A Must-Read Book for All Early Trauma Survivors!

I’ve just discovered my new bible–the book that explains me to me perfectly. Louis Tinnin, MD and Linda Gantt, PhD’s The Instinctual Trauma Response & Dual Brain Dynamics: A Guide for Trauma Therapy is THE book to read if you want to understand all types of early trauma: invasive medical procedures and infant surgery without anesthesia, sexual and physical abuse, abuse from foster care and orphanages, burns, rape, combat trauma, and captivity. The book discusses the authors’ understanding of how the brain copes with trauma, how the symptoms manifest, and how to best heal survivors of trauma. It  describes techniques and strategies in-depth and gives many excellent examples of cases in which people have successfully resolved their traumas. And, perhaps most importantly, the text is understandable to a lay person. I applaud them for this.

I feel immense gratitude, for this book has explained things to me that I have not been able to get a handle on no matter how I have tried. I’ve had SO many revelations and I’ve only read half the book. Here’s an example of a life experience that I’ve gotten a handle on: The difficulties I had learning to scuba dive were instantly clear to me. The book affirmed the fact that I was intubated without anesthesia before my infant surgery. That is, a breathing tube was forced into my throat while I was strapped down so that I could be breathed by a respirator. (Right now I am staring blankly out the window, slightly ‘frozen’ just thinking about it.) The scuba equipment replicated the respirator, sound included. I’ve always felt shame and disappointment about the fact that I could not become a scuba diver (especially since I was a marine biology major at a university in warm water Florida) and now, my experience is completely understandable. Post traumatic stress symptoms from the early trauma took over, a condition that I did not know I had at the time. Had I known, I would probably have been able to work through my reactions and soothe myself as I went along or even avoid certain reactions altogether.

Here’s a big excerpt from the book so that you get a flavor of the narrative and a glimpse into their approach. Go slowly. You’ll get it. They really do try to make it clear to a non-scientist type reader.

“Humans are double-minded. They have dual brains and dual minds. Yet, they do not know it. They have not known it since they first became toddlers using speech and verbal memory. That happens around age three when the two cerebral hemispheres begin  to exchange information across their maturing connection, the corpus callosum. When one hemisphere becomes dominant over the other, a compelling illusion of unity develops. This is when the individual acquires ‘I-ness”and begins life as a unitary agent in the world of verbal communication. The dominant hemisphere (usually the left) becomes the verbal brain, with a mind that operates by the logic of language and imposes a sense of self as unitary agent with willed action in linear time (past, present, future).

“Dominant verbal consciousness rarely yields to the nonverbal mind except during one’s instinctual response to trauma when cerebral dominance surrenders to nonverbal survival instincts. When the person recovers from the lapse of unity caused by trauma, the instinctual experience remains outside of verbal recall, unremembered in words but unforgettable in feelings and images. The nonverbal mind, unconstrained by narrative structure, remembers it all: the fear, the thwarted impulse to escape, the near-death experience of the freeze, the altered state of consciousness, the automatic obedience, and finally self-repair (as in animal wound-licking).

“We contend that it is nonverbal memory of the traumatic survival experience, held as unfinished and forever present but outside of verbal consciousness, that causes posttraumatic intrusive, avoidant, arousal, and dissociative symptoms. Understanding the brain dynamics of cerebral dominance, verbal and nonverbal thought and memory, and the interaction of verbal and nonverbal minds can lead to specific therapeutic measures for posttraumatic disorders” (Tinnin and Gantt 9).

Until we extract our trauma story from the right brain, post-traumatic stress often has its way with us. And if the trauma occurred before the age of three, then strategies other than verbal recall, such as drawing, must be employed. Stay tuned for more about this book. I’ll quote some of the case studies and share more of my impressions. In the meantime, you might want to go to the authors’ website for more information: www.traumatherapy.us or to Dr. Tinnin’s blog http://ltinnin.wordpress.com. Get ready to get clear.

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