To heal differently

Stress, anxiety, depression: classical medicine often remains powerless to relieve this suffering. However, other methods, inspired by ancient wisdom or from recent brain studies, have proved their effectiveness. In his book "Cure", David Servan-Schreiber, psychiatrist and columnist for "Psychologies", led us to discover these "medicines of emotions". Close up on three of them.

Christine Baudry Anne-Laure Gannac David Servan-Schreiber

Is it necessary at all costs to dive into drugs to overcome depression? Is psychoanalysis the only answer to anxiety and stress? To these two questions, David Servan-Schreiber clearly answers in the negative. But with optimism: yes, depression and stress can heal, really heal, otherwise ...

In his book "Heal" (Robert Laffont), the well-known chronicler of readers of "Psychologies" ("Our cells like the truth "," End the pain "...) makes us share his experience as a psychiatrist specializing in new therapeutic approaches to mental suffering: acupuncture, nutrition, breathing, sport, light therapy, emotional communication ...

It was at the Center for Complementary Medicine, which he co-founded and directed at the American University of Pittsburgh, that he was able to measure the benefits of these ancient medicines, such as acupuncture, or contemporary ones like EMDR. (In French, Neuroemotional Integration with Eye Movements) "These methods have been the subject of sound scientific studies that prove their effectiveness, yet our medical science is only interested in them. eu to decry them, regrets the author. While remaining in a rational approach, I sought to know more about this "black territory" of medicine. It seemed indeed absurd and unscientific to give up these treatments, simply because their mechanisms are incomprehensible. "

Young psychiatrist, David Servan-Schreiber (son of journalist Jean-Jacques) spent five years on a doctorate in science Cognitive research on the role of neurons in the genesis of thoughts and emotions Work in the United States, supervised by the Nobel laureate Herbert Simon and crowned by a publication in the prestigious journal "Science" In "Cure", he puts its rigor as a scientist at the service of the study of "different" medicines.To reach a conclusion: "All these methods have in common to take advantage of the mechanisms of self-healing of the brain and the intimate link that exists between the body and the emotions. "

(Christine Baudry)

Stress: breathing with the heart

A simple method that allows you to enter" heart coherence ": heart and brain beat in unison, and that's appeasement in the storm, both physical and psychic.

Computer reading of intervals between heartbeats validates the intuitions of poets: our heart beats to the rhythm of our emotions. But the influence of the mind on the heart is not one way; heartbeats also have an impact on the brain. Some scholars today evoke the existence of a true "heart-brain system".

Thus, cardiologists know that a depression that occurs shortly after an infarct is a very bad sign for the patient's survival in the short term ... But is this depression psychological, related to the fear of death passed so close? ? Or of organic origin, heart damaged by infarction no longer able to feel pleasant emotions? No one knows yet, but one can perhaps conclude that "consistent" heartbeats, therefore harmonious, help the brain fight against depression and stress. "The" cardiac coherence "teaches us to look at our body experiences emotion, to see it grow and vanish naturally, says David Servan-Schreiber, it allows us to establish the harmony between our two brains. "

=> How s' take

To get into cardiac coherence, you have to start with ... breathe. Take several slow, deep breaths-expirations by marking a short pause after expiration. Then, after this phase of stabilization, pay attention to the heart, visualize its slow movements, imagine the inspiration that brings oxygen and expiration that rids it of its waste. Finally, we accompany the sensation of warmth that develops in the chest with soft thoughts: evocation of the face of those we love, images of nature, fervor of prayer ... Everyone to find his positive emotion.

"During this exercise, we sometimes see a smile slowly rising to the lips, as if it were born in the chest and come to bloom on the face.It is a simple signal that coherence has been established. ", explains David Servan-Schreiber. So, it is the appeasement in the storm, both psychic and physical. Moreover, when the person who becomes coherent is connected to a computer software by electrocardiogram type sensors (technique called "biofeedback"), the computer screen clearly shows the consistency of the heart lines under the form of regular waves and soft!

As usual, cardiac coherence can be practiced at any time of the day and especially in action, at work or in an emergency, to relieve stress. It can also be initiated by taking traditional yoga classes (hatha yoga), a multi-thousand year old technique that has always been based on brain-heart coherence.

Reconciling our two brains

We both have brains, explains David Servan-Schreiber. First, emotional, the limbic brain (which we share with all mammals) is concerned primarily with our survival.This emotional brain controls the physiological balance (breathing, heart rate, etc.). Essentially connected to the body, he communicates through him and makes him express elementary emotions such as fear or pleasure. The cognitive brain was formed during the evolution of the species. It contains our information processing capabilities, which are classically assimilated to intelligence. It is the cognitive brain which deduces that this long form seen in the dark is a piece of wood; the limbic brain, more rapid and cautious, will have already taken a step back for fear that it is a snake.

"Our two brains coexist," says the psychiatrist, "they can ignore each other, but they also short-circuit to our detriment." Stress, anxiety, depression are a testament to one brain gaining power over another. Thus, the victim of a panic attack no longer manages to control his body (heart that panics, knotted stomach, adrenaline rushes and, especially, feeling of imminent death), while all his reason shouts to him that there is no real danger.

On the other hand, when the emotional brain is stifled by the cognitive brain, we no longer hear its calls for help. Thus one can be satisfied with a sterile job, shut up in an unhappy marriage ... But the emotional brain does not let itself be gagged so easily; he will express his discomfort with the words of the body: unexplained tiredness, skin problems, repeated infections ... "

(Christine Baudry)

Anxiety: digesting its traumas thanks to EMDR

Misaligned by the brain The wounds of life sometimes leave scars, ready to open at the slightest shock.In a few sessions, the Eye Movement Desensitivation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and its eye movements could close them.

In the early 90s Californian psychologist Francine Shapiro accidentally discovered that a movement of the eyes from left to right could bring her a state of well-being: she had just discovered the principle of EMDR, since this technique, often offered in addition to 'classic therapy' is an effective method that, even with major post-traumatic symptoms, can speed up the healing process, "says David Servan-Schreiber. lived by Patrick and Catherine.

=> Patrick, 33, Computer Engineer

In June 2000, in the sixth month of her pregnancy, Patrick's wife gave birth to twins. For weeks, these very premature babies oscillate between life and death. When the couple recovers them at home, Patrick begins to show a very strong aggressiveness towards them. The mere act of seeing or hearing them plunges him into uncontrollable states of anger. While he loves his 3-year-old daughter, he just feels unable to love them.

"When I met the man who was going to become my psychoanalyst, I was ready to do anything to get out of this situation, and at the first session, I told him about the months of hospitalization of my twins after birth. those weeks spent not knowing if they were going to live or not ...

The darkest period of my life It was obvious that my problem came from there I had kept such a resentment that later, It was as if I was taking revenge on my children for hurting me so much, and then the therapist asked me to think of a specific scene from that period that had hurt me particularly: when the doctor told us that one of the children had brain problems, and I focused on that scene as I watched a wand that the therapist put in front of my eyes from left to right, I did not feel anything special. minute, when he stopped, he wanted to know e that I saw and how I felt. I described the scene again, but while just before the exercise, I had told her crying, there she was relieved of any emotional weight. I saw myself in front of the doctor, but serene.

We did this work on five different scenes. Each time, the same effect: first tears, tremors telling the event, then the focus, and then calm. When I came out of the session, I was exhausted but soothed. That evening, I felt progress in my attitude. After three sessions spaced a week apart, we went through all those episodes that had traumatized me. It was settled. Is it thanks to the EMDR? Is it the fact of having spoken of these painful events, which I had never done before? Or was my will to heal stronger than anything? I do not know, but what I'm sure of is the result: today, I have no more violence against my twins. I love them, as much as their older sister. "

=> Catherine, 40, iconographer

1996. The night of the Music Festival, Catherine and her friend are victims of an assault He is beaten, beaten and raped ... Four years later, Catherine's psychological expertise in the trial reveals that she has not yet recovered from this trauma. psychotherapy center of the Institute of Victimology, in Paris, where a therapist offers him the EMDR in addition to a behavioral therapy.

"Before the therapy and the EMDR, I did not live, I survived ... There were so many simple things that it had become impossible for me to go out, meet people, enter a cafe alone. In fact, I had the feeling that it was I who lived in prison, not my attackers. In my mind, that night of aggression was like a line of gray dots, dotted with a few very dark spots that I could not talk about without collapsing.The therapy allowed me to express my anxieties, but I remained "stuck" on some episodes. The EMDR "unblocked" me on that.

After each exercise, the black spot I focused on fades. It becomes less dark, less painful. As the days go by, he becomes clearer and ends up becoming gray like the others, and melting among them. It is not "magic": I always have anxieties and I continue the therapy. But the EMDR saved me an incredible time. It allowed me not to erase from my memory the most sordid memories of this night, but to "digest" them: aggression is part of my life forever, but I can tell is behind me. "

How EMDR works> Each painful event leaves a mark in the brain, which then performs a work of" digestion "allowing the emotions that accompany the memory to be deactivated.

Unless the trauma was too strong or occurred at a time when we were particularly vulnerable, in which case the images, thoughts, sounds, emotions, sensations related to the event are stored in the brain ready to reactivate the slightest reminder of the trauma EMDR aims to stimulate the natural healing process by the brain that has not worked enough, and the patient goes back into the memory of the trauma while following eyes an object that the therapist d in front of him from left to right. This eye movement "unblocks" traumatic information and reactivates the brain's natural healing system to complete its work.

(Interviewed by Anne Laure Gannac, with the collaboration of Jacques Roques, EMDR therapist.)

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