- Jill Bolte Taylor
In his book The Emotional Brain, neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux tells the story of a woman who was unable to make new memories because of damage to her brain. She simply couldn’t remember things that she had experienced only moments before.
Under the care of a doctor, he would walk in to her room and greet her, shaking her hand. But if he left the room and returned only a few minutes later she would have forgotten she’d ever met him. Each time they met he would have to reintroduce himself. Over and over, again and again.
One day the doctor did something a little different. Entering her room, he put out his hand to greet her but concealed a tack in his palm. Needless to say, when she shook his hand it hurt and she pulled back.
Quickly forgotten you might think?
But the very next time he returned to the room to greet her, this intelligent woman refused to shake his hand. She couldn’t tell him why, she just wouldn’t do it. Some part of her remembered and while she couldn’t recall it consciously, she knew this doctor had caused her pain.
The Emotional Memory
The thing is we have multiple memory systems. Our conscious memory is only one of them. We have another quite separate system that stores our emotional memories processed by our emotional brain. Sometimes these memory systems intersect and we might remember an incident that caused us pain. But just as with this woman, there are times we remember things emotionally that we may not recall consciously.
And this is one of the difficulties with a cognitive approach to emotional healing. Because if we don’t consciously know what is causing us sadness or anger or grief or anxiety or depression, or feelings we can’t even label, then we can talk about it and analyse it until we’re blue in the face and we’re often no closer to resolving the emotional pain.
Does that sound familiar?
When problems are based in the emotional memory, we need to work at this deeper subconscious level in order to help truly resolve the difficulties we face. The wonderful thing is when we work at this level we don’t need to talk about or analyse our feelings or problems in order to resolve them. In fact, it’s better not to.
"Hi Belinda, I would just like to say again thank you so much for helping me. I am very grateful and so much happier. You have helped me grow as a person and helped me gain so much happiness in myself - thanks again."
'A' - 15 years old
Do you have trouble sleeping?
Because the emotional brain links directly with our autonomic nervous system, unresolved emotional traumas can keep us awake at night. Amongst other things, poor sleep can affect our ability to control our weight and heal. The flood of stress hormones and inflammatory chemicals from unresolved emotional issues can also make conditions like chronic pain so much worse. Not to mention the implications for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. And research shows grief and loneliness, when left unresolved, can kill.
Fortunately there are ways to help people heal trauma within the emotional brain. Private Subconscious-mind Healing (P.S.H. Therapy) is one of the best approaches I know to help people do that.
Isn’t it time we made our emotional healing just as important as the physical?