Clinical incidences could be educational
Recently I had a rather stormy discussion in one of the user groups regarding my article “Body cells carry emotional memories.” This theory doesn’t have existing scientific explanation, only a working hypothesis. But this hypothesis has such a frequent support in everyday clinical experience that I felt it cannot be ignored. Turning around the discussion in my head I remembered the incident that perfectly fit as the supportive argument for this hypothesis.
This one lady (let’s call her Ann just to preserve her anonymity) was referred to me by her primary care physician. Eleven years prior to this referral took place, after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, Ann developed clinical depression, frequent episodes of anxieties, muscular pains and aches and sleep disorders. As her health was declining she was diagnosed with postpartum depression. During all this years, she received clinical psychological and pharmacological treatments. Nothing was working and symptoms were getting worse.
The referring physician, requested to provide her with medical stress management massage. During the first session, as I was attempting to massage her right side upper back, shoulder area, and pectoralis muscles, she sprang out and with convulsive movement deflected my hand away from her. To my inquiry about the reason for such reaction she was quite vague. But having been familiar with similar behavior before in my practice and suspected an emotional trauma, similar to the one I described in my article “Body cells carry emotional memories.”
Because my touch didn’t cause her to sprang out and deflecting my hand when I was massaging the other parts of her body, I have convinced her to allow me to massage her right side upper back, shoulder area, and pectoralis muscles. Also I have advised to her to release any emotions, if she’d experience any at the time of massage, including crying if she’ll have felt like it. And so she did cry it out.
Eventually, after the fifth treatment, she told me what caused this anxiety. Actually, all these years she didn’t realize that it was poisoning her life. During the treatments, and the related emotional releases what was deeply plunged in her subconscious mind, somehow came out and became obvious.
The story went back to the incident that happened while she was in her early teens between her and her boyfriend who was two years her senior. It was what was supposes to be their first sexual encounter. In the moment of truth the boyfriend saw her thirteen year old breasts. The gentleman that he was, he sneered at them, pushed her against her chest, and told her that she needs to grow up before he would yield his manhood to her undeveloped femininity. When she start crying, he had pushed her few additional times, including area of right side upper back, shoulder area, and pectoralis muscles. Thus these regions became bookmarks of emotional scars. Surely, in the moment of tight dramatic tension, these were the chain of events that left a heavy emotional scar to all her life. Although Ann is quite a beautiful woman, happily married and looks spectacular for her age, somewhere in the depth of her subconscious mind the burn of this rejection haunted her all her life. She complained that during intimate moments with her husband, she always felt tormented, whenever the action was coming to her breast region.
I said and recommend to her since all this incident got conscious realization just to get rid of it. I also stated that her ex-boyfriend was not only rude and stupid, but most likely had some serious emotional problem himself. At that moment she started laughing as well, because as she explained the person, who used to be that boyfriend of hers, indeed today has some serious psychological problem.
We were laughing together for some time, especially Ann who seemingly couldn’t stop. I have no doubts in my mind that this laugh was her additional emotional release and a cure, because the next five times we’ve met she had no more problems with me massaging pectoralis and as she admitted, first time in all her life she fully enjoyed the intimate moment with her husband.
As many stories like this accumulated over my more than 40 year old practice, I can all but shrug when I hear how someone, with the righteousness of scientific purist, denies the connection between body regions somehow linked with emotional traumas. While purists like these wait another fifty years until such connection would be proven by the official Western science, many therapists could help very many suffering people armed with only working hypothesis and a bit of common sense.