As a friend of mine is given to say, "none of us gets out of this life alive." Top of mind today are the soldiers and others who are valiantly fighting for our freedom. They have chosen an endeavor where danger, crisis and trauma surround them. But in life – as in war – there are no unwounded soldiers. Our police and firefighters experience physical and psychological wounds each day. Those of us going through life in a more "ordinary" way – mothers, fathers, bankers, laborers, athletes, children – also face our share of challenges. For many of us, the scar tissue grows, but for far too many of us, the pain doesn't heal.
It is a rare individual who escapes the travails of severe trauma. Traumas can be physical or emotional. They can happen before birth, at birth, or anywhere along the way.

My own work with Brainwave Optimization™ began when I experienced trauma – four youth with a baseball bat assaulted me when I was locking a churchyard gate. For nearly a decade, I was a prisoner of PTSD: jumpy, irritable, quick to anger, headache-y, sweaty at night, hope-deprived, and sleepless. I was increasingly detached and depressed. I tried everything you can think of with very little relief. Throughout it all, I knew that the person I had become was not the real me. That's when the search for a solution began.

Nearly every one of our 35,000 clients today comes to us as a result of trauma. They ostensibly come to us for addictions, depression, anxiety or stress, sleeplessness, impaired thinking, chronic pain or concussion – but in the end, all of these are the result of a trauma - or several traumas. Many think they are abnormal or weak; some even have been told they are "crazy" – or to just get over it. When we are able to show them a picture of their brainwave patterns, there is often tremendous relief that the cause has been identified – and even more so when they understand that there's a likely solution.

When we begin to understand brain functioning, we begin to understand that not all PTSD is alike. Some of us have an escalated parasympathetic nervous system that causes us to go into a freeze response. This is because we have experienced a trauma of abandonment; a situation we could do nothing about. Perhaps in war, it was being near a buddy who was killed and not being able to do anything about it. In life, it can be emotional detachment from an alcoholic parent.

Others of us have a heightened sympathetic nervous system that causes us to go into fight-or-flight behaviors. This is because we experienced a trauma of infringement; one in which something or someone threatened or abused us to the point we wanted to fight back or run away. The majority of people with PTSD are sympathetic dominant.

Either way, the brain assumes the patterns it needs to survive - the nervous system responds and physical and emotional disruption occur as automatic responses from the brain.

I am living proof that this is a prison you can escape. But not with "outside-in" treatments like pills, alcohol, marijuana, talking about it, or physical exercises that excite the sympathetic system.

The most harmful of current "treatments" are exposure therapy or virtual reality exposure therapy. Contrary to some long-held beliefs, re-living the trauma does not make it go away. In most cases, it only serves to further embed the trauma, and hence, the destructive patterns. We see this as plain as day when we look at brainwave patterns and view the degree of functional imbalance caused by these modalities.

It's only in very recent years, that science has come to understand the brain's role on behavior. With Brainwave Optimization, we focus on the role of the brain in one's ability to regulate behaviors. It was only in 1998 that a researcher (Panskepp) connected neural structures with specific emotional systems. From there, others like Stephen Porges and Peter Sterling began to understand that it was not only those internal connections, but also how readily we were able to adjust our behavior to the situation at hand that made all the difference.

Brainwave Optimization understands what's going on inside the brain that drives certain behaviors and increase the brains resilience so it can adapt to external demands.

The only way to escape the prison is to directly and effectively address the source of the issue – your brain. According to a 2004 study by Cloitre, et al, "routine psychiatric interventions are quite ineffective in helping people manage their emotions and the best that medications generally can do is dull emotional arousal of any kind, thereby robbing people of pain and pleasure simultaneously."

Returning soldiers, veterans from prior wars, those who have been raped, abused or assaulted – or who have witnessed an assault or death – often do not want to talk about it. That's your brain protecting you; telling you not to talk about it. With Brainwave Optimization, there is no need to talk. You relax in a chair while your brain "speaks" to itself. In fact, we help you "get your head out of the way so your brain can do the work."

We have made huge steps in just the past decade in understanding the brain. It is time for us now to step out of age-old "treatments" that just don't work. New knowledge calls for radical shifts in how we heal ourselves – and ultimately, how we heal the world around us.


Peter Sterling's Principles of Allostasis
Stephen Porges' polyvagal theory

Author's Bio: 

Lee Gerdes, Founder and CEO of Brain State Technologies®, is the creator of the cutting edge technology Brainwave Optimization with Real-Time Balancing™, which is transforming lives all over the world.

As the author of Limitless You: The Infinite Possibilities of a Balanced Brain, published in 2009 by Namaste Publishing and now in soft cover, Lee's work emanates from a combination of his interests in how the brain works and its effect on mind, body, and spirit, coupled with his personal experience of trauma in the form of a violent assault in 1992.

This effort has now evolved into the neuro-technology known as Brainwave Optimization™, which is produced and distributed by Brain State Technologies®, with nearly 200 affiliate offices in 18 countries worldwide serving over 50,000 clients.

As a result of this trauma, in 2000 Lee began working with his own brain to relieve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His success in overcoming the effects of trauma led him to dedicate his life to understanding neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change itself) and how the breakthrough insights of neuroscience can be applied to improve peoples’ lives. His work is daily proof that by optimizing our brain, we can optimize our entire life, empowering us to "at last be the limitless individuals we were born to be."