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A woman with posttraumatic stress wonders how she can possibly heal her condition, which includes ni

24 Oct
A woman with posttraumatic stress wonders how she can possibly heal her condition, which includes night screaming and panic attacks, if she cannot remember anything about the trauma that created her symptoms..
Question:
I have no current concious memory of PTSD but I have the symptoms of it. (I wake up in the middle of the night screaming and I have panic attacks during the day.) I read Invisible Heroes, your book about PTSD, but every survivor had some sort of memory or recollection of their trauma. How should I go about healing if I cannot remember anything?

Kara



Dear Kara,
Not every trauma survivor in the book had a clear memory of what caused his or her posttraumatic stress symptoms, and it is not at all uncommon for memory to be clouded or missing, due to the burst of painkilling biochemicals that flood the bloodstream during a terrifying event. This can result in partial or full amnesia and it is most common among survivors of traumatic events from childhood (but it can certainly occur with adults, too).

Fortunately, you do not need to remember what happened in order to heal. I know that goes against conventional wisdom, but it’s true - many people get better without specific memories. They do the same things recommended in the book for people who do remember: learn and practice self-soothing techniques, use guided imagery for healing trauma, get exercise, body work, try moving meditation, use ritual and prayer, work with journaling and other forms of self-expression, see about temporary medication, and try one or more of the alphabet therapies. It’s important to make sure you go to practitioners who are sophisticated and experienced in dealing with PTSD and are informed about the new research.

Many blessings to you.

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