Emotional Shock
Treating the Trauma in our
With Mindfulness and Body Integration
Ellen Katz, MS, LMFT
2012 IAMFT Conference
Why are we talking about this?!!
Newly emerging understanding of neuroscience,
energy medicine, the bio-physiology of trauma, mindfulness
and reconnection with traditional indigenous medicine
is evolving into a new paradigm
of human relationships, communication and healing.
Emotion is information. It has meaning.
It can be intentionally tracked, generated, contained, directed and utilized.
I believe we need to language this –
to create a map that helps us conceptualize and engage what we are learning
so that we can give it away.
This power is the power of choice.
-- Ellen Katz
Let’s play with the dynamic qualities of our
♫ ♬ ♫♪♩ ♫
Presence Breath
♫ Inter-connectedness
Instinctive Wisdom
Heart-Based Wisdom
Before we start… Let’s get connected.
Deeply being with ourselves in this moment,
let’s breathe.
Taking five slow, gentle, deep inhales – each
time pausing and then exhaling equally as
slowly and mindfully, watch the breath, and
pay attention to the body’s response.
Notice how pausing impacts you.
Is there a sense of expansion?
Are you aware of physical sensations?
How does silence feel?
Non-Judgment / Equanimity / Neutral Mind
Wu Wei = Open Curiosity
One of the most challenging - and rewarding - gifts of mindfulness is
cultivating the ability to be present.
Softly witnessing our thoughts – as passing clouds,
cresting waves, pulsing currents of energy that emerge and
dissipate – allows us to begin to identify with being the
observer of our thoughts.
This is the conscious alternative to being affronted randomly
by habituated thought impulses!
Mindful, Integrated Breath
• Continuous Flow Breath, which engages the
abdomen, solar plexus and chest,
rhythmically and gently opening, pausing
briefly, releasing and pausing briefly, is the
integrated, complete breath.
• This breath regulates our systems and
creates internal coherence between brain
(nervous system) and heart.
• Let’s practice!
The Interrupters: Shock and
Two phenomena can cross-wire, over-ride or
short-circuit our basic fluid, self-restoring nature
to be
responsive, resourceful, resilient and creative.
These are shock and trauma.
Let’s explore them now.
Trauma is “a breach in the protective barrier against
leading to feelings of overwhelming helplessness.”
-- Sigmund Freud, from Lectures
and Beyond the Pleasure Principle,
International Psycho-Analytic Press, 1922
Trauma is an event – ie. shock,
danger or violation
and it is also the response which can extend indefinitely,
recur periodically,
and even surface after long periods
of time.
P. Levine, Waking the Tiger
“Shock begins the moment when we are
confronted with an experience so stunning that
our body/mind system is overwhelmed.”
- S. Mines, We are All in Shock
Shock is cumulative, which is its biggest
We carry it in our memory – conscious and
It becomes less threatening to our health when it is
exposed, addressed, understood, relieved and
Sample Shock Triggers
- A baby separated from his or her mother at
- A child in need of attention who is ignored by
busy parents
- Witnessing the death of a friend or loved one
- Losing a body part, a child, or your
possessions in a natural disaster
Trauma strikes and wounds; Shock
shatters us.
Protective Reactions to Trauma
When threat, provocation, deprivation or invasion is sensed, all
organisms engage these survival responses to self-protect and/or
restore their systems:
1. fight - Hyperarousal
2. flight - Constriction
3. freeze - Dissociation
4. “feigned fatality” – Freezing
associated with the feeling of
helplessness(full systemic shut down).
“The terminology regarding shock and trauma is in
flux… which represents growth, evolution and
needed change.” - S. Mines
• From the medical perspective, trauma typically refers to a
wounding or bodily injury (ie. trauma to an area of the body)
• Shock typically refers to a nervous system condition that
radically lessens or even eliminates the ability to feel sensation.
• Trauma then tends to be specific, where shock tends to be more
global. Shock can be more difficult to track, more unpredictable and
insidiously involved in seemingly unrelated aspects of our lives.
• Shock occurs when an experience overrides all our healthy coping
mechanisms. Our normal, balanced neurological and endocrine
responses to threat become confused, fragmented and distorted.
• We are designed to process trauma by immediately accessing the
limbic-reptilian brain. It takes us through the process needed to
release the energetic charge initiated by the traumatic event. This can
be externally facilitated in an orderly way through re-scripting, EMDR,
Holographic Memory Resolution, Somatic Experience and other
• The overriding and extreme nature of shock is an all system alert.
• We want to recognize symptoms of shock as they arise. They will be
expressed through the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS): either the
Parasympathetic (PNS), Sympathetic (SNS) or both.
Shock Trauma
• Shock trauma - when an external force
ruptures the protective container of our
experience, creating a turbulent vortex.
• There is an intense loss of life-energy following
the rupture, creating a trauma vortex.
• Survivors often succumb to getting “sucked
back” into the vortex or attempt to avoid the
breach by staying distanced from any possible
-- Levine, Waking the Tiger
The Physiology of Trauma and Shock
• Trauma is expressed in the body through excited
or repressed autonomic nervous system activity
(ANS) via the sympathetic and parasympathetic
nervous systems (SNS and PNS).
• The 10th cranial nerve (the vagus nerve) originates
in the brain stem and its fibers extend into the colon.
It immediately impacts all ANS functioning, including
heart rate, blood pressure, hormone secretion,
respiration, perspiration, digestion, peristalsis and
organ and glandular restriction and activation.
The Autonomic Nervous System responses
form patterns and generate our Pain Body –
our energetic constellation of cumulative Shock.
Sudden overwhelming
Sympathetic Response
Common Indicators of Shock
S. Mines, We Are all in Shock, p. 61-62
Sympathetic Dominance
Parasympathetic Dominance
Rapid blinking
Reddening of the skin
Edgy laughter
Profuse sweating in social situations
Compulsive talking
Muscular hyper-tonicity
Emotional outbursts
Exaggerated startle; long duration
Laughing as describing charged situation
Sudden heat in body
Darting eyes
Environmental hypersensitivity
Whitening of skin
Very little blinking (staring)
Sudden flattening of affect
Amnesia of events
Loss of affect describing charged situation
Paralyzed speech when stressed
Coldness of limbs
Needing to stand far away from others to
feel safe
Hypothalamic (bulging) eyes
Hypo-tonicity (flaccidity) in muscles
A Brief Review of the Brain by looking at its
• The primitive reptilian brain develops in the 1st trimester in
• The mammalian or limbic brain develops in the 2nd trimester.
• The neocortex begins developing in the 3rd trimester.
• The prefrontal lobes develop in the final stages of the last
trimester and during the first two years of life. They have a
second growth spurt during mid-adolescence, and may
continue to develop throughout the first three decades of life.
-- Moore and Persaud, The Developing Human, WB
-- Larsen, Human Embryology, Churchill Livingstone,
Brain Review – Continued, Part 2
The Basal Ganglia at the top of the neck, at entrance to base of
the skull, is responsible for continuity and survival. It’s the
receiving station for sensory messages from skin via spinal cord
and sends info directly to the reptilian brain. They form the
primitive brain; they use present tense, speak through
behavior and contain the neural machinery for preservation.
Unconscious and instinctual. Let’s put a hand behind our
neck at the base. Be still. Breathe. Notice what happens.
The limbic, mammalian brain is about feeling and memory,
including the amygdala, thalamus, olfactory bulbs and
hippocampus. Emotional Intelligence. Relationships, including
affection, desire, attraction and sexuality; memories of
relationships. Put a hand on your solar plexus, be still,
breathe and notice what happens. Now add a hand on your
heart. Notice what happens.
Brain Review Continued, Part 3
• Neocortex and Pre-frontal Cortex – higher
brain functioning – unconditional and
spiritual, executive functioning, intuitive,
imaginative, understanding compassion and
• From these extend the “angel wings” – the
parietal lobes. These connect with space
awareness and the felt sense.
Heart-Mind Attunement
Brain plasticity is enhanced through the deliberate
use of emotion.
We influence our emotions with attention, intention,
touch, and attitudes of healing.
This engages the heart’s intelligence and merges it
with the brain, creating an entrainment that enables
D. Childre, H. Martin, The Heart Math Solution, Harper
Collins, 1999
The All-important Adrenals - Sympathetic
• The adrenals: two glands (3-5 g each) located above the kidneys
each with two separate functions: outer (cortex)secretes adrenal
steroids cortisol, DHEA, aldosterone, and inner (medulla) –
secretes adrenaline and epinephrine and norepinephrine.
(Cortisone, adrenaline & DHEA = the three adrenal stress
• Adrenal hormones are secreted in cycles (circadian rhythms).
When functioning is dysregulated it affects all body functions
including sleep, immune activity tissue repair, bone health joint
function, responses to inflammation and bacteria, skin regeneration,
thyroid function, allergic response and stress tolerance.
• The medulla of the adrenal glands is an extension of the
sympathetic nervous system. Increases heart rate, constricts
blood vessels, dilates the bronchioles, increases blood glucose and
metabolic rate, inhibits gastrointestinal activity, dilates pupils of the
eyes. If the distress signals can’t be regulated, the result is
hyperactivity, hypervigilance and an inability to rest at appropriate
times. Associated with Sympathetic Shock.
Parasympathetic Shock (PS)
• PS is the repression of secretions, including
glucocorticoids, inability to deal with stressors.
• Withdrawal, fatigue, isolation and overall
appearance of lowered vitality. Impacts immune
response and metabolism.
• The PSR presents as disconnected, shut down,
avoidant, removed, resistant and often defeated.
Symptoms resemble depression.
Sympathetic and Parasympathetic
• Sympathetic: presents as active, reactive,
aggressive, and physical. Metaphor is fire.
• Parasympathetic: presents as repressed,
diminished interaction, overwhelmed by stressors,
trance-like, blank, disconnected. Metaphor is ice.
• Both responses are designed to keep things away
and reveal/discover nothing.

Part 1 - Ellen Katz MS, LMFT