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how do intrusive thoughts operate?

 
 
Reply Mon 18 Oct, 2010 02:34 pm
Please only answer if you have a serious response to the question. I'd like some feedback on how intrusive thoughts originate, operate, and the best methods for managing them. Specifically, violent thoughts originating in traumatic events.
A bit more detail: the nature of the thoughts are not of being violent or aggression on other people. Simply put, they are intrusive thoughts of horrible violent situations occurring. Even more specifically, it is a particular form of bodily harm and a mental terror that goes along with it that has some basis in experience/sights in ones life. Not to one personally, but having someone close to you and others go through extremely violent injuries and also death.

In other words, I'm asking about ptsd again, but in particular - the nature of these thought experiences which as so intense and severe and intrusive, and the best methods yet found to manage them.

Also, I don't want to go into too much personal detail but would like to hear a more general sense of how this all works and perhaps new ideas on it.

thanks.
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Oct, 2010 03:33 pm
@mushypancakes,
mushypancakes wrote:

Please only answer if you have a serious response to the question. I'd like some feedback on how intrusive thoughts originate, operate, and the best methods for managing them. Specifically, violent thoughts originating in traumatic events.
A bit more detail: the nature of the thoughts are not of being violent or aggression on other people. Simply put, they are intrusive thoughts of horrible violent situations occurring. Even more specifically, it is a particular form of bodily harm and a mental terror that goes along with it that has some basis in experience/sights in ones life. Not to one personally, but having someone close to you and others go through extremely violent injuries and also death.

In other words, I'm asking about ptsd again, but in particular - the nature of these thought experiences which as so intense and severe and intrusive, and the best methods yet found to manage them.

Also, I don't want to go into too much personal detail but would like to hear a more general sense of how this all works and perhaps new ideas on it.

thanks.


I'm no authority, but here are some of my thoughts...

I think instrusive thoughts originate by some trigger that you may not even be aware of.

Case in point, a couple of weeks ago I was having my rolfer work on my feet. Our bodies hold all sorts of emotions and memories in different parts of our bodies.

At one point, when she was manipulating my foot in a certain way, I said. "This reminds me of a paper I had to write in college, about foot binding. It was a very difficult thing to do. I'd get nauseated while researching and writing it."

She of course she asked me if she were hurting me. I said "No, this feels really good" She didn't say anything for a few moments, then said, "Chai, we've known each other quite a while now. I wouldn't normally bring this up with someone, but we know something about each others beliefs. I'm wondering why you remembered that when I was doing that?"
At first I just said "Well, because you were working on my feet, and I thought about foot binding because something you did reminded me of wrapping the foot"
She said "But you said you were nauseated back then....why?"
I thought and said... "Because they were little girls. They didn't have any say so in the matter. They were helpless."

Bingo.

She touched my "helpless against what THEY were going to make me do" emotional center.
But, in this case, she released it, and, thinking about it now, I have experienced this kind of freedom and self direction in the past couple of weeks.

In yoga, when meditating, all thoughts are intrusive. Instead of fighting them, you see them come in, acknowledge them, then let them leave, knowing they are serving no purpose at that moment.
Not a typical intrusive thought, but one may find themselves with the thought "Chicken sandwich" because you are getting hungry and your brain wants to solve this problem by deciding what the next meal is going to be. But you don't need to think about that then, there will be time soon to let the brain do that. So, you acknowledge you thought about a chicken sandwich, then, you let it go off. It's hard to explain, but it leaves you with no thoughts for amounts of time, which is lovely.
I think that's how all thoughts operatate, they are trying to perform a function, even when there is nothing to perform.
I think that's what makes up the feelings of anxiety. You assume there must be some function if you are thinking something, but, that is not true.

Managing them?
Occupying your mind with another function that needs to be performed, gently bringing your thoughts back to the task at hand when the intrusive thoughts come by to visit.
That's all they are doing, is visiting.
It takes practice to make their visits less often.

On the other hand, if you can find the physical release from these thoughts, I think that would help a lot in curtailing them.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Oct, 2010 06:20 pm
You said: I'd like some feedback on how intrusive thoughts originate, operate, and the best methods for managing them.

Obsessive thoughts are those where we keep touching on them, then retreat, then touch, then retreat. etc. etc. We keep visiting them without ever really dealing with them. We just touch them enough to cause anxiety.

It is not until we really go deep into them in order to confront the feelings and hopefully, nurture them, that we can put those feeling to rest. We can't keep avoiding the reality of them. They must be dealt with. We must, as they say, lean into the sword.

Intensive therapy may help.

In the meantime, be mindful of Improper Attention vs. Wise Attention to these thoughts. Ask yourself if these thoughts are of benefit to you and to others in your life.

0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Mon 18 Oct, 2010 06:46 pm
@mushypancakes,
The current theories about the nature of the thoughts is currently a bit technical, and, frankly I'd have to go look it up again to be able to explain it properly. Remember, this is a rapidly advancing field and not without controversy.

I'll see if I can find anything online for you...but I doubt it, most of the really technical stuff is in scholarly articles and books....but it has to do with these traumatic memories being held in memory in a different way that does not allow them to be properly processed.

I'll see if I can find some good stuff for you...would you be prepared to buy a book or two, or at least see if you can borrow them?

Chai is right that the intrusive memories often appear to be triggered by a thought, feeling, sight, sound, smell, event that reminds one of the traumatic events, though they can arise spontaneously as well....sometimes quite suddenly after some years.


Treatment: What comes up trumps again and again is some form of exposure therapy (where you slowly, with the help of a therapist, expose yourself to parts of the memories again and again until you can recall the events without the overwhelming emotional and physical reactions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists with good training and experience in ptsd, and with whom you can develop good rapport and trust, are the general choice.

EMDR is more controversial (it is a variant of CBT) but seems to have good success rates as well, but is still hotly debated in the field. If it works for you it can sometimes work more quickly and with less drama in my experience. Ditto re the well trained and experienced therapist with whom you develop good rapport and whom you trust.

Mindfulness based practices are closely related to CBT but actually stem more from Buddhist meditative practices.....mindfulness is likely a basic ingredient in all CBT but has not been recognised so specifically in the past.

If you google Mindfulness therapy you'll find heaps of stuff. I can come back later and give you some resources if you like.

dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Mon 18 Oct, 2010 06:55 pm
@dlowan,
Oh...intrusive thoughts...I assume you are speaking of trauma based thoughts, not the kind of intrusive thoughts/sounds/sights that can arise in schizophrenia for instance?


If you are:

I think the key is to understand that they are thoughts and memories, and that they cannot hurt you. They can make you feel like hell, but the situation is over.

I'd be attempting to not resist or try to push them away...unless you are in a situation where letting them go is not good (eg driving, at work, somewhere it is not safe to be overwhelmed.)

I think some of the mindfuless stuff is really helpful here....be aware that the thoughts etc are happening, and allow yourself to notice what is occurring and let it run its course, without holding onto or pushing the thoughts feelings away.

It can be good to seriously practice a form of deep body relaxation that appeals to you....like slow breathing (scads about this on the net), progressive muscle, focusing on a calming image or sound, finding a safe and lovely place to go to in your imagination.

Once you can relax at will, you may be able to do this when the memories intrude in inappropriate places or times and deal with the feelings better.

Frankly, it sounds as though you need to get some skilled and empathic therapy....it sounds as though your experiences are3 awful.






0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Oct, 2010 07:23 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:

EMDR is more controversial (it is a variant of CBT) but seems to have good success rates as well, but is still hotly debated in the field. If it works for you it can sometimes work more quickly and with less drama in my experience. Ditto re the well trained and experienced therapist with whom you develop good rapport and whom you trust.




wow
I just did a little reading on EMDR, watched a video on it, and my initial reaction was "This is part of practicing kundalini yoga"
I'm not trying to promote kundalini when therapy is needed, but the relationship of strengthing ocular muscles, either through EMDR, or various mudras, does definately affect the brain.
I googled the 2 words simultaneously, and sure enough, did come up with some sites that both in close enough proximatey that there seems to be a common benefit.
Moving the eyes in EMDR must be tiring, training ones self to gaze at the middle eye or tip of the nose also takes practice. Both change the channels in the brain.
0 Replies
 
mushypancakes
 
  2  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2010 09:21 pm
Thank you for all the thoughtful replies.

Yes, I would be willing to buy books or borrow them. I'd be interested in more detail if you care to take the time to provide it, Dlowan. But whether you do or don't, I truly appreciate your replies so far. As well as Chai's, and Punkeys too.

I have gone through quite a bit of therapy. Specifically, through a psychiatrist who had special experience with PTSD (and I absolutely adore the guy). Problem is, after the work we did - and it was approx. 2 years of work - well, he is now retired. He was semi-retired when I found him, and took me in almost as a special favor, and I did get so much accomplished and life is a good chunk better because of it.

However, the memories do come back occasionally, and now is a time when the intrusive thoughts have been poking their heads up again. And yes, I'm talking about the kind of thoughts that are like little intense 'bombs' of feelings and memory experiences - not ones like those that are the case with those with schizophrenia. Trauma based memories.

One thing that has been mentioned that I do think could be immedetly helpful is the idea of putting into practice a deep physical type of therapy, more intensively than I am and have been currently. I do exercise a lot, but not all exercise is the kind that sort of puts you in touch with your body and is therapeutic necessarily, and I think I could use a good dose of that. Like rolfing, massage therapy, more yoga, that type of thing. Thanks for that recommendation/idea, bc I have been working a lot lately with very little time to just chill/think, and I think that may be part of what is contributing. Little things pile up, and before you know it, all sorts of thoughts hit me when I least feel capable of working with them.

thank you.
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2010 09:33 pm
@mushypancakes,
Actually, some of the trauma experts do talk about body work.

A lot of folk seem to find Babette Rothschild good...I have this first book, but confess to not having read it yet, so I cannot speak to its "upness" with most recent research:

The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment

also by Babette Rothschild:

8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery: Take-Charge Strategies to Empower Your Healing

Just have a look on Amazon...though Barnes and Noble sometimes have more in depth reviews.


Alan Schore has, as far as I have been able to determine, the most condensed up to date research...just look at him on Amazon...but these are reasonably hard core.

There's no reason not to have top-up therapy with someone even though the fella you liked has retired...there's lots of good therapists out there!!!
mushypancakes
 
  2  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2010 09:57 pm
@dlowan,
Yeah, good point about the top up therapy.
Ok, yeah, that gives me some leads to follow up on a bit more. Thanks. It's that now that I feel like I am at a more stable position mentally in my life, more in control of it and able to be fully engaged in my own therapy/maintenance/care, that I have gotten interested in more fully understanding what it is that drives all this more objectively (as opposed to the more subjective understanding based just on my own experiences).

I am intrigued by this possibility of gaining some new ground with exploring body work in a more focused way.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  2  
Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 02:15 pm
"When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron is helpful in dealing with intrusive thoughts.

You still need to see the true nature of these thoughts so you can deal with them.


0 Replies
 
 

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