When Daniel and Tana Amen first began their relationship, Tana was carrying plenty of baggage from her past experiences. Daniel suggested a unique treatment method for getting over trauma, but Tana wasn’t convinced. Yet when she finally gave in and decided to give it a try, it changed everything. In this episode of the podcast, the Amens explain what EMDR is, and how it can help you to finally leave your traumas where they belong – in the past.
For more information on Tana’s new book, “The Reluctant Courage of a Scared Child”, visit relentlesscourage.com
For info on Tana Amen’s upcoming free live virtual event, visit tanaamen.com/event
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.
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.
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Welcome back. I’m here with my beautiful wife and we’re talking about her new book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child. I am so proud of her. And in this session, we’re going to talk about trauma and the specific treatment for trauma called EMDR.
But before we do, I want to read a review, three wildly girls, “This podcast was the first podcast I started listening to and it’s changed my life and my family. My husband had severe acid reflux and allergies. He no longer has to take medicine.” Wow. “My two girls 13 and 14 are now eating healthy food as a choice not because they have to. I’m a middle-aged woman with midlife issues and I’m happy to report I run circles around women half my age.” I love that, “I’ve also learned how to love my brain, which in turn taught me how to love myself. When mom is happy, the whole family is happy.” Isn’t that true?
It’s so true, at least in my house.
Thank you so much for that. You get either the End of Mental Illness or The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, or you can have the cookbook, the brain works.
And we have to make sure we tell people that we have an event.
Oh, that’s right.
On December 12th. And you can sign up for the event at tanaamen.com /event. You can also pre-order the book and if you do, you get all sorts of gifts at relentlesscourage.com. So if you pre-order the book anywhere-
It’s over $400 worth of gifts.
… You get a lot of great free things.
But if you go to Amazon or somewhere else, you need to then go to my site and show me the receipt and then we’ll give you the gifts. If you go to relentlesscourage.com, you can just download them. Or you can go to relentlesscourage.com and actually enter your receipt number.
Yeah. Trauma, sort of the whole book is trauma.
It’s overcoming trauma.
But overcoming trauma. One of my gifts to you, I studied the EMDR and I first learned about it around 1995.
And I had an EMDR trainer who worked with us in our Northern California clinic, our first clinic, her name was Jennifer Lendl and I just loved her. And 1996, I get investigated by the California Medical Board because I’m doing imaging and it’s like, you shouldn’t be doing things outside the standard of care. For a whole year, I got investigated and I wasn’t sleeping. I was anxious. I was traumatized. And I went and did one session with, because she saw I was really upset and she’s like, “Come here.” We did one session. That one was like 30 minutes.
And I never felt anxious about the investigation again. We won the investigation, nothing bad happened. I became an expert for the California Medical Board after that. And I’m like, “Wow, this is so powerful.” That could take a ongoing traumatizing event and make me not care about it. Now I still did all the things I needed to do to win the investigation.
What did you do in the field?
But I was impressed by how much that helped me. And then I did a study on EMDR on police officers who were involved in shootings and all of them went back to work. They were all off work and it changed their brain. And so when I’m listening about the murder of your uncle, the near drowning, the molestation, the date rape.
Being attacked when I was 13.
It just reads like a horror book.
I’m like, I think this will help you. So I paid for 10 sessions of EMDR. You saw a wonderful-
She was fantastic.
… EMDR therapist. What was it like for you?
Initially I was reluctant because I’m like, I’m not going to go in and have some shrink, having me bang my head against the wall, talking about my problems for three years and telling me how screwed up my mom is. I’m not doing it. So I was very reluctant. I didn’t really understand what EMDR was.
She was hogged in therapy.
I wasn’t into psychobabble. I didn’t like walkie-talkies when I was working, I wanted them intubated and sedated, like make no mistake about it, I didn’t want to talk about problems. So that was me.
How did we get together?
I know, right. I almost canceled my first date with you, but that’s how I’d survived. I had survived by not being a victim, by not talking about it as a problem but doesn’t mean I was thriving, it just means I was surviving. But I finally, after the Byron Katie event, I went, “You know, maybe there’s a chance that life is better than this.” It just opened up that possibility. Maybe there’s a chance that life is better than it is, that I don’t have to hide so much and I don’t have to pretend so much. And so it’s like the fake it til you make it, I thought that was normal. And so I remember going in and I thought, “Well, I’ll go try it once. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to go back.”
And I went and she was so cool. Number one, my therapist was so cool. I loved her. She just completely was identified with me. She was really good at gaining rapport. So I really loved her. She herself had, had well, actively had cancer. I just really loved her, but I didn’t realize EMDR is sort of like, it’s not really a shortcut, I don’t want to call it a shortcut. It’s not a shortcut, but you don’t need to go on and on and on and on for a long period of time, you quickly cut to the chase with EMDR. You get to the core of the trauma really quickly. And I still wasn’t even sure I felt about this word trauma. But she’d asked certain questions and then she does the eye movement thing, which I’m like, “How the hell is this going to work?”
You can learn more about EMDR at emdria.org, EMDR International Association.org.
And I write about it in a number of my books and it’s just so powerful.
Yeah. But no one is more skeptical than I am about stuff like this. I’m very skeptical.
Which you now promote all the time. Just saying.
Because it works. She is doing this eye thing and all of a sudden these weird, random thoughts are popping up in my head. Like weird, random thoughts are popping up in my head. And she’s like, “How do you feel about this now?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. Weird thoughts are coming to my head.” She’s like, “Nothing is random. So tell me what it is.” All of a sudden it’s like this sweater unraveling and things I thought that were normal when I was growing up, all of a sudden I’m like, I don’t even know how to explain it. They began to connect. It’s like putting a puzzle together, but then you can see the whole picture and it no longer doesn’t make sense. Does that make sense? All of a sudden the whole picture just comes together and you’re like, “Oh.” It’s not this weird random pieces of puzzle pieces anymore.
And so your behaviors began to make sense. And the eye movement actually is common, the limbic or emotional structures in your brain and so you begin to take away the emotional charge of those earlier events.
But I will say this, what happened for me was, I don’t know if this happens for everybody and maybe it’s because I had had a number of traumatic events, even though that was hard for me to like-
There were hundreds of them.
I don’t know about hundreds but-
No. When you grow up with screaming and gunshots and people breaking into the house and your mom not coming home night after night after night, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of these kinds of events.
But I think I survived. And I know people watching, I know because I’m getting the messages, and I keep hearing my life was your life. So I know that there’s a lot of people who go through that and I started telling myself it was normal. I started telling myself that was normal. When I started to all of a sudden realize, “Oh wait, maybe that wasn’t so normal.” That was hard. And that’s when, rather than getting better right away, it was like, I almost had to acknowledge that it wasn’t normal. Do a little bit of backtracking. It got worse before it got better. And I started unraveling all of those events, almost one by one, if that makes sense.
And I found myself feeling angry before I felt better. People that I thought that I was close to, I’m like, “That wasn’t normal. That wasn’t okay what happened?” I found myself getting angry, like the child that should have reacted that way, that didn’t, that couldn’t, all of a sudden was angry. And then I came full circle and I was able to let it go. For me, I don’t know if that’s normal for everybody.
It’s very normal. And your mom who, when you and I first met, you had idolized-
Because she was tough.
… That took a dip.
It did. It took a dip. It was hard.
When you realized that some of the things she did, she was doing them often for her attempted survival, but they were clearly not good for a child.
And she was a young mom. Writing my story helped me understand the whole perspective, but it got worse before it got better.
It does that. It actually can help you put childhood wounds into an adult perspective and you can have your adult self go back and almost reparent the child in you.
Right. That’s kind of what happened. And so I want to hear from-
Which made you a better mother.
That was one of my reasons for doing it. One of my big motivations for doing it was I wanted to parent my daughter from a healthy place. And I knew I wasn’t going to, I was going to be doing it from this fake place. In fact, I have a story about my daughter walking down the mall with me and she stopped and looked at me and she goes, “Mommy, people look at you funny,” and I go, “What do you mean?” She goes, “They look at you like you’re shiny.” And I was like, Oh my gosh, what she was seeing was my facade. And if my toddler could see this, I was so worried that she was going to grow up thinking that was normal.
No. people look at you because you’re beautiful.
That’s not how I saw it.
We were in Venice on a [crosstalk [00:11:35].
Okay. No. Stop, stop. Don’t want you telling that.
And people would go-
… “oh, American Barbie.” That’s why people look at you.
That’s not important, but that’s not what I wanted.
Because you’re stunning.
I didn’t want her growing up thinking she had to have makeup all the time or hair done on all the time, that if she wanted be in sweats and no makeup, that was fine. I wanted her to value herself for more than her physical appearance, because I knew how painful it was when you lose that. I felt like she was seeing the facade. And so whether that’s what it was or not, it told me that I needed to change something.
All right. When we come back.
But before we come back, I want to hear from you. Your messages have been just so encouraging to me. This was a very scary journey for me to take. It was a painful journey for me to take. But hearing from you about your things that you went through growing up, that you’ve been afraid to talk about up until now, that you haven’t shared or that maybe you’re finding the courage to finally share, I want to hear from you please. So tag me.
Yeah. So did you learn anything? Please write it down, take a picture of it, hashtag Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. Also, leave us a comment question or review at brainwarriorswaypodcast.com and we’ll enter you in to a draw and to win one of our books. Stay with us.
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