Sunday, May 27, 2007

Healing Childhood Hurts

We live in times when mainstream psychotherapy is focusing exclusively on short-term interventions and medical treatment for the symptoms of mental disorders. Managed healthcare plans are supporting "quick fix" approaches and pharmaceutical giants are offering a handful of "magic pills". Psychotherapy is losing its true meaning and turning into a type of "drive through" culture.
Meanwhile, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people aged 15-44. The depression diagnosis rate among US children increased 2.4 times from 1990 to 2001, from 12.9 per 1,000 to 31.1 per 1,000. However, since childhood depression often goes undiagnosed, we have no idea what the real figures are.
In the light of this development, it seems very important to tell people about the alternatives that are available, and where they can get help. Painful feelings that been accumulated over a lifetime cannot be changed in a few days or a few weeks. We cannot heal the roots of our problems by trimming the leaves. Our bodies needs time to release suppressed emotions and to reintegrate the insights that follow. Deep Feeling / Primal-oriented therapy enables us to go back to these repressed experiences, feel them, liberate the locked-in energy and thus heal ourselves.
If we are unhappy or dysfunctional, it is primarily because we have been hurt. Simply talking about our hurts, or thinking positive thoughts, cannot fully change our feelings. It is widely known that there are different parts of the brain that are responsible for thinking and feeling - the mid brain (limbic system, amygdala and other structures) is where our feelings are stored and the cortex, or top part of our brain, holds most of the cognitive functions - thinking, reasoning, speech etc. Therapies that address only the top part of our brains can influence our feelings in only very limited ways. We need a different approach in order to heal deep traumas that have affected our feeling brain.
We are born into this world with the ability and the need to fully express our emotions: joy, pain, rage, terror, deep need, grief, loneliness, etc. But we often grow up learning that it's not OK to show our feelings because we get reprimanded for expressing them. "Don't cry, boys don't cry", or "Be quiet, don't be angry, be a big girl". Frequently kids are also told, "Don't be stupid", when they say how they feel. So they quickly learn to hide those parts of themselves in order to please their parents.
When we are told that it is wrong to express what we feel, we internalize the message that feeling is wrong. As a result we lose touch with a very important part of ourselves. The truth of the matter is that our feelings are the most real expressions of our being in the world. Unfortunately, when we block and store feelings we become tense, unhappy, constantly tired or sick. Eventually we become "split". Needs and hurts that cannot be expressed leave us carrying a heavy load of unresolved issues that exhausts our original energy and deprives us of a creative and enjoyable life.
When we are little we get hurt in two different ways. First, parents are often not able to meet our needs for nurturing, attention, contact and caring. We begin to starve emotionally and split from feeling the pain of unmet needs. Many parents are not ready for conscious parenting. They don't know what children needs are, or they can't meet these needs because they are depressed, unhappy or emotionally damaged themselves. In other words, they can't give us what they don't have... -continued-

Source: Healing Childhood Hurts With Deep Feeling/Primal-Oriented Therapy by Esta Powell

No comments: