Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday's Therapy - A Test for, and Some Treatment for, Our Disoriented Brains ~Frank Lawlis, Ph.D.

Thursday's Therapy

TRAUMA Therapy Toolbox

A Test for, and Some Treatment for

Our Disoriented Brains

~Frank Lawlis, Ph.D.

(Disoriented due to enduring the rigors of Child-Loss Trauma)

I was in mid-sentence with a client last night when I totally forgot where I was going with an example I was using...

Watching the Arkansas-Ohio State game later last night (a nail-biter game for any SEC fan!), I was talking with Tommy, and I had totally forgotten that our two home teams (Georgia-mine, Tennessee-his) had already played their bowl games for this season (both of which I watched and cheered for!).

Granted, I am going through Double-Grief right now, having lost my precious 19-year-old daughter just four years ago, and now, just eight days ago, losing my precious mother. But I can tell, my brain is definitely feeling the after-shocks of severe loss and is quite disoriented at times...

Tommy and I are reading through a book from a renowned psychologist that offers hope and guidance for us trauma/PTSD-sufferers:

The PTSD Breakthrough: The Revolutionary, Science-Based Compass Reset Program

by Dr. Frank Lawlis.

We thought we would pass along to you some of what we are learning - First, in the form of a test by which you can self-test to determine where your own brain is in terms of feelings of disorientation, and Second, with some advice from Dr. Frank Lawlis in how to begin helping our brains along in the paths of recovery from our Child-Loss trauma.

Here are some excerpts from his book:


Do You Have a Disoriented Brain?

This phase is where the strategic and empowering aspects... are so critical. The first step is to determine if you indeed have areas within your brain that need to be reoriented. To do this, (Dr. Lawlis has) identified several thinking patterns that impair brain processing, and developed a questionnaire to help you identify if you are having a problem in those areas. This test allows you to become aware of the possibility that your brain may not be operating at its full potential.

Note how the following statements pertain to you by marking Always True (AT), Sometimes True (ST), Rarely True (RT), or Never True (NT).

  1. I feel that I am a misfit in my community and family.


  1. I feel numb to my emotions


  1. I just can't stop my mind from entering a flood of rage toward others, even for little things.


  1. I get very obsessive about wanting things done my way.


  1. I can't sleep because my mind keeps ruminating about something.


  1. I want to be alone and away from everybody.


  1. No one really understands me; I don't understand myself.


  1. I am easily distracted by other events.


  1. I have trouble listening or even caring about what another person is saying to me.


  1. I have nightmares.


  1. I have fears about irrational things, such as closed or open places and people.


  1. I am angry and can't shake the emotion.


Scoring: Assign a score of 3 to every AT you circled, a 2 to every ST, and a 1 for every RT, and total all of the twelve items for a score within the range of 0-36. Compare your scores to the following ranges:

24 -- 36 Your brain is disoriented to the point that you do not trust yourself.

18 -- 23 Your brain is disoriented for some problems in your life.

11 -- 17 There are some areas in which you get confused.

0 -- 10 Your brain appears to be oriented to the point that you are not being confused.

If you scored 11 or higher, (there are) techniques designed to get you back on track (hopefully, we can cover some of these next week). (Dr. Lawlis says he) can be very positive that this phase will be successful for you, but it does require commitment.


(Another excerpt follows:)

Vitamins and Minerals to Nurture Your Brain

(A) cornerstone of brain healing is the proper intake of vitamins and minerals. To help an injured brain get better faster, it is essential to give it good nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals, but you must choose them carefully (to ensure highest quality). ...I will recommend several of the best supplements, but you should also use your judgment as to which you think would be most helpful for you. When purchasing them, insist on pharmaceutical-quality ingredients and recommended health-food brands, which can be purchased at most drug stores.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

At the front line of the brain healing process is neurogenesis, the rebirthing of nerve cells. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in certain fish and plant foods, can aid in this regeneration of brain cells. Omega-3 fatty acids help insulate the neurons in the brain, which increases the speed of nerve impulses and connections, thereby increasing the rate of healing at the biological level. They are also known to combat depression, enhance learning and memory, and serve as major aids to brain plasticity (creating new neuropathways needed for constructive changes in the brain).

Omega-3 fatty acids are found mostly in plant foods such as flax, soybeans, and vegetables. They are also found in fish: just a four-ounce portion of salmon twice a week serves about five grams of omega-3, which is the amount recommended for brain food...

Thiamine (Vitamin B-1)

This substance helps manufacture acetylcholine, one of the brain's major messengers known as neurotransmitters. It triggers the metabolic process that helps the brain better use the food available to it. Even if you consume high amounts of fish, if you don't get a little B-1, there is little chance of improvement in brain health. The very best place to find vitamin B-1, is in nuts and grains.

Vitamin D

This is the sunshine vitamin (named for its development in the skin when exposed to the sun), which is vital to the brain and has been considered as a possible factor in fending off Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin D is critical in maintaining the ratio of calcium and phosphorus, critical to promotion of growth for nerve cells. Vitamin D has also been reported as a major helper of the hippocampus, the primary memory control center of the brain, and it is therefore very effective in the healing process of brain injury.

Lawlis goes on to recommend s

Other Supplements that can help improve your memory retention:

Acetyl-L-carnitine (dosage up to 1000 mg a day) has been shown to promote the activity of two neurotransmitters, acetylcholine and dopamine, both of which improve the communication among the parts of the brain, which enhances creativity and higher-level problem solving, reflex speed, and efficiency.

Alpha-glycerylphosphosphorylcholine (Alpha-GPC) (400 mg three times daily) is rich in choline, the major ingredient in chicken eggs that has been shown to raise IQ scores. It combines glycerol and phosphate, which protects the brain cell membranes, thereby producing better memory. It also appears to have amazing recuperative properties for stroke patients in the areas of intellectual functioning, making it a major candidate for other brain injuries as well.

Choline (1,500 mg daily) is widely applauded as a mental stimulant that makes you smarter. It is prodced within your body from two amino acids, methionine and serine, with help from vitamin B-12 and folic acid.

Ginseng (follow dosage on bottle) gets a lot of attention for promoting good health and mental alertness, but it can also be quite corrupted in quality. There are reports of some unethical suppliers out there. Ginseng contains ginsenosides, which stimulate the brain's neurotransmitters so that it can synthesize proteins optimally for brain fuel. Many studies have found evidence of its power to stimulate mental capacities.

Rhodiola (follow dosage on bottle) is a Siberian herb that soldiers have used for stamina and has shown excellent results in mental states, especially depression. I have seen it help patients improve more quickly from a series of brain complications, but there are no studies readily available to show the actions it takes on the cellular level.

Dr. Lawlis then emphasizes

(A Main) Cornerstone of Brain Healing is found in the power of Sleep.

Sleep is the best way for your mind and body to recover from any problem.

Unfortunately, lack of sleep or the ability to experience peaceful sleep is one of the biggest problems people suffering from PTSD must deal with. This is because the PTSD brain has been tormented and programmed only to survive... In order to fully function, you must experience each of the five stages of sleep each night:

Stage 1: Transition Sleep (time when you first fall asleep - ideally only 2-5 percent of a normal night of sleep)

Stage 2: Roller Coaster of Levels of restoration cycles - usually approximately 45-60 percent of sleep)

Stages 3 and 4: Delta Sleep - This is the "deepest" stage of sleep (contrary to the popular belief that REM sleep is the deepest, which is not true) and is what a sleep-deprived person's brain craves the most. In adults, it can last from 15 to 30 minutses. (In children, it can occupy up to 40 percent of all sleep time.)

Stage 5: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep is an active stage that comprises 20-25 percent of a normal night's sleep and is when vivid dreams can occur. It is called rapid eye movement sleep because if one watches a person in this stage, the eyes are visibly moving rapidly under the eyelids. After the REM stage, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. You can have many cycles through REM sleep.

...It is in these later stages of sleep that you start to gain physical restoration. In the even deeper stages of delta and especially REM sleep, your brain has the ability to find resolutions to its built-up stresses.

Dr. Lawlis says once you have healed the physical damage to the brain (through proper brain "food" and proper sleep for example), the next step in recovery is to restore the connections in your brain that allow you to function in normal life. He refers to this phase as the "broken arm" stage of PTSD. If you have every broken your arm (or any part of your body that moves), you know that when the cast is taken off it hurts to bend it. It is like you have to learn to use it all over again. This is because while you aren't using your arm, the nerves in your muscles detach from the bundle that controls your arm and hook up with a bundle that is more active. Your other arm might get stronger because it is more active and gets ore attention from the brain. But once the cast is off, your body has to learn to use the other arm again. ~The same is true for your brain.

Hopefully next week, we can examine some of these "Broken-Arm" Techniques Dr. Lawlis suggests for us to use to help get our brains back into good working order for normal day-to-day activities after going through its very strenuous work of dealing with the complicated trauma that comes with Child-Loss Grief.

Content from The PTSD Breakthrough: The Revolutionary, Science-Based Compass Reset Program by Dr. Frank Lawlis


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