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Do You Have Trouble Managing Your Protective Reflex?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Tana opens up about the trauma she experienced as a child, and how it has shaped the way she approaches situations as an adult. Touching on some of the lessons learned in her new book “The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child,” Tana and Dr. Daniel Amen discuss the importance of having a clear voice, and what can happen if that voice is silenced.

For more information on Tana’s new book, “The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child”, visit relentlesscourage.com

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Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome back. This was actually one of the hardest times that you experienced. So we talked about being molested and your mom was a hero in that story where she believed you, she protected you, but then something happened.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah. So I felt very validated. Yeah, she tried to kill him it was very dramatic and it was, that was fairly traumatic all by itself, just the whole drama of the whole situation, but I felt validated. I mean things are complicated and I’ve spent years trying to figure it out and I think I have, but at the time I didn’t understand it. So I was working and all of a sudden we own a pet store at the time, so I was working in the store and all of a sudden he called and I hear his voice I never thought I would have to see him or hear from him again. And I hear his voice on the phone and it was like someone sucker punched me. And so [crosstalk [00:01:54]

Daniel Amen, MD:

And this is your step father who molested you?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah. And so I hear that voice that just slimy, sweet, icky voice that just triggered me and I, for the first time in my life I wasn’t timid, I was always a timid kid. I learned to hide., I learned to be quiet, I learned to stay out of the way, fly under the radar. And for the first time I felt angry and so I was really angry and I’ve just lost it. And so I yelled something, some words I shouldn’t have yelled and well, maybe I should have. Actually I don’t think I shouldn’t have, let me take that back, I yelled some words I’m not going to repeat, let me put it that way. And so I took the phone and there was this metal cage sitting next to me and I slammed the phone down on the cage intentionally to hurt his ears if you will. And I yelled for my mom to come and she came and she got mad at me. And so she comes over and she’s mad at me and she’s like be polite.

And I’m not going to be polite to him, he already tried to rape me and she’s trying to be polite. Now there were a lot of reasons that she said that, that I didn’t understand at the time all I heard and all I felt was her taking my voice away when in a situation where I was the victim. And I felt like that was just so wrong and I was so angry at her and even though we were really close, my mom and I were really close when I was growing up, that left this seed of resentment that festered for a while. It took me a while to figure that out. And I made this decision on my own that I would never let anyone take my voice again. I was not timid after that. So I went a little extreme.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Did anybody here think you were timid?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

No, and I went a little extreme the other direction, right. It took me a while to find balance because when I went from the extreme of being timid to finding my voice and not really having guidance with it, and not feeling supported in it, that caused me to lash out a lot. So I sounded this very angry teenager for a while and I was, but I could really hurt people, wasn’t my tongue was very caustic let’s put it that way. And it took me a while to learn the power of my voice, but it has the power to heal and it has the power to hurt.

And that took maturity and a lot of work because for a while, I didn’t have that. I was just like I will literally cut you down. So if you get in the way or you try to hurt me and so now with maturity, I’ve learned how to handle it differently but I can go to the dark side if someone is threatening me or my family.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Really?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah. A little bit. And so what I’ve taught my daughter or something, I would rather my daughter [crosstalk [00:04:41]

Daniel Amen, MD:

I have examples.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I would rather my daughter [Err [00:00:04]:45]on the side of saying something inappropriate when she’s in fear and not being polite and then apologizing later, if she’s wrong, than being this sweet, polite little girl and getting hurt. I will never go along with that. It’s not okay with me. So I did not raise a wall flower.

Daniel Amen, MD:

No, you didn’t. So what can people do? Because I think people probably relating to your story about when they lost their voice or they found it and they don’t have control over it. What are some of the helpful things you found?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

So, for a while I’d I hear these phrases like, Oh, she’s a bitch or she’s a scary bitch and that was someone I hear a lot. I was okay with that at the time.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, you would actually say things like that.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Thank you.

Daniel Amen, MD:

You say like-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s a bad thing.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Like it’s a bad thing.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Thank you. Because to me that felt like it had to be either, or. Either I was a bitch or I was sweet and polite. And what I came to learn is that it’s not either, or. Maybe I’m not a bitch, maybe what I am it’s a protective reflex that I just had to learn how to manage. And there’s so many people who can help you learn communication and even therapy, just working through the trauma can help you let go of the anger which can then help you to just manage how you talk to people. But it’s not that I have a problem being that when I have to be that but it’s not either, or. Your voice does have the power to heal, it does have the power to hurt and you have a responsibility with it.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And so when ever I teach assertiveness, because that’s really what you’re talking about. When you think of bold is assertiveness, is I always think of the words firm you have to say what you mean and kind, which is try to do it with a purpose to get what you want without diminishing the other person. Unless you mean to like in this situation, [crosstalk [00:07:18].

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I meant it.

Daniel Amen, MD:

You meant to [crosstalk [00:07:21] because it was a reaction to his bad behavior.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And make no mistake. I have no need to try to be kind to any pedophile. So I still would not be. Now let’s just be [crosstalk [00:07:32]

Daniel Amen, MD:

Yeah, now when we met you’re like, what one of the first things you said anyone that touches you [crosstalk [00:07:38]

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Oh no unless we want to on a date and I told you, it came up somewhat randomly. But I said, Oh no, you wanted to meet Chloe and I said, well, there’s one thing you should know. I didn’t really let her meet people when I was dating so I was going to let her meet you. And I said, there’s something you should know, if anyone ever touches my daughter I will kill them in their sleep, that’s if they’re lucky, alive and slowly if they’re not. I was very clear and you just looked at me and you were like well, that sounds rational. And I was like, what? Well, that didn’t work.

Daniel Amen, MD:

I was thinking to myself, what that? That’s connected.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Of course, you work. You’re a psychiatrist.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, we want you to find your voice. And one way to do it, is lead the relentless courage of a scared child and see how you can relate to the 30 million people in the United States that grew up in an alcoholic home. And it’s very common. There’s over 20 million people that would meet the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Okay, when you first told me that I was that’s ridiculous, but I think that’s a reflects that a lot of us use is…

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, you protect yourself by basically I wasn’t molested.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I couldn’t say the word.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Yeah. And then I asked her, I said, well, if someone did to Chloe what your stepfather did to you…

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I would rip his beating heart out of his chest and feed it to my dog.

Daniel Amen, MD:

There, you have it. relentless courage.com is where you can pre-order the book or come to our event, the free virtual, December 12th, sign up for it at tannic.com/staywithus.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

If you’re enjoying the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe. So you’ll always know when there’s a new episode and while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the Podcast.Dr. Daniel Amen:

If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a 10% discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.