We did an early morning yoga session with Dana Moore who is the co-presenter but also a Kripalu trained Yoga Instructor. That was the start of an 8 hour day in class filled with lectures, exercise (getting into the body), as well as instruction later this evening.
The later morning session was by Van der Kolk on the basics of trauma. His lecture was easy to understand and is based both on research as well as 30+ years of working with trauma patients.
His basic premise was that even though trauma may have happened in the past, it can still be present now it there is still attachment to it. The most effective way to release this trauma is through what Darwin called the “Pneumogastric Nerve”, where the heart, guts & brain come together for all animals including humans.
The attachment is important, because when trauma happens it’s not the extend that makes it a traumatic event it’s the attachment to the unresolved issue. His examples were that soldiers in Vietnam who took heroin had much less PTSD due to the non-attachment to the experiences while there (and since heroin addition is situational, the soldiers could relatively easily kick this habit). Another remarkable example was that the level of PTSD of NYC citizens that survived 911 was very low due to the fact that this community came together and was able to resolve the internal emotions as a group in a safe environment.
When trauma is not released, the animal, back part of the brain stays in constant flux and the person lives in what can be described as a state of nothingness. This is the same for animals. Trauma disturbs the primal instinct of purpose.
The solution is through the body since the central nerve to the visceral system comes from the gut. Motion is very important factor in releasing trauma as well as getting in tune with the body. In the end it’s about giving the brain tools to restore itself as well as the primal instinct of purpose. The problem with medicine is that it’s only a bandage and it’s effect decreases quickly as time progresses.
It was a great morning session. Bessal shared his adventures to South Afrika with Bishup Tutu and Nelson Mandela as well as other remarkable experiences from his professional life.
Frontiers of Trauma Treatment:This is a lovely description of the workshop! Looks like you are doing a real service. very well written and catching the major points!
It was a real pleasure meeting you!! (nice that you can catch how my bizarre sense of humor is not mere my idiosyncrasy, but a cultural artifact!)
The Trauma Center.