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What Is Meant by the Term Healing?

This lesson is a part of an audio course Finding Freedom from Shock and Trauma by Stephen Paul King

In order to establish exactly what healing means, it is necessary to understand the basic human needs and the multi-faceted nature of the wounds that can afflict us.

Charles Whitfield has developed a more thorough list of the hierarchy of human needs than the oft-quoted Maslow's list, and it's based on the work of a number of researchers (Maslow, 1962; Miller, 1981; Weil, 1973; Glasser, 1985):

  • Survival
  • Safety
  • Touching, skin contact
  • Attention
  • Mirroring and echoing
  • Guidance
  • Listening
  • Being real
  • Participating
  • Acceptance
  • Freedom to be the Real You
  • Tolerance of your feelings
  • Validation
  • Respect
  • Belonging and love
  • Opportunity to grieve losses and to grow
  • Support
  • Loyalty and trust
  • Accomplishment
  • Altering one's state of consciousness, transcending the ordinary.
  • Sexuality
  • Enjoyment or fun
  • Freedom
  • Nurturing
  • Unconditional love (including connection with a Higher Power)

If this unified model is recognized as being acceptable for understanding our personal needs, it becomes quite apparent that very few people would get all of these needs met in their childhood. Parents or significant adults may not have the knowledge, tools, or wherewithal to accommodate these needs in the best of circumstances. If there were abuses or traumas that were never fully and healthily attended to in the formative years, then it likely falls to the individual to resolve the issues. The most devastating result of childhood abuse and trauma is the loss of the 'true' self. The major goal for many can therefore be viewed as attaining a state of unconditional Self-acceptance. Even if one were to arrive at such a healthy state of being, the more left-brained amongst us would want to know, before undertaking the journey, just what that might look and feel like? Well - according to the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation. Issue. 63, 1986, some of the signs of inner peace are:

  • A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fear based on past experiences
  • An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment
  • Loss of interest in judging other people
  • Loss of interest in judging self
  • Loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others
  • Loss of interest in conflict
  • Loss of ability to worry (a very serious symptom)
  • Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation
  • Contented feelings of connectedness with nature and others
  • Frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes from the heart
  • Increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen
  • Increased susceptibility to Love extended by others, as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it

Both Scott Peck and Dr. Bernie Siegel have suggested that we are born with the belief that we deserve to be loved. This makes a lot of sense to me as we have to question why it would be that we would have low self-esteem or emotional turmoil ‘simply' because we lived in a non-welcoming environment – after all, what's to lose or feel bad about if there were no preconceived expectation?

Others, such as Stanislav Grof, Arthur Janov, and Dr. William Emerson, have provided evidence which demonstrates that pre-birth trauma can create a life-long negative impact. It can be like ‘acid rain on one's soul.'

There are few people who would suggest that they have an alcohol problem as a result of excessive thirst! In fact, as with most addictive behaviors, clients tend to recognize that they use mood-altering substances or processes for exactly that reason - to alter their mood or the way they feel.

The first three items of the Suicide Status Form (SSF) that was derived from a theoretical model presented by E. S. Schneidman (Definition of Suicide. New York: Wiley. 1985) were pain, press, and perturbation. Schneidman's model of suicide conceptualizes the acute suicidal moment as a convergence of these three major dimensions. Psychic pain is defined as an unbearable level of psychological suffering, press relates to pressures (stressors) that impinge on one's psychological world, and perturbation is a general term describing an intense state of emotional upset, and is thought to include agitation, perceptual constriction, impulsiveness, and a penchant for action. The action is the distraction!

The three things that seem to be underlying the feelings of stress are:

  1. Fear
  2. Pain
  3. Fear of more pain

It is necessary to also recognize that fear and pain are not just felt in the physical form, but also in the emotional. This, therefore, impacts the psyche and our spirit. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the 90's, addiction was being recognized as having biopsychosocial components. Much emphasis is also placed on "Spirituality" in the healing process of addictions, especially for those in 12-step programs, and it often creates some confusion for newcomers who are told or believe that spirituality and religion are synonymous. It has been said to me that religion is for people trying to stay out of hell and that spirituality is for people who have already been there.

For those who have had unpleasant experiences with the issue of religion, this can, of course, create problems and severely hinder their willingness or ability to move forward in the healing process. However, I believe that if we are born with automatic personal survival skills (fight or flight, dissociation, etc.) that some would say are God-given or Higher Power-driven, then it seems reasonable to expect that the same God or Higher Power would also provide us with self-autonomous ways to resolve those same traumas.

I believe that the herein-described Accelerated Information Processing techniques (AIP's) are a part of that self-autonomy equation.

Any true goal-setting needs to be SMART, i.e., Specific, Measurable, Agreeable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. The AIP's described herein fit well with this goal-setting model.

Pain can be a manifestation of repressed subconscious emotions such as anger, fear, or sorrow, say a number of experts. Root out and face those feelings, and you should be able to say farewell to psychogenic distress (pain that originates in the psyche and manifests itself in the body). Healing can be about putting the ego aside and challenging one's existing paradigms and behaviors. It can be about moving away from being a "stubborn victim" to being a "tenacious survivor." It can be about possibly being willing to move from anal-retentive to expressive. In fact, Dr. Dean Ornish refers to his work with heart disease patients as "emotional open-heart surgery." (Moyers p. 69)

Psychologist Alice Miller (The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness) and many others have documented the numerous effects of childhood abuse, so it is not much of a leap to recognize that, if one were to be born into an unhealthy family situation or environment, then a sense of unworthiness will start to manifest, only to become further entrenched by ongoing incidents, statements, or traumas, whether directed at the self or witnessed. This leads a person to feel unworthy, anxious, disconnected, dissociated, depressed, and therefore DIS-SPIRITED. This loss of self can be viewed as a form of self-abandonment and, if the emotional or physical pain is too great, then self-rejection and self-hatred can quickly follow. To put it into full context, by our action and thought, we have the ability to become our own worst enemy. The addicted person will view the alcohol or drugs as a good friend, a comforter, a pain-remover - regardless of the consequences of using. It is interesting to note how the alcoholic or addict can relate to feeling "at one," able to conquer the world, solve issues, be the clown, the entertainer, or the masterful orator - yet would feel uncomfortable or unwilling to ‘act' in the same way without the substance. The fact that alcohol is also called "spirits" might help us understand that it can be both a bridge and a barrier to the self. Trauma, abuse, and abandonment issues have caused life-long psychological and behavioral scars. Internalized shame, guilt, anger, and fears gradually erode the spirit, fuelled by an ongoing repetition of negative thoughts and "anticipatory anxiety," which will eventually manifest itself in self-sabotage. Patterns of negative behavior will continue to re-enact themselves until such time as a person looks at the beliefs, the thinking, and the feelings that underlie them and consciously gives him/herself permission to work through their issues. In other words, "to finish the unfinished business."

Even though the ego is designed to act in your own best interests, it will stunt you from attaining your true full potential as it will jump in and remind you of a similar past situation that resulted in some discomfort/pain. If the original injury is a recent one, then this would be very valid, but not if it is based on an "old" childhood wound. If the ego is not provided with new information about our ability as an adult to truly choose our present experiences, then it will step in and block our potential for growth. The self becomes stunted, and this ‘freezing/blocking' of the self at an early emotional age is what many experience in their everyday lives. They may biologically be 50 years of age, but when confronted with a present experience that has some similarities to old unfinished business, i.e., an angry adult, then they may feel themselves emotionally revert to feeling and behaving like a terrified ten-year-old.

PTSD is becoming a common diagnosis for survivors of trauma, rather than being reserved for those who have suffered as a result of the war. For a number of people, their family or life

There is a wise saying that relates to this phenomenon: "Suffering is inevitable, but misery is optional." (Cousins p. 26)

It is said that "what we repress we obsess" and that we turn to action that is designed to act as a distraction. These actions are oftentimes behaviors that are addictive, obsessive, or compulsive. This repression can be consciously or unconsciously fueled by our fears and pain, and will lead to the "psychic numbing" and dissociation that will occur when our basic survival mechanism is triggered to react. Grief is a legitimate feeling for any change or loss. Part of the resolution of the grieving process is in the acceptance and release of the feeling of anger. Acknowledging that anger is basically just "hurt covered up" can allow us to give ourselves permission to confront it in a healthy way, both physically and emotionally.

If a person grew up in an environment whereby anger was not allowed to be expressed or, if it was expressed in such a way that it meant violence, humiliation, or ridicule, then it becomes understandable why a person might resolve to repress it as a way to avoid owning the feeling, or putting it aside. Fear of one's anger can result in the energy of that emotion eating away on the inside, tying the stomach in knots, turning to rage, and having a person end up being "beside him/herself", i.e., disconnected.

If we accept the premise that a Higher Power provided us with the original ability to feel and express emotions, then we can understand that, when something disturbing happens in a healthy family, the appropriate feelings can get healthily expressed, the matter is dealt with, and one returns to a state of homeostasis (balance). If, however, unhealthy expression or repression is role-modeled for us, then when we are thrown out of balance, we will never return to an emotionally healthy status quo, but will go through our lives getting further out of balance and out of touch with our real selves, i.e., disconnected / dis-spirited. It was Dr. Norman Cousins who wrote, "Death is not the ultimate tragedy of life. The ultimate tragedy is depersonalization – dying in an alien and sterile area, separated from the spiritual nourishment that comes from being able to reach out to a loving hand, separated from a desire to experience the things that make life worth living, separated from hope." (p. 133)

The healing process can begin the moment a person comes out of denial, gives oneself permission to challenge a belief system that just hasn't worked, and allows oneself to slowly begin a process of owning and safely releasing the legitimate feelings that are connected to past experiences. This allows for the dissipation of repressed energy that has been either internalized and is eating away at the self, or has been inappropriately expressed and is negatively impacting one's welfare.

I leave an acronym (AGE) on a board in my office that many clients have referred to and identified with, as it contains a simple truth. Abuse imprisons, Grief releases, and Expression heal­s.

I will sometimes state to a client that, "You are the only person you will never leave or lose in your entire lifetime, so you might as well establish the best possible relationship with yourself." Indeed, congruency and confluence equal mental health. Truly one is in a high-road harmonious state when living by THE GOLDEN RULE! Naturally, we do not want this process of change to take a lifetime, even though we may recognize that "happiness is in the journey and not a destination." It is because the Accelerated Information Processing (AIP's) techniques have provided many of my clients with such healthy shifts in a very brief time period that I wish to further an understanding, as well as develop the practice of the same. If we continue to re-enact unhealthy behaviors as a result of not resolving our unfinished business (Emerson 1993, p. 33), then in essence, we need an "emotional enema" - a very threatening idea if you believe that pain never The elimination of fears, phobias, addictions, obsessions, compulsions, and traumas by dissipating the energy of the resulting and underlying anxiety is what appears to happen as a result of using AIP's.

It is rare that the term cure is used in the field of psychology, but some, such as Dr. Roger Callahan (TFT), does use the term cure, and the results of his technique appear to have borne this out. There are a number of definitions for the word cure, and they include:

  • Something that corrects, heals, or permanently alleviates a harmful or troublesome situation
  • To restore to health
  • To free from something objectionable or harmful
  • To rectify an unhealthy or undesirable condition
  • To relieve or be rid of something troublesome or detrimental such as illness, a bad habit, etc.

I have had numerous clients inform me that their original identified problem issues have not returned; therefore, given the elapsed amount of time, I believe the AIP treatments can indeed provide a "cure."

Lesson 4 will be about the issue of energy packets.

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Written by

Stephen Paul King