour and a physical/physiological breakdown/burnout; relaxation, however, never .
The big "disadvantage" in artificial drugs is that they produce addictive behaviour and side effects. Analogue - and since the natural tranquilizers are qualitatively valuable for health - the latter also can lead - as already mentioned - to addiction and eventually with exaggerated application to fatigue phenomena (" burnout ").
These brief remarks clarify why natural relaxation is so important for the conduct of life, especially in the second half of life. It is difficult to learn, not an obvious addition of nature. The reason is easy to see: in the past, the life expectancy was about fifty years, today considerably higher, artificially created and raised by civilization gains since several centuries. It requires individual effort to become old and stay healthy today. It includes and pronounces the capability of deep relaxation. The current „zeitgeist“ has not understood that yet .
Let`s get back to our core issue: which are the conditions for a successful release of important trauma in the hypnagogic state of the alpha-theta crossover? What must be given that another "covering" of the main trauma is prevented?
It is of superior importance for the therapist to know the detailed stress biography of the client, in order to classify those events which caused a primary trauma – for example a high stress-level of the mother during pregnancy causing a lot of cortisol which penetrates the fetal system negatively and weakens the future immune system permanently. Let`s define a secondary trauma which gradually raises in adult life – a stressful unhappy marriage. The latter accumulates chronic stress over many years. Two types of stress, the first one imprinted into her/his neurophysiological system very early in life, no chance to release it until the ego defense mechanisms are weakened considerably in A-T therapy or even before.
I`d like to give a metaphor in order to clarify the stress history – the capability of the immune system to fight permanent stress/trauma. Primary stress (negative influence of perinatal or pregnancy-trauma) weakens the system and the ego defense mechanism up to an amount of 30 percent. So, she only has 70 % healthy vitality. Now, the chronic stress with her husband - permanent unconscious fear of him - takes another say 50 % of her capacity to deal with stress. At this point many people in similar stress situations demand for relaxing methods, mostly the usual weak or strong drugs or medication. If the character of the person is stable, another 20 % chronic stress are bearable. However, this already is a point near burnout symptoms to appear.
The defense mechanisms are weakened considerably and in the case of our protagonist, she may be lucky to find A-T therapy and begin the nearly only fruitful therapy to exist.
Here we have two conditions or even three to four to be fulfilled for a prosperous outcome:
the therapist knows the detailed stress history/biography of the client.
The defense mechanism and stress tolerance are at a minimum level
the client still has a stable and insightful character
use of drugs can/must be reduced totally
The merging of the personal stress history with the percentage model - primary perinatal stress and chronic stress in adult life with the husband - yields that the woman only has 20 % stress tolerance in order to accomplish her usual daily routine. As long as this individual system moves further continuously without major disturbances, it can deal with all the stress load. It experiences relief by daily "rewards" which produce serotonin gift, endogeneously and supplied from outside that give her daily well-being and adequate stress tolerance. However, the system goes on the brink of its capacity.
If now an additional extraordinary stress load is added - job loss, additional concerns about the children or sudden financial burden or the like, the tolerance is exceeded, and psychosomatic symptoms become apparent. The psychological defenses and her ego strength diminish considerably. She`ll tolerate this for a while suffering visibly, although the family cohesion is compromised and a self-reinforcing cycle of negative factors is set in motion. She does not comply with the stress dynamics and the family cohesion is breaking apart. One can display this overall dynamics very well in the context of chaos theory as a bifurcation diagram.
You read the chart from left to right on the timeline. Ervin Laszlo has defined it for a collective human system, but it also holds for a developmental stage of an individual. The initially dark blue wavy line is further left a straight line. For a long time the woman in our example has lived along this line. Her stress level has gradually, imperceptibly grown, subjectively she did not perceive this risk. From now, however, the everyday things and requirements get out of her control. Sometimes she reacts - especially dealing with her husband and the children - with tantrums or contracts depressed out of the responsibility. Her behaviour creates family life stress, husband and kids retreat. We are in the chart at the point "Now ".
The first bifurcation happens: In which way the woman will react to this challenge? Surrender to the dominance of stress, display problem avoidance like the rest of the family (cascade of crises), or does she recognize her problem and search for a reasonable solution. How might that look? The diagram displays two or three ways,
unconscious behaviour, passive in her resignation - the environment will „solve“ her problem or
the active, smart and constructive solution initiated by her better understanding
The two negative branches are not further discussed here. It happens everyday everywhere. Application of temporary rest, relaxation; covering the real problem by externally applied drugs, medications or overusing the body's own endorphin production by rewards of all kinds.
Which is the conscious way out of her beginning severe life crisis, how to achieve real lasting stress reduction and healing the woman? Good advice on this is not yet commonplace in today's world, though knowledgeable in all branches of life conduction and (neuro)-sciences. Our woman needs a little luck to meet someone who can help her with highly competent know how. In the usual therapeutic business one may "buy" a temporary relief at the incipient phase of suffering, but no permanent cure.
As we have previously discussed, the way is learning about natural relaxation. However, this is only the start of the positive and constructive way to cure, along the high-order branch in our bifurcation chart. Coming back to the metaphor of the percentage shares of stress. What is at stake now is not the reduction of chronic secondary stress, we had estimated to 50 and 70% respectively, but the "disposal" of the primary stress, which suggests to 30 % of full cost. The chronic everyday stress in principle cannot be removed, unless the woman activates a very special retreat strategy, such as an entry into a monastery, permanent meditation retreat or similar. A guarantee of significant stress reduction does not even exist in the latter case.
To eliminate this component permanently from the neurophysiological system of woman, there is a need of therapy, which is the core issue here. We want to describe this path in the ongoing chapter, the alpha-theta training, on two very different types as the royal road and show up a sound kind of "proof" that the woman has no other option. These two argumentation chains are
- the primal therapeutic approach, developed and proven for decades carried out by Arthur Janov,
- the theory and practice of " high-performance mind", developed and tested by Maxwell Cade and Anna Wise.
The Way of Primal Therapy
We chose an example of the emergence of the primary stress, which accounts for 30 % of the total stress, and lasting forever throughout her life: "A high stress level of the mother falling on pregnancy causing a lot cortisol which penetrates the fetal system negatively and weakens the future imune system permanently". The aim is therefore to eliminate this component from her neurophysiological system. From the discussion so far we deduct that this is only possible if her personal defense system is weakened in a natural way and controlled to the extent that the access to the primary trauma is much easier. The wife has even taken care for this condition unconsciously. She is caught in the perturbations, which are indicated in the bifurcation diagram next to the vertical axis (named „wars & depression“). Although this was not her intention, she actually is located in this area and a therapeutically competent, controlled, further weakening of her defense system is provided at the start of primal therapy and is a basic requirement. The Alpha -Theta training met at the beginning of therapy has the same purpose.
The mechanism of „gate control“ governs the dynamics and release of trauma – in short encapsulating original trauma energy and releasing part of it by weakening the gates. We are unable to explain the „gate control theory“ in its details, in this context. We recommend further reading of „The Biology of Love“. Arthur Janov interpreted the Ronald Melzack gate theory of pain and transferred it to brain dynamics concerning the process how the fetus neurobiologically handles various threatening events during pregnancy, here too much cortisol entering the fetal system. The fetus neurochemical balance is changed in a way that the immune system and the capability to react to chronic outer stress in adult life is permanently changed negatively, resulting in a low capability to fight illness, in low behavioural flexibility and resilience. Similarly he explains how the new infant reacts to manyfold disturbances during the perinatal phase. Finally, how the baby repels emotional deprivation in the first few years til consciously perceiving itself.
Janov adopts the gate control theory. He says that the lower old brain has a special mechanism which guarantees for survival reasons that in each case when the negative influence of neurochemicals, emotional pain and other sorts of threatening become too big, an automatic neuro-/physiological procedure sets in which shuts down a further input of the threatening event. Similarly in analogy to this process, be aware of the third choice of reaction of the amygdala in this context beside the fight/flight response: the „Opossum reflex“, shutting down any reaction to the threatening.
Now, if such threatenings are really big or persist during a longer timespan, we – as Janov suggests – arrive at a neurobiological „encapsulation“/neurochemical change of certain regions in the old brain which then develop into what we in psychotherapy define as trauma.
Such early trauma is very deeply imprinted into the psychophysiology of our wife and not accessible by usual psychotherapeutic methods. However, our wife is lucky and meets someone who is familiar in maverick methods and recommends primal therapy. This friend adds that in case she doesn`t find a competent practice (in her area), she should revisit him, he knows still another way how to solve her problem.
Primal Therapy is briefer but more intensive than other therapies. The patient begins by moving into a motel where he will remain alone for three weeks. He is not to distract himself with any tension-reducing devices such as television, radio, books, cigarettes, or the telephone. Instead, he will try to stay awake, restrict his food intake, and write in his journal. There will be daily sessions with his therapist usually lasting about two or three hours and a close relationship develops between them encouraging mutual trust. The therapist is emotionally supportive, non-judgmental, non-directive, and non-interpretive. He allows the patient to feel his own needs as they emerge and also to experience his own insights. He discourages any defensive behavior or avoidances.
There are many methods that lead to a primal and a good therapist is aware of them and tuned in to his patient so he can facilitate in an appropriate way. The basic posture is lying on one's back in a spread-eagled, wide open, vulnerable position. Breathing deeply and heavily and then allowing sounds to come out and become louder often produces a spontaneous regression into early traumas (Alexander Lowen). Rolling one's body back and forth and allowing it to flail about loosens up the body armor and can release feelings (Wilhelm Reich). Physical contact, either positive such as holding close and rocking, or negative such as holding down and wrestling, is very effective (Sandor Ferenczi). Massaging of muscular tensions or painful areas helps to focus awareness and may activate connected memories (Reich). Free association verbalizing can bring up painful memories to work with (Sigmund Freud). Fantasy plays a large part in dream work where the patient roleplays each part of his dream and guided fantasies are also utilized (Fritz Perls). The therapist encourages the patient to "sink into the feeling - keep going - let it flow" (Janov). Once the patient has learned to accept and allow his own feelings to surface, the therapist need only be there in a supportive role.
Research has been done in the last several decades on the functions of the two hemispheres of the brain and the connection between them, the corpus callosum. It has been found that in right-handed persons, the left side of the brain is the dominant side and is involved with analytic thinking, especially language and logic. The right hemisphere appears responsible for spatial orientation, artistic talents, body awareness.
There also was a phenomenon of a split-brain individual insisting "I am not angry", yet his tone of voice, facial expression and general body language indicate he is furious. This same "split" can be observed in a neurotic person whose brain is intact. As Janov states:
"In one sense neurosis can be considered a functional commissurotomy in which the integrating mechanisms of the corpus callosum are impaired. This leads to a key hypothesis: An overload of Primal Pain disrupts the smooth unifying functions within the brain and literally produces a split personality - someone with a non-integrated dual consciousness each part of which acts as an independent entity....The point about the split is that one side of our brain can be feeling something while the other side is thinking something very different. The split person can yell at you and not know why he is doing it, though he will manage to rationalize his acts and put the blame on others."
Janov believes there is/can be a vertical (between the two hemispheres) as well as two horizontal splits between the reptilian and limbic as well as between limbic brain and the neocortex. He says repression is a process of blocking or "gating" (see gate control above) in the brain to protect the organism from psychic pain. The primal method is simply stated as a system of learning to open the gate a little at a time to let out the stored pains and effect a connection between two parts of the brain. Feeling deep emotions in a primal can bring on instant insights and long forgotten memories and connect the present to the past. Gradually as the patient progresses in his therapy, he increases his ability to not only open the gate but to keep it open more and more thereby expanding his consciousness. His mind and body begin to integrate and physical symptoms brought on by the blocking diminish or disappear altogether.
Primals occur in varying intensities and types. A full primal is a complete feeling-thought-body experience accompanied by basic feelings such as need, anger, helplessness. The therapeutic value is in the completion of childhood scenes and making connections between these traumata and present-day neurotic symptoms or compulsive behaviors. Experiencing a partial primal is having pure feelings without accompanying memories, or the reverse, reliving or acting out memories devoid of intense feeling. These are also beneficial as they help to strengthen understanding of behavior. Sometimes the primal is incomplete because of the strength of the fear involved in feeling it fully. A residual tension and confusion might be left instead of relief. Because of the drive within the organism to complete the gestalt, patients find themselves compelled into working on that particular trauma until it is resolved, and that can take several months if it is powerful enough. There are primals related to the present where the person allows himself to lose control and be overwhelmed with emotion related to a current situation. Sometimes these will trigger similar feelings from the past and can be connected in a full primal way. It is important to feel primal joy as well as primal pain to help re-own the good parts of one's history and real self and occasionally this will happen in a positive primal. It might be a rather quiet, happy experience like a reverie, feeling Mommy's love, Daddy's strength, or re-living happy times from childhood. Or it can be an explosive breakthrough to an important realization with relief pouring out in tears and laughter at the same time.
A primal is a two-phase response pattern which starts with intense suffering and a sympathetic nervous system crisis. The first phase is a crescendo of involuntary panic during which one cries or screams in agony. This reaches a peak and is abruptly followed by a parasympathetic recovery phase. A the start of the second phase, one has a vivid re-experience of an early-life painful event, the recall is total and organismic. The recalled memory is typically visual, but any or all of the sensory modalities may be included in the re-experience. At the end of a completed primal, one is slightly euphoric, very lucid, and profoundly calm.
A rather spectacular primal is reliving the final stage of ones`s own birth. Leaving the oceanic feeling of being absolutely sure and embedded the fetus moves toward through a small tight channel, the client reliving fight and despair as well as a phase of agony. The client experiences the end phase of moving forward through the channel of mother mouth into a new world of unknown freedom and new risks. The last stage of fetus movement is accompanied by heavy waves of pressure running along the body. Having finished this reexperience, the client is absolutely sure that this was his own conscious reliving of his/her birth without any doubt. Stanislav Grof (holotropic breathwork) has described such birth experiences in all its details and a reports a broad spectrum of reliving adventures with hundreds of clients in his books.
Watch this youtube-video for vivid performances of such adventures, reliving traumatic episodes, at the end of the video:
It's now pretty unlikely that our woman will find the way of the primal therapy. First, it is very rarely recommended because only few people can assess its potential really realistically, despite findability on the internet. Secondly, it is only up to the age of 45 - 50 years applicable. Heavy traumata are buried/imprinted so deeply in the brain that the effort to release them with primal therapy is just too big.
The Alpha-Theta-Way in the Theory of „High-Performance-Mind“
This route is a bit better known worldwidely, and indeed indirectly through the gradual global spread of neurofeedback. It is still not a standard application in EEG biofeedback, but anyone who has dealt with it a little, knows about the existence of the alpha-theta training. Mostly this route is bypassed and avoided because very few coaches are familiar with it. The big advantage compared to the primal therapeutic approach, however, is that the way there for many educated laymen is known and relatively easy to learn for neurotherapists. The first reason is that it comes close to hypnotherapy, which enjoys a good reputation in established therapeutic circles. The second reason is that the access is always controlled by EEG, which fact constitutes its actual appeal and scientific value.
Access to hidden trauma in the alpha-theta state is the varied core subject of this book and will not be deepened here. Important to us are the special conditions under which the old trauma unadulteratedly mounts up and enters the consciousness of the woman and develops its psychophysiological effects without further action of the therapist. We explained that this process only works without faults - e.g. artificial conscious emotional abreactions - by controlled weakening of the defense mechanisms.
In our example the wife chose the active way out of their life crisis. She asked for opportunities to go the natural way of healing. She was lucky and met a knowledgeable companion, who knew all the modern suited ways to go. He recommended primal therapy and if she wasn`t able to handle it she should come back, he still knew even another way. She did, went to see him and told him that she preferred a different path and he may help her. Very concretely, he told her about a friend who is neurotherapist and offers alpha-theta training in small groups. In addition, he has his practice nearby in the local area. Our lady now became very curious because she intuitively felt this was her way out of her crisis. Consider that she was in real enormous psychological distress, but her mind worked very well. She had previously rejected any kind of medication by tranquilizers. In such a state you cannot wait long to take a further measure. The great advantage of such an emergency situation, however, is that the mind and intuition work very well and that everything is rejected, what displeases to both shares of personality.
The behaviour of the woman and her curiosity about a new way impressed our counselor-friend and he told her to visit him once more for explaining the method of the neurotherapist in detail. In principle this isn`t a smart way to handle this case practically, because our woman`s mind might by be overloaded by so much theory. However the writer`s situation is different, he has to describe the therapeutical process in all its essential details.
Roughly spoken we chose Anna Wise`s work to visualize the alpha-theta way. From her theory of the "High Performance Mind" we draw some pictograms for our explanations. We use few of her Mind-Mirror graphics she had gained during her work with many clients. Our friend decided to show the woman those few graphics which are important to elucidate the alpha-theta way. In the figure below can be seen that the majority of people fit into three categories that one simply defines as "Splayed Beta", "Alpha Blocking" and/or "Repressed Content".
Those who are familiar with neurofeedback a little bit, „see“ fairly quickly and clearly what the three categories mean. All have in common that the beta brainwave band is too pronounced, in comparison with all the other wavebands. In Buddhist parlance, this phenomenon is called the "monkey mind", which is a common property of most humans: too much mental agitation without sufficient connection to the long-wave bands, in particular to Alpha. The latter in Anna's formulation is the passband, which must be open so that intuitive and emotional informations are able to „flow“ up and down through the entire brain wave spectrum.
Our counselor-friend is going one step further and explains the woman what to expect when she turns to alpha-theta training. In particular, the Mind-Mirror-image "Repressed Content" should apply to her. Note that in one and the same person can appear all three states of consciousness, depending on the current situation of consciousness, and also depending on current stress situations. However, Maxwell Cade and Anna Wise have found that one of the three states is dominant in a person. It is now important to state that an open alpha band completely is lacking in all three images. So, alpha training at the beginning is an absolute "must". The goal is, as seen in "Repressed content," the traumatic content in the thetaband (4-7 Hertz) to be "transported" up to the client's consciousness and that is only possible if the alpha band is sufficiently open.
This is the "pre-training", which today is offered in a variety of popular forms, ranging from various types of meditation, yoga, autogenic training and muscle relaxation. Important for us, however, is the practical biofeedback proof that the relaxation functions measurably, so that one does not rely on subjective, vague statements of participants and teachers of such initially mentioned courses. The decisive criteria are usually control and increase of e.g. skin temperature (muscle relaxation) and the increase in alpha amplitude in the rear part of the brain (mental relaxation). Even here it is already very important that the defense mechanisms of our woman are weakened, because the relaxation training without this "preparatory work" – i.e. in the case of quite stable defense functions - would achieve the opposite of what is intended - namely a reinforcement and stabilization. This fact is mostly overlooked on ignorance or on purpose. We emphasize it emphatically, because the repression of uncomfortable truths (trauma) individually and collectively is an important survival mechanism.
If the pre-training is proven to work sufficiently, the client can step forward to the core of alpha-theta training, the cross-over training. The decision as to when that is the case with individual clients must be left to the competence of the neurofeedback trainer. The complete process can be represented in a single Mind-Mirror-image in order to guarantee the understanding in the description and demonstrating the stringency of the training to the client/our wife/our readers. In the pre-training the woman has learnt to open her Alpha Bridge to the extent that the transition into the hypnagogic trance state works and the cross-over condition can be maintained for at least 10 minutes without travelling further „downwards“ into sleep (Delta) and/or returning „upwards“ to Alpha.
The transition proceeds downwards from Alpha to the upper part of the hypnagogic Thetaband (7-8 Hz). Holding that state and stretching it during several minutes are the external, measurable criteria for the process to happen that memories of distant past traumatic events ascend into trance- consciousness. The contents of the "Repressed Content" penetrates last remaining weak defense layers of the wife, and indeed genuine. This last statement is very important: if the criterion of authenticity is not given because of too many layers of defense being still present, artificially or partly by will consciously generated emotional „abreactions“ in the client will happen. It is the art and skill of the therapist to distinguish those from real, genuine trauma memories, rising from the depths of subliminal consciousness. If they happen, the client often earlier than the therapist knows intuitively that they are genuine, because of their strangeness and profound vitality shaking the client`s physiological and emotional system. We therefore inserted the beta component in the image which must be present, detectable in the trance state, its partly conscious state indicated by broken lines. If the consciousness is still clearly present, the mounting of traumatic material is not yet possible. On the other hand, if the client produces a too deep immersion into the hypnagogic state, a complete suppression of beta happens (the thick line), which in turn also suppresses the traumatic events becoming conscious. That`s why conventional hypnosis is completely unsuitable as trauma therapy.
All these explanations are given to our woman by the neurofeedback training coach who also is knowledgeable in alpha-theta neurofeedback. Actually such informations are not necessarily helpful for potential clients because they "overload" the mind of the woman, her open spontaneity towards what to expect, she might be "pre-programmed". Preconceived opinions are generally not helpful to prepare an in-depth therapy. They are again a new kind of defense that should be removed as far as possible. The deep layers of the brain - where the traumas are located, i.e. the limbic system and the brainstem do not understand the language of the neocortex, the latter is a "shield" against the rise of traumatic memories into the client's consciousness. If they can really soar freely, they must not be commented by the therapist, they speak for themselves and quite often the client understands its symbolism better than the therapist. Something else is very important for the client, namely the protective, caring attitude of the therapist, his speechless sympathy and also a similar human attitude of the partner. The latter unfortunately is very rare, so the stay of the client in the vicinity of the therapist is so important. Another variant of protection and knowing understanding is to seek therapeutic or self-help groups right from the start of therapy or a little later, when the initial intensive phase is over. Such groups do not necessarily have to be very specific, important is the regular stay in a supporting atmosphere of a community of competent and human beings, full of warmth/empathy offered by the participants.
One can interpret this initially very intense therapeutic process as a kind of "rebirth" in which the adult "baby" enjoys firstly hundred percent protection of the therapist in individual treatment (father, mother substitute in a real emotional transfer situation). This primary phase can be supplemented by the legal residence in a protection group after some time. This additional means ensures that the "newborn" adult client mirrors himself consciously in the behavior of group members. This is a very important process that feeds back the client his newfound emotionality in exchange with „brothers“ and „sisters“ and consolidates his new healthy „ego“. Here also disagreements and conflicts as in daily life are quite useful, previously avoided in the individual treatment of togetherness with the therapist.
To conclude this chapter we come back to the percentage stress model applied to our woman. Deep trauma relief has the quality to enrich and ameliorate the woman`s future life considerably. If she succeeds to become aware of and relive her main trauma in its essence and fully consciously, e.g. her birth trauma, her consciousness will from now be able to rely totally upon her enriched emotional life. She has a broader and complete scale of feeling in general which gives her a settled self-confidence and an always realistic view upon her surroundings in all aspects. The initial 30 percent permanent life-stress are completely resolved. So she always will have enough resilience and flexibility to resist future threatening situations and enduring stressfull periods without getting sick from them.
Arthur Janov: „The Biology of Love“, Prometheus Books 2000
Mark Lawrence Johnson, „Relationship of Alpha-Theta Amplitude Crossover During Neurofeedback to Emergence of Spontaneous Imagery and Bibliographic Memory“, Dissertation University of North Texas, 2011
Anna Wise, „The High-Performance Mind“, Tarcher/Putnam 1995