`I am no longer in that prison`- releasing the buried effects of trauma using regression
Account of a regression session conducted by Kathryn Scorza with her client, Nina
Early in 2010 Nina (not her real name), a client I had worked with in the past, came to see me again with some extreme fears which had recently surfaced and become acute. She reported that the main feeling was one of panic that her young son (8) was in grave and constant danger, and that something awful was going to happen to him. While she realised the fear was illogical, it was nevertheless overwhelming and was causing her huge anxiety. This client has lived in the UK for many years, but grew up in a war-torn part of Africa, in a country brutally occupied by its larger and more powerful neighbour. She had experienced many traumas and witnessed many shocking scenes, some of which we had successfully worked with over previous years. When we first met, I was working with her using spiritual healing and counselling, and she had made very good progress, overcoming many fears and leading a much happier and more relaxed life.
Nina became extremely agitated as she talked about her fear, so rather than relaxing her gradually into a hypnotically receptive state, I tripped her directly into regression by lightly tapping her on the forehead over the bridge of her nose, suggesting she ask her body to remember the first time it had felt these feelings and to allow that memory to float up into consciousness.
Nina reported instantly that she had been transported into a scene and was reliving it. Despite her agitation, and through her tears, she described what she could see and what was going on around her. She was a small toddler sitting on the ground (this was significant, as she distinctly noticed the feel of the ground beneath her and that it was different from the ground at her home). From what she described, it was clear she was in the middle of a massacre. She was completely alone, sitting on the ground while all around her men, women and children were being killed. She told me she saw a mother with her small son being killed right in front of her. She reported a dream-like feeling of unreality, as if she was not really there, and improbable as it sounds, it does seem that she was overlooked by the killers. She was not touched or harmed by them, despite the awful scene developing around her: almost as if she was invisible to them.
As Nina relived the scene, I used a series of techniques to help her release the feelings of dread and horror the trauma had locked inside her. Once we had worked right through the scene and reached a resolution, I gently brought her back to the present moment.
During the regression, tears were rolling down Nina’s cheeks. I gave her some time to gather herself. She said she did not know what the scene was, or whether this event had really happened. We wondered whether it had perhaps been a past life memory, and I was reconciled to the likelihood that we would never know. Nevertheless, I hoped that releasing this scene, whatever it might have been, would prove to have been helpful for her. Nina was very clear that she did not recognise the place, and particularly that the ground looked and felt strange to her. She had, nevertheless, been so upset and agitated by the memory, and the details were so strong and clear, it felt like the memory of a real trauma.
Nina came to her next session very excited. She had phoned her older brother who confirmed that she had been taken by her beloved godmother, just after her younger sister was born, to spend some time with her in her own home village while her mother recovered from the birth. Nina was then aged around 18 months. The village was near the hills, and therefore sometimes targeted by the occupying troops who suspected the villagers were helping the freedom fighters hiding in those hills. The occupying troops had carried out a sudden and unexpected reprisal massacre in that village while Nina was there. Somehow her godmother had become separated from Nina. She also survived, and came to find the toddler. The account given to Nina’s family confirmed that the child had been in the middle of the scene where every living being was being hacked to death, and that miraculously she was not harmed. Nina was never told anything about this event in her childhood, and she stated that she had no conscious memories of it.
During her regression, Nina reported her toddler self feeling nothing at all during the massacre, despite the violence of the scene around her, and the tears rolling down her cheeks as she recounted it. She reported a strange feeling of detachment from the event. I explained to Nina that this feeling of detachment is a defensive reflex of the mind which enables us to get through horrors and traumas. It is therefore completely understandable that her unconscious mind would have sought to protect her at that point and then bury the traumatic memory.
Nina then revealed for the first time that for as long as she could remember, she had always had a horror of knives, feeling extremely uncomfortable around them. If she saw a naked blade, even a small kitchen knife, lying around, she always felt huge anxiety and the need to cover it immediately or put it away safely. But she reported that from the day following the regression, her feelings were transformed. She was now so relaxed with a sharp knife in her hand that she was actually enjoying slicing and chopping – so much so that she told me that she loved her kitchen knife now! And her anxiety about her young son’s safety had melted away.
The regression took place in March 2010, and Nina is still happy and relaxed with her kitchen knives. Her exaggerated and non-specific fears for her son did not return.
I would like to leave the last words to Nina, with whose permission I am telling this story.
“I am out of that place now. I am no longer in that prison. I have my freedom. Those chains pulling me back are no longer there. I have none of those worries anymore and I am moving on and getting on with my life.”