Wednesday, November 26, 2008
War is hell, and its impact on U.S. troops can be devastating. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 17 percent of troops have been diagnosed with major depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Mental health experts estimate that 10 percent to 30 percent of Vietnam veterans have developed PTSD.
Ranae Johnson, founder of Rapid Eye Technology (RET), discovered that simple blinking, breathing and eye techniques can release trauma. These techniques have been shown effective in treating PTSD in veterans. The technology, developed at the Rapid Eye Institute in Salem, can quickly shift the debilitating and often devastating effects of PTSD that occur when people’s coping mechanisms become overwhelmed during disaster situations.
PTSD is a mental condition that causes someone to feel intense fear or hopelessness for 30 days or longer. It can afflict people who have experienced or witnessed life-threatening events. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged.
How does RET work to relieve these symptoms?
The RET technician puts the patient into a relaxed or alpha brainwave state, which gives access to both conscious and unconscious information. Utilizing an eye-catching device, the technician induces patterns in the peripheral vision of the patient that further refine the search for the traumatic source material in visual, auditory and kinesthetic areas of the brain. The patient is then told to blink the eyes, which effectively creates an on/off electrical stimulus, intensifying and apparently zooming in on the target neurons, alternately focusing on and discharging the material laid down there.
RET simulates a condition of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM), which happens while sleeping and is our body’s natural discharge mechanism. During REM sleep we process, clear and integrate our day’s experiences. The eyes move rapidly under the eyelids and the eyelids blink or twitch. RET simulates REM sleep with an eye-directing device moving rapidly in a neuro-linguistic pattern in front of the client’s eyes.
The peripheral vision picks this up and the brain thinks it is in REM sleep. This fast movement of the device supports the mind and body in accessing memory. The technician quickly moves the wand in various patterns to find sources of stress, watching the client’s eye movement for triggers. As the client blinks and breathes deeply, trauma trapped in the mind and body are accessed and released.
Why does RET work? According to E. Lynn Waldrip, a clinical psychologist based in San Francisco, studies show that the eyes are connected intricately with the limbic system and various storage areas of the brain, which make up the neurological pathway system. When we look up, we’re accessing visual memory or re-creation, when we look to the side we are accessing auditory data, and when we look down we are accessing feelings.
Mary Bowen, a Rapid Eye Technician based in Owings, Maryland, found that RET frees veterans from the emotional pain of PTSD. Bowen finds that when speaking to veterans, the same words keep coming up to describe their pain: dishonor, abandonment by the government and injustice.
For veterans who’ve experienced combat trauma, RET releases stress and its triggers from the war. The treatment replaces the old pain with new, empowering thought patterns, which allows the veteran to integrate back into the routine of society.
“The brain does not have the neural pathway for war so it has to create a new pathway,” Bowen says.
The brain then stores the stress and triggers of war. With RET, a client accesses the stored information without having to talk about it. The eye movements are picked up by the brain and the release process takes effect.
-- Compiled by Vicky Thompson