February 2012 Newsletter

February 2012 Events

This month we are restarting our full programme of events for 2012.  In the next few weeks we are running the following events - (click on the green wording for more detailed information on related website pages.)

Free Introductory Talk Monday February 13
Process Group - Feb to May February 15 to May 23
Narcissism & Borderline Personality Workshop February 18 & 19
Healthy Relationships Workshop March 10 & 11
Trauma Seminar Monday March 12

Please feel free to contact us if you wish to enquire or book into any events.

Fibromyalgia

FibromyalgiaThere are a number of illnesses and conditions that modern medicine has struggled to understand, define, diagnose and treat. Conditions such as Chronic Fatigue, Restless Legs Syndrome and other related conditions such as Fibromyalgia are real and debilitating to those who suffer from the bodily symptoms which then create suffering in the mind of those afflicted.

Fibromyalgia has several definitions. One definition is Fibromyalgia syndrome which is described as pain felt in soft or connective tissue with no obvious signs of trauma. The term “no obvious signs of trauma” means that there is no obvious cause at the physical level such as strained muscles, injury or accident as a precedent or cause to the condition.

The presence of Fibromyalgia is a low or mid level chronic condition that persists over time and the discomfort then goes on to create bodily discomfort which in turn creates fatigue and sleep deprivation. The long term effects of this condition can be to cause depression in the sufferer as there is a known link between long term sleep disorders, pain in the body, and the resulting onset of depression.

The pain symptoms are also different across individuals. Some report a dull ache and individual muscle sensitivity, others report stabbing pain, others movement triggered pain and discomfort, whilst others find a burning sensation or a throbbing effect. These may all be isolated to one limb or area of the body, or across the entire body, and the areas may change or shift over time.

Other sufferers have some form of relationship to their immune system as the onset of illness, flu’s, colds, infections, and viruses seem to trigger an attack, which compounds whatever other illness they have. The presence of stress and anxiety appears to be a trigger as does the emotional repression of anger and rage in the body by people who report being “too nice” to express their emotions.

This last dynamic which centres around the emotional life of the person appears to be a causal factor rather than a symptomatic trigger, based on our work with Fibromyalgia sufferers in therapy. It is the opinion of the Energetics Institute that Fibromyalgia has as one of its causes the presence of unresolved trauma in the life of the person, and/or a poor relationship between the person and their own emotional life.

Sufferers report different long term outcomes. Some report getting worse and the onset of additional or secondary symptoms over time, while others do not get worse or better over time, while others go into remission over time. There is no atypical design for this condition which makes diagnosis and treatment difficult.

We have had a number of Fibromyalgia sufferers present for therapy to deal initially with the depression caused by their Fibromyalgia. In seeing the depression as a symptom of both their Fibromyalgia, and also where applicable, as symptoms of old developmental or episodic adult trauma, or a poor emotional expressive life, we have found Fibromyalgia often resolves itself over time by treating it as a symptom based on one of these causes.

Sufferers have previously or currently been undertaking pain medication, exercise routines, chiropractic and massage treatments, nutritional supplements, naturopathic detoxes and yoga in an attempt to heal their condition, but have reported only limited benefits from such treatments.

Pain studies have shown that incomplete pain signals in the body can cause them to be re-sent and even amplified. Fibromyalgia sufferers appear to have a pain signalling problem that is of this nature. Trauma researchers have identified the role that our 3 key Vagal nerves have in dealing with and exhibiting trauma. The Vagus nerves have been shown to have “communication problems” when traumatised. This is conjecture but a possible framework under which Fibromyalgia exists without showing causes and origins. It may turn out to be a nervous system “network” problem.

Fibromyalgia patients often experience firm knots in their muscles, often causing restricted movement and radiating pain. This is similar to the chronic holding posture of the hypertonic fear/immobilised response that we all potentially have as a survival response. The Vagus system may be activating this type of response in an uncoordinated way. It is possible that trauma causes “noise” floods the Vagus system nerves and activates muscle contractions, pain, twitches, cramps, and other signals. It is in conjecture but is plausible.

We at the Energetics Institute have found that deep organic breathing techniques which are integrated into body mind postural and bioenergetics routines work to restore what appears to be temporary Vagal balance and regulation. The exercises when done as a daily routine have been reported by clients to allow them to live what is subjectively described as a more normal Parasympathetic state where they feel “safer”, grounded, present and oriented towards social interaction rather than survival fight or flight preoccupations.

This creates the space for these clients to examine whatever childhood developmental trauma and abandonment/neglect issues they often seem to have, and/or classic abuse or developmental trauma in their personal history. The sensorimotor trauma resolution work we undertake with clients, as articulated by Dr. Pat Ogden’s pioneering Sensorimotor work, further assists in lessening the Fibromyalgia symptoms over time.

In fact we often find that the Fibromyalgia symptom of pain or bodily sensation, when isolated and focussed on, may be tracked back to a blocked and incomplete survival response initiated perhaps as early as childhood, but which was frustrated, discontinued or overwhelmed by trauma. Resolution of these blocked impulses appears to assist in the lessening of the Fibromyalgia onsets, duration and severity of symptoms. In this context Fibromyalgia appears to have a relationship to trauma.

These body psychotherapy and trauma principles and treatments offer a potential way forward for Fibromyalgia sufferers. Please contact us for further information or to book in for an assessment conducted and treatments explained in further detail.

For more information about Fibromyalgia and a fuller version of this article I refer you to our new article Fibromyalgia – The Phantom Pain Condition.

The Role of Guilt in Individual and Group Conscience

GuiltGuilt is a theme that haunts many clients who come to see us. The experience of guilt can be crippling to a person and may inhibit their free will choices in life.

There is a relationship between guilt and our sense of safety and belonging to family and other groups. In our infancy our survival is predicated on our belonging to our parents and our family. Belonging equates to our security and so a child will forsake much to retain the bonds of belonging and being accepted by the larger groups and systems in which they belong and live.

We each experience anxiety and unease at the thought of being dispossessed by any of the groups we belong to and this unconsciously influences our actions, and can dominate our lives when the trauma of disconnection or the threat of this occurring, remains unhealed in an adult. It can as unresolved trauma then occupy our thinking, alter the perception of our wellbeing, challenge our confidence and our sense of leadership and authority.

Born out of this survival state is the trait we know as loyalty. Loyalty is our identification with the rules, values, beliefs, rituals and processes of the wider group and our voluntary free will choice to adhere to these constructs and rules. This may be a free will choice. We may as a child join the scouts of our free will and devote our time to learning the rules, values, rituals and processes they use.

However we may unconsciously out of a need to belong choose not to rock the boat in a household that is criminal or abusive somehow, and confirm our membership to this family system out of need and seen by our compliance. We do not actually get a choice but the belonging arises out of our love and identification with those who guarantee our survival and accept us as belonging to them.

We may find that the family system we belong to may compel us to act in ways that are limiting, self-destructive, abusive to others, and which may compromise our own integral self. We may need to give up personal values or a natural part of ourself to survive and win love in such a family. We may belong and be accepted on this basis which provides us with needed food in our belly, a roof over our head, and functional aspects of life such as education.

This compromise of the self is what Bert Hellinger spoke of as “blind loyalty” and “blind love”. In this space the essential nature of love is distorted to serve the wider group and is both an illusion of the essential nature of love, and a collusion with the group in order to survive. The adult critical thinking mind goes missing in these spaces with its essential capacity for rational thought, clarity and reason. Children do not possess such minds and in some aspects neither do many adults who grew up compromised in this way in their childhoods.

In terms of systems theory we find that the ordering principle of families should be that the parents give time, attention, resources and direction to the children, and children take these without guilt or shame or compromise.

In some family systems we find the roles start to get reversed. In the family whose membership demands the attendance to the illness an unavailability of one or both parents the children may constellate various roles to create balance and equilibrium in such a family due to the dysfunction out of balance and out of order state the sick parent represents.

In a sick parent family we often find a previous generational unresolved issue compulsively signalling itself as illness in that parent who belongs to that family system. The various children often react in various ways by one becoming a caretaker of the parent. One may become the substitute parent, one becomes an identifying child by also becoming sick as a loyal way of being, one becomes self destructive as an angry rebel, one becomes an achieving hero, and one becomes invisible and withdrawn with no needs and wants.

It will very much depend on other systemic issues and also the number of children present in the family as to how the family constellates itself. Sufficient to say it will be acts of blind love and blind loyalty that will see the family adjust and normalise such that the compromised truth becomes unconscious in all present and everyone gets on living according to the family rules, beliefs, processes, rituals and values.

In the adults who grew up as the children of such families we often find this self subjugation still taking place. In therapy I find that the first clue often arises when I ask for a description of childhood and the parents. In many cases I find that there is a blind loyalty to the parents, and an idealisation of the child’s childhood pain and sacrifice.

Often there is an issue where once I ask them to enact a strategy or lifestyle change which puts themself first, perhaps for the first time in their life. I then notice they still collude with the unconscious rules of their family system. They sabotage any attempt to put themselves first even when consciously they can see the need and feel the want of doing so.

They must maintain the status quo of their family system and to challenge it or question it can actually even become too much for some and cessation of therapy can result when the blind love is too strong to counter. Such people are torn by the original sense of wanting to belong and not threaten that belonging.

They often exhibit much guilt when acting for healthy self interest and will often relapse into sickness, caretaking others, addictions or self-destructive behaviours when attempting to create healthy boundaries with others. It is more than just shame and a possible sense of worthlessness at play here.

The fear of exclusion from the family or tribe evokes primary survival level issues of fear. Some children raised in these types of family systems report being able to recall deeply these exact feelings. The children of the sick parent remember feeling dread at the recurrent thought of what will happen to me if the parent dies.

They feel exposed and vulnerable at a deep level and then devote themself out of love to caretaking the parents and making the family function at the expense of their own primary needs. They feel guilt for having needs, wants and feelings. They often become needless and wantless. They serve the family system.

The family system rules mean that they cannot have a life of self determination. The child compulsively must caretake other wounded people and suppress their own desires and right to a destiny. If this is not challenged and broken then we say this person will live out an unconscious fate tied to those original family system rules and sense of belonging.

Humans developed a sense of personal conscience in order to alert them and regulate our sense of secure belonging to family and/or whatever systems or group we align and belong to. We learn what is “right” and what is “wrong” for our membership to be guaranteed and our belonging made secure.

Most groups or systems, including families operate at two levels, that being the conscious with its rules and rituals and image setting, but also unconsciously via the unspoken, the hidden meanings, the real agendas below the social mask, the secrets, and the subtle body language which conveys far more loudly than the spoken word.

We learn from the reactions and responses of those in the system as to the deeper truths. We adjust accordingly and seek to secure our sense of belonging. A personal conscience is our compass for conforming as it informs us to how our personal values are congruent to the group values, and how our choices, actions, and intentions work for or against group or family conformity.

Bert Hellinger described the feeling we have when congruent and aligned to the group as being “innocent” and this means safe and secure in the belonging to the group. Our basic security and safety needs have been actualised. We relax and feel bonded to the group as we are safe.  This state typically continues until either we transgress our personal values or that of the group and its norms.

Once we are out of order with ourself or the group we then experience anxiety and guilt that comes from the sense that we have made ourself insecure in the group context through violation of values, rules, and behaviours. Human beings always seek to avoid suffering and so we will feel discomfort and fear at the perceived loss of security in their belonging. This sense of violation is what we term guilt.

Guilt serves to remind us what is out of order between ourself and the group or system that the guilt has context with.  When we feel we have offended the group or family system our guilt activates to restore the balance, to make amends, to right the wrong, so our belonging is restored and we are safe again.

Our personal conscience is also designed to help us grow through assisting in adult critical thinking when we need to move beyond the supplied values and beliefs of the family and other systems. As we grow then we learn that we can have other values, ideas, beliefs, needs and wants at odds with our families and other groups we may be part of.

We learn that a majority of alignment to these systems can be enough. We may have some guilt due to the lack of complete alignment that now exists between ourself and the family or other system. This guilt is mild where we are safe and autonomous in our development and have a secure sense of self. Likewise where the family or other groups are secure within their own values and ideals then a member may hold or express divergent views or serve themself before the group from time to time without there being any threat of excommunication or loss of belonging for the individual.

Unfortunately many families are not so evolved and operate from insecure but rigid constructs that demand total loyalty for acceptance. Blind love and blind loyalty are the result that the individual suffers as a fate. In many families there are unresolved issues and secrets going back generations which have shaped the family dynamics and the conscious and unconscious rules that permeate the way in which acceptance and belonging operate.

Most of you can think of your own family or of someone you know where the family does not talk about some secret, some scandal, some past family member, or some now missing member such as the aborted child, the dead sibling, the runaway first husband and father. These no-go zones form part of the unspoken rules that dictate how such families operate out of their pain but also out of balance.

What families tend to evolve over time and across generations are family systems out of order, out of balance, not in truth, and carrying the baggage of disowned pain, shame and guilt seen as disowned members of that family, or of unacknowledged persons and secrets. Our blind loyalty and the need to belong means we typically morph into belonging to such “sick” systems even when our own personal values and conscience feel violated by the unacknowledged aspects of that system.

Every family or group system that is distorted and out of truth with itself is always trying to reassert its balance and truth. In human beings we say that unresolved traumas force us to individually and unconsciously try and resolve the issue through a process of “repetition compulsion”. In this we are liable to unconsciously fall into dynamics that recreate the original wounding dynamic and so attempt to “get it right this time”. This is a compulsive aspect of that person.

In family systems and groups the same compulsion is seen to operate at the systemic level. Whatever is the unacknowledged person, secret, scandal, or shame and guilt, will show up in subsequent generations in those members to be “acted out” and compulsively represented to attempt to allow the system to “get it right this time”, and bring the system back into truth.

The family or group members are forced to carry these burdens and out of blind love and blond loyalty take on this burden of becoming a role, or becoming sick, or recreating the dynamics of what has previously remained a secret or suppressed. This causes the current members much pain and suffering and creates a fate for them unless the unconscious dynamics are made conscious, the secret or out of order person or event is acknowledged and reasserted within the system.

The most common manifestation of how family and group systems end up behaving is that where the individuals do not feel supported to individuate and become a healthy whole outside the family or group concerned. Many remain dependent and weak, or become abusive and enforce the dependency and weakness on others, all of which often relates to the unconscious systemic repetition playing out through the current generation.

Individuals remain enmeshed in such families and groups, feel guilt and shame at moving forward to a singular destiny that they would create for themself, and instead remain obedient to the requirements of the group. They feel unable to move forward to create true autonomy and remain dependent on the “parents” or leaders of that group or family. In a sense they are bonded to the abuser as the loyalty is not reciprocated in any healthy way.

We use Family Constellations processes to uncover the unconscious family and group systemic balancing impulses which affect current generation individuals and families. Not all clients have this issue but many families have a legacy issue which is creating this disturbing effect. Family constellations works to make conscious, acknowledge and find the order and the place for that which is out of order.

We run Family and Organisational Constellation sessions and workshops. We work in the individual and group context with these systemic issues. Guilt is a common individual symptom that can allude to some family or group belonging issue, or a wider multi-generational issue.  Please contact us if you would like to know more about such hidden dynamics that may be at work in your own life.

For the more extensive article on this subject follow the link to the article Guilt and its Relation to Individual and Group Conscience.

Reminder to Join our New Process Group

One of the most effective ways to commence and deepen your healing is to join a Process Group of committed persons who fortnightly come together and leverage the power of group energy and group dynamics to take their healing to deeper levels. A group environment achieves an emotional and energetic container that one-on-one therapy cannot emulate.

An explanation of our Process Group was outlined in our January 2012 Newsletter. We have 3 places left in the Process Group so if you have been thinking of joining but put it off then come forward now to secure a place!

The Process Group kicks off on Wednesday evening, February 15 2012 and runs for 3 months until May 23 2012 and then takes a midyear break. It runs every second Wednesday night, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.  Attendees commit for that 3 month term, and can optionally elect to rejoin in July when we start again, or they can decline after the first 3 months commitment.  If you are interested then do not procrastinate as I limit attendance to 8 attendees for the group dynamics and equity in the group.

Re-run of Narcissism and Borderline Personality Workshop

I will be running this life-changing event for those who grew up with either a Narcissistic and/or trauma based personality parent, or who has endured one in relationship, at work or in some other significant dynamic in their life.  This key event will take place on the weekend of February 18 and 19 2012.

The people who attended this course in the past rated it as one of the best they had ever attended in terms of the frameworks, concepts and then personal insights it gave them. The resulting schemas, tools and techniques have been found to be empowering in overcoming traumatisation and victimisation they have felt from the dynamics and abuse they encountered in their childhood and/or adult lives.

This will be the last time I run this key workshop for some time.  Places are limited at all of my workshops so everyone gets personal attention. Please make contact at the earliest opportunity if you wish to know more or book in as I will not be running this signature event again until late 2012.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries or wish to make a booking for private therapy or a group event.

Enjoy your month!

Richard Boyd

Director, Energetics Institute

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