Case Study



Breaking Free: A Mind-Body Approach to Retraining the Brain

By Janina Fisher and Pat Ogden

Carrie, 67—a mother and grandmother—came into therapy because of increasing difficulties in her marriage of 40-odd years to her childhood sweetheart, a Vietnam vet. Ever since Vietnam, he'd been moody and easily irritated, but in the past year or so, she reported, he'd developed health problems, and his moods had gotten worse.

"Out of nowhere, he starts screaming at me or putting me down—ridiculing me for being useless and inadequate," she said. "When he does that, I just freeze; it feels as if I'm rooted to the floor and can't move. He'll scream at me to 'say something!' but I can't; no words come. Then I try to think how to make him happy: what does he need? When I can talk, I ask him what I can do. Does he need to know I love him? I try to say something nice, but that just makes him madder."

Carrie vividly remembered growing up with parents who'd been moody, unpredictable, and quick to anger. Alcohol had fueled their hair-trigger reactivity, making them even more volatile and frightening. When she heard certain tones in their voices or saw particular facial expressions, her young body would freeze and become quiet and still—her eyes tracking their movements and expressions intently. She'd then automatically shift into a calmer, compliant state, in which she'd try to soothe them and minimize the abuse. Sometimes, she'd try to placate them by giving…

Already have an account linked to your magazine subscription? Log in now to continue reading this article.

(Need help? Click here or contact us to ask a question.)

Not currently a subscriber? Subscribe Today to read the rest of this article!



Read 3852 times
Comments - (existing users please login first)
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *
E-mail Address *
Website URL
Message *
livechat