Tag Archives: post traumatic stress disorder

Is EMDR like REM?

Back and Forth, Back and Forth, Back and Forth
Back and Forth, Back and Forth, Back and Forth

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The client follows the therapist’s hand moving back and forth horizontally across the client’s field of vision while thinking of a traumatic incident in their life. The thought is to get physical and mental processes moving so the trauma becomes unfrozen. The image is no longer frozen in time.

The idea is that when the trauma occurred it became a fixated image in the person’s mind because it was like a “deer caught in the headlights. I think that there is another reason EMDR works. I think it has to do with Rapid Eye Movements (REM) that occur and signals that the sleeper is dreaming.

A prominent symptom that occurs with PTSD is vivid nightmares. Of course, REM occurs during nightmares. I think by having rapid eye movements occur while the person is conscious, it allows the underlying feelings to emerge so that the person can work on the troubling images.

During EMDR, the therapist stops moving the hand every 30 seconds or so to ask what the client is seeing in their mind. The therapist can suggest to the client the portion of the image on which to focus based on what the person reports. It ends up being guided imagery with cognitive therapy to change the person’s reaction to the images.

PTSD dreams are one of about six major types of dreams. They are not symbolic. They are simply images that have been burned into the person’s subconscious. EMDR frees the person from the relentlessly captivating traumatic image in their brain.

Free yourself with dreams at http://www.drstevenfox.com

 

Advertisements

Torrent of Anger

images(5)Dream 253: Changing the Torrent of Anger

A 34-year-old man dreamt of a tornado over the ocean creating a funnel of water. He was viewing the scene through his omniscient observer-ego. Suddenly two helicopters appeared. One was well above the top of the funnel while the other helicopter was well below the top of the funnel. Each of them fired a missile at the base of the funnel which destroyed it and removed its destructive potential.

Interpretation– He returned from Afghanistan with severe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was losing his temper with his family and their children so often that they felt like they “were walking on eggshells.” In dreams, water is emotions and a tornado is a powerful and potentially destructive natural force which in this case is anger. Fire in dreams is change or transformation. Missiles explode and create fire, i.e. change.

Changes in elevation in dreams often represent different levels of consciousness. Lower levels address practical and everyday needs while higher levels typically address higher or even spiritual aspirations especially when flight is involved. Helicopters are strongly identified with the military.

Helicopters are a type of flight that is methodical, strategic and calculating. The dream indicated that he had totally changed. He had methodically trained himself to eliminate uncontrolled natural forces, i.e., anger, from family interactions. The dream was recognizing his radical changes on both higher and lower levels of consciousness.

Use dreams to help get in touch with emotions at http://www.drstevenfox.com

Image Rehearsal Therapy for Nightmares

Image Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) helps people to change nightmares into less disturbing dreams. The process involves tmp_nightmare12062238060having the person first write the nightmare down in detail. Then they think of changing the dream to a pleasant image. Immediately before going to sleep, they visualize the pleasant scene.

Dreams most often use current day residue, events of the day that may have links back to earlier events in our lives. Visualizing the pleasant scene during the day will make it more likely that we will dream about it. This is especially likely if the positive scene is visualized immediately before going to sleep.

For example, if a person had a repetitive nightmare such as being torn apart by wild wolves, they would be asked to create a more positive and even comforting image. Having the person visualize they are surrounded by loving puppies increases the chance of positive changes in the dream. Basically, seeing repetitive nightmares as a bad habit that can be influenced by changing the images in the dreamer’s mind is helpful.

Post traumatic stress dreams, dreams that show a catastrophic event that is a memory of what actually occurred in real life, can be “dulled” by visualization. I have had some success with having people visualize that the scene happened, but that it is like watching an old and faded movie in the distance with faint sound. I find this procedure has the effect of reducing the challenge of changing a traumatic event that occurred in life. Realistic trauma is often more likely to respond to realistic imagery that “honors” the fact that the event occurred.

☆Getting answers from dreams (dream incubation) is described in chapter 34 of my book at http://www.drstevenfox.com

Trust, Soul and Death

Dream 226: Distrust and Death in Afghanistan

Fog of War
Fog of War

A 36-year-old woman dreamt that she was riding through a Midwest prairie in a car and it was a vast land of rolling hills. She then saw herself getting out of the car and giving water to a large group of Boy Scouts. Much to her horror, the Boy Scouts turned into Arab extremist terrorists.

The scene then shifted to her being in a cafeteria where there were multiple tables arranged in a circle. There was much confusion about what supplies they were supposed to get from each table. They stood there facing the tables and then a whistle blew and there was mass confusion and chaos.

Dream 226–Interpretation

She served in Afghanistan. The rolling hills of the prairie reminded her of the Mideast. Boy Scouts were used by the dream because the dream was mainly about action parts of her psyche. She was aware that the Boy Scouts motto  was to “be prepared.”

She suffered post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the Mideast as a result of almost being raped and having her life threatened. The dream was screaming that a major problem for her was trust because the trustworthy Boy Scouts turned into terrorists. This was her experience in the Mideast, that someone could be your friend and then turn on you.

The next section indicated that she was dealing with issues of the soul as the tables in the cafeteria were arranged in a circle. Circles usually represent the soul because they have no beginning and no end.  She was in charge of taking care of notifying families that their loved ones were killed in action or by accident in the army. She noted that it was a confusing conflagration of trying to decide what to do next in dealing with, many times, difficult family members who were confused and disoriented themselves.

The trying to get supplies and the mass confusion that erupted once the signal was given was similar to what she experienced. She explained that when she was deployed, chaos erupted when they were given an explicit order to attack at a certain time.

Interpreting dreams correctly creates understanding from chaos at http://www.drstevenfox.com