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Embodying Negative Emotions

Embodying Negative Emotions

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Published by IvanRibeiro

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Published by: IvanRibeiro on Sep 23, 2009
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March, 20031 - Anchor Poin
Can we get negative emotionsactually
in our body?Is it actually possible to
negative emo-tional states in our muscles andnervous tissue?Could it be that the feelings thatcorrespond to and drive stut-tering and blocking have gotteninto the breathing and speak-ing muscles?We raise these questions to firstof all acknowledge that the end ex-pression of stuttering and blocking isphysiological. Of course, it is physi-ological. Yet, is it
solely by physi-ology?Could the physiology that wesee, recognize, and feel actually be theembodiment and manifestation ofsomething that is primarily a mental– emotional state? Could it be the waythe person is running his or her brainthat ultimately creates the physiologi-cal symptoms and expressions?What if it is through the processof habituating the typical state of mind
speaking, mis–speaking, andstuttering that actually drives andcauses the state to become, as itwere, locked into” a person’s body?
Guess Where a Stutterer
his or her Emotions?
Embodying Negative Emotions
by Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D.Min.with L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
What if the stuttering, and all thenegative emotions associated with it,actually gets into the person’smuscles?These questions suggest a differ-ent model about how to think aboutthe subjective experience of stutter-ing and blocking, and yet one couldpotentially lead to more options forrecovery and fluency. In saying this,we mean that it is because our mindis connected to our bodies throughour central nervous system and be-cause our mind communicates to allparts of our bodies—that the outerbehavior occurs. Since the 1950smedical science and the neuro–sci-ences have become aware of thismind-body connection. After all, ournerve cells occur throughout everypart of our bodies and receive infor-mation from all of our cortex andsubcortical parts.That
emotions isobvious in the most primitive and ba-sic of all our mind–body functions, theFight/Flight arousal syndrome. And asyou well know, you don’t have to bein actual danger to set it off. All youhave to do is
think, remember, or imag- in
something fearful. Then your bodywill oblige. It is wired to respond.Is it any surprise then that all of ouremotions can and do become embod-ied in certain areas of our body? To-day, we even know that the pattern-ing or habituation of response canbecome so incorporated that it be-comes what we call “muscle memory.That is, the muscles rememberhowto run the pattern. The neuro-path-ways have worn a groove” so tospeak so that they have a readinessfor certain responses.For people who block and stutter,we find that the negative emotionsare typically contained within the
. Check this outfor yourself. Ask a person who blocksand stutters, or ask yourself,What emotions are behind andwithin my blocking?Where in my body do I feel theseemotions?Where in my body do I feel the fearand anxiety as I anticipate the possibil-ity of blocking and/or stuttering?What do I feel
these feelings?That is what we’re talking about.
2 - Anchor PointMarch, 200
In my thirteen years of work intherapy with clients, I have literallyasked these questions of hundredsof people who were suffering fromsome unwanted thought–feeling– emotional problem.Where in your body do you feelthat emotion?is a question thatenables a person to begin to recog-nize
the embodiment 
of emotions.And out of those hundreds oftimes of asking question, there havebeen very few times when I did notget an immediate and direct reply.The individuals simply told me wherethey felt the emotion. Often theypointed to the body parts where theemotion seems located. This is a gen-eral rule of thumb for therapists. If aperson feels” the negative emotion,they will point to the area of the bodywhere they feel that emotion. It is inthe body (the soma) and so it ispsycho-somatic in nature and form.
Paruresis (BashfulBladder)
More recently we have been in-troduced to, and have worked with,a disorder called Shy Bladder” orBashful Bladder.” The technical nameis Paruresis. People suffering from thisproblem say that it can be most crip-pling individually and socially. A per-son suffering from this disorder willreport something like this,Whenever I try to use a publicrestroom, everything freezes up! Nomatter how badly I need to go, noth-ing happens. If I’m not at home, I can’turinate. When I’m alone or at home,I have no problem.”Michael worked with a client withthis problem during the Neuro–Se-mantic Intensive Trainings in Colo-rado. A participant flew in from thesouthern part of the United States.Yet to make that four hour flight, herefused to eat or drink for two days.He absolutely was terrified that hewould have to go to the restroom inthe airport or worse, on the planeand someone would hear him pee.It was utter terror for him.Emotions are like that. They havea reason” of their own. We call it
 –logical (following Korzybski’swork,
Science and Sanity 
) because thereasons make perfect sense to theperson’s internal thinking, remember-ing, imagining. It if seems irrational onthe outside, that’s because we don’tknow the full internal logic. To thisman, it seemed totally irrational. Hecouldn’t figure out his own internallogic or why his body was doing that.He knew better! And he chastisedhimself constantly about it (of coursethat only amplified the problem).What in the world could cause ahighly success young CEO of a suc-cessful business who employed nearlya hundred people and was makingsix–figure income to suffer at thehand of his embodied emotions inthat way? An old trauma. The trau-matic event of walking into a restroomat five years of age, stepping acrossthe body of his drunken alcoholic fa-ther who had passed out in the bath-room floor, and beginning to pee. Ashe did, it woke up the dad who yelledand screamed at him, threatening himto “never do that again!”That was the
(the seman-tics) that became incorporated andembodied in the little boy’s body (hisneurological, nervous system). It’s inthis way that “Shy Bladder” syndromeis neuro–semantic in nature andstructure. The messages within thelittle boy’s consciousness
his entire mind–body–emotion sys-tem, he repeatedly reviewed that in-ternal movie and there you have it.I presently am working with a 46year–old male who has had this prob-lem since he was a teenager. He de-veloped fears, anxiety, and even panicaround the natural process of urinat-ing. In questioning him, I discoveredthat his problem rooted in his beingshamed primarily by an older brotherduring the time when he was latebeing potty trained. These anxietieswere amplified from other experi-ences of being embarrassed from sig-nificant adults in his life because hewas a big boy” and still in diapers.I hadn’t talk with him very longbefore I realized that the structureof this problem correlated veryclosely to the structure of stuttering.The difference was that the memoryembodiment occurred
on the other end 
from the person who blocks andstutters. Same structure, differentexpression.
Neuro-Science and“Muscle Memory”or “Cell Memory”
What evidence is there in theneuro–sciences which gives credenceto this understanding that memoriesas ways of thinking and reasoning (oursemantics) can find expression in vari-ous areas of the body?This theoryand paradigm is obviously foundational
March, 20033 - Anchor Poin
to our belief that the major contrib-uting factor of blocking and stutteringare those mental frames of fear andanxiety behind the stuttering. Then,when we add to this are all of thenegative mental frames associatedwith the early psychological develop-ment of a person, no wonder we canget some very strange ideasembod-ied somatically. Then, these mentalframes, when activated by the fear ofblocking or stuttering will functionsimilar to how a panic attack oper-ates. The only difference will be in theexpression occurring in those musclessurrounding breathing and speaking.Today, human anatomy and medi-cal science recognizes that the ner-vous system is an interactive system.Today the neuro–sciences speak aboutauto–immune–disease, and psycho– immunology, and many other hyphen-ated words. There is no mind” apartfrom “body,” or “body” apart frommind. Researchers today describe thebrain functions and anatomy as re-sponsive, processing, and always chang-ing. We have a dynamic system that isalive and forever in process.That’s why the old metaphors ofthe mind–body system no longerwork. The mechanistic idea of steamand energy and things” have givenway to processes, systems, commu-nication exchange, information trans-fer, etc. And yet how
manifestsitself in the
of nervoustissue, and creates the sense of con-sciousness, and self–reflexive con-sciousness, self, identity, and internalmovies of past and future events—all of this is still a mystery.What we know is that—“mindis not a thing, but a process. We knowthat our mind does not have me-chanical structures for “storage” of“memories” and “thoughts” that arestatic like what we use in a computer.There are no comparable computerchips… there is only the constanttransform of information, the ex-change or transduction of energyfrom electromagnetic to bio–electric,to chemical to the exchange of ionsat the level of molecules.In there, everything is so com-pletely dynamic that they only way itcan be sustained is through using thehigher levels of mind (our meta–cog-nitions) to set up beliefs that keepon thinking the same thought so thatit habituates and becomes musclememory. Of course, if we stop thatprocess, then that memory will bechanged, altered, or erased. That’swhy we are such good forgetters. Thethings we program into our nervoussystem have to be constantly re-freshed. And, of course, all of thisalso identifies processes for interven-tion and transformation.
Embodied Emotions
If this is true for our thinking, it iseven more so for our emotions.These
somatic movements 
in our body,what we call “emotions” must alsobe re–framed. We must also recog-nize that they are processes as well.They are the embodiment of ourthinking, appraising, and understand-ing into our protoclastic tissue—nervous tissue, signals and messagesof arousal, threat, safety, etc. That ev-erything is interconnected and affectseverything else is a given in the neuro-sciences today.What does all of this mean?Itmeans that
there is no mind-body-emo- tion problem because it is an intercon- nected system in the first place, a sys- tem that cannot be broken up.
We canonly break it up linguistically as wetalk about the parts. The parts donot operate singly. Of course; this in-cludes the cortex, the hippocampus,and every other organ come into playincluding muscle groups.Neuro–Scientist Susan Greenfield’sstates, that “consciousness, memory,learning, etc. are gestalt (connected)phenomena, and not located any-where, but everywhere.We recog-nize this
in terms of “cellmemory” or “muscle memory.Ac-tually, this is a misnomer for it impliesthat somehow the
of memoryin certain areas of the body. The er-ror in this is the nominalizing (or freez-ing) of a process. The memories areactually the expression of a dynamicprocess. With blocking and stutter-ing, the driving emotions find expres-sion in certain muscle groups but theyare not just there, they are
but there as well.In all of this, the modern neuro-sciences confirm our suspicion thatemotions can and do find expressionin particular areas of the body. As asystemic whole, the mind–body sys-tem works together and cannot beseparated.Consider a panic attack. When aperson has a panic attack, part of thediagnosis involves physical symptoms.I certainly do not believe this diag-nosis is the result of some accident.It is the result of what people expe-rience as is the case with blocking/ stuttering. The DSM IV offers this

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