This article presents a simple, coherent approach and technique that can release traumatic fixations and associated negative states of mind. It can help an individual return to his/her pre-traumatic level of function and pre-traumatic personality.
Mental Traumas and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders are universal phenomena, which are not unique to high performers such as surgeons, athletes, performers, etc. and could have a detrimental effect on the well-being and peak performance of exposed surgeons.
I will describe the conditions, identify the elements that contribute to its creation and fixation and present a technique that I developed, which consistently releases traumatic fixation and by that help resolving acute even chronic cases of PTSD – I named it “The Kuhn Technique” – A Trauma Deconditioning Paradigm.
Surgeons work under a considerable level of pressure and often face unpredictable situations. Surgeons have to be alert and analytical at all times during surgical procedures. However, when facing unpredictable emergencies like sudden uncontrolled bleeding, patient’s unexpected death, operating errors, and malpractice suits, etc., such experiences may have a traumatic impact on them, leaving them with a negative experience that can become morbid and entrenched.
It is not always possible to shield oneself from such am exposure and it is even harder to erase its impact on one’s life and health. After having developed chronic anxiety and significant stress in association with their work following exposure to a single or recurrent mental trauma, some surgeons opt for early retirement or limit their activity.
A traumatic fixation occurs following an unexpected, overwhelming and life threatening event which impinges on one’s performance and composure i.e. accidents, injury, or high randomness and loss of mental control. At that moment the analytical mind is momentarily frozen as the neo-cortex is taken over by the Limbic system (the reptile brain). It can go instead to a hyper-focus and a fight mode. The individual is in a state of alarm and dissociation (discontinuity.) The charged image of the trauma is then fixated in memory and becomes the seed of a post-traumatic condition.
Even if a solution was found a moment later, the traumatic experience is still recorded and has a life of its own. From then on those emotions and conclusions will surface in situations, frequently reminding one of the traumatic events and throwing the person off his/her high level of functioning.
For an Analogy – consider a splinter in an athlete’s foot; it causes pain, apprehension, dysfunction, fear and avoidance of competing, and consequently a cascade of physical and psychological symptoms. The athlete misses tournaments, his career falters and he develops financial and social problems. Similarly, consider a concert pianist who has developed a fear of performing after having had a memory lapse during a previous concert. He may stumble again where he had his previous memory lapse.
The trauma has a hypnotic effect. The individual is engulfed and trapped in it like a fish in a fish ball. Alcohol and medications provide no resolution but a momentary symptomatic relief, and most forms of psychotherapy are not effective enough.
The following conditions make you more prone to PTSD: – incomplete understanding and mastery of your technique, missing vital information about the patient, being hungry, tired or jetlagged, and being preoccupied with other problems in life i.e. litigations, divorce or fear of loss of loved ones.
I was a psychiatric resident in New York when the Yom Kippur war erupted in Israel. I returned to Israel, my native land, to join the army Medical Force and was posted in a field hospital in the Sinai Desert. There I treated soldiers who suffered mental trauma in the battlefield. I had the opportunity to observe the dynamics of trauma and found a new understanding about how to handle it.
For example, I saw a soldier who was evacuated from the Suez Canal front, which was invaded by Egyptian tanks. He was lying with closed eyes on a stretcher in an embryonic position. I asked him quietly “Where are you?” and he mumbled – “near the bridge!” I asked “what do you see?” and he said “Shells!”
I repeated my question and he responded “I see shells!!!” with a higher emotional intensity. Observing that I asked him to repeat “I see shells” many times; he became agitated and then suddenly calmed down, opened his eyes and asked me: “where am I?”
I learned that he was stuck in a traumatic experience, in a mental image that was more real than where he was at the present. I also learned that I could discharge the image and bring him back to the present time. That was the first step and basic principle in developing my technique for treating mental trauma and PTSD.
The basic therapeutic principle is: – to locate and evoke the traumatic experience, and discharge it by using repetitive commands like “I erase the trauma!”, or “I erase that image!” until it is gone.
The discharge effect resembles erasing a computer file by specific Erase command. The memory of the incident becomes banal and meaningless.
There is a wide spectrum of severity for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and elements of it exist in normally functioning individuals who may have traits like being inappropriately angry, irritable, overreacting, emotionally numb or anxious. Those traits can be easily and readily discharged with the Kuhn Technique.
Most people respond to the process in one to two sessions.
The process is not intrusive and does not cause much discomfort because the individual does not struggle with it while being trapped in it. The individual maintains good control of what he wants to share with others during that process.
I have never seen over many years any negative effects caused by applying the technique. The repetitive command may be repeated as few as 10 times or as many as one or two hundred times. At the time of a release the words are not associated anymore with an experience and become meaningless and the individual’s attention is free, he is extroverted and present, and his breathing becomes deeper and free.
The KT is not defined as a form of psychotherapy that relies on conversation; recover through the search for understanding or relying on interpretation, opinions, evaluation and transference.
It can be summarized by selected two basic repetitive processes/commands:
1. I erase the (negative XYZ) me; (To erase negative identities/mental constructs)
2. I AM! (To attain a free state of being)
For further questions or assistance please contact Dr. Kuhn.