Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Relevance of Mind Control and Mass Shootings

At least one of the recent spate of murderous shooting rampages show evidence of high level mind control of the perpetrator. The Aurora shooter, James Holmes is reported to have told another inmate that he thought he was in a video game at the time of the shooting and that he had been programmed and rehearsed to complete the shooting at the movie theater.

Crazy, you say?

Well many therapists, many of my colleagues have treated patients with credible stories of mind control perpetrated by factions within the US and other governments. These techniques were developed and honed in the Nazi death camps. Those "technologies" were then imported along with clandestine Nazi scientists into the USA through the infamous Project Paperclip program. Scientists have been perfecting these techniques for decades beginning with the famous MKUltra program and others such as Projects Monarch and Bluebird. These programs are well documented by releases under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Unfortunately under the Bush administration many previously released documents were reclassified or redacted to the point of illegibility. Nevertheless copies remain in the hands of a few.These programs were publicly discontinued several decades ago, but the research and the programming has continued clandestinely under ultra secret black ops programs.

I have heard disclosures from prominent therapists and psychiatrists, one of whom revealed in a public workshop that some of his clients could trace their programming back to "scientist and program" and that he had shared a hallway with Martin K. Orne who used to brag about his ability to make people do anything he wanted. (Orne has sat on the famous and fraudulent False Memory Foundation and is implicated in the MKUltra programs of the 1970s).

Any time therapists and their clients have tried to step forward with this information we have been threatened, attacked and sometimes had our licenses revoked. Therapists have also been harassed with reports of mutilated animals being left at their houses and even break-ins. There has been a profound media silence in the United States about such matters even while Canada publicized a national case of successfully suing and winning a settlement with the CIA over the mind control practices executed in that country.

Today a colleague whom I respect highly sent out a release about this article on her blog about why therapists have not been credible in the media and the attacks to which we have been regularly subjected on behalf of our clients.

I hope you will take a moment to read it, but I must warn you that if this information is new to you or if you have been a victim of these programs, you will find it highly disturbing.

If you want answers and want things to really change you must educate yourself on the unthinkable. These programs must be exposed and disbanded and the thousands of citizens subjected to them require healing apace.

You can find the article here:

Common Forms of Misinformation and Tactics of Disinformation about Psychotherapy for Trauma Originating in Ritual Abuse and Mind Control by Ellen Lacter, Ph.D.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sandy Update 3: Top Five Reasons You're Eligible to Apply for SBA Disaster Assistance |

Sandy Update 3: Top Five Reasons You're Eligible to Apply for SBA Disaster Assistance |

If you have property destruction from Sandy, please read this very important article.  You don't have to be a business owner or to have insurance to apply for a low interest loan from the Small Business Administration.  You might also be able to apply even if you live in a Coastal Barrier Zone.  Most loans are made at four percent! The remainder are at six percent. Read the article for complete details.

Monday, November 26, 2012

PTSD and the Holiday Season

Here’s the sad truth. PTSD often worsens during the holiday season. One would hope it was different, that holiday cheer, food, friends and good spirit would pop up like champagne on one of those commercials we see on TV where people are toasting each other, smiling and all looking fit, young and strong. But alas, it is not and here are some reasons why:

1) Holidays come with lots of triggers. We can be around too many people or too few. Even if we want to be with people, loneliness can be enhanced by the inability to connect in the midst of deep emotions such as fear, grief, or rage. There is no lonely like the lonely that comes in the midst of a group of friends or family.

2) We tend to eat foods that aggravate our nervous system. PTSD causes an inflammatory reaction in the body (see my HPA Axis posts). When we pile on the sugar, alcohol, fatty foods and just plain junk that pervades holiday fare our delicate and taxed nervous system can come under a lot of strain. Eating aggravates our anxiety, and anxiety aggravates our eating, repeating until New Year’s Resolutions come.

3) Feelings of self-loathing tend to emerge more strongly in holiday season. Perhaps we are trying to live up to an unattainable ideal of our religious faith or maybe proximity to family reminds us of our (and their) shortcomings. Whatever the reason, the phenomenon is real.

4) There is a lot of stimuli in the environment! Bright lights, flashing lights, loud music, smells, endless holiday music, crowded shopping environments all add to the load on the nervous system. Not to mention traveling on overcrowded airplanes and roads in dangerous weather. Not exactly a good environment for the hypervigilant and stressed.

If you think avoiding the holidays is easy, just watch the hilarious movie, Christmas with the Kranks. A lucky few might escape to Hawaii or a cruise but even then the holidays follow and are on our mind (if not our neighbors).

So, what to do? If you see a therapist and can afford it, scheduling extra sessions can be helpful. For those of us not lucky enough to have that resource, protection from the holiday barrage starts with our own awareness.

Pace yourself. Take some time every day to see what it is you do and don’t want to do. Say ‘no’ as often as you must. Stop worrying about hurting other people’s feelings, and focus on healing your own. Remind yourself that this, too, shall pass. For it will.

Better yet, dig down in yourself to find your own meaning of the holiday – whether it is about religion, vacation, or promoting your business, find the meaning that will be best for you.

Move into alignment with the season. In Chinese philosophy, winter is a time to move inside, to become dormant like the plants outside, resting so that our roots will be nourished and the plant flourish in the Spring. This is my favorite meaning of the winter holidays: renewal, self-nourishment, quiet companionship with those you love, sleep. Lots of sleep.

So here is my wish for you in the holiday and end of year time: Know when you are triggered and move to take care of yourself as needed. Cultivate compassion in your heart for yourself and others. Rest. Eat well. (And read The Trauma Tool Kit as needed.)

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Research is in: Meditation works!

Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain

The good folks at Mass General Hospital (MGH), Boston University and other research institutions have shown conclusively in a research setting, for the first time, that an 8-week meditation program affected brain function in a positive way even when the subjects were not meditating.  The amygdala (our crisis response center) was positively affected by their modest practice.  Highly recommended reading!(Click on the title to go right to the article.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Helping Kids Recover From Hurricane Sandy

Children can be particularly vulnerable to distressing weather and events. Most parents have not been taught to look for signs that children are under stress, or even intense stress. This blog, by request, will give you some tips on helping your children recover from Sandy.

First know that your child is stressed. Some signs that children are stressed include:

- repetitive talk about the event
- repetitive drawing of the event
- unusually irritable
- unusually withdrawn
- needy and clingy
- more forgetful than usual
- having trouble regulating emotions: laughing silly “highs” crash into sullen “lows”
- hair-pulling (trichotillomania)
- disturbed eating
- disturbed sleep

We forget what it is like to be a child. Under 14 years of age, children have some awareness that they cannot survive without adult assistance; this is especially true for very young children. Children watch their parents very carefully and take their cues from them about whether they should be upset or not. In addition children have losses in the storm that adults may trivialize or not realize the depth of the loss. For instance, a parent may not know that a stuffed animal was more like a best friend, or that a destroyed work of their art has taken away a precious sense of self. Because parents are suffering their own losses and in survival mode they may not feel like children are dealing with anything significant, but, of course, they are.

Here are some ways to help your child heal in the aftermath:

1) Limit media exposure of the event. Adults tend to watch traumatic events obsessively but we know from 9/11 that this can create traumas in kids who may not understand that they are seeing the same event repeated rather than several different events. TV may make them think the world is ending

2) Set some “processing” time aside every day for your kids where they can express their feelings. Young children (3yrs-8yrs) might be encouraged to color, draw a picture, or engage in puppet play. 8-12 years olds might want more information about storms, or just to spend time playing games. (Experienced child therapists know that most kids need to be occupied with a game or activity in order to talk about their feelings.) Teenagers may be able to sit and talk if they are mature, and are invited to participate in a judgment free zone. Also, ball throwing and basketball hoop shooting are excellent ways to get kids to open up. During this time turn off your phone and your own agendas and create a lot of space to just listen or answer questions.

3) Try to keep a normal rhythm to the day, even if you are in a shelter. Have regular mealtimes, structured activities and a bed time.

4) Speaking of bedtime, be aware that sleep may be difficult at first. Kids may be having unpleasant dreams processing the storm. Be patient and non-judgmental about this, while helping maintain a schedule.

5) Monitor your own reactions. Calm yourself down as much as possible. Do not share horrible new stories with your kids or in earshot of them. They will be alarmed but will not tell you.

6) Understand that quiet kids may not be OK. Invite them to play with you or help you with simple chores. Reinforce any sharing with your attention and love.

7) Provide lots of hugs and affection. Take time for yourself and for them. You both need the contact!

8) If your child has a pronounced behavioral change reach out for professional help ASAP. Red Cross will have referrals for free and low-income therapy professionals.

9) Be active in reassuring your children that life will get better. Hold the optimism for them, even if you are feeling discouraged. This is kind and wise parenting.

10) Lastly, cultivate patience! Be patient with your kids and be patient with the city and be patient with yourself. Stop and breathe as needed. Practice self-care and stay aware of your own needs! Then you won’t resist the children’s needs when they are up.

Know that there are so many of us pulling for all of you and your kids. Be well and be safe!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Ten Tips to Help You Weather the Storm

Sandy is a big unsexy monster ready to pound the East Coast. Here are some tips for surviving the storm and its aftermath.

1) Don’t be afraid to get help! This is no time for pride. NGO’s and government assistance programs exist to help people in need. Helping in emergencies is a core function of government (and your taxes) and, indeed, a mark of a civilized society. If you wait too long to get help you may end up inconveniencing and/or endangering yourself, those around you or those who can help you. It’s really OK. We all need assistance some time in our lives. Maybe it’s your turn.

2) FEMA is a great resource. Many states along the Mid-Atlantic and the East Coast have shelters open in response to Hurricane Sandy. Search for an open shelter by texting SHELTER + a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). You can also download the FEMA disaster app for the device of your choosing here:

3) RED CROSS (NGO) is over 130 years old and helps approximately 70,000 people a year survive and thrive after disasters. Be prepared: From your mobile phone, call "**REDCROSS" (**73327677) and they will send you a link to download the app to your phone or you can download them directly from the iTunes or Google Play app stores. If you don’t need them, great. But if you do, you will have their information at the ready! Use them; you can always make a donation later.

4) Know where your local homeless shelter is. Up and down the East Coast homeless shelters have been expanding services. If your home or apartment becomes unlivable during the storm, go there! Here is a link for all the homeless shelters in the state of New York:

5) Find a church. Any church. Whether you are a believer or not. Churches have been gearing up for this storm for days. They don’t care about the state of your belief or non-belief. They just want to help. Let them.

6) Make sure you stay on any and all medications! If you run out or something happens, get more at your local Emergency Room. When I worked on the no-name storm (aka Perfect Storm) one of the biggest problems was people who had lost or gone off of their medication. You can become disoriented and ill quickly going off some medications suddenly. Set timers and be sure you stay on schedule! Time gets wonky when there is a big storm or emergency happening. If you have to evacuate suddenly, make your medications a priority in packing!

7) Keep yourself busy and happy. Storms bring unexpected bonuses in terms of companionship, comraderie, time off, clearing of pollution, quiet, relief from inane media, and neighborliness. In the no-name storm, people who ventured out onto the beach after the storm found hundreds of flash-frozen lobsters ready for the picking!

8) Check on your neighbors – especially those who are infirm, elderly or who have children. You might become somebody’s patron saint!

9) Don’t do work beyond your capacity (be a foolish hero). There is an abundance of emergency workers on call for power outages, health emergencies, etc. Let them do their work as professionals. You do them the biggest favor by staying out of their way and keeping yourself safe.

10) Don’t panic over material goods. There are many resources available to help you build your life and home back after the storm. One of these is the Small Business Administration. According to their website: “The SBA provides low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween: A Tough Season for Ritual Abuse Survivors

Ritual Abuse. Yes, it’s real. Yes, I know there are many of you white knuckling your way through October. Hang on!

For an unfortunate but larger than you might think number of Americans, Halloween is a time that activates ritual abuse memories and/or programming.
I know nobody talks about this. Therapists have been running scared since the sham lawsuits and harassment of the last two decades by the now discredited False Memory Foundation.

But I’m here to tell you , it’s real. And I feel for all of you who have been hurt in this fashion.

Ritual Abuse (RA) survivors have a unique set of triggers. Because so many are abused in rituals around Halloween (Satanic and Witchcraft ceremonial time) these triggers can get very activating. In some cases, there may be programming to return to the cult for ceremony. These internally installed prompts may be conscious or, more likely, unconscious especially for those who are still under cult control and connection.

If you think you may be a ritual abuse survivor, you may want to check out this page of Ellen Lacter, Ph.D.’s comprehensive RA survivor website,

If you know you are, here are some reminders:

~ know that Halloween programming and compulsions will pass right after the “holiday”

~ surround yourself with safe friends

~ plan to make extra appointments with your therapist

~ go on a media fast until the end of the month

~ take extra good care of yourself and your “littles” this month

~ affirm your own inherent spirituality unrelated to any rituals

Know that there are many of us out here wishing you safety, healing and freedom. Take good care of yourself!

Monday, October 8, 2012

ACE (Adverse Childhood Events): The Most Important Trauma Study You’ve Never Heard About

In order to understand why his obesity patients were dropping out of a successful weight loss program, Dr. Vincent Felitti dived into their medical records and interviews for clues. What he found launched a several year study that has enrolled more than 17,000 people. These patients were talking about incest, abuse and neglect, extreme adversity in their childhoods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Felitti with Kaiser Permanente launched a study to look at adverse childhood events and their effect on health and longevity over the lifespan.

What is an adverse childhood event? For the purposes of the study it is:

- sexual abuse
- physical abuse
- emotional abuse
- physical neglect
- emotional neglect
- a home where the mother was treated violently
- substance abuse in the home
- mental illness in the home
- parental separation or divorce
- one or more parents imprisoned

Count up the categories that apply to you. That gives you your ACE score. Anything above 4 predisposes people to substance abuse, dysfunction and health issues among other things. People with the highest scores died on average 20 years earlier than people with low ACE scores. (For more information about the mechanisms of these effects see my earlier blog posts on the HPA Axis.)

You can check out more information about the study here. Highly recommended reading for everyone: those of us who suffered difficult childhoods, caregivers, treaters and public policy setters.

This can feel overwhelming as we delve into the truth. The good news is that we are beginning to finally come to terms with the widespread effects of trauma and PTSD and the need to heal from it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Help! My Partner Has PTSD: Seven Strategies for Coping as a Couple

If you are partnered with someone who is struggling with PTSD or you both have PTSD, you know your life together is challenged in some very profound ways. Fights can be explosive, resulting in fireworks or endless stony silences. Misunderstandings can abound. The non-PTSD partner may start to develop secondary or vicarious trauma just being exposed to the intense PTSD in their loved one. Life can start to feel very unpredictable, like threading one’s way through a minefield. It can be easy to start walking on eggshells or conversely getting fed up and moving away from each other. Love and connection are harder to feel. PTSD challenges couples like nothing else. Waiting it out doesn’t work and neither do threats or force. What to do?

1) Educate yourself. PTSD is a whole body process that affects every aspect of the human being. It has predictable stages (see my book, The Trauma Tool Kit) and effects on the person and the partnership. You would educate yourself if your partner had a major medical illness, right? This is no different. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes.

2) Set some clear boundaries around behavior in the relationship. Just because someone is suffering does not give them the right to be abusive. The anger/fear response is hardwired and amped up in full-blown PTSD. Often people with PTSD dissociate when they are angry and don’t even realize what they are doing. Sit down with your partner, ahead of time, and set rules for what is tolerable and allowed in the relationship and what is not. These can change over time depending on where each of you and your life circumstance. For instance, shouting might be OK if it is just the two of you, but if you have a child in the next room, shouting can become off-limits behavior. Violence or abusive behavior is never to be tolerated under any circumstances.

3) Learn to take time-outs, or, as we call them around here, amygdala resets. Your amygdala is the part of your brain that is the crisis response center. When it goes on red alert it highjacks the brain to deal with threats, whether real or perceived. With the amygdala in the red zone, people are very close to being out of control or they are out of control. Taking 20 minutes, the average reset time, to reboot the brain for both parties, will lend itself to a more peaceful and safe outcome. Either partner should be able to call time-out at any time. Be sure to make it a time out not an end to the discussion. Always come back together to resolve the issue at hand. If it is just too explosive get into couple’s therapy. Which reminds me…

4) Get into couple’s therapy! More research is showing that couple’s treatment can be very helpful in coping with PTSD. Individual therapy is great, but couple’s issues are complex and require their own special interventions. Not all therapists like to do or can do couples’ work well. Look for someone with previous education and training or with a degree in family work, who also is knowledgeable about trauma. Even a few sessions can make a tremendous difference. If you are worried about money (and who isn’t these days) know that there are many organizations that provide these services for low and no cost. If you are a veteran or married to one, you may be even more eligible. If money is still on your mind, remind yourself of how expensive divorces are, as long as you both shall live.

5) Study triggers together. Big rages and emotional swings are almost always brought on by triggers to PTSD. A trigger can be anything at all. I worked with a couple whose partner was an Iraq war veteran. He became severely triggered one afternoon by three events happening in close succession: he saw someone in the parking lot of the restaurant with camouflage clothing; he got a freeze headache, and he got closed in when more people joined his table. The clothing and feeling of being trapped are obvious triggers, the freeze headaches not so much. But it turned out he’d had a number of them in the desert, and it had become a trigger. The more triggers you figure out together, in the calm times, the easier it becomes to avoid setting the PTSD partner off, or resolving it more quickly if you do. This is an empowering step that often brings couples closer together. In this case, the couple avoided, what would have been in the past an angry meltdown on his part. His partner then could respond with concern and compassion.

6) Make healing PTSD a joint task in your relationship. Strategize together. Discuss medical options. Open up lines of trust and communication. Often a spouse or partner is the only person to tell one’s story to with complete safety and trust. Don’t avoid the issues just because your partner wants to. Avoidance is part of the disease of PTSD. Don’t collude with it.

7) Join together in mental and physical fitness. Develop couple’s routines around calming down the mind and body on a daily basis. This could be through prayer, meditation, tai chi, yoga, or long walks. The evidence is pouring in daily about the beneficial effects of calming techniques on PTSD. You will both be better for it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Trauma and Attachment

Here’s a little known fact about trauma: an experience of extreme stress or trauma always ruptures a sense of connection and secure attachment in the world.

What do I mean by that?

The world and our sense of safety and connection in it profoundly altered by the sense of disconnection. This makes healing from trauma a doubly hard endeavor.

Here are some examples of common traumas and the ruptured attachment:

Rape: strangers, your own judgment, even a whole gender (men, usually).

War: commanding officers, countries, your own country, people of other races

Child Abuse: authority figures, intimate relationships, justice system, sense of self

Natural Disaster: God, nature, government (if inadequate response)

Car Accidents: other drivers, own judgment, motor vehicles

Major Medical Illness: body, medical system (if inadequate), society (if not able to get insurance or help due to finances)

There are, of course, many other kinds of trauma and endless variations on disrupted attachment and connection depending on the experience involved.

All victims of traumas naturally experience a questioning of and sense of separation from self. Most end up having some sort of spiritual crisis in that their attachment to a higher power is called into question.

Without feeling secure in the world it’s easy to become lost and not know where to turn to for help when you need it the most. Therapists often underestimate the damage done by rupture of secure attachment in the midst of crisis, and patients often end up feeling angry, guilty and paralyzed.

It is important to not pathologize these responses but to see them as a normal conditioned response to trauma and extreme stress.

So, easy does it. When you are ready, sit down and think about areas of mistrust that result directly from your trauma. Be good to yourself today!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Street Yoga: One of my Favorite Organizations!

I found Street Yoga when I was writing The Trauma Tool Kit. They are an amazing group of people working hard to bring yoga and mindfulness to at-risk youth in need. If you are inspired please clink on this link.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Semantics of Rape

Here is the definition of rape from the New Oxford American Dictionary:

Noun: the crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with him without their consent and against their will, esp. by the threat or use of violence against them: he denied two charges of attempted rape | he had committed at least two rapes.

Verb: (if a man) to force another person to have sexual intercourse with him without their consent and against their will, esp. by the threat or use of violence against them: the woman was raped at knifepoint.

Notice how that word “force” is used in both definitions of the word rape? Paul Ryan and those who wrote legislation with him apparently didn’t and somehow felt that they needed to redundantly modify rape with the word “forcible”. This is both insensitive and stupid.

Have you heard how water is powerfully wet? Or that mud is dirty? How about fatal murder or hot arson? You get my point. Aside from being poor English, this kind of language seeks to diminish women’s (and men’s) experience that rape is a form of violence that causes intense suffering over a long period of time. It suggests that there is a kindler, gentler rape that is somehow not forcible, perhaps even enjoyable as one Texan Republican gubernatorial nominee recently suggested.

By using the inflammatory words “legitimate rape” Republican nominee Todd Akin and others suggested to the American public that there is a form of rape that is OK. This is a powerful form of double speak, a sophisticated hypnotic suggestion to the audience that both suggests that rapes could maybe be OK in some circumstances while holding women responsible for proving the severity of rape to begin with and making them doubt themselves with the ridiculous suggestion that if they become pregnant it wasn’t a “real” rape.

In reality, rape is a terrible thing to come to terms with. The mind naturally wants to deny that it even happened. As I say in The Trauma Tool Kit: “the mind swerves away from trauma like a car careening around a deep, dark puddle…avoidance is nobody’s fault but is the very nature of trauma itself.”

Either through deep cynicism or ignorance those who minimize rape (for some reason they are mostly male Republican candidates for office) are siding with the part of the brain that does not want to acknowledge the severity of this trauma. They want to keep the public in denial. Some want to legitimize their own or others’ bad behavior.

This is extreme dysfunction, folks. In order to heal society we need to call out every type of trauma for healing and expose it to the healthy light of day, not shove it back in the closet where it festers and stinks up the place. Every victim needs to be acknowledged and given access to healing. Every perpetrator needs to be brought to justice. If our candidates cannot speak truth and bring healing, then they do not deserve to hold a microphone, much less hold office.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Insomnia and PTSD go together like a mosquito bite and itching but with far worse results. Insomnia is not only a consequence of traumatic events but, left untreated, can result in such chronic medical conditions as mood disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even fibromyalgia, a painful condition affecting joints and tissues throughout the body.

There are roughly 4 types of insomnia:

1) Early awakening
2) Inability to fall asleep
3) Repetitive waking throughout the sleep cycle (usually every 90 min)
4) Unsatisfactory sleep

There can be other physical or disease processes that interfere with sleep so the first step with insomnia is to get a medical exam to determine if there are any conditions, such as sleep apnea (poor breathing during sleep) that are resulting in awakening or unsatisfactory sleep (waking up tired).

With PTSD the two most common types of sleep disorder I’ve seen are the inability to fall asleep or waking approximately every 90 minutes. These are so common that if I have a patient walk in with those symptoms there is a high likelihood that they have suffered past traumatic events.


The answer is simple. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep occurs approximately every 90 minutes. In this stage of sleep the brain processes memories and emotions. That is what the brain is hardwired to do and why people normally wake up feeling refreshed.

But if the memories are too scary and overwhelming or if the conscious mind is not ready to assimilate the information a person will shut down the REM process by popping prematurely out of sleep. Similarly with sleep inhibition or the inability to fall asleep, the mind is unconsciously resisting the process of assimilation or digestion of overwhelming experiences.

For these reasons, sleep can start to feel like a very overwhelming experience and can snowball into its own traumatic situation. Insomnia breeds its own special kind of anxiety. A secondary trauma develops: the fear of not being able to sleep.

What to do?

Here are three steps to getting back to a restful night even while healing from trauma:

1) Unwind the fear about falling asleep. If you are awake use your time productively. Do some yoga postures and relaxation exercises. Or read something that is “good for you” like history, medical information or a religious text. The mind wants to shut down out of boredom after a while, just like in school. Do not read Stephen King or the latest murder mystery! Tell yourself that you will not be awake forever and allow yourself to be awake if you need to be. You can always nap tomorrow. The more anxious you are about being anxious the less chance sleep will come.

2) Develop excellent sleep hygiene. Sleep in a dark room without computers, tv’s etc. Turn off bright lights at least 2 hours before bed (yes that includes all media screens). Abstain from caffeine and sugar for 6 hours before bed. Develop a routine. Etc.

3) Most important: Start addressing your traumas! Your unconscious mind wants you to heal and will keep throwing up traumatic dreams and memories until you get the point and deal with them. Seriously. The best cure for insomnia is curing your PTSD. Find a great counselor or program and get to work!

The alternatives to not addressing insomnia are unbearable. Pills only work for so long. If you resolve the underlying issues be they physical or psychological you will be well on your road to healing and back to the land of Bedfordshire in no time.

Sweet dreams.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Exciting News!

The Trauma Tool Kit is now available in ebook digital format here: It is good for androids, iphones, ipads, computers, Nooks and more. (I'll let you know when it comes to Amazon).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


If you didn't win the last giveaway you have another chance. Enter below!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Trauma Tool Kit by Susan Pease Banitt

The Trauma Tool Kit

by Susan Pease Banitt

Giveaway ends September 30, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Broken Bodies, Broken Hearts: How You Can Help in the Wake of the Colorado Shootings

I have taken time to digest the terrible news out of Colorado, that innocent people in a movie theater could be surprised by such a vicious tornado of violence when they were least expecting it. Like many, I have read accounts of tremendous heroism and the anguish of those who lost loved ones. I know that many in that theater will suffer from the effects of post-traumatic stress in the coming months and years.

Years ago I went through a period of tremendous loss due to the awful effects of an individual’s sociopathic behavior on people I love. At that time I entered a period of tremendous confusion. I had so many emotions; I hardly knew where to begin. The best advice came from a sensitive soul, a healer, someone who was a stranger to me. He simply said, “Let your heart be broken.”

This terrible event leaves us all feeling more helpless and confused than we were before. Many of us want to offer help. How can we, with an event that is so private and so public at the same time?

I would offer the same words that were offered to me. Let your hearts be broken.

We have an important choice. We can open ourselves fully to the pain of this event, grieve, feel and become soft with compassion.

Or we can harden our hearts, look for someone to blame, egoically imagine how it would have gone down if we were there. Or even if we were there with a gun as I have seen many touting on the internet.

The truth is that this killer is a very shut down human being, someone who made a choice somewhere along the line to harden his heart. The end point of hardness of hearts is always violence on a greater or lesser scale. When we look away, shut down, become vengeful we only add more violence to the collective. This behavior, these thoughts, may be natural. But they cannot help. They cannot heal. They cannot prevent.

What requires courage, what is truly heroic, is softening into the event. Breathing, empathizing, feeling, releasing our collective feelings are the only true way I’ve ever seen people heal. And it is the only way to prevent future cycles of violence.

Our emotions are layered, interlinked. Health means we flow through them. To get stuck in one, such as anger, creates pathology and damage. If we really breathe into our horror we may find anger. If we really breathe into our anger we may find grief. If we really breathe into our grief we may find helplessness and sadness. If we really contemplate our sadness, helplessness, grief, anger and horror and let ourselves move through these fully, we will eventually and inevitably move out the other side into compassion.

We will realize that there is really nobody outside of this event. Not the victims, not the perpetrator and not the bystanders. We are all part of the collective human family. And what happens to one of us, at some level, happens to us all.

We can join it or separate ourselves from it. Do we have the courage to feel, to assist in healing? Do we have the strength to keep our hearts soft and open? This is not a task for the faint of heart. Acting in violence is always easier than tolerating intolerable feelings. There are many grown men who would rather hurt, maim or kill than feel their feelings.

So, I invite you again to let your heart be broken, broken wide open. Let yourself be one with those bleeding, grieving, those in confusion, not in a puerile kind of sentimentality, but in the heart of courage that can change the world. Once our hearts are fully open and engaged we will know exactly what we need to do without adding a single drop of violence to this terrible event.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

5 Ways to Manage Post-Disaster PTSD

I just had a lovely interview with Luke Hayes, of MyRecovery Disaster Resilience Radio. We discussed helpful ways to prevent and overcome post traumatic stress around natural disasters, that are increasing in frequency and intensity around the world.

1) Be prepared. Don't think it can't happen to you (denial). Have food and water items stocked. Know what kind of disasters could happen in your area. Make a plan for a quick evacuation. An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of loss later. We don't think and plan well in the midst of crisis. So plan ahead!

2) Know where to find help. Form a community organization. Familiarize yourself with local assistance such as Red Cross, shelters etc. If your community does not have such assistance consider forming a group yourself. People have much less trauma when they feel looked after by their community.

3) Practice control over your mind and emotions now. The first technique I teach my patients about PTSD is a single pointed meditation. Focus on one object for 3-5 minutes at a time. Most of us have flabby mind muscles. This exercise strengthens our ability to focus in a crisis and its aftermath while staying calm. It is easier to keep the mind calm when we have practiced at it ahead of time.

4) If you have severe trauma after a disaster seek help. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Response) is a powerful modality that involves eye movements that dissipates traumatic responses. It seems to work best on those who did not grow up with tremendous amounts of trauma. The results can be surprisingly fast and powerful.

5) Restore yourself and your body after the crisis has resolved. The body is profoundly affected and in some cases permanently altered by trauma. The endocrine system and central nervous systems may take weeks to months to heal fully affecting appetite, weight, autoimmune responses, mood swings, sleep patterns, libido and other aspects of human life. Most people tend to underestimate the results of trauma. Take the time you need to get help and heal yourself. It may take some time.

You are valuable. You are needed. You deserve to heal!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Significance of the Sandusky Verdict

This is a somber and historic day. A powerful, wealthy, well connected and protected man as been brought to justice for preying on the most vulnerable of victims. These former victims have found the personal strength and community support to stand up and support their rights and protect the community from the darkest of predators.

We all know this has been happening. Some of us have been victims of pedophiles abusing positions of power and privilege. But, until today, they have walked free, rarely even brought to trial.

As a therapist I treated many victims of sexual predators. It may surprise you to learn that less than one quarter of my patients’ perpetrators were ever publicly accused, prosecuted or convicted. Most of the victims/survivors were still carrying the secret when they came to therapy. And there’s a good reason for this. Of the perpetrators that were convicted, most served a vastly inadequate sentence.

One of my patients was abused all of her life by her father until the courts could no longer ignore the mountain of physical evidence. He was convicted for sexual abuse after years of rape and served….wait for it….one year. Yup. One year. He went into jail when she was 12 and was released when she was 13. Needless to say she had a serious (but uncompleted) suicide attempt shortly afterward.

This is not unusual. When I worked in protective services in Massachusetts, it was well-known in the protection community that there were certain judges who would never prosecute pedophiles. They always released them with a warning or a light sentence while others were locked away for years by other judges. Why? I’ll leave you to figure that one out.

There are many predators in high places. Jerry Sandusky is only one, and only the beginning. In the past, these guys (and, yes, they are mostly guys) have been able to operate with only the slightest anxiety of ever being caught. Today all of that changes. Forever.

Predators, you have been put on notice. Your time is coming.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Trauma Tool Kit by Susan Pease Banitt

The Trauma Tool Kit

by Susan Pease Banitt

Giveaway ends June 30, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thursday, May 24, 2012

KBOO Interview on Recovery Zone

I was fortunate to have Stephanie Potter of KBOO's show Recovery Zone, in Portland, Oregon interview me yesterday about healing from stress and PTSD. The show is 30 minutes long and features three different callers with excellent questions. I had a blast doing it and am thankful for a chance to help people go deeper in their healing process. Click here, for a link to the downloadable interview.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

THURSDAY: Come join me for a *FREE* Manhattan event!

This coming Thursday night I will be giving a workshop and book reading/signing at Quest Bookshop in mid-town Manhattan. We will be exploring yogic healing from traumatic stress. Expect to laugh, explore, engage and add more tools to your healing tool kit! You can find more information if you click here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The HPA Axis, Trauma and You pt. 2

Maybe you have seen the discussion in the media lately around whether PTSD is a disorder or an injury. It is an injury.

Psychological trauma affects the entire body through the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis. As we discussed before, (see The HPA Axis, Trauma and You), this axis governs the body's entire endocrine (hormonal) system. This is not in control of the victim, any more than bleeding and swelling is for the victim of a beating. PTSD always involves injury to the body's mechanisms. Always. This is one of the reasons the disorder is so painful and so hard to describe.

I have come to believe that all symptoms of PTSD are related to these disturbances or attempts to 'heal' the disturbances.

Let's take an extreme symptom, cutting or self-mutilation. We know in neurology that pain in one part of the body cancels out pain in another part of the body. This is a joke with my acupuncturist. Some times a painful needle will be inserted and he'll ask how my symptoms are. I'll answer, "fine, now that all I can feel is your painful needle!".

So, in a strange kind of way, cutting can be "adaptive" for forms of extreme trauma by managing through diversion and re-routing of pain signals, which then gives the victim a feeling of control.

Avoidance is another one of these symptoms. People with PTSD go to great lengths to avoid (or scare off, if it's a person) reminders of their trauma, sometimes resulting in strange "phobias" or behaviors. That saying, "you always hurt the one you love" goes twice for PTSD sufferers when their partners inadvertently trigger them. We need to learn when our PTSD injury is manifesting and make ourselves safe in ways that don't injure our relationships.

When medicine embraces the physiologic basis for PTSD, sufferers will finally gain the help that they need to heal from this profound HPA injury.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Core Beliefs and PTSD

Last week my sweet kittie went missing. After a few very sad and anxious days, I realized that this event tapped into an outmoded deeply held belief that I did not realize I was holding. That belief is:

If I love something or someone too much, they will abandon or abuse me.

Sound familiar? It should. It is one of the most common beliefs of people raised in traumatic environments.

We all have core beliefs, about ourselves, about life, about love, about why we are suffering. These beliefs largely lay unconscious in our psyche, like a filter that colors everything we see. We don’t question these core beliefs because we do not know they are there!

People who live with PTSD have core beliefs that arise out of their traumas (and sometimes precede them). We do not choose these beliefs. In a sense they choose us. The purpose of mind, evolutionarily speaking, is to make sense out of a random set of stimuli, the environment we live in. Without mind, the world would be an inchoate mass of incoming information. Mind sorts, slots, and makes meaning of sensory input.

But it is also largely automatic and unconscious.

Our mind selects meaning similar to other messages we have been given by our families, our schools, our communities, our religions etc. Most of the time we are completely unaware of this process, just as you are unaware of your breathing right now. Think you’re aware? How many breaths have you taken in the last hour?
Right! Same with the mind. Our minds think and make meaning but we are largely unaware of the process.

So what does that mean for the person with PTSD? Well, traumatic stress ups the ante on thoughts. Our thoughts tend to be more highly charged, faster, more automatic and more intense when we are stressed. Sometimes they are helpful and help us survive. Other times not so much.

This thought that came to me: If I love something or someone too much, they will abandon or abuse me, it could have first arisen in my childhood, or maybe several lifetimes ago. But it has persisted, lurking in my mind like a malignant dustbunny. Once I became aware of the thought, I felt my body start to release. These thoughts, like shadows, melt away in the light of awareness. Do I still feel sad she is gone? Yes. But I no longer suffer from the underlying guilt and anxiety that went along with my unexamined core belief, which puts me in a much more functional position!

Now it’s your turn. What core beliefs do you have that may be holding you back from healing yourself?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Five Ways to Heal your PTSD

1) Strengthen your "mind muscle" through meditation or mindfulness practice. Meditation is not "making your mind go blank"; it is focusing and calming the mind. The mind is like unruly horses, once you are in control, you can direct the mind where you want it to go. Otherwise it runs away with you (and often into flashbacks). This is the single most powerful aid to healing PTSD.

2) Eat whole, nutrient-rich and easily digestible foods. Our digestion suffers tremendously when we are stressed. PTSD is whole body event that depletes our energy and nutrients. Cut back on sugars, caffeine and alcohol that tax the body and especially your adrenals.

3) Find ways to safely tell your story, even if it is in a journal or through art. Finding your narrative and being heard are immensely healing.

4) Safely release held feelings. Crying is necessary, and sometimes so is shouting. Go fight with the ocean waves, run, hit a ball, or watch a sad movie. All are helpful. Holding intense feelings in becomes toxic over time. So release!

5) Learn to comfort yourself. You have been deeply wounded. It is OK to focus on yourself during this time of healing. Comfort is always healthy and never creates further problems. In other words drinking alcohol is not comforting but avoiding. True comfort involves activities like: being out in nature, taking a long hot bath, getting a foot massage, listening to your favorite music, redecorating your space etc. If you need to wrap up in a large blanket and stare off into space, that's OK. Balance comfort with necessary activity.

I feel for you and your suffering. I hope this helps!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Trauma Tool Kit Has Arrived! *GIVEAWAY*

Hi all,

I'm happy to tell you that The Trauma Toolkit: Healing PTSD From the Inside Out is now in bookstores across the United States and is shipping from online booksellers. I had the privilege of finally holding my own copy this week. In celebration I am giving away three copies to the first three readers who link to this blog and comment below. Please be sure to send me your address privately if you see your name in the first three comments! Here's to healing from traumatic stress! Blessings, Sue

Monday, April 16, 2012


Hi all. Today I am pleased to tell you that one month out, the Search Inside function has been activated for The Trauma Tool Kit: Healing PTSD From the Inside Out. Quest Publishing has been quite generous with their sharing so you can begin reading now! Click on the book cover to the right of this post to go to Amazon's site for the book. My greatest desire is that this book help you overcome your traumatic stress and PTSD. Blessings, Sue

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tool: Progressive Relaxation

My husband is a cardiologist. He and I have a friendly competition about who can get rid of chest pain faster. If there is nothing he can do he refers his patient to me or another practitioner. Progressive relaxation, twice a day, for 10 minutes a session usually takes care of unexplained angina in under 2 weeks.

If you have taken a yoga class or been in hypnosis or therapy chances are you know what progressive relaxation is. You start at your feet, imagining deep relaxation, warmth and heaviness and then slowly move that focus up the body. The exercise can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as 45 minutes. Sometimes people fall into a restful slumber. In fact progressive relaxation is excellent for insomnia!

I practice progressive relaxation every morning when I wake up. If you have stress in your life (and who doesn't?) you might be surprised at how much tension you are holding in your body coming out of the sleep and dream state. It resets my body and mind for the day ahead.

It is one of of the best tools for dealing with PTSD and traumatic stress. It is mental floss, which,like dental , is good to practice regularly one to two times/day. You can find videos and CD's that will talk you through progressive relaxation. Next time you are feeling stressed, give it a whirl (but not in your car!).

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stress, Genetics and PTSD

Today there are a number of articles on the web about the genetic predisposition to PTSD. Researchers have discovered that if your ancestors were exposed to severe traumas, such as the holocaust, severe disasters, famine or others, you are likely to have some genetic markers that make you more susceptible to PTSD. We have known for some time that some people respond more dramatically to stress than to others. Now we are beginning to understand why.

It would be easy to misconstrue this information to say that those with the trauma genes are 'weaker'. This would be a mischaracterization. Researchers have made studies about how certain rabbits with more inherited hypervigilance are better at survival in certain terrains. The same people who are prone to PTSD may also have quicker reflexes, be more alert in their surroundings and/or more sensitive to situations. Sensitivity is not a liability but an asset. The world, after all, is not suffering from an overabundance of sensitivity but a lack of it. I would love to see researchers focus on the assets of these genetic changes.

Lastly, I want to point out that although some people are more prone to PTSD, there are some traumas that will cause PTSD in anyone, just as people with stronger or less strong immune systems may catch a particularly virulent disease. So let us engage our curiosity and our compassion for those who suffer in this way, and let us also take note of their resilience and their gifts.

photo courtesy of Maya Banitt

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Dangers of Wartime Traumatic Stress

I really admire this man's work. He brings up a very important issue about traumatic stress that does not reach the level of PTSD being just as dangerous, just as important to treat as PTSD. I've just ordered his book.

Monday, March 5, 2012

PTSD, Inflammation and You.

The hottest news in PTSD is the connection between heart disease and the mechanisms of PTSD in the body. PTSD leads to chronic inflammation which leads to coronary artery disease and other disorders. The latest studies have put the risks of untreated PTSD on a par with smoking!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston and The Power of Words

Yesterday, I was saddened, as were many all over the world, to hear of Whitney Houston's death in a hotel, in a bathtub. Alone. The airwaves filled with moving tributes and loving words before, during and after the Grammys, where her life and talent were celebrated. I couldn't help but wonder if Whitney knew how much she was loved and respected. She had a successful life, yes, but she also had a 15 year long traumatic marriage where she was abused and hurt repeatedly.

Those of us with PTSD know that we can feel swamped with overwhelming feelings of loneliness, grief and fear in our darkest moments. It is easy to pay attention to people who hate us and harder to connect with our core feelings of self-love.

The media is awfully hard on people, except when they are dead. When stars die, they are painted in the rosiest light possible. While alive, dirt is dished because dirt sells stories. By reading these stories and salacious websites we all contribute to their suffering.

I wonder what if? What if Whitney had heard all of these tributes before? Before the medications and the bath and the lonely hotel room. What if her life had been filled with kindness and kind words? What if we all refused to participate in mean talk, mean TV, mean internet parodies and shows? It is easy to think that we are removed from each other. But what if we are not?

In my experience, most people's lives are filled with private suffering. Meanness can push some over the edge. Love, inclusion, compassion and understanding can be life saving. Who could you support today with kind words and thoughts?

If you are feeling low, down, shamed or not worthy, know that there is love in this world. It may be hidden from your eyes, but it is there. Today I send kind thoughts your way. I hope you will do the same for me and for your brothers and sisters out there struggling in a world where it can be hard to feel valued. Take good care, each and every one of you.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dissociative Identity Disorder

DID (dissociative identity disorder) is the outcome of early and severe trauma and always involves multiple levels of PTSD. Some of you may know it as multiple personality disorder. Unfortunately there is still a lot of ignorance, fear and titillation around DID. I just returned from speaking at the 2nd annual Healing Together conference in Orlando, Florida, which was organized by and put on for those suffering from DID and those who care for them. I have never attended a more open-hearted, mindful and enlightening conference. About a third of those there had been diagnosed with DID. Robert Oxnam, the famous scholar who came out as a multiple on 60 minutes was the keynote speaker. Contrary to what you might believe, there was much laughter and open sharing of stories. Jaime Pollack, the bubbly and energetic founder gave the opening and closing speeches. She shared her process of coming out publicly with DID, while still holding her job as a preschool teacher. The sharing of her story, as Robert's did, allowed those around her to share the abused parts of themselves and feel cared about and accepted. In the end, Jaime exhorted those with DID to adopt a "so what" attitude to their multiplicity. It is just one more disability in the world and nothing to be ashamed of. Thanks Infinite Mind for putting on such a wonderful conference! If you suffer from DID or extreme trauma, I hope to see you there next year!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Horse Therapy for PTSD in the UK

I am loving watching the spread of all kinds of healing therapies for PTSD here and around the world. I can personally vouch for the power of horses. Many a day I went in with raging PTSD symptoms to see my beloved horses only to come out fully grounded and even with what we call around here "barn bliss". Winston Churchill famously said, "there is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse". And I couldn't agree more (except add women!).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Writers, Agents and Editors Network

My agent, Jeff Herman, and his lovely wife, Deborah have started a very promising networking site for writers, agents and editors. If you have written a book, are writing one or have the gleam of a book in your eye, I recommend you head on over to this site. There is much sharing of information, encouragement and inspiration whatever stage you are at in your career. Deb has a particular interest in spiritual self-help, so if you read or write in that genre, definitely check it out! I have created a new profile and am listing my events there. Hope to see you on WAE Network soon!

Monday, January 16, 2012

TTK Pre-orders are Here!

People have been asking me when they can get The Trauma Tool Kit. We all are suffering from a range of stress from ordinary to unbearable suffering. I am happy to tell you that it is almost here. I am thinking of you all as the book goes to print! Hang on and know that there is a way to heal fully from PTSD and other stress related afflictions. Blessings, Sue

New Year’s Intentions (Yoga Style). ~ Susan Pease Banitt, LCSW

New Year’s Intentions (Yoga Style). ~ Susan Pease Banitt, LCSW

Elephant Journal, an ezine devoted to all things yoga, published my New Years Resolutions, ahem, Intentions article. Click on the title to see if these resonate with you!