Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is essentially when we’re not expanding  – when we are restrained in our ability to unfold our personality, ambitions and realise our dreams. 

Our ability to emotionally self-nurture becomes impaired, and we begin to worry about the future, ruminate about the past.  We become subtly detached from the moment and its meaning.  This is the beginning of mental health issues.  

With Personalised Brain Training, we pursue symptoms and resolve these in a forward-looking manner. 

The diagnostic criteria for PTSD are somewhat more expansive.  A Kaiser Neuromap, and Personalised Brain Training / Default Network Training, are not diagnostic tools.  Rather, we gain an understanding of how a person’s brain networks are affected.  

The essence of trauma is feeling that we are unable to move on.  It is as simple as that.  Trauma is a perception issue that can be overcome. 

(For physical trauma and brain injury, see here).  

We are interested in how a person perceives their environment and prospects, and are not bound by the presence of actual incidents, or ‘stressors’, which a diagnosis per the DSM-5 requires.  

Neurofeedback Personalised Brain Training takes a holistic approach to addressing trauma and its comorbidities.  

From a pathological perspective, PTSD is an acute stress disorder – the anxiety is characterised by the individual’s inability or unwillingness to process a traumatic event, leading to a state of hyper-vigilance.  This presents in many incapacitating symptoms.    

 

With Personalised Brain Training, we can address these issues in a non-invasive, medication-free, effective and evidence-based manner.

PTSD is when we don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can fix this with neurofeedback

 – Ruminating about the past, worrying about the future

 The first indication that we are experiencing trauma / PTSD is when we find ourselves not living in the present.  Enjoyment of the moment and social interaction is clouded by constant ruminations about the past, and worries about the future.  We are unable to ‘let go’, relax, and grasp opportunities as they present themselves in the Now.  We are plagued by intrusive thoughts that bring us back to events in the past, which needn’t even be related to a traumatic event, but which remind us of some inadequacy and amplify our self-doubt.  Feelings of shame and guilt come into the picture as well, further eroding our self-confidence.  “How can I be happy and enjoy this after what has happened?”.  Similarly, our perception of the future is shrouded in worry and fearful anticipation.  Uncertainty is our greatest foe, our perception of safety is unhinged by any doubt as to what could happen next.  The absence of a plan becomes a concern, the lack of clarity as to what’s around the corner a burden.  Negativity associated with the past deprives us of hope.  We are thus unable to see uncharted territories ahead as an opportunity, and much rather dwell on impending threats.  Indeed, our system is primed to protect us, and we are in survival mode.  This process becomes self-feeding as we become addicted to the hyper-arousal our sense of fear induces.  Our sense of joy and looking forward to fun becomes clouded to the extent we forget and no longer yearn it.  Detachment sets in, further isolating us from feelings that previously motivated us.  This process can even start slow and subtly, yet the cycle is self-fulfilling and deprives us of the necessary perspective to break and get out.  It is irrelevant what started it in the first place, whether an unprovoked event or a gradual reduction in options, the effect is the same, as are the symptoms.  We need to find a way to enjoy the moment, trust our ability to seize chances and see uncertainty as an opportunity.  As we do this, our sense of emotional safety improves in a way that shapes our options and how our environment responds to us, thus feeding a positive feedback loop.  Manifesting thoughts that envisage success is crucial to shaping a future we want to live.  Exiting trauma is about wanting to get better and embracing a positive sense of self.  

Personalised Brain Training helps show our brain what it feels like to regain these qualities.  Rather than feeding the fears and ruminations that got us into a downward cycle, we are guiding the brain towards a functional, optimistic path.  This lets us shape our identity around the success we envisage and be in the moment.  

Medication may have helped us with necessary numbing and stimulation to perform essential functions.  Psychotherapy got us to realise the need for an intervention and provides us a ‘look in the mirror’.  Neurofeedback picks up from there, helping us to reduce or eliminate potentially addictive and self-destructive drug-dependency (under supervision of the prescribing authority), and free us from a self-fuelling loop of re-traumatisation that dwelling on the past incurs, by restoring healthy brain function.  It is a complementary therapy that is effective, evidence-based, medication-free and non-invasive (neither physically nor mentally). 

– feeling judged or hypersensitive to how people approach us 

In Personalised Brain Training, our definition of trauma is wider.  We include loss of social standing, which can be either the cause or the consequence of a traumatic event or development.  The perceived loss of social position results in us feeling judged.  We become hypersensitive to how people approach us, talk to us, deal with us.  This is a subjective concept, as it should be, given that trauma should be recognised as an issue of perception by the affected person, rather than a concept being ‘awarded’ by an unrelated party, though external affirmation can help and medical advice should be sought in any event.  As humans, social recognition is a critical component of our biological drive to propagate.  Attraction relies on this, which ultimately leads to bonding.  Consequently, there are numerous brain areas devoted to, or involved in, the assessment of our position with regard to others.  When our self-perception is assailed, or even the viability of our self is questioned, we are naturally shaken.  Various brain areas become dysrhythmic.  These include areas responsible for our body control and awareness, and many therapies focus on engaging the body and somatosensory system with a view to inducing cerebral changes.  However, this is only a part of the picture – there are many, arguably more powerful neuronal centres in the brain that are affected by trauma, and with a Kaiser Neuromap and Default Network Training (together, Personalised Brain Training), we can assess the issues more accurately, completely and efficiently, as well as then successfully training the brain to overcome trauma and setting ourselves on course for a positive trajectory.  

 – not feeling safe in the world, hypervigilance

Another consequence of trauma is that we may feel unable to rationally assert a sense of safety.  This is different to self-nurture, or an emotional sense of safety.  When we are unable to talk ourselves down from a situation we lose the ability to effectively regulate our moods, to switch off when we need to, and ultimately can become excessively paranoid.  There are neural correlates for this behaviour, and we can asses this with a Kaiser Neuromap.  Safety and assurance are core needs we are programmed to seek to fulfil.  Authority and role models help us in this quest.  When we become dysregulated in our ability to self-soothe, we are also compromised in our ability to find paternal guidance.  As a result, we tend to over-idolise figures who seemingly exude strength and power, or disobey completely and become unnecessarily rebellious – both immature behaviour patterns.  Resetting this balance is crucial to achieving calming, regulated emotions, reduced hypervigilance and controlling impulsiveness.  Personalised Brain Training lets us achieve this. 

When hypervigilance persists untreated, we face further problems.  Physically, our heart beats faster and harder, more of the time, which is a clear stress on our system.  Mentally, we become prone to developing intrusive thoughts, even when we are able to relax, and more so when we are stressed, where these can take on third-person character, a voice in our head.  This can have a destabilising effect, not least because we are now spending energy ‘defeating’ other perspectives we are internally engaged with, and thus distracting us from the ‘now’.  Being on hyper-alert can also make us more susceptible to feeling relational to sensory input, in that we feel that everything is directed at us, which can set us up for psychosis.  

 – isolation, not feeling part of a group or cause

As we lose our ability to enjoy the moment, our social interactions suffer.  Exercising our social brain keeps us alive and forms the basis for sound mental health.  Our brains are adaptive, and we need to provide stimulus to maintain connections and sustain flexibility.  Isolation deprives us of many necessary exercises.  For example, brain areas that deal with face recognition also respond to affective interactions and the ability to discriminate between emotional content of faces.  We need to keep training these brain areas through social interaction in order to maintain emotional recognition – it is not a surprise that perpetual mask-wearing heightens our social anxiety (aside from adverse physical effects).  Social recognition, a key component of our biological need to attract and bond, is driven by sensory interpretations.  Again, we need to exercise brain areas that contribute to this, including language and speech generation and comprehension, auditory sensitivity, and monitoring rewards for actions, both directly and vicariously.  Our mirror neuron system contributes towards learning from others’ mistakes or examples, and consequently the storage of social rules necessary for constructive functioning in a society.  Inclusion is imperative to establishing a healthy self-image or sense of self.  This in turn is crucial to forming stable relationships with friends, family and forming healthy alliances necessary for personal and professional progression.  When we lose our sense of belonging to a group or cause, we may become unstable in our self-perception and our relationships with others.  The effect may snowball into perceptions of abandonment, feelings of emptiness and dissociation; this in turn correlates with mood dysregulation, impulsive and often dangerous behaviours, intrusive thoughts and potential self-harm.  With Personalised Brain Training, we can assess vulnerability to these traits as they manifest in functional brain area dysrhythmia that shows in a Kaiser Neuromap; with Default Network Training, an advanced form of neurofeedback, we can train these brain areas and networks in a holistic manner to help re-establish balance.  This enables us to reconnect with our environment and re-enter a positive feedback loop.

  – difficulty sleeping and concentrating

Sleep is adversely affected by trauma.  First, the mind needs to ‘let go’ in order to enter deeper sleep cycles, which is a challenge for many.  Excessive rumination and intrusive thoughts can hinder this, as does the loss of our ability to rationally calm ourselves down.  The depth of our sleep is governed by our ability to self-nurture and create an emotional ‘safe space’.  Homeostasis during various sleep stages is governed by other parts of our brain, some still involving the cortex.  With a Kaiser Neuromap we can detect dysrhythmia in the relevant brain areas and train these accordingly with Default Network Training (together, Personalised Brain Training).  

Focus and organisation suffers as a consequence of sleep issues.  This time, different brain areas are affected, which we can also train.  When we are unable to concentrate and produce our best output, we become demotivated and our mood and sense of self suffer.  Again, there are brain areas responsible for these aspects of being, for which we can again detect dysrhythmia and provide neurofeedback training.  The process is holistic – many components have to work together effectively for us to function optimally. 

 

 – depression; various forms of anxiety

Mood regulation suffers when we lose social integration, sleep and focus. Neurofeedback training found to significantly help 80% of people with depression by aiming to restore motivation, improving sleep and focus, and reducing anxiety.  There are numerous potential cortical contributors to depression, and with a brain map we can see vulnerabilities.  Neurofeedback training lets us address these as well as establish a generally improved sense of well-being in a holistic manner.  he positive effects of neurofeedback training have been shown to be lasting.  Neurofeedback is non-invasive and medication-free.

Anxiety results from hypervigilance and indeed this cycle feeds itself.  There are numerous forms and sources of anxiety, which are visible on a Kaiser Neuromap.  With Default Network Training we can achieve calming, and furthermore assist change in functional connectivity of brain circuits that keep us in a primed, anxious state.  

 

 – reduced compassion and empathy; emotional numbness, various degrees of dissociation from one’s previous emotional and physical life

The primary issue of trauma affects brain areas that are activated during empathy and forgiveness.  With these two qualities impaired, our emotional life suffers, as do our social capacities.  With neurofeedback training, we can restore functionality of these brain areas.  Another reason this is important is because we do not want to become oppressors ourselves.  As we lose our sense of emotional investment in our surroundings, we become careless with regard to others’ feelings and needs.  Implicitly, we are now capable of unintended yet real behaviour patterns that can harm others, as we become deaf to feedback.  Not only has trauma affected us, it now makes us perpetrators that pass it on. 

 – various degrees of dissociation from one’s previous emotional and physical life

Besides reduced social interaction and a less meaningful emotional life that is now more self-centred – and with the wrong type of therapy, becomes self-indulgent and self-perpetuating – we can experience a physical withdrawal from our environment.  Dissociation can be momentary and intense, or subtle and ongoing to the extent that we are not even cognisant of it.  Either way, our bodies retreat from sensations, analogous to our emotional withdrawal.  Many therapies aim to revive our sense of ownership of our bodies, and thus ultimately our life and future, by training our body awareness in various ways.  Realising that our bodies are steered by our mind, specifically our cortex, we can train the relevant brain areas that govern our body perception and movement execution.  Neurofeedback training effectively complements these approaches by directly treating the areas involved in perception and interaction with our surroundings.

Personalised Brain Training is forward-looking.  

Every person is different and has a unique way of responding to being shaken out of their perceived safety.  A brain map shows us which brain areas have become dysregulated, and we then train these with neurofeedback.  We use David Kaiser’s Default Network Training, which is an advanced method superseding the Othmer Method / ILF.  Training the brain this way shows it what it it’s like to be functional again, over it, able to get on with it.  With practice we become able to reform our trajectory and regain a sustainable, self-reinforcing, positive environment.  

As a result, we are no longer trapped in the recursive, debilitating loop of intrusive thoughts, avoidance behaviour and negativity.  Instead we are able to live a positive, constructive and productive life while viewing our previous ‘hole’ with healthy detachment and self-forgiveness.

menopause and neurofeedback training for the next half of life

Trauma is a debilitating, negative state, both mentally and physically.  Unresolved, we risk becoming desensitised, unempathetic and destructive, even possibly turning into abusers ourselves.  

What’s more, many approaches to dealing with trauma are themselves riddled with self-indulgence and self-interest on the part of the provider – there is no end to disappointments and betrayals that can be unearthed in a person’s history, and unsurprisingly many psychotherapy approaches are lengthy and possibly self-reinforcing (re-traumatising).  As a participant in such programmes, we are prone to developing our identity around our ‘trauma’, not least due to the time spent analysing this.

Personalised Brain Training takes a forward-looking approach to overcoming our current situation.  It aims to restore functionality and positive feedback loops in the shortest possible time, without indulging in recollections of the past nor medicinal numbing.  The future starts in the present, and neurofeedback training is for persons who actually want to get better and are willing to manifest their thoughts accordingly, with the help that brain training provides.  

Neurofeedback for trauma and PTSD is evidence-based, effective, non-invasive and medication-free. 

Bright Zyon Canyon shows path with neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is a form of complementary therapy and should not be seen as a replacement for conventional medicine.  qEEG brain map-based neurofeedback training takes a more holistic approach to brain functioning, rather than just focusing on medical symptoms.  It is not intended as a form of diagnosis nor medical intervention nor medical advice per the disclaimer.

Personalised Brain Training and PTSD

Brain Maps and Personalised Brain Training

Kaiser Neuromap brain maps and Brodmann areas

Brain Maps expose Individual Vulnerabilities

With a Kaiser Neuromap, we can identify character traits, vulnerabilities and strengths. 

Different brain areas and networks govern our behaviour.  For example, there are parts of our brain which control mood regulation; spatial distractibility; physiological arousal; our sense of self; self-critical thoughts; anger and emotional attachment; and there are various sources of anxiety.

A brain map shows us which brain areas are behaving immaturely, and thus expose us to vulnerabilities or mental health issues.

Rather than fitting people into categories – diagnosis – we can assess vulnerability to behaviour patterns.  Every brain is different.  A brain map provides a more granular approach to understanding our strengths and weaknesses.

Neurofeedback process explained, illustrating real-time analysis of brain waves and feedback given

Personalised Brain Training with Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback lets us train dysrythmic brain areas.  With sensors comfortably fitted to the brain areas we want to train, we detect brainwave patterns real-time while watching a movie.  When these patterns are inefficient, the volume drops momentarily.  This is the feedback we are giving our brain, short and instantaneously.  

The brain area we are training recognises this – while our conscious mind is focussed on the movie – and adjusts its behaviour to restore the normal volume.  With repetition, throughout a session, learning occurs.  

Meanwhile our conscious mind is solely focussed on the movie; the training process is passive in this sense.    

The drop in volume is subtle, so we continue to understand the flow of the movie.  No current or electrical stimulation is fed to the brain; sensors simply read brainwaves and the feedback is purely audio-visual.

Neurofeedback is preconscious brain training aimed at enhancing our mental, emotional and spiritual health

Neurofeedback trains our Pre-Conscious Mind

 

Rather than engaging the conscious mind, which slows us down, we are training preconscious processes

This equips us with the ability to live in the moment and attain our potential (if we have to resort to conscious control, we are not living in the moment).

Personalised Brain Training is an advanced qEEG brain map-based approach to neurofeedback training developed by the founders of the field.  Taking Othmer Method / ILF training methods further, it employs Default Network Training protocols as developed by David Kaiser.

We take a holistic approach to healthy brain self-regulation, rather than categorisation or diagnosis. 

Neurofeedback is evidence-based complementary therapy with over 2000 PubMed peer-reviewed research reports

Neurofeedback is Evidence-based

Neurofeedback training is an evidence-based complementary therapy.  Its efficacy was first demonstrated some 50 years ago, and with advances in technology, training protocols have become more efficient and the feedback method – watching movies – thoroughly enjoyable. 

Neurofeedback is evidence-based.  It’s first application was discovered in 1971 when it was used to resolve intractable epilepsy. 

There are over 2,000 peer-reviewed research reports on PubMed demonstrating efficacy across a number of pathologies. 

In the US, it is an accepted complementary treatment for many challenges. 

Trauma, PTSD and Comorbidities:

Neurofeedback: Uses and Applications

Personalised Brain Training is a non-invasive, medication-free way to address cortical imbalances.  With a Kaiser Neuromap, we understand which brain areas are dysrhythmic, and train these with the most advanced neurofeedback methods.  

This provides a more granular approach than categorisation into pathologies.  In fact, many mental health issues present in combination with others, and the diagnostic approach can set rigorous hurdles that often result in distinct labels that don’t necessarily capture the entire picture. 

The vulnerabilities exposed by a brain map may manifest in various combinations of behavioural and mental health issues.  With Personalised Brain Training we look at the brain as a whole.  Treatment is non-specific with respect to psychopathologies.  For ease of navigation and understanding, the following applications are listed below, along with research evidence, in their separate domains.  

Neurofeedback training for PTSD with the Othmer Method takes a dual approach: 

First, we look to achieve substantial calming of the nervous system so as to restore functionality, sense of self-worth, and a feeling of well-being.  From here, usually after about ten sessions, we can start to deal with the underlying trauma, which requires conscious and subconscious processing.

For this we have Alpha Theta training, a pleasant and often profoundly relaxing protocol which effectively keeps the person in perpetual transition between the meditative Alpha state and Theta, which is where dreaming occurs.  The brain appears to process experiences deeply and efficiently during these half-hour sessions, and this can be beneficial for all adults because we all have some unprocessed emotional experiences – life issues that don’t all qualify as traumatic or full-blown PTSD but still need to be dealt with and can cause similar symptoms.

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, drug-free training

Training starts with a twenty-minute assessment questionnaire.  Four sensors placed on the head with a water-soluble paste then simply measure an EEG-signal.  This is processed real-time and shown back to the brain via a screen – this is the feedback the brain uses to improve self-regulation.  Watching a video – youtube, Netflix, anything that captures the brains conscious attention – the image will resize subtly, reflecting the brain’s activity at a chosen frequency, during a half hour session

There is observable activity in the brain at all frequencies between 0-40Hz, and with the sensors and a specialised amplifier, we can dial into any frequency, just like on a radio, and isolate the signal there – except it’s not a song, but rather slow amplitude modulations.  Putting these into a form that the brain can perceive, i.e. a visual interpretation that is layered onto something more interesting for the conscious mind to focus on, is like showing it a mirror, and for reasons not fully understood, but demonstrated in extensive clinical practice, the brain is able to improve its self-regulation.

Repeated training allows the brain to form new neural pathways, this concept of neuroplasticity being essential in learning, which is what we do throughout our life.

The following video shows the physical improvements neurofeedback has made to PTSD sufferers, using SPECT scans donated by Dr. Daniel Amen of the Amen Clinic:

In the US, Homecoming for Veterans is a pro-bono initiative by neurofeedback practitioners.

The attached article by Siegfried Othmer, PhD., describes the process and results in detail.

Neurofeedback is a form of complementary therapy and should not be seen as a replacement for conventional medicine.  qEEG brain map-based neurofeedback training takes a more holistic approach to brain functioning, rather than just focusing on medical symptoms.  It is not intended as a form of diagnosis nor medical intervention nor medical advice per the disclaimer.

A recent study by the Red Cross for Tortured Refugees in Stockholm,  Sweden, reached very positive conclusions on the impact of neurofeedback training on PTSD.  In particular, the three symptoms of intrusive memories; fear; and irritability were significantly reduced over the course of 10-20 sessions, while headaches responded even more quickly.  The result of the study supports the hypothesis that neurofeedback helps refugees with severe post-traumatic stress disorder to reduce their symptoms over the course of 20 training sessions; and that it suggests that when the effect of the training is large enough to be measurable, the change can also be stable post training.  The report includes summaries and references to other successful studies in this regard and can be viewed below.

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