Tipi : technique for the sensory identification of unconscious fears
Within the context of a research protocol about unconscious fears, out of 278 suffering from phobias, depression, inhibition, irritability and anxiety, only 2% did not reach full healing of their emotional handicap. For 79% of the participants, healing was achieved after one single session. Of the remaining 19%, only very exceptionally were more than two sessions required to achieve the same result.
These figures may appear outrageous because of the phenomenal outcome, yet they are the result of this study, which was carried out in complete transparency by the association and is presented in this book.
Nevertheless, far more than a new therapeutic approach, Luc Nicon reveals to us a true revolution in the way we perceive the emotional functioning of humans. Through this study, the events experienced in the pre-natal period turn out to be decisive for the origin of our fears, of our emotional suffering, and more generally, in the construction of our personality.
Luc Nicon, expert in pedagogy and behavioral communication, is the author of Understanding One’s Emotions, which was published in 2003. Today he dedicates his time to the training of therapists and to new research based on the discoveries concerning the origin of unconscious fears.
(learn more about Luc Nicon)
Read some passages
The publishing of my first book, Understanding One’s Emotions, has ironically led me to a dramatic change in understanding of our emotional functioning. The numerous demands for help sparked by the viewpoints developed in the first book took me beyond what I then imagined. I went from occasional sessions with functional people well integrated in our society to an intense activity with people in great emotional distress. The results were surprising: not only did the people heal with great rapidity, but also the path they took to deactivate their psychic distress took them through incredible and improbable sensory memories. To make it simple, these people found themselves revisiting their birth and even certain events which happened during the nine months spent in their mother’s womb. I have to admit that at first I was more frightened than enthusiastic. Obviously, I methodically applied the approach I had elaborated, yet the faultless performance obtained in extremely desperate cases seemed too good to be true to me. I am skeptical of magic and the supernatural, and this adventure seemed to have all the ingredients. In one single session, people’s unbearable anxieties were instantly released, as by magic. Other people, with specially marked phobias, were able to definitely get rid of their handicap often in less than 30 minutes. The more healings accumulated, the more difficult it became for me to grasp it rationally, especially because the people who contacted me often had exhausted all the more or less mainstream therapies they had access to. Why should I have discovered by exploring somewhat haphazardly what others have not managed to achieve while dedicating most of their time to it? I was baffled and moreover, I felt very isolated. How could I explain all this to my friends and family, or even to strangers, without appearing enlightened? I was not credible. And all the people who had benefited from these unconventional healings confessed to me that they had to face the same lack of credibility with their friends and family. So, I had no choice: if I wanted to give some credibility to my approach and the opportunity to share it with a wide range of people, I had to provide a simple, measurable and transparent structure. Thus, I decided to start from scratch. Within an experimental context, and completely free of charge, in exchange for recording each session in order to obtain detailed reports, I began studying 50 cases for each pathology. Within this context, I saw more than 300 people. Today, the results remain as astonishing as ever and I have acquired a great deal of practical experience, and, although many questions remain in suspension, I have understood the essence of the phenomenon. In my direct environment, the early skepticism has turned into interest and sometimes even enthusiasm. Now, therapists come to see me to get training. With more hindsight and serenity, I presently can deliver the results of my research.
Founding principles (chapter 1)
Far from wanting to re-write the entire fist book Understanding One’s Emotions, it seems vital to remember the guidelines to explain how the results, which will be referred to and explained in detail further on, were obtained.
This process is called “Tipi” for Technique for the Identification of Unconscious Fears (Technique d’Identification des Peurs Inconscientes). It considers fears to be at the heart of emotional distress, knowing that these fears most strongly condition the reflexes of defense: escape, inhibition, aggressiveness, and, more unexpectedly, seizure of power1. Furthermore, for these fears to exist, one must admit that at first an unpleasant event has been experienced. It is this first experience which must be found in order to deactivate the behaviors it produces. Without absolute certainty about the biological mechanism, the results obtained on a great number of people show that, once a situation which is at the origin of the fears is remembered and relived, the fears are dismantled, provided this “relived” experience is a real emotional, sensory reality, not an intellectual projection. In other words, it is through its physical, not intellectual, feeling that the origin of the fears must be sought. And it is often where the difficulty lies, as we are so used to thinking rather than feeling. Yet, this is the only way one can go back to track the most ancient of fears, which in most cases are decisive. In a very simple way, it is possible to reconnect to the multiple events experienced during birth and even in the mother’s womb.
A number of therapeutic practices have already to some extent engaged in this direction. Indeed, it seems that the success of Tipi results from the combination of four key principles.
Fear is defined as an emotion felt in the presence or the perspective of some danger. In its primary forms, fear shows itself in two types of manifestations: passive fear, characterized by the phenomenon of inhibition, paralysis; and active fear, marked by verbal or motor panic. The reactions linked to a potential danger can have different influences and aspects: apprehension, stress, fear, worry, anxiety, anguish. They all relate to a feeling of powerlessness towards the dangers of a world perceived as threatening. The term “danger” must be understood in the strong sense of the word, namely as a confrontation with death. This confrontation can be direct (physical death) or indirect (material or relational losses which can diminish the chances of survival).
In this process, this notion of confrontation with death is decisive. Through the manifestation of fear, the aim is to find the danger that generated it. In cases of serious pathologies and all phobias, as we will show further on, this search leads you to the prenatal period or birth and it always is a direct confrontation with one’s own death, which is identified as the cause of the distress. Be it a lack of oxygen, or an insufficient nourishment, poisoning or an outside element creating distress or physical sensations which are extremely difficult to overcome, it is indeed at this very elementary stage of survival that fears appear resulting in extremely tenacious emotional sufferings.
Of course, the initial “danger” responsible for this fear can be linked to the traumatic event that most therapists are looking for, but this search generally has a psychological connotation, which leads to an essentially relational perspective of the event. For example, if a fetus has coexisted with a twin that did not survive, the traumatism, if identified, will essentially be analyzed within the relational implications (feeling of distress, solitude or abandonment, overly close relationships with the circle of friends and family, failure to have lasting relationships, or, on the contrary, failure to cope with break-ups, etc.) For example, if you approach the event in terms of the manifestations of fear, it can lead you to relive the loss of consciousness caused by the extremely strong procedure of suction that accompanies the evacuation of the twin fetus. If you approach the repellant sensations caused by the situation, it is the physical risk undergone by the person that is being highlighted, while analyzing it from a psychological point of view, it is the affective relationship of the person with his or her environment that is being emphasized. From a physical point of view, the disappearance of the twin seems like a violent event threatening the physical survival of the remaining one. From a psychological point of view, this disappearance is mainly considered as an affective absence which is very difficult to overcome. In fact, it seems evident that it is the physical sensations felt during such an unpleasant event which induces these undesirable psychological repercussions. Subsequently, when the introspection stops at the psychological impact, it does not reach the heart of the physical suffering which remains active in the sensory memory. Certainly, we are evidently more at ease within a psychological approach; but if we talk about healing, focusing on the physical feeling seems to lead to a much more advantageous result.
The physical feeling
Searching for the origin of trauma through the manifestations of fear allows us to base ourselves on very specific, very easily identifiable physical sensations.
A person who is uncomfortable around fire, can very easily describe what they feel in their body at that moment. For instance, they will be surprised, when “listening” to their body, and feel a pungent pain on the shoulder and arm, as if somebody were violently pulling them out of balance backwards. This feeling may then lead the person to identify a situation in which fire is not at all responsible for this person’s fear: as an infant most probably they were grabbed very strongly to avoid burning, and since then, what this person fears when approaching fire is not the fear of burning, but to be grabbed aggressively and thrown out of balance. Obviously, another person will describe some totally different feelings born from a different but just as personal situation.
Furthermore, the example about the fear of fire shows very well how fear anchors itself in our bodies during an unpleasant event: the physical sensation felt during the first encounter is memorized as it is, ready to surface. From then on, it manifests identically in all the situations perceived as similar, often unconsciously. It is precisely these sensory traces which allow us to go back to the original event reliably and with precision. To get there, we need to allow ourselves to be carried by this sensory memory: everybody naturally knows how to “remember” with their bodies. In Mali, for instance, the people who participate in this research immediately went into a “feeling” mode without any request to do so, they allowed themselves to be taken by their bodies and fears.
In Western countries, most people confronted with their fears unfortunately resort to their intellect rather than “listen” to their bodies. It is then necessary to put their analytical mode on hold in order to allow the sensations to rule. Several techniques already exist to reach this state. Tipi, the technique chosen here, has the advantage of being very simple and fast to apply (it takes hold with natural conversation) and does not produce any kind of dependence (people remain completely awake and never lose their free will).
This “physical reconnection” to the original event is decisive: all the cases studied clearly show that this is the essential condition for deactivating fears. The intellectual approach does not bring about any change. If a person has a lump in their throat and this person lacks air and feels held back every time they need to overcome what is considered an obstacle, to the point they make a great effort in order to avoid the feeling, it is not just by learning that they were born with the umbilical cord around the neck (making birth quite difficult) that they will be healed. Whereas even if this person does not manage to intellectually identify the originating event, the mere fact of re-experiencing the sensations felt during those critical moments are generally sufficient to dismantle their fears. In other words, understanding without re-experiencing the sensations does not stop the suffering. It is absolutely necessary to keep this truth in mind. Even if it is very tempting, in numerous cases, to write a list of psychological profiles or behavioral standards depending on the type of event suffered by different people, this intellectual exercise is useless in terms of healing. Indeed, it can even be dangerous: each path is unique and neglecting the individual sensations in favor of a stereotypical explanation often leads to false interpretations.
Within a sensory approach, the main difficulty to overcome is the unwillingness to accept this passivity. There is nothing to do, to want, to understand; just physically feel and allow oneself to be carried away by that feeling. It is about being a spectator and letting go of oneself to follow our sensations wherever they may take us, without a precise objective or preconceived ideas about the images, sounds, textures, smells and flavors which left their retraceable marks on us.
Passivity also applies to those who possibly are trying to help. Indeed, with the approach which I propose in this book, the only help one can offer is to accompany the person and allow the suffering person to connect with and then stay attuned to their feelings. Habitually, the therapist takes charge of the people in distress. It is the therapist who knows and who heals. Thus, the results mainly rely on the therapist’s knowledge and personal skills in applying this knowledge. Here, on the contrary, it is about letting each person find their own way. To be content with merely witnessing, not wanting anything, not knowing anything, are the key conditions to allow the fragile thread of our feelings to unroll. During a session it is not unusual that after a short initial commencement, no words are exchanged until the end. To be completely clear, the only skill required for the person helping is, if necessary, to disconnect the most resilient intellectual preconceptions. No medical skills are required. In this sense, the use of this technique is not even a therapy, but rather looks like training on how to use our sensory memory. But contrary to what one can suppose at first sight, the simplicity of the approach does not necessarily mean it is easy to do. Indeed, it is not so easy to not give oneself the main role, to accept the fact of not knowing, to be content with being a mere transmitter allowing each person to explore themselves until the healing.
Passivity is also present in the healing itself because, again, it is about letting it happen. It seems that the mere fact of consciously reconnecting your feelings with the origin of the suffering is enough to deactivate the suffering. No special treatment or cure, no psychological conditioning, no symbolic acts. It is just preferable to avoid intellectualizing the sensations felt during the session in order not to stop or slow down natural and spontaneous healing.
The healing is complete. There is no middle way: you are either healed or not. The fear disappears as soon as the sensory source has been revisited. Nevertheless, if a fear remains after a first introspection, it is used as a support to go further into the feeling. Indeed, starting from the original event which created the fear, numerous similar situations generally follow and intensify this original fear. To go back to the original fear, it may be necessary to peel back the successive layers and skins. In a nutshell, one knows one has reached the destination when fear no longer manifests itself. And when fear disappears, all the types of behavior the fear created also cease.
Yet, this systematic healing, at this stage of our approach, has its limitations. Indeed, the disappearance of the suffering becomes very random when it is accompanied by physical disorders or compulsive behavior (anorexia, stammering, obsessive-compulsive disorders). In this case, from the both emotional and physical points of view, sometimes the results can be spectacular and sometimes, without really understanding why, the approach does not work. Furthermore, only the emotional sufferings not accompanied by physical complications have been taken into account in this book: phobias, chronic depression, inhibitions, irritability, anxiety and obsessions.
Some figures (chapter 2 : beginning of chapter)
Within the context of our research protocol, of the 278 people suffering from phobias, depression, inhibition, irritability and anxiety, only 7, i.e. 2%, did not reach the origin of the sufferings that affected their lives. For 79% of them, healing happened after one single session. The remaining 19% very exceptionally needed more than two sessions to obtain the same result.
These figures may provoke skepticism because they are so incredible; yet they reflect the real and sincere results of the whole study carried out with complete transparency through the non-profit organization Tipi and are presented in this book.
The research protocol, based on the participation of volunteers, was validated by all our participants. It consisted of one individual session of 2 hours at the most. After this session, in the cases we deemed necessary, another session was added. All the participants agreed to the recording of their session or sessions; and finally, they all committed to write four reports: one week, one month, three months and one year after the session.
The sessions were generally conducted in a spacious place, with armchairs and benches. For experimental reasons and sometimes due to geographical restrictions, certain sessions were conducted over the telephone.
The majority of the people who accepted the research protocol had contacted our organization Tipi after reading the book Understanding One’s Emotions. Others contacted us thanks to conferences organized in the South of France and by word of mouth originating from the first participants. The ages of the participants range from 10 to 50 years old. Five children, aged 10 to 16, participated in these sessions with their parents’ agreement.
The selection of the participants was obviously based on numerous elements showing the reality of the announced pathology. Most participants had a detailed medical record. Nevertheless, the extent of the manifested symptoms by the applicants was not systematically taken into account: it seemed important to indifferently apply the approach to people with great suffering and people whose suffering was somewhat less marked. Yet all the participants had been in distress for a long time. Some people had undertaken numerous therapies, medicated or not, and some had never received any treatment.
Emotional distress is born in the mother’s womb (chapter 3 : beginning of chapter)
During childhood, adolescence and in our adult lives, emotional wounds are both numerous and varied. It seems they cannot really permanently settle in us unless they echo past events which happened inside the mother’s womb or at birth.
After a road accident, the victim may often feel confused for a certain period every time they need to drive. Under normal circumstances, this fear subsides after a few days and is replaced with a more or less strong and distant memory. For some people, however, this emotion remains present and lasting. Some months or years later, nightmares, anxiety or even panic attacks appear every time this person needs to drive. In one of our sessions, these people went beyond the car accident to an event that happened before they were born.
Equally, an emotional break-up normally generates an emotional turmoil which is hard to cope with and yet it diminishes allowing appeasement to take over. Again, some people, many years after the rupture, still have very strong feelings and are incapable of healing their wounds. In a Tipi session, all without exception re-experienced one or more marking episodes from the womb or from their birth and reached healing.
Naturally, after birth and throughout life, the quality of the psychological environment and possible marking events reinforce, intensify, increase or individualize those wounds that took place in the womb. For example, a person whose life, as a fetus, was physically endangered by the removal of a non-viable twin will be extra sensitive to all separations, especially if this person has experienced other separations during childhood. The neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux6 has dealt with this mechanism. By a specific neuronal activation, fear leaves a sensory trace in our brain of the unpleasant event: the physical feelings are stored and then manifest in exactly the same way, reinforcing the fear each time in all situations which are perceived, often unconsciously, as similar. These manifestations correspond to a caution signal, which preventively is supposed to alert us to a potential danger.
The main events relived in the prenatal period and at birth
(chapter 4 : several passages in the chapter)
From a formal point of view, all expressions used by the participants during the sessions talking about events which occurred in the mother’s womb are in italics. The pathological behaviors which result are explored afterwards.
A number is given to each event in order to facilitate locating the event in the synthetic table in annex 1 at the end of the book..
Among the events that have been “sensorialy” relived, cohabitation with one or more non-viable fetuses (because they have died in the womb during pregnancy), concerns every surviving person who first developed as a fetus in this situation. This cohabitation has been re-experienced differently depending on the evolving contact between twins in the same amniotic sac or in separate sacs. The former are in the minority yet people in this situation have more salient and more complex pathologies than people in the latter cases.
1- Monoamniotic twins – they grow in the same amniotic sac and are thus able to touch each other and exchange places. They are both joined to the mother’s placenta either by two separate umbilical cords or by one cord split in two branches. They always are the same sex.
1-1 At the very beginning, before the other fetus showed any signs of distress, the feeling of the relived experience is always described as harmonious, luminous and a source of pleasure. Twins seem to seek contact as if it were a game. They are attentive towards one another and linked by a strong bond. As adults, the surviving twin regularly experiences sudden episodes of unexplainable sadness and find themselves in chronic dissatisfaction. In their relationship with others, they prefer exclusive relationships and often suffer from an unbearable fear of being abandoned.
1-2 Attached twins on the other hand, do not seem to enjoy the same pleasures in the womb. On the contrary, theses twins, attached by a part of their bodies, bother each other and are annoyed by the hindrance of coordination of their movement. The surviving twin becomes irritable, sometimes aggressive with their circle of friends and family. They are clumsy, poorly coordinated and often cannot bear physical contact. They suffer from muscular tension at the place of attachment. Also under great stress, they get easily exhausted when having the responsibility to take care of somebody.
1-3 Certain people have re-experienced the attachment to another twin as a dreadful physical uneasiness of having been oneself and someone else at the same time. Certain people suffered from mood swings and troubles of identity.
1-4 Numerous attached and some non attached twins, sharing the same blood system through one single umbilical cord or capillary blood vessels at the junction with the placenta, are victims of the twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. One twin pumps the blood of the other. The “donor” experiences an energy drainage, and passivity. Paradoxically, if one of the twins survives, it is always the donor. Later on in life, the surviving twin cannot cope with being alone; and is often without any desire or energy for themselves. Besides a great feeling of guilt, they often develop eating disorders, especially bulimia.
1-5 The death of an attached fetus regularly leads to the surviving twin being extremely frightened by the loss of a part of oneself. From early childhood, as a result of being constantly dissatisfied with their emotional lives, they tend to withdraw into themselves and often have aggressive, violent reactions.
1-6 After its death, the non viable fetus starts to rot, turns black and detaches itself from the twin creating a feeling of tearing, pulling off accompanied with intense distress, an unbearable pain, bordering on fainting. The survivors are strongly marked by recurrent strong pains at the place of attachment and by a pathological dread of separations causing irritability and aggressiveness from early childhood.
1-7 Sometimes, the physical suffering of the separation is too vivid for the remaining twin, who loses consciousness to escape from their sensations. Thus, either before or after the separation of the key event, their reactions are irritated or violent or they feel a strong anxiety accompanied with hyperactivity or sometimes the opposite, a lack of energy.
The umbilical cord
This life link transfers to the fetus the essential elements necessary to its development by linking it to the mother’s placenta. The cord can be more or less thick and its length varies between 35 and 70 centimeters (between14 and 28 inches). The dimension of the umbilical cord is far from being unimportant. It turned out to be, according to all the testimony collected for the study, a determining factor: the longer and thinner the cord is, the higher the risk of accidents.
3-1 The most “dreadful” accident is undoubtedly the forming of a knot resulting from a loop made by the fetus around its umbilical cord. This type of knot is often discovered during birth. From the moment the knot forms until birth, depending on how tight the knot is, the fetuses suffer from reduced blood renewal. Oxygen arrives only in insufficient quantities: the fetuses lack air and have difficulties breathing. Thanks to the lubrication of the umbilical cord, allowing the knot to glide a little, they manage to survive but the price they must pay is constant alertness anticipating possible tensions of the cord. After birth, after being freed from its cord, they continue to avoid brisk gestures and movements. Furthermore, they tend to save their energy as soon as they need to carry out a physical activity. Finally, they either have a phobia towards knots and strings, cords or tangled up ropes; or they feel jubilant and have an extraordinary dexterity undoing these knots.
3-2 The most common accidents are because of knots or other obstructions due to the umbilical cord being around the arms, legs, stomach, torso of the fetus. Just as in the case of the umbilical cord with a loop around itself (see 3-1), the lack of oxygen is responsible for the first part of the suffering. If the feeling of suffocation does not last long or is not too severe, as for example during the evacuation of the non-viable twin or during birth, it can lead to breathing problems when facing unusual or worrisome situations.
3-3 If the lack of oxygen is serious and lasts a long time, the fetus generally faints, sliding into a strange universe, always very luminous, and does not feel any distress at all. The awakening to a very painful and unpleasant reality just makes them want to return to that peaceful and beautiful place. This episode, which is regularly experienced during the reliving of birth, causes inertia, accompanied by the neutralizing of intellectual capacities when confronted with unexpected or dreaded situations. A great anxiety, reaching the state of terror, is caused by changes such as a marriage, a move or a job change. However, the greatest difficulties seem to be the lack of engagement in daily life and a huge interest in spiritual life and in abstract creation. Note that sometimes there exists an irrational fear of fainting.
3-4 If the suffocation is even more serious, an out of body experience is added to fainting. The fetus, as if detached from its body, experiences the event from outside itself. This phenomenon is rare before birth, and in most cases the babies experience their own birth as an indifferent spectator. Later on, they are often absent from the present moment and cannot cope with restrictions, rules and conventions. They are more at ease in a virtual world, and their only field of interest is spirituality. Note that there is also a tendency towards the paranormal. Indeed, they seem to live in constant distortion between their bodies, which they consider an accessory, and their minds, to which they attribute almighty power.
3-5 Besides the lack of oxygen, other obstacles accompany those created by the umbilical cord upon different parts of the body: the tension created by the umbilical cord on the navel in particular, can bring about severe pain, which then can induce abdominal spasms or gastric hyperacidity in stressful situations.
3-6 The pressure exerted by the umbilical cord on a part of the body of the fetus is often accompanied by the loss of local sensitivity. This disappearance of a part of one’s body will lead to weakness and recurrent physical tension at the concerned area.
3-7 Furthermore, the imposed immobilization of one or more arms or legs, the head, or even the entire body, causes great frustration, irrepressible anger or extreme irritation for not being able to experience the delightful freedom to move. Generally, from birth, babies show both irritation as well as a huge need to release themselves when the parts that were immobilized are restricted in their movements.
3-8 This immobilization, if it lasts, often leads the baby to exhaustion, wasting what is left of their strength in fighting this restriction in vain. Once out of danger, for fear of lacking energy, it functions on an economy mode in its daily routine.
A session of sensory identification of an unconscious fear
(chapter 5 : beginning of the chapter)
Our approach does not require special supervision. Nevertheless, all the techniques presented here are directed towards the helpers who accompany the help-seekers throughout the study. To begin, as it definitely influences the desired state of mind for being a helper, it seems necessary to point out that our approach is more like a training session than a therapy session. Indeed, the success of our approach lies in help-seekers capacity to consciously connect to the sensory memory of what causes the suffering. Starting from a situation which is representative of their suffering, as soon as a person succeeds in reaching this memory of the senses, all they need to do is allow themselves to be guided by their sensations in order to identify their fears. Thus, the main reason to have outside help is to guide the people in distress to remain focused and to linger on their sensory memory. Indeed, many people who manage to master this practice for the first time succeed in identifying other unconscious fears without needing further outside guidance. In fact, people naturally and validly connect to their sensory memories as soon as they accept the necessity to “feel” their suffering rather than exhausting themselves by trying to suppress it. The latter option only intensifies the intellect and short-circuits the feeling. In order extricate ourselves from this process, we must face the the challenge and build a reassuring passage, away from the analytical activity and towards the sensory memory. Now, the most important aspect is to take that passage, but before going any further, we need to state our destination: what do we know about this sensory memory which we have been mentioning from the beginning of this book?
In his latest work, Synaptic Self, published in 2002, Joseph Ledoux, professor in neurobiology and known for his research on fears, tells us the state of the art on this question. Here is a very concise summary, complemented with the results of other research.
The conscious recollection is the type of memory we have in mind when we normally talk about “memory”. To remember is to be aware of a previous experience, and having problems of memory means not being able to remember some information or an event which we know we have previously had or experienced. Yet, there is a different system of memory which holds the memory of dangerous or at least threatening situations. This learning about danger directly links our sensory perceptions with our behavioural responses. It does not depend on consciousness and we neither have influence on it nor a direct access to its true nature.
In fact, under normal circumstances, both systems work simultaneously. Conscious memory supplies the factual context of an event (what we have intellectually analyzed, without experiencing the feeling), and the unconscious memory provides the physical, emotional manifestations. Besides the immaturity of conscious memory in the prenatal stage, the reasons for a disturbance of this functioning are manifold but fear remains as the main reason. Bruce McEwen, a distinguished researcher on the biology of stress, has shown that a short but intense fear diminished the amount of dendrites of neurons activated by this fear in the hippocampus. Dendrites, the receptive parts of neurons, are major actors in the forming of conscious memory. The damage is reversible if fear does not last long but if the fear is long lasting the dendrites are permanently damaged, leaving the neurons isolated. In this sense, very intense signals (of consciously reproduced physical sensations, for example) can target and reactivate the activity of the neurons which have been isolated by damaged dendrites.
Through this mechanism, we can imagine, like a magician approaching a water source with his magic wand, that by going further and further into the sensory manifestation of fear and by re-experiencing it fully and with acceptance, we can dismantle the fear and thus “rebuild” the damaged access to the concerned neurons. In that case, the conscious activation is not based on the memory but on re-experiencing the fear (in a voluntary and safe way). This is most probably the biological mechanism underlying our approach.
(chapter 6 : passage on claustrophobia)
23 cases of simple claustrophobia were studied.
23 healings: all obtained after one single session.
Total average healing time: less than 1 hour.
A simple claustrophobia forms according to a very consistent process. The baby, certainly in the phase of turning head down during the 8th or 9th month, finds itself tangled up in its umbilical cord in a sling style around its neck or belly, in a suspender style or knot around its legs. During birth, attached by a shortened umbilical cord, the baby is held back in the narrow maternal uterus. On the one hand, the mother’s contractions push it to come out, and on the other hand, the umbilical cord keeps it vigorously close to the placenta. The blood flow, reduced by the stretching and compressing of the cord, deprives the fetus of sufficient oxygen, who then suffers from suffocation. In general, the situation only worsens in time: the mother becomes exhausted in vain, and the baby, immobilized, compressed, lacks more and more oxygen. Depending on the length of the cord, the baby finds itself held back as its head is already engaged: to the lack of comfort of this position and the stress of suffocation, very intense facial or cervical pain is added. In order to create claustrophobia, the baby faints because of the tension on the umbilical cord worsened either naturally by the mother’s contractions or artificially by the tugging of the obstetrician. As a matter of fact, the baby’s fainting seems beneficial: from a state of generalized tension close to tetanization to a softening of the body, which gives more flexibility to the cord allowing the extraction in the best of conditions. Furthermore, the moment the cord becomes a little thicker, the baby benefits from the arrival of more oxygen. After the birth, the baby comes to very quickly but is not aware of what just happened. In an incomprehensible way, the baby goes from death to life, from a very restricted space to a huge open space, from a dependence of oxygen supply to its own free and endless breathing. This absence of landmarks seems to be, in great part, a condition for the appearance of claustrophobia.
Please note that when the baby comes to but is not yet unconstrained, tension reappears and leads to a new fainting spell, which can then repeat several times before liberation. In this case, the baby won’t develop a phobia but will suffer from inhibitions or irritability. Indeed, having several fainting spells during birth will help the baby to overcome the state of surprise which leads to panic but the baby will experience other types of behavior. Exasperation later turns into irritability, renunciation will lead to inhibitions; habituation may predispose a child to a habit of slow breathing (which could come in handy in diving or other sports).
Besides the tangling of the umbilical cord, another scenario can lead to claustrophobia. After the breaking of waters, a loop in the umbilical cord can come out first, so that when the baby’s head engages, it crushes the cord, not allowing enough oxygen to go through and causing a fainting spell. This type of claustrophobia is inseparable from the phobia of transportation which will be dealt with later.
Finally, the cases of claustrophobia associated with agoraphobia results exactly from the same sensations as for simple claustrophobia, yet they require (otherwise there will be a strong possibility of a sudden relapse) a visit to the events before birth, responsible for the agoraphobia. These events will be dealt with when we talk about agoraphobia.