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A 49-year-old woman who has the symptoms of early sexual abuse but no memories

24 Apr
A 49-year-old woman who has the symptoms of early sexual abuse but no memories of it, and who has used therapy to help with many things, asks if the workshop in Durham might help..
Dear BR,

Please print my name as "Debbie"..Thanx! I cannot make a decision about the Trauma Workshop in July because, although I’m 100% symptomatic of pre-verbal sexual abuse, at 49, I still have no memories. I''ve been blessed w/ an excellent MD and PhD for therapy for over 10 years, and yet I still have only body memories.

I had five years of weekly psychotherapy, i.e., with a VERY well respected, unusually well- loved psychiatrist; some of that overlapped with an amazing therapist psychologist (who I drove 55 miles for!) for about 5 years, where we repeatedly tried EMDR (her absolute favorite), Somatic Experiencing Therapy with Levines book (she was only trained a little for this), viewing/reaction/discussion of clinical sex videos which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am OK with sex and repulsed when intimacy is involved. The videos and S.E. were tried after an absolutely horrendous reaction with a very nice man whom with whom I had a relationship. I honestly thought I might "crack: that night. That was Winter of 2003. I now have a good friendship with this man, but have not dated since.

My psychiatrist died of leukemia 18 months ago, and my therapist quit her practice due to ALS last summer. I am strong.. Have survived severe CFS, recurring clinical depression, soft tissue sarcoma, am a recovering alcoholic for 15 years, quit 3.5 packs cigarettes/day. But I cannot get past this presumable PTSD (so labeled by therapist).. It was a HUGE jump to assume that I was almost definitely molested preverbal age. I will do anything for help, as long as it is healthy and I am safe.

Peter Levine’s book, Waking the Tiger, really, really spoke to me. I have your CD''s on depression, chronic fatigue and cancer, and all are fabulous.

Can you guide me, and perhaps others, who are unsure about attending this Trauma workshop? I so wish to develop a healthy, loving relationship, and feel as though I AM TRULY OUT OF OPTIONS AFTER YEARS OF VERY HARD WORK. Thanks!

"Debbie"



Dear "Debbie",

It certainly sounds like you had some excellent, traditional therapy, and that you’ve accomplished a great deal with it. Kudos to you on that score!

I still would recommend you try Somatic Experiencing with a skilled, certified, experienced practitioner, if you can find such a person. You can go to Peter Levine’s website to look up a practitioner in your area on the registry here.

However, there is another route you may wish to try first, because if it helps, it could be quicker, easier and less expensive for you - Mary Sise is a very skilled, compassionate and terrific practitioner - I trust her and respect her very much. She''s based in albany NY - and she''s put out a DVD/video of a combination technique of two effective "alphabet therapies" - Thought Field Therapy and Emotional Freedom Technique, where you watch her work with several people struggling with several issues, and then there''s a fill-in-the-blanks session for the viewer. It''s a non-evocative tapping + affirmations technique, so it’s unlikely to generate any distress from working with it. And if it helps after a few times, it could save you a lot of time, money and trouble. You can find info on mary here, and we actually carry her DVD in our catalog.

Coming to my workshop would certainly give you a good overview of what''s available, and you could work with the guided imagery exercises during the 9-hour weekend to see if you’re having good effects (it''s more cumulative and integrative, and less dramatic than some of these alphabet techniques, so it may take more than a couple of days to see - but you could possibly get a good idea right there within that time frame, too). Being at the workshop could also inspire and motivate you to take these next steps, and give you hope for what you can realistically achieve, which is a lot. There also may be some concepts or techniques that will jump out at you in a live workshop that you may have missed in reading the book. So I’d say if you can attend, by all means do so.

But with or without the workshop, in terms of resource materials, I''d recommend the Mary Sise video; Peter Levine’s terrific audio exercises, Sexual Healing ; and our HJ Relaxation & Wellness imagery first, just to get you back in the swing of using imagery for self-regulation, and then the more intense Healing Trauma imagery, which can help you do a lot of deep, integrative, inner work.

If you can find a Somatic Experiencing practitioner in your area, great. But either way, please keep in mind that you do not have to remember the abuse for these methods to work. So take a break from trying to flush out ‘the truth’, whatever that might be. That''s the sort of thing traditional talk therapy would focus on, often to no avail and to great distress and frustration. These techniques don''t ask you to place your attention there. It’s a radical idea, I know, but it’s taken us a long time to get away from the Freudian notion that you must bring historical facts into conscious awareness in order to heal them. Truth is, you don’t.

I hope this helps. All best wishes, and perhaps I’ll see you in Durham,

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award