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Massage Today
January, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 01

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cell Patterns

By Tad Wanveer, LMT, CST-D; guest author for John Upledger, DO, OMM

Editor's note: Tad Wanveer, author of this month's CranioSacrally Speaking column, has been the guest author for several previous CranioSacrally Speaking columns.

The Veterans Administration currently reports almost 50,000 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurring in Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. Another stunning statistic, PTSD affects about 7.7 million Americans. Craniosacral therapy has effectively helped those afflicted with PTSD regain levels of normalcy within themselves and in relationship to their family, community and work.

PTSD is caused by a traumatic event. PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by a terrifying event that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may be the one harmed or someone who has witnessed a traumatic event happen to another person. It can be caused by a variety of incidents such as war, rape, mugging, torture, child abuse, car accident, plane crash or natural disasters. These events may cause intense fear, helplessness or horror that can become imbedded in a person's body tissue.

An inner feeling of trauma may persist long after the traumatic event has passed. When a portion of the body, perhaps even a single cell, maintains a pattern of trauma, it can create an inner feeling of the traumatic event. Highly stressful cellular patterns may cause chronic, abnormal and intense biomechanical and biochemical strain, even long after the actual trauma has ended. This, in turn, can evoke perpetual stimulation of the stress response, causing non-stop chaos and alarm within the autonomic nervous system.

Traumatic cellular patterns can continually send debilitating signals. Traumatic stress is felt and remembered, consciously and unconsciously, through sensory processing. It is through our senses that we continuously experience our inner self, as well as the environment outside of ourselves. The inner-sensed experience of traumatic cellular patterns can feel life-threatening and evoke life-saving measures. In essence, one is living moment to moment in a state of never-ending threat and horror as an unremitting condition of fight, flight or freeze that governs physical and emotional processes. These traumatic arousal patterns can encode deeper and deeper into the circuitry of the nervous system and the body as a whole, causing a cascade of overwhelming and terrifying feelings.

Traumatic cell vibration can entrain the whole person. The tissue of the body is created by a vast diversity of cells oscillating at varied frequencies. This forms an interrelated matrix in which each part of the body - each cell - has an effect upon the whole. Generally, any local event within the body has some type of full-body effect. So cells that have formed into a state of trauma can cause adverse consequences within the whole person. These cells are like metronomes ticking and vibrating non-stop oscillations of fear, terror or dread that can surge through the whole person.

Craniosacral therapy can help by facilitating optimal cell shape. Craniosacral therapy can help the body change cell shape through gentle techniques that improve inherent pathways of self-correction. As cells change and correct their shapes, the trauma imbedded within the cells can be processed with greater efficiency. It's as though the traumatic energy trapped within cells can move, respond and synchronize with body systems that oscillate in frequencies of correction, integration and balance rather than trauma. As this occurs, the challenging effects of PTSD can decrease, thus leading to greater ease within oneself and one's surroundings.

Click here for previous articles by John Upledger, DO, OMM.

Tad Wanveer, LMT, CST-D, is a certified instructor for The Upledger Institute, where he was a staff clinician for more than five years. He earned his diploma in massage therapy in 1987 from the Swedish Institute of Massage and Allied Health Sciences in New York City. He currently runs a private practice in North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham area specializing in CranioSacral Therapy.


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