||June 16, 2009
***** 4 stars – Traumatic Incident Reduction May Be the Solution
“Beyond Trauma” is a thorough and comprehensive discussion of Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR), a procedure first formulated by Frank Gerbode. Editor Victor R. Volkman has brought together a vast number of experts to provide information on how TIR can effectively be used to treat numerous types of trauma ranging from childhood fears, to repressed memories of trauma, workplace issues, general anxiety, phobias, responses to terrorist attacks, car accidents, post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by soldiers, and numerous other incidents that afflict people. TIR has been found to be effective as well as extremely efficient in helping patients overcome trauma and return to normal lives. In fact, TIR can resolve an issue in a few sittings, sometimes even in one session of just a few hours, which is a marked improvement over years in therapy with a psychiatrist.
According to the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of “Beyond Trauma” the definition of TIR is:
"…a brief, one-on-one, non-hypnotic, person-centered, simple and highly structured method for permanently eliminating the negative effects of past traumas. It involves repeated viewing of a traumatic memory under conditions designed to enhance safety and minimize distractions. The client does the most important work in the session; the therapist or counselor offers no interpretations or negative or positive evaluations, but only gives appropriate instructions to the client to have him view a traumatic incident thoroughly from beginning to end."
It is TIR’s repeated viewing, the constant retelling out loud of a traumatic incident to a therapist that provides healing. The client becomes so familiar with the traumatic incident that he or she becomes comfortable with it, comes to accept it, often understands it in a new way, and ultimately moves beyond it.
One of the great strengths of “Beyond Trauma” is that it gives multiple examples of this repeated viewing. For example, a mother retells how her child died of SIDS. The transcript of each version of each viewing is included so the reader can understand how the mother’s understanding of the event changed until she came to accept the event, overcome her anger and pain, and move on with her life. Another fascinating example was a woman who had a terrible fear of bugs. By retelling her experiences with insects, she found that her fear actually stemmed back to when she had her tonsils out at four years old; she was afraid of the procedure, and the surgeon looked like a bug because of the scrubs and mask he was wearing. The same woman recalled that her fear of moths stemmed from a moth she saw in her room as a child; as she retold the story, she remembered a peeping Tom looking into her room, and when her mother turned off the light, the last thing she saw was a moth around her bedroom light which made her associate her fear with the moth. In all the examples, the person afflicted with traumatic memories was able to eliminate or reduce the memory’s charge through repeated viewing of the traumatic event.
The chapters in “Beyond Trauma” cover a wide range of traumas as well as more common issues like anxiety. I found the anxiety discussions particularly interesting. Anxiety tends to result from a traumatic event or from burnout at a job, based on repeated stress. Test taking is a common form of anxiety; TIR can be effective in helping students overcome anxiety prior to tests. One example showed that the person with test-taking anxiety treated tests like a rite of passage and equated poor test results with loss of respectability and severe consequences such as being “consigned to hell.” In such cases, people who used TIR were able to put tests in a larger context so they appeared less important, and therefore, less stressful.
The book is full of various topics on TIR that cannot all be described here, but among the others are several discussions on spiritual experiences that resulted from using TIR, including birth memories and even memories of past lives. While these discussions may require an open-mind, I found them equally convincing. Another chapter covers the effectiveness of TIR compared to other therapies, and also how it can be integrated with other therapies to help clients.
At the end of the book are several essays by Frank Gerbode discussing the “Philosophy of Metapsychology” and how trauma can lead to growth. Gerbode explains that humans have an innate need to feel they are making progress toward what they desire, and he defines happiness as an ability to overcome obstacles so we make progress. While trauma may be initially perceived as negative, he reminds us it can be a path to growth and greater happiness. I loved Gerbode’s clarification that it is wrong to correlate great artists with neuroses because great artists created their art despite, not as a result of, the neuroses; the neuroses were an obstacle to overcome that made them stronger and better able to view life in a manner that inspired great art.
The book does tend to be a little repetitive, especially near the beginning due to its division into different articles and interviews; some of the authors repeat what was said in earlier sections. Because the book has numerous transcripts of oral interviews, the writing is not as polished as it could be, but it is accurate and contains the necessary information. The editor, Victor R. Volkman, does a good job of providing signposts to let lay readers know when they may choose to skip ahead to another chapter (although as a lay reader I found the entire book interesting and easily understandable). Descriptive chapter and sub-chapter titles and appendices make the book very reader-friendly, even if it is rather long (333 large pages). “Beyond Trauma” is definitely a comprehensive discussion of Traumatic Incident Reduction, with great appendices, including book lists, workshop descriptions, frequently asked questions, and general rules to facilitate TIR treatment.
Anyone who has experienced a traumatic event or even feels stress or anxiety on a daily basis will find this book interesting and want to experience a TIR session personally. TIR clearly is helping many people return to normal and more fulfilling lives.
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