The Kuhn Technique® (KT) – A Novel Deconditioning Paradigm for Treating PTSD and Dissociative Disorders and Unblocking Barriers to Peak Performance, Career, and Creativity

Daniel Kuhn, MDKuhn Technique0 Comments


The Kuhn Technique® (KT) erases chronic and acute cases of PTSD and dissociative disorders, including many resistive cases, and was found to be particularly effective in recovering, restoring and enhancing performance skills, creativity and career of able but compromised professionals, artists, and executive. It consists of sets of verbal commands and visualization techniques that evoke and then erase the charged mental images of past traumatic experiences. The release of that charge frees the individual’s attention and cancels the hypnotic effects of past negative experiences. The result is the elimination of negative personality traits as well as anxiety, fear, depression, insomnia, and avoidant behavior.

The result is a restoration of the individual’s pre-traumatic level of function and a free operating state of being. Each verbal command is expressed in a statement form, i.e. “I erase the (charged negative concept).” The patient acts as his/her own therapist, giving himself the command, preferably under the guidance of a trained professional. The technique is safe and has no negative downsides. Significant results are typically expected within one to three sessions, and noticeable changes usually occur right away.

Keywords: beingness, charged, deconditioning, erasing, fishbowl, fixation, hypnosis, identities, image, mental, negative, PTSD, splinter

In 1973, I was working as a psychiatric resident in New York when the ‘Yom Kippur War’ erupted in my native land of Israel. I chose to return and re-join the Israeli Army’s medical force where I had previously served as a young physician. I was posted at a central hospital in the Sinai Desert and treated soldiers who suffered from battle trauma. I then had a unique opportunity to observe their mental responses following traumatic exposure. My observation and interaction with them provided me with a new understanding of how to effectively handle and resolve traumatic fixations and dissociative states.

I decided that I was first going to try to observe what happened to them without injecting my own interpretation. I followed their statements faithfully. I was already quite skeptical about the subjective and arbitrary nature of ‘interpretation’ as a therapeutic tool. Instead, I listened to the exact words that the patient was saying and let the patient lead me through his experience by his own words.

One formative experience occurred when I treated a soldier who was evacuated from the Suez Canal battlefront during the time that the Egyptian Army’s tanks were crossing the Suez Canal under heavy shelling. The soldier was brought to the field hospital triage area on a stretcher. He was silent and introverted, lying motionless in an embryonic position and covering his face with his arms. I asked him very softly, “Where are you?” and he mumbled, “Near the bridge!” I then asked him, “What do you see?” and he answered, “Shells!” I repeated the question, “What do you see?” to which he responded “I see shells!!!”, now with a higher emotional intensity. Observing his intensified response I asked him to continue repeating, “I see shells” several more times. He became increasingly more agitated, but after several repetitions of the same phrase he calmed down. Now his words became neutral, devoid of any emotional charge, experience or meaning. At that point, he opened his eyes and asked me, “Where am I?” I told him that he was in a hospital. He was present, alert and communicative.

I concluded that initially he was not in the present, but stuck in an image of a traumatic experience that occurred somewhere else at a different time. In other words, he was in a dissociative state, trapped in an emotionally charged mental construct, which was a copy of a life-threatening and overwhelming experience. He was trapped like a fish in a fishbowl, unaware of present time. The image of the traumatic experience seemed more real to him than the present time reality.

Later on, I concluded that by asking him to repeat “I see shells,” he became able to separate himself and free his viewpoint from the charged image of the trauma. Now he has a distance and perspective, which allowed him to objectify the experience and conceptualize it. Just invoking the innocent words ‘I’ and ‘I see’ was sufficient to separate him from the mental construct of the trauma and also to regain his ability to function, assume a free point of view, and reduce the charge of the mental image by each repetitive statement.

I concluded that the word ‘I’ and the statements ‘I see…’ and later on the statements ‘I AM’ are very critical in assuming a free point of view from which he can discharge and erase his own traumatic mental image, to which he was transfixed by a hypnotic force.

This case also pointed at the mental image of a trauma as the target of my treatment technique. It also made me realize that the word ‘I’, which pertains to the free operating consciousness of the individual, is by itself a critical agent of change that has to be utilized in a command form.

That also meant a paradigm shift away from focusing directly on reducing symptoms or analyzing the causality or meaning of the traumatic event, to a new focus on using the word ‘I’ as a central tool together with a verb to erase negative symptoms and conditions.

A mental trauma develops following an exposure to an overwhelming, life-threatening experience. It is stored in the limbic system, the archaic ‘reptile brain.’ This type of memory is vital for the survival of lower organisms and is therefore not meant to be erased over time. Its function is to protect the organism from imminent danger by triggering an immediate fight or flight response, an acute state of stress with arousal and physiological mobilization.

That memory remains constantly vigilant, ready to induce an immediate and overpowering reaction to protect the organism. It triggers a response which is three times faster than that of the analytic mind, which is associated with the neocortex. That mechanism of arousal is what causes the clinical state of PTSD.

Generally, traditional psychotherapies do not offer any standard and predictable methods when treating PTSD. Psychotropic medications may bring about a partial symptomatic relief but are not having a curative effect. Symptom reduction can be achieved with EMDR and the Tapping Technique with some success, but they lack a convincing model and often fail to reach a full remission. The same can be said about Mindfulness, which can be helpful in many cases but does not present a standard technique that can totally and permanently resolve PTSD and traumatic fixation.

The KT specifically targets the charged mental image of a trauma, which is like a holographic recording of the universe at the time of the incident. It contains all perceptions, sensations, emotions, and thoughts. It includes negative identities, like the fearful me, the victim me, the helpless me, the angry me, etc., which are not the individual. They are additive and the target of the Kuhn Technique®.

Description of the Kuhn Technique® (KT)

The Technique consists of several sets of commands-statements, each of which is stated repeated many times until a point of erasure and release has been reached. At that point the statement becomes meaningless and banal, the attention becomes free scanning and not locked on a subject, and one’s breathing opens up and deepens.

The processes range from very simple commands to more complex ones, which require experience and conceptual understanding of a trained therapist.

The simple Technique addresses effectively PTSD and post-traumatic conditions. The complexed ones address unresolved life crises and situations, blocked career and creativity and negative personality traits.

In order to resolve a condition associated with a chain of repetitive similar incidents like child abuse, assaults or betrayals, and losses, one should aim at the earlier incident in the chain and release it; A condition will not resolve if only later incidents are addressed and the basic one, called ‘the Splinter’ is overlooked. (It is called the Splinter because when removed there is an immediate resolution of the condition like a splinter pulled out of a runner’s foot.)

The processes are also aimed at the negative identities that are created by the traumatic experience — the defeated me, scared me, helpless me, vengeful me, violent me etc.

The more advanced processes handle life crises, unresolved career situations and barriers, and negative personality traits and blocks to one’s careers and to creativity.

An untrained person can apply the simple techniques by himself on his condition, but it is always better to receive guidance and supervision from a trained person.

The technique addresses and causes discharge of stored mental energy by repetitive commands. It does not deal with content or search for a meaning or understanding. It is aimed at deconditioning by command to discharge the energy stored in the mental recording of the traumatic experience. That process also frees the ‘I’ which has been trapped in negative identities and images like a fish in a fishbowl.

The Technique is based on listening and identifying charged thoughts, concepts or words and discharges or banalizes them. Consequently the ‘I’, the free operating consciousness, which is the individual himself regain its original sense of self and self-reflection as well as the ability to create and to assume and hold any new viewpoints and have the ability to create, change and destroy mental constructs at will.

When the traumatic memory is discharged, the experience is gone and the trauma becomes neutral banal information and memory. The mental image and the hypnotic force it exerts are gone. The information about it becomes neutral and one can not visualize it as a traumatic image or be affected by it.

It appears likely that the traumatic memory shifts from being associated with the limbic system to the hyper-cortical functions of the analytical mind, which is now amenable to review and change in context, meaning and use.

The Kuhn Technique® is a heuristic method that developed from clinical observations and a search for a means to release fixed symptoms.

There is no metapsychological theory to be imposed on clinical cases besides the technique itself and the attempt to discharge and banalize the experience through repetitive statements. It is driven based on the patient’s own text, description, and definitions of his/her experience and symptoms.

A release of a condition or symptom depends on finding the earliest time that it has been experienced. The Technique looks for the earliest time in a chain of similar traumatic experiences that have occurred. When located, the patient is instructed to repeat the statement, “I erase that incident,” until there is a perception of a release and erasure of the image of the incident. At that point, the incident is rendered meaningless. It was a great revelation for me to find that the simple statement, “I erase the…(X),” irreversibly erases even severe and chronic cases of PTSD when correctly applied.

For an example, I recently treated a firefighter who was traumatized in the 9/11 disaster. He was on Ground Zero and witnessed the catastrophe and the death of hundreds of his colleagues. For 16 years he suffered from a severe case of PTSD, reliving the incident, crying and feeling a strong survival guilt. His life since has been dedicated to servicing the community of 9/11 survivors. After engaging in the Kuhn Technique® deconditioning process for 12 minutes he felt free of emotional pain. The process involved him repeating the statements, “I erase…” to the following concepts — the trauma, the accident, the depressed me, the anxious me, the fearful me, the angry me, the guilty me, etc., each one to a point of release. This was followed by repeatedly saying, “I AM!” to a point of release. Two weeks later he reported to me that he was free of any PTSD symptoms.

It is important to note, that when there is a discharge, it is experienced both by the patient and the therapist; it is accompanied by a shift to deeper breathing and a sense of mental release. Both feel the shift to a clarity and the lack of fixation on any charged thought or image. Such a release is the indication of completion of each process.

It takes some experience to be able to determine with confidence when a discharge and full release has been achieved. There is a sense of synchrony that develops between the patient and the trainer who are both experiencing the same charge from two different points of view. The inexperienced therapist may tend to end the process prematurely, assuming erroneously that a full discharge has occurred.

Treatment Failures

Most, if not all, treatment failures are caused by incomplete application of the process, which ended short of achieving a full and permanent release. It takes some clinical judgment, trial, and error to be able to determine with certainty that a charged mental construct has been completely erased. The remedy is achieved by resuming the process and running it to its completion. There are no known clinical complications or worsening by the use of the KT.

Another reason for treatment failure occurs when the patient and/or therapist alter commands or invent new ones which are not effective.

Treatment Guidelines

The user should use the command precisely and avoids ‘intuitive’ alterations and inventions of new ones, especially before learning and understanding why the standard commands work in the first place. The simplicity of the Technique can be misleading, for the choice of words is specific and precisely chosen.

The patient must understand the meaning of each and every word that he/she is using in order for it to work well. Any misunderstanding of words can cause lack of results.

The commands are purposefully simple and unambiguous, and not open to interpretation.

The KT does not use any jargon or theoretical concepts like ‘Ego’ or ‘myself’. Instead, the concept/word ‘I’ is used effectively because it is irreducible, uncomplicated, entrenched in the daily spoken language, and naturally represents the individual. (Even positivists, agnostics and Marxists cannot avoid using the word ‘I’ although it does not represent a material entity but a viewpoint and free operating consciousness.)

The mind uses verbs to create mental changes similarly to physical changes in the physical words. Therefore one can change mental constructs or conditions by effectively using (metaphorically) verbs like dissolve, erase, explode and uncreate to get rid of mental constructs.

The Newtonian law of physics is based on clear cause and effect relationships in the physical work. Not so in the mental sphere, where humans use causality creatively to make themselves right and by that enhance their survival. However, it can be effective when applied mentally to post-traumatic conditions, which are fixated and charged and therefore have a ‘material’ quality — they exert force and are frozen like an object, representing a negative identity within the individual. Such mental constructs respond to commands to erase or dissolve them.

It creates a sense of causality, like the relationship between cause and effect, which is often a gray area in the sphere of the mind. People often erroneously assume causes to explain their situation in a way that serves them even if it is not correct or relevant. For example, if a patient initially presents her condition by saying, “I am depressed because my boyfriend left me,” I will further explore the possibility of, “I am depressed not because my boyfriend left me,” or, “My boyfriend left me because I was depressed.” The words ‘because’ and ‘but’ should be examined carefully for locking the patient into a belief in a wrong causality. Ultimately causality is not as important as reducing the intensity of the traumatic experience.The KT uses the verbs ‘Erase,’ ‘Explode,’ ‘Dissolve,’ or ‘Uncreate’ in order to erase a charge in fixed and charged mental condition. Repeating the statement, “I erase the trauma!” many times will cause the charged image of the trauma to be discharged and erased. Each command repetition discharges some of the charge and has a cumulative effect.

The Technique is based on my observation that that repetition of commands to erase negative mental constructs eventually eliminates them.

The patient’s own words when describing his trauma are used in constructing the commands to erase. The word ‘I’ is pivotal in the KT, for when it is repeatedly used together with a verb, i.e. ‘I Erase’, it is the ‘I’ which causes the discharge and erasure.

The number of repetitions needed to reach an erasure ranges from very few to a few hundred.

The technique does not seek to understand the causes or meaning of the trauma, which are often unavailable and beyond our perception and understanding. Nor does it consider repeated recounting of events as an effective treatment technique. Interpretations and transference are not a necessary part of it. The purpose is simply to banalize the trauma or discharge mental constructs.

When applied correctly, the Technique achieves surprisingly and readily dramatic results that bring about a full remission of PTSD, including the elimination of certain negative personality traits, chronic negative mood, and other behavior patterns. It can help in treating writer’s block, career failures, and performing anxiety, usually within one to three sessions.

The KT represents a conceptual paradigm shift away from traditional psychotherapies, which rely on narrative recounting the traumatic event, interpretation of its meaning or the use of flooding and immersion techniques to reduce its symptoms. Here the patient is his/her own therapist, being guided by an experienced trainer.

Presentation Slides

The following are PowerPoint slides used at a recent presentation.

For further questions or assistance please contact Dr. Kuhn.

Daniel Kuhn, M.D.
Board Certified Psychiatrist