This article accompanies my presentation to the Society of Laparoscopic Surgeon, Boston, September 2016, which addressed the topic of traumatic stress and PTSD in surgeons.
I am going to present a simple and very effective technique that readily resolves PTSD, releases trauma fixations and post-traumatic dissociative states. The technical principle is surprisingly simple and effective – repeatedly using simple and very specific verbal commands.
The results manifest at the time that the technique is applied; the changes are stable and
transformative, bringing about a recovery of the old pre-accident state of being. The same principle can be used also whenever individuals are stuck in negative emotional states or experience compulsions or inhibitions. It is not meant to correct condition emanating from brain damage or dysfunction, and in such cases, one can expect the presence of dissociative post-traumatic fixations.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a universal phenomena seen in all living forms and clearly in most mammals. Similarly, the Kuhn Technique (KT) can be applied on individuals of different levels of education and sophistication as long as they understand the meaning of the simple commands/statements that are applied in it.
The Kuhn Technique does not only resolve PTSD and dissociative state but also helps to achieve and maintain peak performance and stable state of well being.
A traumatic experience is usually associated with being subjected to a sudden or repetitive overwhelming force which overwhelms the individual and which is perceived as a direct or eventual threat to one’s survival.
The more prepared, drilled and train the person is the less traumatic will be the incident and vice versa.
Surgeons work under a considerable level of pressure and often face unpredictable crises. They should be well informed, well trained, alert and focused at all times during surgical procedures. Starting surgery while being hungry, tired, preoccupied with nonrelevant issues or being unsure about how to solve the problem as you go along will make one prone to being traumatized when something does not go right as expected. Immediate assertion and technical solution will diminish the chance of being traumatized, although even just a split of a second of feeling shock and overwhelmed will register as the seed of dissociation and may cause PTSD symptoms.
The same is true in any areas of peak performance – in sport, in the battlefield, or in performing a difficult role on stage. An opera singer who does not master her vocal technique is more prone to become anxious and dissociate into a state of fear and negative anticipation of failures, thus being more prone to PTSD.
Surgeons who are faced with unpredictable emergencies like sudden uncontrolled bleeding, patient’s unexpected death, operating errors or consequential malpractice suits, etc., may experience a momentary state of being stunned and overwhelm and the fixated memory of that moment, which does not erase by itself and not easily by other therapeutic means, may become the seed for a post-traumatic response which may lead to PTSD.
So, there is no absolute way to secure an absolute protection from a trauma fixation and therefore it is so important to share the information about the technique that can unfix it and erase its charge, Neutralize and ‘banalize’ the force within the traumatic experience. The KT is a standard technique which can neutralize PTSD and free the individual from it.
Importantly, similar traumatic experiences which occurred earlier in life will compound the traumatic effect and hold it in place and must be located and addressed as a condition to erasing the mental construct of PTSD.
Quite a few surgeons find the symptoms of PTSD – the anxiety, anticipatory and avoidance fears and consequent low self-esteem to be disturbing enough to induce them to early retirement. Some others command themselves to become numb and go on.
It is important to understand that at a moment of traumatic experience the analytical mind which is located in the neocortex is overpowered by the Limbic system (the ancient ‘reptile brain’ which is in charge of protecting the survival of the organism in moments of danger. When facing danger, one can go into a hyper-focus and a fight mode, and find a solution to the danger, while another one will freeze in fear, being in a dissociative state (transfixed, mute, confused and disorientated.) The highly charged image of the trauma take control over present time reality and is stored as such in memory.
Even if a solution is found a moment later, a traumatic experience has already being lodged in one’s memory and from now on will surface in situation which resemble the traumatic experience. It will continue from now on to distract and upset the individual and interfere with his ability to function well.
Here is an applicable analogy – an athlete got a splinter in his foot. If left untreated, a splinter causes him pain, apprehension, fear and avoidance of running and competing in tournaments, loss of career and self-esteem. Consequently, a cascade of physical and psychological symptoms develops; the athlete misses tournaments, his career falters and he concludes that he is a failure. He becomes depressed and regresses financially and socially.
Similarly, let’s consider a concert pianist who develops a fear of performing after having had a memory lapse during a previous concert. He starts now to stumble when playing that piece again at the same point where he experienced his original memory lapse. That starts a downward spiral that has to be broken for him to recover his peak performance.
Trauma has a hypnotic effect; the individual is in a state of trance, where his attention is divided between the present time and the past incident. The individual is engulfed and trapped in the traumatic experience like a fish in a fish ball with no perception of a way out. Alcohol and psychotropic medications may have a temporary, limited symptomatic relief but do not erase the fixated experience or change the course of the condition that tends often to worsen and become chronic. In most cases, psychotherapy is not able to release the trauma fixation and resolve the condition.
Surgeons who are lacking in training or misinformed are more susceptible to traumas. Furthermore, being hungry, tired jetlagged, preoccupied with unresolved personal problems like litigations, divorce or fear of loss of loved ones will cause the same.
Importantly, similar traumas that occurred earlier must be erased first in order to release the more recent ones.
How My Technique Evolved
I was a psychiatric resident in New York when the Yom Kippur war erupted in Israel in1973. I returned to Israel, my native land, to join the Israeli army medical force and was posted in a field hospital in the Sinai Desert. There I treated soldiers who had suffered acute mental trauma on the battlefield. I had, therefore, the opportunity to observe the dynamics of acute trauma and identified few rules and principles that gave me the tools that developed into the Kuhn Technique.
For example, I saw one soldier who was evacuated from the Suez Canal front, who was facing an invasion by Egyptian tanks that just have crossed the Suez Canal. He was lying with closed eyes on a stretcher in an embryonic-like position. I asked him quietly “Where are you?” and he mumbled – “near the bridge!” I asked “what do you see?” and he said “Shells!” I decided to stick to the text and repeated my question. He responded “I see shells!!!” with a higher emotional intensity. I asked him to repeat “I see shells” then just to say “Shells”. He became very agitated and then suddenly calmed down calmed down, opened his eyes and asked me: “where am I?” I told him that he was in a field hospital, which he was not aware of at all, being in a dissociative state.
I learned that he was stuck in a very charged, life-threatening and traumatizing experience – a mental construct that is a charged hologram of time locked event. He was locked in it like a fish in a fish bowl. By repeating verbally the words “Shell” that image gradually disintegrated and he felt a release.
I realized that when he was stuck in the image of a traumatic incident it was totally separated from the present. I learned that I could discharge and free him from this energy trap by telling him to repeat words or statements associated with that experience.
The repetitive statements work like commands and cause a discharge and weakening of the mental experience that holds the condition in place.
The technique developed as I understood that the individual was actually controlled by negatively charged identities. IN a rape case it will be “the raped me”, the overwhelmed me; the scared me, the vengeful me, the helpless me etc. any emotions reflected a negative identity. One could assign a negative identity to the trauma itself and run it out by repeating the statement “I erase the Trauma or the incident many times. It may last 7 to ten minutes, and then suddenly there is a release and the negative traumatic charge is gone.
Later on, I have found that anyone who is stuck in a negative emotional state, attitudes, inhibition or compulsion, can in most cases release them by repeating simple commands, like – I erase the (x ) me. X = the (angry) (sad) (overwhelmed) (anxious) me. (X= negative state.)
The other dimension of the technique is the release of the free operating state of being.
My attached slides (see below) include information on how to achieve that state, by repeating the command ‘I AM’.
While erasing commands are finite and when you discharge them the fixation is gone, the I AM process can be repeated many times, for it releases accumulated negative charges that our body, acting as a capacitor, accumulates over time. Meditative techniques like Shigong focus on the power of respiration, the pulling in of charge in when inhaling, and discharging it by exhaling. The KT adds an active tool to that process – the “I AM” process.
There is some similarity between erasing a mental trauma and erasing a computer file by a command. The key difference is that the KT only erases the charge, and leaves intact the information in a neutralized form. The discharging experience feels similar to deflating a pressured balloon.
In summary, the Kuhn Technique is a form of self-therapy that works better under the guidance of an experienced person but can be also applied just by the individual on himself without help, but with possible lower effectiveness in certain cases.
The KT produces readily distinct results in most cases if correctly applied. Supervision by an experienced person is strongly recommended for better results. Its benefits are lasting and no negative effects have been observed over many years of applications on many hundreds of cases.
Each process ends with a release reflected in deep breathing and mental release and clearing.
The KT is very helpful in preparing individuals before they go on stage to perform or prior to facing a stressful situation.
The number of repetitions of each command can range between a few ones to many dozens and last even up to 10 minutes in some cases. As one advances in running out of charged items the responses are faster and easier to get.
For further questions or assistance please contact Dr. Kuhn.