EFTandFibromyalgia | Fibromyalgia | Psychological Trauma

EFT and the Neurobiology of Fibromyalgia

Dr. Nancy Selfridge
An excerpt from Tapping to Restore Harmony of Spirit: EFT and Fibromyalgia a multi-media package of interactive information by EFT Master Rue Anne Hass, with Nancy Selfridge, M.D. author of Freedom from Fibromyagia http://www.intuitivementoring.com/books-dvds/eft-and-fibromyalgia/

In many ways, fibromyalgia is like so many other diseases in our Western medical history. Our understanding of the pathophysiology of this disorder is reliant on an exquisite understanding of the physiology of pain and pain perception, the effects of trauma and stress on the brain, and the ways the emotions are translated into the physiology of symptoms. Presently, the conventional medical model frames fibromyalgia as a syndrome diagnosis. As such, it is simply a name applied to a set of symptoms, primarily pain, and the finding of tender spots on examination occurring in a patient for whom no other explanation exists for this state of being.

most were “intuitive feeling” types. though I really did try about everything that conventional medicine had to offer. a physiatrist at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation. I remained convinced that this was a problem with my central nervous system and I was reasonably certain that it had been brought about by stress/trauma (in my case. including FM. It seemed as though a certain temperament. PhD. As I suffered through my fibromyalgia symptoms over many years. The body bears the burden Fortunately. a complete understanding of how someone with FM gets sick and stays sick eludes us. chronic pain. might predispose a person to developing chronic physical symptoms when stressed or traumatized. Of those who had ever taken a Myers Briggs personality test. to wondering what troublesome emotion was “talking” to me in this form of pain. as “idealist” (4). In essence my thinking shifted from assuming that something awful was happening to my body. fine tuning the model as needed to fit the variety of experiences I was hearing in patient histories and also reading about. has an emotional base of unresolved rage even when a person is functioning without specific psychological impairment (1). and I began focusing on emotion rather than my physical suffering. a gifted neurologist. we are still in the infancy of exploration of these complex processes and. and likely all chronic pain. there was nothing in my medical training that prepared me for understanding and managing my own symptoms. a rudimentary pathophysiology model for FM and sharing this with patients. Scaer. I was introduced to the work of John Sarno. who posited that chronic back pain. in her books about highly sensitive people (3). MD.” I began forming. also described by David Keirsey. but this simple association and its complete acceptance in my mind was sufficient. It is an idea yet to be proven. When I was ready to accept that my FM symptoms might be the neurological equivalent of emotional burden and trauma. . Most could readily see themselves in this description. I noted that almost all of my FM patients were temperamentally similar to me—very sensitive people—and I started asking people if they identified with the traits described by Elaine Aron. Sensitivity and stress After I “healed. therefore. is a circumstance where the “body bears the burden” of mental stress and trauma (2). In the words of Dr. the intensity of my medical training and also a difficult marriage).In fact. my physical symptoms evaporated! Interestingly. PhD. to the best of my ability. Still. but in my clinical practice it still holds true. or way of being in the world and processing information. I never achieved any physical relief from any of the years of psychotherapy that I did.

A nervous system insult In essence. or diagnostic. almost a “risk factor. difficult childbirth. unrelenting financial stress. it appears that a sensitive temperament is fertile ground for the development of this disease. it appears that there is a dysregulation of multiple body functions. lack of adequate sleep. etc. a difficult relationship at home or work. . they seldom have a pattern that makes any sense. mental. In this respect. a period of too much work. mental fogging. The stress/trauma can be physical. emerged as pathognomonic. digestive problems. we know that there is abnormal activity in the brain in certain prefrontal cortical areas in response to painful stimuli. in nearly all FM patients. that there is a deranged pituitary hypothalamic axis mediating the body’s endocrine system. Many people have trouble maintaining a predictable and reliable work schedule. as the net result of this nervous system insult. but none of these findings has. as yet. From scientific research. symptoms start and include pain. Then. The symptoms vary in location and are unpredictable in their severity.So. and in my practice has been as varied as accidents. too much caretaking. mood problems. not enough time for self care for any reason. what might be actually happening in the brain and body of the FM patient and what is the scientific support for this? First. the intensity of school and studies. that there are abnormal levels of peptides in the brain (chemicals that communicate between brain and body). making them even harder to manage. but only 1/3 actually are classified as disabled. fatigue. sleep problems. toxic exposure (such as carbon monoxide). After the initiating stress. and evidence of autonomic dysfunction such as irritable bladder and fainting. though. there is a stress or trauma (large or small) or a stressful period of time that serves as a forerunner and trigger for the FM symptoms. loss of a loved one or a job. including pain perception. a significant illness.” you might say. emotional or environmental. for the disease. the illness of a loved one. surgery.

Perhaps this is because the areas of the brain responsible for FM allodynia (pain amplification) have no opiate receptors. This disorder demands an expansion of our understanding of stress and disease. some patients would find this model easy to accept and still did not have much symptom relief with these exercises. we will likely be unable to create a “magic bullet” for this disease in the conventional allopathic model. in my experience. as such. that may have a dampening or corrective effect on the problematic prefrontal cortical activity of FM. What might be happening here? It is my belief that the areas of the brain that appear to be affected by FM in recent fMRI studies are fairly resistant to “quieting” with purely cognitive activity— such as thinking and talking. Live your heart's desires . Nonetheless. a treatment for the trauma that appears to induce FM. which I believe is a breakthrough for the treatment of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. Thanks to Rue. getting better simply with understanding and accepting a model for their disease that linked the physical symptoms with emotional experience and trauma. many patients achieve remarkable relief for their painful symptoms with EFT. I was introduced to Emotional Freedom Techniques and energy psychology. until we have a better understanding of normal brain function and how FM actually deviates from normal. and even therapeutic doses of narcotic pain medication rarely control the FM pain. Ultimately. I worked with patients on journaling and simple cognitive exercises to reinforce this idea. EFT to the rescue! Under Rue’s guidance. sensations and emotions associated with this exploration. However.Conventional approaches to pain seem not to be helpful. Instead. There is nothing about this that is factitious nor evidence of psychological disease or bad character. foundational beliefs are explored along with the initiating traumas and their deepest meanings. there seems to be an energetic influence from EFT and other therapies like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). In fact. and also with the left prefrontal activation of a meditation practice. and the FM symptoms improve. some patients were like me. It has become apparent to me that FM patients are like “canaries in the coal mine” responding to our stressful culture and environment with real illness and debilitation. and. EFT is applied to all aspects of the thoughts.

transcripts. 2006 2. Nancy Selfridge. author of Freedom From Fibromyalgia. Healing the Pain. I give permission to patients to live for their own hearts’ desires. I expand my counseling of my sensitive FM patients to include diet and nutrition to avoid inflammation and illness. New York: Warner Books.D. Sarno. 1998. To learn much more about using EFT for Fibromyalgia . The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body. ebooks and an eight week tapping program here: http://www. New York: Regan Books. John. supplements to correct nutritional deficiencies and diligent counseling about stress management strategies and interventions.com/books-dvds/eft-and-fibromyalgia/ 1. It is this latter path that will best help the sensitive soul from becoming sick again. Scaer.As my own awareness of the multiple stressors we are exposed to increases. see my extensive package of DVDs.intuitivementoring. 2001 . New York: Haworth Medical Press. to explore their limiting beliefs and to honor their sensitive temperaments. M. Most of all. Robert C.. The Body Bears the Burden. ___________. The Divided Mind: Epidemic of Mind Body Disorders.

Please Understand Me II. 1998 (photographs courtesy of Dreamstime. Elaine. Keirsey. David.com) . 1996 4.3. Aron. California: Prometheus Nemesis Publications. New York: Broadway Books. Del Mar. The Highly Sensitive Person.

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