“Trauma is the biggest mental health problem of the 21st century and it is the most treatable.” Dr. Louis Tinnin, Psychiatrist and Co-Founder of ITR
Resolve the trauma first and see what is left!
During ordinary, day-to-day events, our whole brain processes and stores what we experience. However, when we have a life-threatening experience or witness another person in such circumstances, our logical brain becomes overwhelmed and executive function (the ability to think our way out of the trauma) fails. If we cannot fight or flee the situation we go into the freeze and the emotional, robotic part of our brain takes over to help us survive and not feel the pain. This is what a healthy body and brain do instinctually and unconsciously during a traumatic experience. This is called the Instinctual Trauma Response (ITR).
The ITR components occur in order for almost any overwhelming or life-threatening experience. Some experiences may have several components over again as the event goes on over a period of time. Many people get “stuck” in one of the aspects for an extended period of time. This is known as a ‘fixed state.”
Startle, Thwarted Fight/Flight, Freeze, Altered State of Consciousness, Automatic Obedience (Compliance), and Self-Repair.
Each ITR aspect has body sensations that go along with it. The trauma is stored in the body and in the emotional brain. Going into the ITR also affects our memory for the event. We may feel that the fragmented memory is “stuck” in the brain going round and round in the brain’s “limbic loop” as if it is still present and about to happen again at any time. These bits and pieces of the trauma can become triggers that intrude into life at unexpected times. The result can be bewildering and can change how we view ourselves, others, and the world at large.
Fixed States of ITR
A person can sometimes enter a “fixed state” and re-experience an aspect of the Instinctual Trauma Response as an intrusive symptom (even though the trauma happened long ago). For example, one could be in the fixed state of the freeze that is mistaken for depression or fight/flight mistaken for ADHD. In this case, other conventional treatments have little effect until the trauma is time-stamped and processed as in the past with a beginning, middle, and end.
ITR uses two main tasks: Graphic Narrative™ to “reboot” the whole brain to help it recognize the event is over and store it in long-term memory and Externalized Dialogue™ to help build and reinforce new pathways to desired behavior, emotional responses, and beliefs in the future.