We nearly all experience stress and tension in our lives; a certain level of anxiety
is a normal reaction to some events. The intensity of normal anxiety varies with
a. the degree of insecurity felt in a situation.... And
b. the significance of imagined consequences.
For example, last minute misplacing of keys or passport can cause much more acute
tension and anxiety than leaving a skylight open when it rains !
But tension responses vary according to personality and upbringing. A sensitive
person is more prone to difficulty from stress and tension where anxieties were handled
unskillfully when they were young. Perhaps through over-indulgence, indifference
or lack of understanding.
Anxious states can generate needless tension and worry about imagined scenarios.
More intense and frequent anxiety attacks characterise anxiety disorder. This is
diagnosed where patterns of worrying and anxiety are intense, generalised and almost
always present or easily provoked.
Worries like poor health, financial or family difficulties or job insecurity, raise
tension and sap physical and mental energy. Sufficiently acute or persistent stress
can also trigger anxiety attacks or a panic even for those with healthy upbringing.
These tendencies are easily amplified by a background of irregular living or where
intimate relationships are unsupportive, unstable or threatening.
Given sufficient tension and stress many of us will experience at least some stress-anxiety
symptoms. These include problems breathing, dizziness, palpitations or rapid heart
beat. There may be irrational fears - like agoraphobia or fear of flying - or intense
social phobias - or the symptoms may emerge in organised groups in the form of full-blown
( Some of these symptoms present at Menopause or as a part of Pre- Menstrual Syndrome
( PMS ) or Pre-Menstrual Tension ( PMT ).
Although these conditions are primarily biological - related tensions and stress
symptoms can be eased considerably through hypnotic treatment.
Sometimes underlying tension and anxiety have other symptoms like hyper-vigilance
or hyper-awareness, traumatic nightmares and flashbacks of disturbing experience.
This is characteristic of Post Traumatic Stress ( PTSD ). The extreme events which
caused this may be screened from memory. There may be blanks or fuzziness and disorientation
around particular times or circumstances. Often there are areas of memory around
the original trauma which are completely blank. This is particularly the case where
there has been Child Abuse - either physical or mental.
Mental, physical or sexual abuse - leaves a child feeling undervalued, demeaned,
ignored or abandoned; in general stressed and fundamentally insecure. Untreated -
this makes the adult particularly vulnerable to stress, tension and anxiety. This
may emerge in aggression, bullying or other unreasonable compensatory behaviour.
It cannot be stressed too strongly that the practitioner needs to be very careful
to avoid any premature diagnosis of child abuse or to embed any suggestion of such
a possibility in the client’s mind until there is strong evidence. An alternative
cause may be unrecognised and un-soothed primitive fears - produced by unexplained
situations or events of an apparently harmless kind - but which the child found overwhelming
at the time.
Many processes have unconscious stress drivers which need brief periods of intensive
work to uncover and provide release. The presenting stress or anxiety patterns can
be stabilised through cognitive behavioural analysis followed by structured exercises.
Where required, these can be reinforced with hypnosis to assist behavioural changes
and re-establish the client’s sense of control.
Occasionally complex issues require Psychotherapy and Ericksonian work with deeper
states - often combined with EMDR ( Eye Movement Desensitisation Regime ). EMDR
therapy is a scientifically proven process which uses patterns of directed eye movements
coupled with suggestion to re-regulate and re-programme the runaway brain processes
generated by trauma.
All these procedures need to be handled by a practitioner with advanced skills and
lengthy experience in dealing with anxiety, stress and trauma. Clients report considerable
reassurance and benefit from my depth of knowledge and calm approach after 35 yrs
full-time Behavioural Science Experience.