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"The Hellers' ground-breaking new book, Crash Course, provides both a rational background to the concept of symptoms based on actual changes in brain function from traumatic experience, and a potent means of beginning the healing process. It is a must read for victims of motor vehicle accidents, and for the practioners who treat them."
Robert C. Scaer, M.D. P.C. Neurobiology and Neurorehabilitation, author of The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation and Disease.
"Crash Course is a life raft for all people who use automobiles. This book heals crash survivors. It's also preventive "medicine" for the healthy negotiation of our primitive survival instincts in all types of threatening situations. Diane and Laurence Heller have cogently written a little masterpiece that sheds light and wisdom on all ambiguities faced by auto accident survivors and their loved ones. Highly recommended!"
Michael Picucci, Ph.D., M.A.C.
Recipient of NIH Outstanding Leadership in Research Award, Founder of The Institute for Authentic Process Healing.
Healing Developmental Trauma presents a comprehensive exploration . . . . Seasoned clinicians Larry Heller and Aline LaPierre weave a rich and coherent synthesis of childhood development in the pioneering tradition of Wilhelm Reich, Erik Erikson, and Alexander Lowen. This well-organized, valuable book offers easy-to-understand tools for all of us who are seeking a better understanding of our fundamental conflicts.
Healing Developmental Trauma provides clear guidance to help us hold, with knowledge and self-compassion, a vital and accessible map supporting emotional maturity and psycho-spiritual growth.
—Peter A Levine, PhD, author of In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness and Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma
Available in English, German, & Italian
A Self-healing Guide To Auto Accident Trauma & Recovery
Dr. Diane Poole Heller with Dr. Laurence Heller
Why You May Not Know You Need This Book
Even minor fender-benders can trigger a response in your body that produces trauma. For many people who have been in accidents where there are no obvious injuries, symptoms such as insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, and depression can seem totally unrelated to the event. Even medical practitioners may not be aware of the impact of minor accidents on the nervous system. This is partly because some symptoms don't surface clearly until days, weeks, or even months after the accident. As Somatic Experiencing treatment progresses it becomes more obvious how symptoms are related to the accident. Even though clients may believe their symptoms are totally unrelated, we know we are on the right track when, as we are working through the accident, we see their symptoms begin to lessen and resolve through the exercises and techniques we present here.
Read what happened to James, one of Larry's clients, who despite being a physical therapist and knowledgeable about trauma's effects on his clients, did not recognize his own accident's effect on him.
James was driving his MG at nearly 60 miles per hour when he lost control. His car hit the central barrier several times, banging him around inside the car. When the car stopped he was able to walk away from the accident. Paramedics verified that he had no obvious injuries despite sore muscles. James continued on to work as if nothing had happened. He didn't mention the accident to his boss or co-workers.
Not until weeks later did he realize he was not sleeping as well as before the accident. He felt edgy and irritable. Every time he drove near the location where he had his accident he became very anxious. Still, until he talked the problem over with Larry in a treatment session, he didn't identify his symptoms as possible results of the accident.
James's delayed reaction is common, as is his anxiety around the scene of the accident. You'll read in later chapters about your unconscious mind's ability to take in details of your surroundings at the moment of the accident. Afterward, your mind may associate these details, no matter how unrelated, to the actual danger of the accident itself. This explains why you may suddenly have a seemingly irrational fear of snow after the crash if it was snowing the day of the accident. Or you may feel fear when you see cars the same color as the one that hit you or even when you are in the part of town where your accident took place. You may feel extremely angry when a car approaches you too quickly from a certain direction. These types of triggers often happen when those details have become associated with the trauma of the accident.
Why We Need to Treat Auto Accident Trauma
Our lives revolve around automobiles. It is almost impossible to have a normal life in most areas of the United States without driving or riding in a car. The almost absolute necessity of having to continue to drive often triggers the original trauma. This book explains why auto accidents can change the way you orient to your surroundings, possibly making you more accident-prone in the future.
It's important for your safety and the safety of those on the road around you to resolve auto accident trauma. For instance, after a rear-end accident some victims may drive with almost all their attention focused on the rear-view mirror. Being so afraid of being hit from behind again makes them a hazard to themselves and to others on the road. After being previously rear-ended, one of my clients actually had another accident, running into a car ahead of her, because she was so intently watching the cars behind her.
It isn't All In Your Head!
We live in a "get over it" culture. You may have found that your friends, family, or co-workers expect you to get on with your life and forget about the accident. Or you may be pretending that everything is fine because you think it is not normal to be so distressed weeks or months later. I want to reassure you that your reaction is perfectly normal. You may feel a little disorganized or crazy inside, you still may have strange pains, but you are not crazy.
Trauma is real. It can happen when the body's natural response to threat is interrupted or incomplete and if the level of feeling overwhelmed experienced exceeds the person's capacity to deal with it. You are not emotionally unstable or weak or crazy if you experience trauma symptoms immediately or even months after an accident. Your body is doing exactly what it was designed to do in an emergency. The trouble is, your body hasn't completed the cycle that nature intended. You're still in survival mode. The process of healing is thwarted. That's one of the reasons why you have symptoms.
This book explains what has happened to your body, how your nervous system gets overcharged, and how to complete the natural cycle and release the trapped energy that creates many of your trauma symptoms. When you face danger all your nervous system's energies of fight and flight are naturally mobilized. When you can't discharge this energy completely, what remains has to go somewhere-and can be expressed physically as headaches, stomach pain, or respiratory difficulties. Other times this unreleased energy will show up as emotional distress such as anger, anxiety, or phobia. Your ability to think clearly can be affected as well, leading to poor concentration or memory problems.
You may want to show this book to professionals with whom you are working so they can include the understanding of how trauma affects the autonomic nervous system with their approach to help you through the process of recovery.
What Makes This Approach Unique?
Your healing needn't involve a lifetime of therapy. Many of our clients need only 8 to 15 sessions to deal with auto accident trauma. Others require longer treatment. This book has been written with high hopes of helping you overcome your accident trauma as quickly and painlessly as possible.
You needn't spend months rehashing childhood issues like you do in some therapies. This book can help you work directly with your current symptoms and the specific events of the auto accident. We call it event-specific treatment. Working at home at your own pace, you should begin to obtain relief from your symptoms as soon as you have practiced a few of the simple exercises. Sometimes it is very helpful to have a partner that understands this way of working to help you.
Somatic Experiencing and my resiliency approach deal with biology, particularly the nervous system, to help you get back into balance. It explains what's happening in your body and that what you feel is a normal result of the trauma. After the accident, you may feel crazy or out of control, but you will begin to understand why your reactions are perfectly natural responses. This technique, like other therapies, deals with emotion and cognition. The emphasis, however, is on helping you re-regulate your nervous system and return to a sense of safety and well-being. In fact, use of the exercises and resiliency techniques in this book can give you a new, exciting outlook on life. Once the trauma is resolved, many clients feel their lives have been transformed in ways that affect all areas of their life. In addition, they often report that they are better, safer, and more skilled drivers than before the accident.
Why NOT To Tell People What Happened
Most therapies that deal with auto accident trauma encourage you to tell your story over and over again, start to finish, with the idea that talking about problems solves them. Somatic Experiencing works very differently. Whenever you tell the story your body is also listening and begins to respond to the sense of danger again and again. Repetition of the accident story can actually intensify the trauma, which over activates the nervous system again. When the nervous system is over activated you may feel flooded with stimuli, overwhelmed. You may lose focus and become unable to concentrate or remember things. If you become too over stimulated you may disconnect or "space out."
We emphasize helping you access and create physical and emotional resources for yourself to build a sense of resiliency. Enhanced resiliency can help you overcome traumatic events now and in the future. You will learn in this book that your own body has untapped resources that can help you regain wellness. Learning how to find and use your own inventory of personal resources can be an exciting journey. So often we get caught in focusing only on pain or what feels wrong in our bodies or our lives that we forget the invaluable awareness of what is working well. Usually when we are in physical pain, we lose contact with the parts of our physical self that still feel good. Often when clients come to us who have had chronic pain since their accident, they are surprised to find that there are areas in their body that still feel normal.
To heal we need to learn how to work with our pain and our symptoms as well as all of our natural resources. Using resources, explained in Chapter 6, helps your body relax and release trapped nervous system activation or excess energy, defusing the trauma. This allows you to come out of survival mode. Once your activation level is reduced and excess energy is discharged, you work through your accident non-sequentially. Remember, it's important not to tell the story of your accident in the order in which it occurred because you run the risk of reactivating the trauma in your physiology as happened in the accident originally.
One of Diane's clients, David Rippe, who requested that we use his real name and story in this book, had been in auto accident recovery treatment for several months. He suffered excruciating migraine headaches. With therapy he finally succeeded in reducing his headaches to a manageable level.
Then, despite Diane's concern, he gave a speech, retelling the events of his accident. Telling the story start to finish triggered a major headache episode and created a setback in his treatment. You will hear more about David's remarkable recovery in later chapters.
Instead of telling your story in sequence, it's preferable to start with your memories following the accident, especially focusing on when you first felt safe again. You may then touch in to memories from immediately before the accident when you first sensed something was wrong. You deal with the actual moment of impact, which is the most difficult, only at the end of treatment. Using exercises in this book, we will be teaching you how to switch back and forth between your "charged" experiences from the accident and the relaxing effect of your resources. This facilitates discharge and release in your nervous system.
Survival Is Success
One of the most obvious resources you can rely on at this point is that you did survive. Your body doesn't care how you survived the threat, whether you did it awkwardly or with great finesse. It just cares that you survived. Biological survival is success. Whatever you did worked. Now that you've survived, you have the opportunity to work through the residual injuries or symptoms from the experience you endured. When people get stuck in survival mode after an accident, it often is difficult for them to fully realize that they are now safe, that they have survived. They are so geared toward survival that they don't realize they've accomplished their goal. Part of them gets stuck in the event, which is one reason why they expect it to happen again.Back to top
Book: Crash Course: A Self-healing Guide To Auto Accident Trauma & Recovery
Author: Diane Poole Heller, Laurence Heller
ISBN: 1556433727 ISBN-13: 9781556433726 , 978-1556433726
Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
Publishing Date (1st ed.): 2001/11/01
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Number of Pages: 232
Website Contact: Victor Osaka