EPISODES       SUBSCRIBE       REVIEWS       CONTACT

Taming the Dragons of Past Trauma

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

In this week’s series of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen go into more detail on the dragons from the past that can breathe fire on the emotional centers of the brain. Although these dragons can cause havoc in your life, when you learn how they originate and how to tame them, you can make your life so much better. This episode features the Wounded Dragons that are the result of past traumas.

For more info on Dr. Daniel Amen’s new book, “Your Brain is Always Listening”, visit https://yourbrainisalwayslistening.com/

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.

Welcome back. We are talking about dragons, and Your Brain Is Always Listening. I love this book. I think the dragons are so much fun. We’re going to talk about the wounded dragon today. But before we do, I want to read a review. This is from Family Therapist Unplugged by Quincy Rose.

“This podcast has transformed not only me personally, but also my outlook on my mental health and physical disability, which has therefore revolutionized my practice as a family therapist. I’ve realized that I can help many people view their insecurities as a strength if I can actually view my own most crippling insecurity as a strength. I’ve had three traumatic brain injuries before the age of 19, which has led to focus impairments as well as challenges walking. The Amen’s approach to understanding the function of every change or difference in our brain and body is what started the process of viewing myself and the world differently.”

I love that. And I don’t like the word disability, just FYI. I like other-abled. Because we’ve got Natalie, who is our social media coordinator, and she’s a quadriplegic. She was injured in a skiing accident when she was 15. And I think of her as anything but disabled. That girl, I think she could take over the world. I do not think of her as disabled.

Daniel Amen, MD:

She actually is taking over the world.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Let’s change that word to other-abled to if we could.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Wow. In your Brain Is Always Listening … dearly love that you pre-ordered the book. Bought it as a gift. It’s a great gift to help people know their dragons. You can go to yourbrainisalwayslistening.com, and you can find out your dragons at knowyourdragons.com. The dragons are going to be a big part of this podcast going forward. Today, we’re going to talk about another very common dragon called the wounded dragon.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Hold it up closer. Yeah, he’s cute. He’s sad though. He’s hurt.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And the wounded dragon is the trauma dragon. Its origins are if you experienced trauma. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Intense stress such as being in a fire, flood, being assaulted, being in an earthquake. I was in two earthquakes. Being bullied, being teased, being picked on. That often is the origin. I know you’ve had a couple of traumatic incidences from the assault when you were 15 where you were attacked by a guy in a suit on the way to school who sexually assaulted you. Your stepfather, who did his best to sexually molest you. And growing up with that intense stress is traumatic.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

You know, there’s something about this word trauma. I didn’t think about it. I mean, I knew for myself I hated the word trauma. It’s like … traumatized. That word is so dramatic. I’m not traumatized. And I couldn’t really acknowledge it for the longest time. And I realized that a lot of people who follow us and leave me comments feel the same way. It’s like, “Uh, that word is so dramatic.”

But really, what trauma means … I love the definition I found. One of the definitions is it’s really just any extreme situation that makes you feel like the world is unsafe. It ruins your trust in the world, or in people. It sort of shakes you to the core, and it makes you feel like you just can’t trust. And it causes these repetitive thoughts of always looking for what’s wrong, paying attention, causes anxiety. That’s really what trauma is. If we could just get past this idea of, “Well, I was traumatized.” Because it makes you feel like a victim.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, and it’s not the same as being a victim.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right?

Daniel Amen, MD:

I mean, you were a victim.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Being victimized is different for me than being a victim. I do not think of myself as a victim.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, you don’t have to own it.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Right? Too many people own being a victim.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right. Being victimized does not mean you need to live your life in [crosstalk [00:05:25]

Daniel Amen, MD:

35 years ago I wrote a course called The Sabotage Factor about all the ways we sabotage ourselves from getting what we want in life. And the number one hallmark of the sabotage factor was blaming other people for how your life is turning out. Blame is just not helpful … to see yourself as a victim. But yeah. A lot of us have experienced intense, prolonged trauma. And what triggers this dragon is any past reminder. It can be smells, sights, sounds, anniversaries. Like, my dad died in May last year. He and I used to work out every Sunday, and so every Sunday I think about him and I get sad. Now, we’ll talk more about the grief and loss dragon in a couple of weeks. But it’s anything that reminds us. And growing up when I was a teenager, I loved Cat Stevens. He’s just one of my favorite musical artists.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

We’re doing this again.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And whenever I play him, if Tana’s in earshot [crosstalk [00:06:53] I get in the shower and put him on, and she comes in the bathroom. She turns him off, yells at me-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

No. Because you know there are certain songs I cannot listen to.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Right. But I was by myself, and you just-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

But sometimes you do it just to see … like, I know he does it just to get the reaction he wants. You’re trying to give me shock therapy or something and get me through it, because I don’t hear the music with certain songs. I relive the memories. And so I hear the memories of what happened many years ago, and so it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Right. Because what was a good time for me-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Was a terrible time.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… time for you.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So, how do people react when the wounded dragon breathes fire on their emotional brain? They can relive the trauma, just like you said. They can have flashbacks, nightmares, feel numb, avoid situations, or music that reminds them of the event. They can startle easily, feel that their future is shortened, and just start watching for bad things.

Now, what’s the upside of having the wounded dragon? Well, you end up with a book like yours, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, that has a lot of great reviews. I mean, none of my books have 4.9 out of five star reviews. And you can develop something that we call post-traumatic growth where you have spiritual changes. Your life means something more to you. You see new possibilities. You appreciate life more. You begin to relate to others in a more meaningful way. And it really … I think for you, I love this kickstart greatness. When you embrace it, when you talk about it. When we first met, you weren’t talking about any of this.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I thought it was all nonsense. Psychobabble. Don’t talk to me about this. Keep the facade up. Keep the mask up. Work in a trauma unit. Deal with blood and guts, and no walkie talkies. Like, we’re not doing this. Why are you like that?

Daniel Amen, MD:

Okay.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

You kept wanting to talk about it. I was like, “Nope.”

Daniel Amen, MD:

But you kept coming back. It’s all I can say. In taming the wounded dragon, think about post-traumatic growth. How has that trauma made your life better? EMDR. Very specific treatment-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Love EMDR.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… for trauma. That stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. I have you bring up the thoughts and feelings around the trauma, and then take you back to the first time that happened just to begin to clean it up, so you’re not thinking like a four year old. That you’re thinking like an adult who is soothing the four year old. There’s a technique called havening that we have talked about … that you can learn more about. I think journaling the story of the event … and that’s what you did in The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child. And that was helpful for you, right?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And not just journaling, but actually interviewing people and making sure I had the details right. And the interesting thing was watching my family actually fight over it. That was fun. Because all of them had different recollections of how it happened. It was so interesting to see.

Daniel Amen, MD:

You do not have to be your past. You can tame the wounded dragon, and take the best part of it and move beyond.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

One thing I love about this … I’ve done all of these. Like, everything you just said, and I love them all. Once I started this journey, you started calling me a seeker. Because once I opened the door, I’m like, “All right. I’m a very intense person.” S, once I opened the door [crosstalk [00:11:03] A little bit.

Once I opened that door, I’m like, “We’re doing it. If we’re doing it, we’re doing it all.” I don’t do small baby steps. I tend to jump canyons. I’m like, “I’m going to do everything. I’m going to do everything I can get my hands on, and we’re going to just dive head first into all of this.” Once I opened it. One thing that I really love though, I like this idea of post-traumatic growth. Because I would not go back and change it if I could. And that’s an interesting thing to be able to say now. Because at one time in my life, I would have. I would have told you, “Oh my God. If I could just go back and change it all.”

I would not go back and change it. I would not want to be cured. But to be whole, to be fixed, to be mended, that’s different. Because now I feel like I’ve got so much more depth, history. Each one of those breaks, each one of those mends, each one of those repairs makes me a stronger person. It makes me a more whole person.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Make you who you are.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Makes me who I am. Makes me more able to help other people.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And for the most part, you are [crosstalk [00:12:08].

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And so for everyone listening-

Daniel Amen, MD:

I like who you are.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right. And so for everyone listening, would you really change it? Or do you just want to be healed? Do you want to be whole again?

Daniel Amen, MD:

So, what kind of movies does the wounded dragon like? Healing movies like Good Will Hunting, or A Beautiful Mind, Lion King. I love Lion King. Ray, about Ray Charles. And As Good as It Gets. And the meditations for the wounded dragon are, “I am safe in this moment. I have everything I need in this moment. That was then. This is now. I release trauma, turmoil, and grief. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

So, that’s the wounded dragon. Your Brain Is Always Listening. You can get it. Get all sorts of wonderful gifts, including six hypnosis audios with it. A special event for two hours where I answer questions from just people who pre-ordered the book on March 17th. If you’re listening to it afterwards, I’m sorry. But also a coupon for free bottle of Happy Saffron. We’ve already given away hundreds of bottles.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That’s awesome.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Which is one of my favorite supplement. Yourbrainisalwayslistening.com. Stay with us.

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.

Daniel Amen, MD:

If you’re interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.