Greg Jones

This conversation is closed.

Novel PTSD/Trauma Memory Retrieval Entry point

Firstly Correct me if the technique is already used. I propose using music and childhood TV programme's as a trigger/ entry point during trauma and PTSD counseling. I find that both trigger memories in me and others, and that it would be ideal to explore the profound psychological attachment and relevant memories that are associated with the memories of music and child hood TV programming. I think we all retain those memories in a much more vivid way, and that they could be used as a gentle entry point in the conversation to explore that time and timeline in the patients life.

  • Nov 13 2013: I would advise using caution when introducing music from T.V. programming. In my personal experience, I used T.V. to "tune out" trauma and to dissociate as a young child. So .. it is most definitely a trigger and will invoke a strong response. My concern, is that the music from cartoons etc. can stick in one's head like a terrible record that replays again and again and the patient may not be able to shake the sound of it, even for days after a session and consequently may remain triggered or worse, in a state of severe dissociation. I avoid watching T.V. in my life as an adult (for soooooo many reasons .. lol.)
    • thumb
      Nov 13 2013: I see what you are saying.I was thinking more of watching the childhood TV programmes and then being asked what memory you associate with it, I see even my question has made you recall when you used to zone out.Think we attach a small snapshot of our lives that is attached to childhood TV programming, and could be used to explore that visualization and expand the timeline around it, to discuss how you felt at the time.But yes it probably would trigger a strong response?
  • Nov 18 2013: Greg ... I am curious ... Do you feel that memory repression has a meaningful function? I believe that the mind will repress what it cannot process. I still have huge gaps from childhood and I am often hit off guard with 'flash-backs" .... maybe once or twice a month, I will have a very significant memory. I have learned to handle it .. my usual response is like ... " Oh .. okay .. that was awful but I can deal with it and it makes sense." I talk to friends or my wife for support and I am alright. When I was in my mid-twenties, I went to an inexperienced therapist who was supervised but still made some major errors in judgement with me. She pushed too hard to illicit memories. This was very ... VERY damaging. The clinic where she worked was actually shut down because of law-suits raised by other patients (I did not make a report.) My point in sharing this is to emphasis that one should proceed with extreme caution and never push for memories to surface. You are well ware of this, I am sure and different therapist have different approaches. The therapist who helped me the most ... she said that it didn't matter so much what happened exactly ... my feelings were what mattered most ... my feelings were valid. We focused of practical coping skills ... what to do when I felt panicked ... what to do do remain safe and strong ... life goals ... survivor's guilt ... She helped me tremendously. Am I troubled that most of my childhood is a blur? Sometimes ... sure... but not so much now that my present perception is clear and I can see my way toward a brighter future. I am no longer afraid of the memories and I trust that they will come when I am ready and able to deal with them. If I smell cologne or some other trigger, I am able to remain rational even if I still cannot recall why the smell of cologne is such a trigger for me. I may never know the whole story but that is alright. If I remember it all or if I never remember another thing, today matters most ...
    • thumb
      Nov 18 2013: All Of our minds responses that are not triggered by outside agents, such as medications and street drugs, are a natural response.The minds ability to forget trauma is a natural survival response for sure, however it is not an accurate forensic process but an organic, biological response, and therefore also deletes or masks more memory than is required.Personally I have vivid recollections of watching childhood TV at my grandpas house etc, and can visualize a small snapshot of the time, which is why I envisage it as an entry point to that timeline in both me and other people. I have not researched the specific technique of using childhood TV programming this way, and have not previously come across any literature etc..
      • Nov 18 2013: This is true about memory and trauma. It is as if the entire essay gets deleted when you really just needed to delete one line. It may be because one memory leads to another. So, a benign memory may lead to the traumatic incident that followed it. I have to ask people who knew me as child to tell me what I was like back then. I have so few memories. Discovering my past was like finding a lost city who's inhabitants have mysteriously disappeared ... The flashbacks of the trauma presented landmarks ... bits and pieces ... but I had to ask adults from the past to tell me what they knew.
        (Naturally, not all were willing to talk.) I was not able to get all of the pieces but I have enough information to confirm the basics. It is strange to live with little memory of my past and the tendency to erase my life, even today, is still an issue. It is as if one is left-handed and is attempting to write a letter but every word is rubbed out lie wet ink as the hand moves from left to right. Talk about "living in the moment!" iI is really all that I have! (but in a way, this is true for all of us ... ) Greg, I hope that your efforts are helpful and bring a sense of wholeness to your patients. They are lucky to have you as a caring listener.
  • Nov 18 2013: Music and childhood TV programs can trigger memory recalls for sure. I've heard a lot about smell being one of if not, the sense most tied to long-term memory. There's been a bit of research on it that a simple online search will pull up.
    • thumb
      Nov 18 2013: Have you got a link that pre dates my idea post, that details the specific technique of using childhood tv programming to retrieve memories in trauma patients?
  • Nov 13 2013: watching the shows makes sense ... I think a lot of memories would come flooding back.
  • Nov 13 2013: Music can work but olfactory memory may work even better. Perhaps try the scent of an orange (either essential oil or better, an actual orange) and ask if the person can remember this scent from childhood. You can pair the scent of an orange with something positive, if the scent is a trigger. (Therapy dogs are great for this, at least for patients who relate positively to dogs.) Music can work too but it is often not the most powerful trigger. I had an aversion to Spanish music for many years and it was a definite trigger (my Father spoke Spanish.) I would feel agitated when I would hear any type of Spanish music or even the language itself. This changed when I travelled to Guatemala for two months. It took a while, but eventually I was able to change my association with Spanish. The buses were especially helpful because most drivers played lively music and so, I learned to associate this music with travel to a new town. I now enjoy Spanish music: pop, Ranchero .. all of it .. I often play it while I drive. I still have a terrible stutter when I attempt to speak the language but I have come to embrace the music.
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2013: You might want to pose a question like this on a site where people gather who have expertise in this area. One place to start might be the Mayo Clinic, which I believe accepts public questions online.