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Holistic Approach to Healing from Abuse

soul retrieval drumming

.image from pinterest



I recently came across the Native American Shaman  concept of Soul Sickness. I found this idea very interesting and it seemed to coincide with other things that I write about. There is a phenomenon that occurs with many abuse victims, which is a kind of leaving one’s own body during the abuse. 


The idea is that the victim’s brain cannot accept the level or type of abuse into their reality.


In order for the brain to protect itself from trauma, it takes itself into a derealization / depersonalization state. This is something that you may have experienced if you ever in an abusive situation, or even any life threatening situation. 


Depersonalization is a state the brain goes into, in order to protect you.


The feeling of this state is likely somewhat different for different people, but there is similarity in the way people describe this state. The feeling is as if one can see their body and how it is involved in the event, but it is as if the body belongs to another person. 

The order of the events is processed, but it is like someone else is doing the motions, and handling the things that are happening. If someone was hitting you, then you would see the body being struck, but not really relate to that body as being your own. You could block your face from being hit but it would feel like someone else was actually controlling those hands which no longer feel like you are attached to your hands.

Derealization is the feeling that the whole scene is like you were watching it in a movie. You may not even really know for sure if it were really happening. You might wonder if it is actually a dream or a nightmare that you are actually in. The scene does not feel like you are an active part of it. It is more like observing a dream or watching a movie. 

Soul Sickness. as the Shamans see it, is when the soul has become ill, or parts of it have left the body all together. During a situation, such as sexual abuse, the soul was going to be damaged by experiencing it, so rather than be there for the trauma, it just left the body entirely. 

This idea of part of you leaving the situation, because it could not endure it, is the same as the derealization and depersonalization experience. The person is there, but not all of them is there to be traumatized. 

But trauma is sustained nonetheless, because the very situation of being forced to go into a derealization state is traumatizing. If the soul, or part of the soul was forced to exit from the body, then you were left with something missing.

Either way, there is a damage sustained by the soul, or the spirit part of you, in a addition to your brain and body. 

It is often discussed these days that mental abuse is the worst part of physical or sexual abuse. It is clear that the emotional / mental trauma is even worse than the physical experience, or the bruises which are left.

Even the women who have had acid thrown in their faces, now live with extreme mental pain, and humiliation to have to be forced to exist every day with those scars….reminders of the cruelty and heartlessness of the men who inflicted them.

The Shaman theory is that the soul has left the body and now the person lives as an incomplete person, because that important part of them has fled. The soul need to be retrieved. 

They believe in doing rituals called Soul Retrieval, in order for that person to get the missing part back. Before the soul retrieval, the person will live with depression. anxiety and all manner of mental, and physical illness. The soul retrieval process is to help the person to become whole again.

 Many abuse survivors experience a feeling that something is wrong with them, even years after the abuser has left.


There is sense that they are different than other people, in a way that makes them carry toxic shame. This is very difficult to explain to anyone who has not been through abuse.

During verbal and emotional abuse, people are called names, degraded, gaslighted, demeaned, and treated as non-humans. Their humanity is stripped from them, as is the humanity stripped from people who are sexually and physically abused. 


The experience of sexual abuse is too much for a person to bear that their own body was involved in the acts, so they detach from their bodies in a way to not be a part of the sexual abuse. Later on, this can lead to eating disorder, cutting and other kinds of self harm. There is a disharmony between the body and the  mind. The mind no longer accepts the body as its own. 

The missing link between the mind and the body could be spiritual in nature. I think that it makes sense to try to include a spiritual element to healing from abuse. When someone experiences rape, or the on-going abuse of a narcissist, they are broken in some way. There is a lack of wholeness that stays with you. 

While medications for the depression, and anxiety disorders, which usually follow abuse, can be helpful, it is not the entire picture. We are spiritual beings, and having your soul raped by a personality disordered person, is traumatizing on every level. 


I believe that healing needs to be all encompassing of the entire person.


A holistic approach to healing is more likely to generate healing, than by simply dealing with it from one angle. If you are healing from abuse, I would recommend trying a variety of healing modalities.

Traditional therapy and medications need to be complemented by healing methods which speak to other aspects of the entire person. We are emotional beings and mental and physical beings. But we are also spiritual beings, and the spirit is sensitive to being traumatized by abuse, just as much, or more than the other aspects of ourselves.


Most people that have been abused feel that there is a darkness about it.


There is a malicious, dark element to abuse that is carried by the survivor. It is hard to explain to people who have not experienced it.

 It is like a feeling of darkness that is carried with you. 


I think that this darkness has something to do with the spiritual aspect of abuse.


When someone who has a darkness about them, invades your personal freedom, and boundaries, there is something that you pick up from them. The darkness feels like it follows you into your nightmares, and lingers around you. 

I do not think this darkness can be ignored, if we are to heal from abuse. Many people do not speak of it, because it is so hard to define and explain. It is beyond the physical world. 

So, let us treat ourselves as whole humans, including all the aspects of our humanity.

You have innate self worth, and that reality was stripped from you be a person that has elements of darkness about them.

It does not make you dark like they are, but you may be carrying that feeling that the abuser’s darkness somehow was stuck to you and you are doomed to carry this darkness in your mind .


There is nothing wrong with you that makes you less worthy than other people.


You would not feel that way, if it were not for the abuse you endured and suffered through. Psychopaths and narcissists have a way of leaving a part of themselves to haunt you, but it is time to get rid of that. 

It is unfair for you to have to carry toxic shame, feelings of darkness and low self esteem, just because someone decided to use you as an object for their own dark designs. They wanted to strip you of your power to blossom and to be free. We do not have to let them have their way, years after the abuse is over. 

I wish you all healing and peace of mind, as you continue on your journey of healing, love and empowerment. You have a greater purpose in the world than you are even aware of. You are a light that can bring light to others. 



Annie – Holistic Methods for Healing from Abuse …join the emailing list at the link below

gentlekindnesscoaching.com Holistic methods for healing from abuse
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PTSD Neurology meets Psychology

The following definitions of the Hippocampus, the Amygdala and the Pre-Frontal Cortex are from a worksheet provided online from the Get Self Help web site. The link to their site is getselfhelp.co.uk.com To see the actual worksheet you can check out THIS LINK. There is a picture diagram of the brain ans I think many of you would find it very helpful.

You can see a good diagram of the brain and how trauma affects the brain at this link – TraumaBrain

The way I want to write this post for you is to give you the definitions and then underneath each one of them I will write something that explains it in my own words, as well as adding some opinions and ideas.

I will write anything that is my own take on things in this purple color and the definitions will be in this blue color, so that you can tell what is quoted from the worksheet. 

Hippocampus   The hippocampus processes trauma memories, by recycling the memory, mostly at night via dreams, which takes place over weeks or months. It then transfers the integrated stored memory to another part of the brain. High levels of stress hormones causes the hippocampus to shrink or under-develop, resulting in impaired function.

Childhood trauma exaggerates this effect. The trauma memory therefore remains unprocessed in the hippocampus, disintegrated, fragmented, and feels ‘current’ rather than in the past. (Some people may be born with a smaller hippocampus making them more vulnerable to develop PTSD.)

The hippocampus is a funny sounding name for a part of the brain that a lot of people are unaware of. Unless you have done research about PTSD and neurology, you probably have not come across this word. I am aware that some of you have done quite a bit of research about these topics, and for those of you that have the terms will be familar.

Do not feel intimidated by any of these terms.

Neurology is somewhat complex but you are perfectly capable of understanding the basics of how the different parts of the brain function and interact with each other. Having a general understanding of how the brain works is important when you are struggling to heal from abuse, trauma and PTSD.

In my opinion there is a lot of healing that be attained simply by developing an understanding of how your brain responds to trauma and abuse.

Let go of any feelings of shame about your PTSD

You can see that there is no reason for feeling shame about the symptoms you are experiencing. Understanding how PTSD works in the brain will also allow you to feel that you have more ground to stand on when you are trying to interact with other people in regards to your PTSD and your symptoms.

Integrated Memories and Experiences 

The hippocampus has the job of helping you to integrate memories. It goes through the memory of your trauma many times and often causes you to dream about the memory. You will think about the memory and the hippocampus tries to help you to make sense of the memory in order that it can be integrated into other parts of your brain as an integrated memory. 

Integrated memories are felt as though they happened in the past. They become part of the brain and your remembered experiences. The memories are assigned meaning by associations that your brain makes between the event and other information that the brain believes to be true. 

Non-Integrated Traumatic memories are memories in which the process of integration has been interfered with. Traumatic situations cause high levels of stress on you. Chemicals are released by the brain and circulate throughout your body.

Being in an extremely terrifying situation can cause the brain to be unable to do its job in the normal way. thus the memories about the trauma do not become integrated properly.One traumatic event can cause PTSD.

This may be a situation where you felt your life was threatened, or a situation that you could not accept into your reality due to the horror or feeling of unsafety at  some level.

We can feel our safety threatened in many ways including physical safety, mental and emotional safety and psychological safety. 

Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an on-going situation of abuse and trauma which causes layers of memories. C-PTSD is multi levels and layers of PTSD. There were many situations which causes it.

You felt entrapped and unable to remove yourself from situations that were threatening to you over many months or many years.

These memories are from different time periods and often abuse was inflicted by different people. Mental and emotional abuse have the same level of interference with the hippocampus and memory integration as physical abuse. 

Amygdala  The brain’s ‘fear centre’. The amygdala helps to store memories, particularly emotions and physical sensations. It also controls activation of stress hormones – the body’s fight or flight response. In PTSD, the amygdala becomes over-reactive causing frequent or near constant high levels of stress hormones.

The amygdala is the “Fight or Flight” center of the brain. Most people have heard of the concept of “fight or flight” and have a basic understanding of what that is, but do not realize the importance and the implications of any interference with this function of the brain. 

Situations such as emotional abuse or neglect during childhood will cause for the amygdala to become disregulated. This is also true with living with an abusive partner, or being in any situation where you feel in danger for extended periods of time day after day. 

The fight or flight mode is designed to get you out of a dangerous situation quickly. The on-going situations like being in an active military situation, cause the stress hormones to be released on an almost constant basis. This is not how the system was designed to work so it causes disregulation. 

Pre-frontal cortex  The pre-frontal cortex helps us to assess threats, manage emotion, plan responses, and control impulses. It is the centre of rational thinking. Childhood trauma causes under-development of the pre-frontal cortex, which results in impaired ability to assess threat through rational thinking, manage emotions and control impulses.

The pre-frontal cortex helps us to asses threats and to know what the danger level is. If you have PTSD  or C-PTSD, your normal ability to identify and asses threat and danger has been corrupted. Flashbacks from PTSD appear to the brain as real threats in real time. The stress hormones are then sent into the body which cause the feelings that happen with PTSD. 

These parts of the brain are responsible for protecting us from danger. When there is trauma or abuse, the parts become over-reactive. Understanding about the brain can help to deal with PTSD. At least you can know that there are real organic differences in your brain. 

When people do not believe that your symptoms are real it can be re-traumatizing. Having some information to share with people can aide in communication about the disorder if someone is willing to listen and understand you. 



abuse, domestic abuse, domestic violence, mental abuse, mental health, mental illness

Domestic Violence and Abuse Against Men

Domestic abuse of men is much less heard of  than that of women. It is not culturally accepted of believed that men can really be severely abused by women.

Women are considered the “weaker sex” therefor how could they inflict such damage upon men to be considered abusive? There are a lot of men, however that are in domestic abuse situations that are both mentally and physically dangerous to them. Men are sustain serious injury from objects being thrown at them and being attacked with heavy objects during the insane rage of a narcissistic partner.

Men do not tend to let anyone know when they are being abused. If a man is being physically abused by a wife or a girlfriend they feel that it will be embarrassing to tell anyone. In most cases his family and friends would not believe him. They may even laugh at him.  But domestic abuse, weather physical or mental abuse, is far from a laughing matter.

If a gentle, non-violent  man is subject to physical abuse by a woman,  he may not defend himself against her l attacks. There are women that hit, kick , throw things and burn their spouses. The men do not want to hit her back and they have no way to defend themselves. They allow themselves to be hit and injured and hope that it is just a one time occurance.

They fear that they will injure her if they try to physically defend themselves. Men in our society are also in danger of being accused of abuse. They may be in fear of leaving bruises on their attacker, in their attempt to defend themselves, that she will use against him. The men just cover up the scars and keep it a secret.

There are numerous reasons for a man not to leave the abusive relationship. He may feel that he still loves the person and wants to do better so that the abuse will stop. It is the same mindset that women have when they begin to believe that they deserve to be abused. The narcissist twists the mind of their victim into feeling that they are responsible for the anger of the abuser.

The victim believes that they did something to cause the abusers rage and that if they can mend their ways , the abuse will stop. The victim feels guilty and the abuser plays upon the guilt and feelings of worthlessness of the victim.

” boys are less likely to report
sexual abuse due to fear, anxiety associated with
being perceived as gay, the desire to appear selfreliant,
and the will to be independent.

• In a male-perpetrated assault, the male victim is more
likely to be strangled, beaten with closed fists, and
threatened with guns or other weapons.

• In a female-perpetrated assault, the male victim is
more likely to be kicked, slapped, or have objects
thrown at him.
American  Medical Association

Men are conditioned by society to be the strong and protective sex. They are taught never to see themselves as victims and that society will not believe their cries for help. it is not in the paradigm of the general population that men could be victims.

This makes it very difficult for men to seek help. They fear any stigma attached to male victims of physical abuse.

There are also situations of severe mental abuse of men by their partner. This is similar to the mental abuse of women by a male partner. The abuser criticized the victim and calls them names.

The victim can be manipulated about finances, work and seeking their own health care. Women who are abusers and also control the money may refuse for the victim to  have medical treatments, refuse for any mental health care, refuse food and other basic needs of a person’s well being.

There is also abuse of men by male partners and by family members who they live with. Males attack males with open fists, knives and other weapons. The attacks can be of a violent sexual nature as well.

With the economy being on a downturn, I would predict that the cases of men being abused will increase. As men find it harder and harder to get good paying jobs (or any job at all) they will have to settle for living with anyone who is willing to take them in.

The lack of being able to support themselves will reduce the choices they have as well as reduce their self esteem. The loss of self esteem open someone up to allowing a narcissistic person to have control.

Some men are afraid to leave  because the wife threatens to abuse the children or cut off his contact with the children. This is emotional and mental terrorism. The domestic abuse helpline is for help with this kind of abuse.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime

men experience many of the same psychological
reactions to violence as women. These include:
• Guilt, shame, and humiliation
• Anger and anxiety
• Depression
• Withdrawal from relationships

I have put  some links below that could be helpful to men who need to seek help. The denial and fear of seeking help could end in someone’s death and will most certainly continue to destroy their mental health and well being.

The statistics gathered by the National Coalition Against Domestic  Violence are that 1 in every 14 men has been physically abused by a partner.

Domestic Abuse HelpLine 1-888-743-5754 (this is a Help line to assist men to get out of abusive relationships and find resources for help with any legal issues , financial and housing problems that can occur. They can guide you to the proper help if you are under threat from someone that threaten to abuse your children or keep them from you if you leave.)


Click to access MaleVictims.pdf





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Abnormality is defined as a deviation from the accepted thoughts, emotions and behaviour

Abnormality is defined as a deviation from the accepted thoughts, emotions and behaviour

What is  ‘normal’ ? It is  an invented idea related to conformity.

Conformity to the status quo and the manners and behaviors that the vast majority are comfortable with. Saying “fine” when someone asks how you are, is the accepted behavior.

Following the rules at a workplace,  even when there is an obvious , glaring exception to the rule, staring you in the face.

Going along with our plans and our schedules like drones , without thinking about what we are doing. That is the status quo. That is conformity.That is a lack of creativity and individuality.

When people all follow what someone else thinks, no one thinks at all. Who is making the social norms? The people at the top who are benefitting from it. All the drones underneath have the impression that they are the ones that benefit but it is not true.

Loss  of humanity and individual thinking. Taking each individual situation for what it is and thinking and and making and intelligent , thoughtful plan of action. This is all lost in the confusion and the illusion or orderliness.

People have the impression that the status quo rules are neat and orderly. They think that they like the rules ans that the Normal accepted behaviors and reactions are going to keep them safe and protect them.

if this is true, then why is suicide on the rise and mental illness more and more prevalent in society?

Maybe mental illness is caused by the infliction of an untrue reality upon independent thinkers. The forcing of a reality that someone created and is telling us is safe. But when we see that it is not true and it is unsafe for us, we are seen as abnormal people. The ones who do not fit in.

This results in isolation and alienation. We can see what the reality is. But they tell us we are not conforming to their thoughts and their reality.

People that have survived, or their children have survived sexual abuse, are expected to attend holiday functions with the offending family members. They are expected to sit there are pretend nothing ever happened. Ot to pretend that the abuser is rehabilitated and no longer a threat.

Women living with abusive men are told that things are not as bad as they think. People think they are exaggerating and the “poor guy” is just venting from a hard day.You should be thankful that he works so hard to support you. How do they know how the guy is supporting you? They don’t even know if he shares any of his money with you. Why do they assume?

Even family members sometimes support the abuser and treat the victim as though she is in some alternate abnormal reality. You have to be a better wife, a better girlfriend. Maybe he would be a better man if you were more supportive. It must be you… Crap! Crap! BS!

I have always been supportive in relationships. Begging someone not to leave you and a child with no money in the bank account and no food in the fridge, so they can go to live in another state with friends to “find themselves” and their “Purpose” and a job, is crap. Why should you suffer with no food and no money, to be supportive of someone who does not want to work. Someone who leaves you stuck with his parents, because he can’t stand living with them anymore.

When our feelings do not match what the others tell us to feel, we become mentally ill. Our brain suffers because it tries to hold onto the actual reality while other people are messing with it.