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Using EFT with a Brain Trauma (Article)
by Dr. Patricia Carrington
Deborah Dineen was a stranger to me when she phoned my office to ask how she could obtain some information about one of our educational products. At that moment I was manning the phones in my assistant’s absence and I felt drawn to talk with Deborah.
I could tell that she was a sincere, intelligent and observant woman and with some encouragement she quietly and easily told me about the astonishing experience she has had with EFT. She was glad to share the story and recounted it with such thoroughness and sensitivity that I was deeply impressed. I would not have thought these outcomes to be possible despite all my experience with tapping – and all without the intervention of a therapist, just through this woman’s own self-taught use of EFT and her strong persistence.
After listening to her account and asking my many "check up" questions, I asked Deborah if she would write down her experiences and submit them to me so that I could pass them along to you. It is a "must hear" story about the strength of the tapping methods we all respect so much, and it conveys unusual information about them that it has been very valuable for me to learn.
Here is Deborah's simply recounted story.
She began by saying that, "My skull was crushed at birth and thereafter for six months my skull was opened and pressed on twice a week to prevent fluid build up. I survived, and lived to find a way out from under all of it."
This is Deborah's clear objective statement about what was a near disaster in a newly begun life – the smashing of a baby's brain. This trauma affected every moment of her life from that point on.
Here are only some of the debilitating symptoms she suffered from in her childhood and later:
■ chronic mental confusion that caused much disorientation
■ extreme difficulty focusing or paying attention to tasks
■ prolonged emotional 'storms' that would "take her over"
■ a "deadness" or lack of inner responsiveness that came if she experienced a very intense emotional situation or a memory of one – her nervous system would, in effect, shut down.
■ intermittent depression
■ a condition known as brain "haze" or "fog"
■ an inability to process her daily experiences as they occurred
■ an inability to gauge whether what she was saying was "even coherent"
■ stuttering in an attempt to articulate ideas when her system was in overload
■ constant head pressure and pain
These relentless symptoms were the daily ongoing results of Deborah's Birth Brain Trauma.
As a child, Deborah's favorite time was nap time when she could escape momentarily from the constant challenges of everyday life. Often she did not understand what was being said to her and was unable to distinguish whether people around her were serious or joking. There was an ongoing experience of being an 'alien', with many things not making sense and a feeling that she didn't belong anywhere (much later it was explained to her that this is typical of brain injury).
Her report cards always indicated that she was "not working up to her potential". This was a gross understatement, Deborah was a brilliant child.
She considered that she had had a particularly "good" day if she had not noticeably fallen asleep in class, or out of her chair. She learned to nap with her eyes open.
During the school day when she had 'windows' of semi-clarity, she used these to complete her school work, but felt as though she were dragging herself up an endless hill. "In those days," she explains, "if you were walking and talking and able to do school work at all you were considered "normal".
Authoritative adults around her kept telling her it was "all in her head", but she doesn't remember any person asking her what she was actually experiencing – and she says it is doubtful if she could have told them had they asked — how could she put that in words?
Inspite of all her inner and outer confusion and her inability to get clear about her experience, she nevertheless knew that something was not right and that it was out of her control. She didn't know exactly what this 'something' was and didn’t know how to ask for help with it, however, because after all, it was supposed to be "all in her head".
Then came puberty and young adulthood. These are never easy times for anyone, but "when you are trying to hide the fact that you can barely move and that you have no idea if your emotional intensity is even remotely appropriate to the situation" – and with emotional 'storms' erupting and persisting for days and weeks without any awareness of what triggered them or the capacity to process and release them, life becomes unbearable and often was for Deborah.
Suicidal thoughts would frequently arise and depression and fatigue would merge and meld, and there didn't seem to be a way out…"It was like being in a nightmare from which you can't awake and I developed the capacity to "watch" what was happening in my mind, but was still powerless to change any of it."
The doctors repeatedly asked if she had headaches, to which she always replied "No" because it would be decades before the inner pressure and pain in her head subsided long enough to experience not having a headache even for a little while –– and with that came the understanding that her head had continually ached for 47 years.
As an adult, Deborah's condition required her to juggle work hours so she never had to work for too long at once. She always managed to work creatively as an assistant teacher and in other responsible helping positions –– an amazing accomplishment given her handicap. However, until her discovery of EFT, her adult working life was actually structured around being able to take naps. There was no life for her after the work day, the need for rest was all consuming. This cocoon of disability was what eventually became her motivation to find things that might help making living easier.
She sought many answers, tried many healing techniques, most of them alternative, and says that "while many of them helped me to cope with the situation, very few made the slightest dent in my experience."
Then she discovered EFT when a little over three years ago a friend sent her the first DVD series of Gary Craig's Emotional Freedom Techniques. She watched and was impressed with what she saw, but she was also cautious. Often the methods she had seen had worked beautifully for others, or she herself had been able to share them with others and get beautiful results, but they had no impact on her system at all.
"At first I tapped along and felt nothing," she reports, "but I learned the Basic Recipe, thought I had gotten the idea, downloaded the manual, and decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a try." (Pat's note: Notice Deborah's persistence when encountering what might have discouraged many another people.)
Shortly thereafter, while riding in her car, one of her emotional "storms" came up within her.
These often persisted for minutes, hours, or sometimes days. "This time there was no sense of what had triggered this storm, as was often the case with my brain condition, so I just started to tap on the points of the Basic Recipe, and in a round or two not only had the emotional storm subsided, but I felt clearer than before it had occurred and that was unheard of in my experience."
She reports that it seemed that something had finally really positively impacted her sluggish and erratic system. She felt the change and in her own words she "grabbed hold and started tapping" and did so amazingly often. If she noticed even the slightest awareness of a derangement in her system, she tapped on it. She tapped in the morning upon waking. She tapped throughout the day, and she tapped before going to sleep.
"Sometimes the shifts were extraordinary; sometimes nothing much seemed to happen. When I was shopping and got disoriented and overwhelmed I would do the finger points until I became clearer and then could continue. I did a lot of 9 Gamut Point tapping, adding the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique for good brain hemispheric integration."
Gradually over that first year, Deborah reports, her system started to change. The tapping seemed to be retraining her responses. Instead of waking up as tired or groggier than when she went to bed (that had been the case for decades) she began to wake clearer and could more easily start her day.
Emotional storms could now be managed and dissipated.
Processing emotionally charged situations that arose during the day became easier in present time and processing emotions from the past became easier too.
She could feel the perpetual inner heaviness start to lighten.
Focusing and paying attention became easier, and she could do this throughout the day rather than for just a few hours.
She began sleeping less and less, from 12-14 hours down to 8-10 hours.
She could listen to herself while she was speaking and evaluate how clearly she was presenting her point in present time.
She could actually meditate.
Her system seemed to strengthen because even when she felt heavy emotion she could" continue to think and even speak", a feat she had not been able to do before.
The usual "haze" or "fog" that would come upon her at unexpected times, rarely rolled in anymore, and if it did roll in, she knew that there was an "issue" to be revealed and worked on. "As I tapped, my mind cleared. Rather than being held hostage by my own nervous system, I began to feel like I was awakening into a freedom I had only vaguely hoped possible."
This was her story to date. Incredible…Today there are still functional hurdles Deborah would like to overcome. Yet now in her early sixties, she can tell me that "this brain injured baby, myself, has come a long way and I know now that it is never too late….Positive change is always possible. Acceptance no longer means resignation and despair, but rather is a stepping stone for moving beyond."
Deborah then goes on to say, "Even though I have no idea if my brain has changed physically, it is irrelevant to me. What I do know is that functionally and experientially the difference between before and after that first year of tapping was the difference between endless night, and dawn of day. I am truly grateful to Gary Craig who introduced me to EFT and to all the practitioners who have shared their talents and insights through MTT (Meridian Tapping Techniques)."
I would like to add the comment that, when I asked her about the words she used while tapping, Deborah told me that when she first began tapping she used no words at all, just tapped. She had first to address the incredible over-responsiveness of her nervous system. She says that at that time it was very difficult for her to take an Intensity Rating (SUDS level) because she had to take account of what level of "deadness" or "shut down" was being experienced in her system and often she would need to tap to bring back emotional responsiveness. She found this overall strategy to be very helpful for 'tapping out' her neurological pattern.
Deborah's way of handling this – it was all self-devised – shows us that the stimulation of acupuncture points alone (this was all she did for the first 3 to 6 months) had an incredibly powerful effect on her previously impaired brain functioning and that a form of deep healing took place even before words were introduced with the tapping, particularly when she also tapped directly on her protective emotional numbness (often experienced as a physical sensation of numbness). Her powerful intent itself, it seems, was enough at this point to effect the healing needed at that time. So in the beginning, this healing apparently took place due to the stimulation of the energy system alone. Later she did use words along with the tapping – at first to deal with the numbness, but later in a far more precise and subtle manner, and those words proved very helpful.
The end result of Deborah's self-treatment is awesome in the true sense of the word. It shows us clearly how self-tapping can be used to bring about healing when it is used with true courage and persistence.
Well done, Deborah, may you continue with your inspiring progress…
Deborah Dineeen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org