Understanding and resolving childhood developmental trauma and other traumas

Blog Post – 13th October 2021

By Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

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How to resolve childhood developmental trauma and other undigested traumas: A low-cost, self-help approach

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Traumatic Dragons dBook cover, 2Two days ago, I published a low cost eBook about my system of self-help therapy for childhood developmental trauma, which can also be used with later-developing traumas. This books represents the culmination of many years of research, application, and writing.

I have spent almost twenty-five years working with counselling clients with some degree of trauma, from childhood or later periods of their lives. Some of those traumas were mild to moderate, bout some were much more serious.

I also had to resolve my own developmental trauma, resulting from my highly dysfunctional family of origin.

Here is a quick insight into the approach I have developed:

baby child close up crying

Trauma does not just affect our consciousness; our memories; our minds. Modern neuroscience, since the 1990’s, has revealed to us just how much the brains of traumatized individuals are changed (for the worst) by their horrible experiences.  Trauma leaves its imprint on our brain, our mind and our body. And these imprints affect how we think, feel and behave in later life, even decades after the traumatic experience. Trauma changes our perceptions, and our capacity to think/feel. But even when we begin to think/ feel about our traumatic experience – and to create a helpful story of what happened – we are still left with the imprints in our bodies: the automatic physical and hormonal responses to present-time reminders of the trauma inflicted on us back there; back then.  The ‘there and then’ is always with us, in our bodies, here and now: unless and until we process those physical and hormonal responses. To quote Van der Kolk again: “For real change to take place, the body needs to learn that the danger has passed, and to live in the reality of the present”. (Page 21).

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The insights and techniques that this book reveals

Jim and the Buddha, 2Out of all of my experience, research and clinical application, I gradually evolved three processes for resolving problems of undigested traumatic experiences:

Here are some insights into the range of subjects addressed in this low-cost eBook:

Chapter 2 defines and describes the kinds of ‘emotional dragons’ produced by childhood trauma.

Chapter 3 contains six case studies of individuals who were traumatized, and how they began to tackle their recovery.

Chapter 4(A) explores the science of sleep, and what that tells us about how to support your own mental and physical health; and how to process traumatic memories.

Chapter 4(B) introduces you to some helpful ideas about the use of physical exercise for the reduction of emotional hyper- or hypo-arousal. (Hyper arousal [or over-arousal] includes anger and anxiety; while hypo-arousal [or under-arousal] includes depression, inappropriate guilt and inappropriate shame; plus shut-down, dissociation, fainting/freezing, etc. [We also acknowledge that the more intense forms of hypo-arousal are best helped by interpersonal contact with a reassuring person!])

Chapter 5 presents some educational guidelines on the subject of the kinds of foods to eat, and the kinds of foods to avoid, for good physical and mental health.

Chapter 6 shows you how to ‘re-frame’ (or re-think and re-feel) your less-than-traumatic emotional disturbances, so they can be digested and have their ‘sting’ removed. This is a form of preparation, or self-training, for the more difficult later stages of facing up to medium range traumatic memories; and then, and only then, to your worst traumatic dragons.

Traumatic Dragons dBook cover, 2Chapter 7 teaches you how to breathe in order to calm your overly-aroused autonomic (or automatic) nervous system; to switch on, or increase the power of, your rest-and-digest response (which switches off, or reduces, your fight-or-flight response).

Chapter 8 is a gentle introduction to the habit of keeping a daily journal – (or at least three times weekly journal). You will need this habit and skill when you get to the Interoceptive Windows Model, in Chapter 12.

Chapter 9 introduces you to a very powerful process – which is simple and easy to do – which will teach you how to remove tension from your muscles, and that will reduce some aspects of your body-memory of trauma.

Chapter 10 explores a useful concept, which is how to ‘complete’ an undigested experience from the past; why you should do that in order to make it ‘disappear’; and it also includes ten exercises to help you to complete some of your old, less-intense traumatic experiences.

Chapter 11 shows you how to do Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of trauma.

Chapter 12 deals with your most intense traumatic memories. Here we begin with the problem that many of our childhood traumas are not available to our conscious mind.  Amnesia is a common problem with trauma survivors. So we have to try to ‘surface them’ (or ‘dig them up’) – over a prolonged period of time; between months and years – using forms of association of ideas, images, and physical sensations.  This process is tackled in your journal, and combined with therapeutic breathing exercises and physical movement.

Traumatic Dragons dBook cover, 2Chapter 13 introduces you to:

– Some helpful ideas about how to write therapeutic stories about various aspects of your childhood, which are likely to surface;

– Or how to access some additional traumatic memories.

– And this is combined with some processes that will help you to digest those memories.

Chapter 14 introduces you to Mindful Meditation, which has also been shown to help to reduce the symptoms of trauma.

In Chapter 15 we pull all of the ideas in this book into a brief conclusion.

Then there is a series of appendices, as follows:

Appendix A provides you with a scale for assessing just how bad any particular problem is; which will help you when you are working through Chapter 6, in which you will be introduced to the process of reframing surface level problems, (which are not particularly traumatic or overly-upsetting).

Appendix B will help you to deepen your understanding of the nature of human emotions in general; and how to better manage your own emotions, using a whole body-brain-mind approach.

Appendix C deals with how to communicate assertively – and to maintain reasonable personal boundaries – which is designed to help to correct some developmental deficits.

Traumatic Dragons dBook cover, 2Appendix D aims to help you to learn how to reduce and control one of your depowering ‘sub-personalities’: your Bad Inner Critic.

Appendix E is an introduction to the Polyvagal theory, which helps us to improve our understanding of how the ‘freeze response’, or dissociation, or shutting down, is related to the fight-or-flight response; and how the social-engagement system can bring us out of shut-down.

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This book could save you the hard labour of reading all of those books and papers that I have studied over a 25-year period!

To see the book on Amazon, please go to Amazon eBook on Trauma.***

But for more information about this book, please go to ABC Bookstore: Traumatic Dragons book.***

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I hope you find this information interesting and helpful.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Email: Dr Jim Byrne.***

Principal Director of the E-CENT Institute

E-CENT logo 1 red line

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Childhood trauma and adult trauma therapy

Blog post:

Monday 13th September 2021

Dr Jim Byrne

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The stored experiences of trauma in the human body-brain-mind; and how to dig them up and process them

Introduction

1, A New Dragons Trauma book coverMost people are unaware of the trauma they carry in their body-brain-mind. Why? Because our earliest experiences seem to us to be “normal”, no matter how awful or ghastly they may objectively be.  We think of our parents as normal; and ourselves as normal; and the experiences we have (including abuse and neglect), as normal.

So we cannot construct a narrative of trauma; because we lack any significant distinctions that we could use for that purpose.

To discover our own trauma, we have first to be reflected back to ourselves by somebody who came from a “more truly normal” background – or somebody who has healed their body-brain-mind of their traumatic experiences.

The world needs more “mirrors” of this kind. Some of the outstanding “mirrors of trauma” in the world today include: Bessel van der Kolk; Allan Schore; Judith Herman. But my all-time hero in this field was, of course John Bowlby.  And let us not forget that he was castigated and outlawed by the British psychoanalytic movement for decades before attachment theory began to make breakthroughs because of its usefulness in the field of developmental psychology.

Today, are stand on the threshold of a more humane world; if only the “mirrors of trauma” can keep on shining; and are not “blacked out” by the forces of evil on this fragile, endangered planet.

My experience

Metal_Dog__Long_Roa_Cover_for_KindleOver a period of almost 25 years, I have “picked up the pieces” of some horrible childhood histories.

I have a special capacity – skill, ability – to deal with these problems, most likely because I came from a traumatizing background, and I’ve spent many years resolving my own developmental trauma (using a wide range of therapeutic strategies; and fortuitous relationships), and learning to live a full and happy life.

The outcome

Now I have written up the kinds of processes that I have used with my own clients over those years, in a form which is usable by self-help enthusiasts. And it could also be a good learning resource for new counsellors and psychotherapists who are moving into the field of trauma work.

These processes can be summarized in three forms – which are addressed once the reader has achieved some degree of safety and security in their life.  Those forms are:

– Re-framing (re-interpreting, or re-storying) of traumatic experiences (starting with low level upsets; and proceeding upwards with caution);

– Confronting and completing (in body-mind forms) medium range traumatic experiences;

– And, finally, digesting higher intensity traumatic symptoms; through processes including: writing therapy, combined with re-framing and completion; and with bodily sensations and breath-work; and several other whole body-brain-mind strategies.

Some key outcomes achieved

1, A New Dragons Trauma book coverThe benefits to be derived from this kind of work are enormous:

Sleep is improved; digestion and breathing become normal; anxiety and depression are cleared up; social relationships become less stressful; physical and mental health improve; and so on.

To find out more about this revolutionary new psychotherapeutic strategy, please take a look at: How to Resolve Childhood Developmental Trauma.

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Best wishes,

Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Fictionalized autobiography of childhood trauma and adult damage

Blog Post: 16th August 2020

E-CENT Institute Blog

By Dr Jim Byrne

Books about childhood trauma – how to recover – how I recovered – and a fictionalized autobiography of childhood/manhood

Including a FREE eBook about the life of an emotionally abused boy, and his struggle to become a loving man

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Jim and the Buddha, 2I am aware of the principle of ‘concentration of power’ on our top priorities, which was popularized in the 1980s, by Dr Charles R. Hobbs, and re-presented in recent times by Garry Keller and Jay Papasan, in their book, ‘The One Thing’.  We are more likely to be successful if we focus on just a few important priorities.

Nevertheless, I have been switching back and forth between three books on Childhood Development, Trauma, and Recovery, for the past couple of months or more.

The three books in question are as follows:

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Recovery from Childhood Trauma:

How I healed my heart and mind – and how you can heal yourself

By Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Front cover,1Many people struggle with emotional distress, just below the level of conscious awareness, which mars their life chances, and limits their capacity for happy relationships. Much of this distress could and should be classified as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); or emotional distress which follows on from a traumatic experience, which is too stressful (at the time of occurrence) to be processed into a coherent story.  And even more should be defined as Complex-PTSD, arising out of protracted child abuse in early childhood.

The author describes the main traumatic experiences that occurred in his childhood, which hung like a dark cloud over his emotional and relational life, up to the age of almost forty years or so.  He also describes the various therapeutic processes that he used to try to process his undigested childhood pain.  Chief among those strategies were the writing of his Story of Origins and his Story of Relationship, both of which are reproduced in this book, along with analysis and commentary. He also includes guidelines for the reader to do their own writing therapy on their own childhood trauma, which will greatly improve the quality of their emotional and relational lives.  And he emphasizes the importance of exercise and other body-based healing approaches. His hope is that the reader will use this book to become happier and healthier, and more at ease in their own skin; with a better prospect of moving forward into a more enjoyable future life.

For more information, please click this link.***

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Transforming Traumatic Dragons:

How to recover from a history of trauma – using a whole body-brain-mind approach

By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Revised, expanded and updated: June 2020

Front cover 2, Dragons Trauma book June 2020From Ancient Athens to Vietnam and Zambia, individual lives have been ruined by stress, strain, abuse and neglect. Madness, serious unhappiness and unworkable lives were most often the result.

Many common problems with physical and mental health are a result of childhood trauma, and/or being an adult who is abused by another adult.

Early childhood trauma (like physical and emotional abuse, and neglect), and other forms of prolonged trauma (like domestic abuse), affect the very structure of the human brain, and the behaviour of stress hormones in the body.

But the good news is this: It is possible to recover from all forms of trauma, given the right kind of approach. And this book offers you just such an approach to self-healing.

Dr Byrne discusses the following topics: What is trauma?  What is post-traumatic stress disorder?  What is Complex-PTSD?  How widespread is Complex-PTSD?  What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?  What are some solutions to Childhood Developmental Trauma or Complex-PTSD? The meaning and importance of the concept of Traumatic Dragons.

This book contains a comprehensive self-therapy program, to help you to heal your own traumatic wounds, from prolonged childhood abuse or neglect, or other forms of prolonged traumatic experiences.

If you are suffering from the aftermath of prolonged traumatic experiences, this book will be a great help to you. If you work slowly and methodologically through the program of self-healing, described in this book, you will gain by the calming down of your body, brain and mind; and the emergence of a sense of happiness and inner peace.

For more information, please click this link: Transforming Traumatic Dragons

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But the third book – next – is the one I have chosen to prioritize, and it is now available on Amazon stores around the world.  This is it:

Fictionalized autobiography of an Irish Catholic boy: The autobiography of a traumatized child.

Title: Metal Dog – Long Road Home

By Jim Byrne (writing through his alter ego, Daniel O’Beeve)

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Metal_Dog__Long_Roa_Cover_for_KindleThis is the fictionalized autobiography of Jim Byrne (writing through his alter ego, Daniel O’Beeve). None of the characters in this story should be confused with any real person, alive or dead!

Here is a brief extract, intended to give you a flavour of the quality of this personal (fictional!) story:

Extract: I went inside (the fish and chip shop in Blackpool), blinking the rain out of my eyes, and immediately recognized the leopard-skin coat and black fishnet tights on the raven-haired customer in front of me at the counter.  She lived in the house next to the one in which I was lodging.  I’d seen her come and go a few times as I sat at the table in the bay window, eating my breakfast or my evening meal.

She had the appearance of an actress or model.  Tall, elegant, heavily made-up, and she walked with a wiggle, in extremely high, black, patent leather stiletto heels.  As I stood behind her on the queue, she ordered cod and chips.  Then I ordered the same.  She turned to look at me and said, “Horrible weather!”

I agreed.

Her fish and chips were wrapped within seconds; she paid; and she headed for the door.

My fish and chips were wrapped next, and I followed suit.

I did not expect her to be waiting at the exit to speak to me…

For more, please click this link: Fictionalized autobiography – Metal Dog, Long Road back to near normality.***.

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This is how I announced that book on LinkedIn today:

Childhood trauma and abuse: For the next 5 days, beginning on Sunday 16th August, this book will be available for FREE as a Kindle eBook. The author explores problems of attachment theory, affect regulation, personality adaptations, and childhood trauma – all in the context of a fictionalized autobiography which examines three different perspectives on the nature-nurture debate. Dr Jim Byrne has combined his experience of 22 years of dealing with clients with childhood abuse and neglect, and his hobby of reading psychological thrillers, to create a unique book…  Get your copy for FREE…  Here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08FRPSSGV

Please take a look and see what you think. Do you think this fictionalized autobiography helps to expand or deepen your understanding of complex childhood trauma; or to deepen your empathy for victims of child abuse?

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That’s all for today.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling