Stress is widely accredited with being the prime suspect in the development of disease, whether this is seen as mainly emotional as in depression and anxiety disorder, or physical such as with cancer or autoimmune conditions. But what causes the stress? Why are we finding it so hard to adapt to our way of living, or to give it up and live stress-free lives? The answer is trauma – both big ‘T’ and little ‘t’ traumas – which have a dramatic impact on our mind and body’s ability to adapt.

There is a health concept called homeostasis, which means the state of natural bodily cycles, from arousal to passivity and back again. Recent research into the effects of trauma has shown that this homeostatic balance can easily be disrupted and the swings become greater between the peaks of arousal and the troughs of passivity. Each extremity of this increased swing has a different effect on the body and mind. In peak arousal, when the sympathetic nervous system is activated, the adrenal glands are operational, cortisol may flood the bloodstream, the parts of the brain designed to detect and recognize threat are hyperactive, heart rate is raised and the mouth goes dry. This is what we commonly call the “fight or flight” response. Symptoms that arise from prolonged exposure to this state of being are often anxiety, panic disorder, high blood pressure, insomnia, phobias, diarrhea and sickness.

At the other end of the spectrum, we experience the “freeze” response. Although less well known, this also has its origins in our survival instincts. When a creature goes into freeze response it is flooded with endorphins which block pain – useful if you are about to be killed or eaten. Most mammals then shake this off and go into fight or flight, whereas in humans, we have suppressed this natural release mechanism. In this state, where the parasympathetic nervous system is overly activated over time, we see the development of symptoms of fatigue, dissociation, indigestion and gut disorders such as IBS, and accompanying dulling of mental activities.

Robert Scaer[1] believes that 100% of the population has been traumatized at some point and he defines trauma as a perceived life threat whilst feeling helpless. How do we achieve this and why don’t we recognize it?

Trauma begins either before or at our birth. Natural birth facilitates bonding in those precious moments after birth where both mother and baby are flooded with oxytocin. That bonding has a significant impact on the baby’s brain development, because it stimulates the part of the brain that regulates the emotional brain and the autonomic brain and results in a well-adjusted child able to unconsciously control excessive swings of neurological activity.

The development of the bond between mother and newborn baby is critical and creates more resiliency than any other factor which in turn predisposes the individual to more healthy responses to future traumas.

Most babies born in the west in the past 150 years have experienced a significant disruption to that bonding process, whether through the use of anesthesia, surgical intervention or forced separation from the mother for medical reasons. This creates disruption in the brain which can last for the remainder of the individual’s life. It also leaves the individual more vulnerable to further trauma. This has made a huge impact on the neurological stability of the population and on its own could well account for the majority of dis-ease that we see so prevalent in the West.

Almost all of us have some ongoing disruption in the part of our brain that assesses threat levels (amygdala) and this means that even low-grade threats become viewed as threats to our very survival. The way the brain is regulated also means that social activity can only take place when we feel sufficiently safe to engage with others. We see this in the obstructive and defiant responses from teenagers often portrayed in the media. But socialization also dampens the activity of the amygdala, so making us feel safer. If we look at how our communities have broken down and with them, our opportunities for casual social interactions, we see that all too many of us can go through weeks without the social activities that used to be taken for granted. It is not surprising therefore that many people suffering anxiety and depression, or cancer, MS, ME, AIDS and other ailments can become very isolated.

Although EFT can be used as a self-healing technique, the socialization affect on the brain might account for the reason that many people find that they can heal better with the aid of a therapist. They have a relationship with that person which creates feelings of safety and security that they do not have elsewhere in their life.

Studies have revealed that there is a clear link between our early experiences of trauma and later development of life-threatening disease. This is not, however, currently well known in medical literature, only in behavioural studies. EFT practitioners are finding this to be true in their work and every day more reports flood into Gary Craig of healing physical and emotional pain through trauma release.

EFT can enable healing for traumas that have been held in the body for any length of time. This diminishes the effects on the physical and mental systems and allows a return to homeostasis. Whether dis-ease and illness is already present or symptoms of past traumas are evident, the use of EFT can greatly enhance the body’s resiliency capacity. No longer does the ‘freeze’ response have to be the only response to a small ‘t’ trauma.

If you are suffering with symptoms of past traumas, whether that is physical illness or mental and emotional dis-harmony, here are some pointers for you

• The Tearless Trauma technique, which isn’t actually as “tearless” as it suggests but does dramatically reduce the risks of re-traumatization compared with other therapies.
• Matrix Reimprinting and ECHOs are useful techniques to investigate.
• Work with a practitioner who specializes in Inner Child healing.
• It is important to treat yourself kindly and gently when working through trauma. Take time out to relax, take walks in the countryside, meditate or follow guided visualization, eat well and drink plenty of water.
• You will need to be persistent and patient. Take your time because the end result will be worth it. Healing trauma can be like coaxing a frightened rescue animal out of the corner of the room where it is cowering and getting it to trust you.

[1]Resources for Dr. Robert Scaer
Books: The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation and Disease
The Trauma Spectrum: Hidden Wounds and Human Resiliency

Author's Bio: 

Marian Mills is an EFT Practitioner specialising in healing broken hearts so that they can shine with Joy and Passion. Using EFT to release the past pain of rejection, abandonment, trauma, loss and shame allows our true divine nature of joy, passion, energy, enthusiasm and well-being to shine through.