This week’s topic is pain—not physical pain, but psychic pain.  Pain, what I call psychic or emotional/mental pain, is part of life for everyone, I believe.  Of course, I’m not a mental health professional, so I cannot discuss psychic pain with the authority of a professional.  However, I am a human being, and as such, I have experienced my share–and possibly more–of the sort of pain I’m talking about for seventy-two years.  For this reason, I have given myself permission to discuss the topic of psychic pain on this blog.  I hope that what I have to say will be useful to you, my readers.

As you know, I have finally found a therapist, a clinical psychologist, who has been able to help me as I go about my work of recovering from Complex PTSD and the trauma underlying the diagnosis.  I can state that I have found relief from the PTSD symptoms—flashbacks, numbing, spacing out, derealization, depersonalization, etc.  By “relief” I do not mean that the symptoms have gone away.  They recur each time I touch upon the pain associated with trauma in my background, usually during my therapy sessions.  However, I no longer must battle the symptoms as part of my daily life. For instance, I can ride the bus and light rail and no longer experience PTSD symptoms when a passenger acts out by cursing loudly, shouting, or disturbing the peace in other ways.  I can also tolerate sitting in a meeting in which voices are raised in argument. The fact that I can tolerate disturbances during my use of public transportation and outbursts in gatherings is a welcome sign of progress, especially since I need to use public transportation often and since there seem to be people who act out and who display strong emotion in many human situations.

Presently, what I am dealing with is the huge pool of pain that has collected as a result of trauma I have experienced since I was a newborn, seventy-two years ago.  As I said, life is not supposed to be painless, in my opinion.  However, I don’t believe that we are supposed to carry so much pain from one life stage to the next that we are shackled by the pain, either.  A psychologist named Arthur Janov wrote a book titled Prisoners of Pain, which I read in the early 1980s.  I’ll never forget that book’s description of the actual physical damage psychological trauma does to the brain’s structure, and I’ll never forget Mr. Janov’s description of the reversal of the damage to the brain.  The reversal, according to Mr. Janov, comes about as the pain experienced during trauma, including birth trauma, is brought to the surface, experienced by the client, and dispersed. Arthur Janov is a pioneer in this field, and he named his therapy method Primal Therapy

Since the late 1940s and early 1950s, when Arthur Janov developed his therapies, brain research has led to the development of other effective therapies such as EMDR and Ego State Therapy that have become accepted as useful modalities for facilitating healing.  Here are a couple of sites that will give you more information on EMDR and Ego State Therapy.:  www.shirleyjeanschmidt.com/doc/rf-emdr.pdf  and http://www.bainbridgepsychology.com/EgoStateTherapy.html.

Yes, pain is a part of life, I believe.  After all, if we didn’t feel pain, how would we be able to identify the opposite—joy?  If we didn’t experience the darkness in life, how would we be able to appreciate the sunshine in life?   If there were no ugliness in life, how would we recognize and enjoy life’s beauty?  Pain is a necessary component of life.  However, I, possibly like many of you, am one of those people whom Arthur Janov described as dragging unprocessed and unresolved pain from one developmental stage of my life to the next.  When a person does this, eventually the pain can accumulate to the point where it becomes intolerable, and that is one reason why I am in therapy.  In addition to reducing the symptoms of PTSD, I plan to reduce my psychic pain to a more tolerable level.  I’m hoping that by doing this, I can de-stress the last part of my life and enjoy life more.  I don’t want to be pain free, but I would like to finish my life with less pain so that I don’t expend so many of my psychic resources trying to stop the hurting. 

The above sounds like a pretty simple goal, doesn’t it?  But how does one go about doing this, reducing the pain and de-stressing the life?  My answer:  I’m not sure.  But you can bet I’m going to find out!  In fact, I’ve already begun to find out.  And as this part of my therapeutic journey becomes clearer to me, I’ll discuss the issue of pain more specifically.  For now, I will only say that yes, with the help of an effective therapist, you can reduce your psychic pain and begin to enjoy and appreciate life more. 

By lifting the cloud of pain just a little, you can catch a glimpse of the green pastures, the vibrant hues of wildflowers, and the rainbows of life that pain’s cloud blocks from your view right now.  And once you have glimpsed that sight, once you have seen the possibilities, you will want to raise that cloud higher until you can walk in the pastures, get close enough to the flowers to smell them, and then maybe even find the gold at the rainbow’s end.  It can happen!   

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