Sometimes, we have to look beyond conventional diagnostic categories, to properly understand and work with our patients. Conventional diagnostic categories don’t always take fully into account all that our patients have gone through. For example, throughout my work with complex trauma victims, I see a large percentage of people with para or meta-normal capacities, such as healers, channelers, and medical intuitives. Many people who exhibit meta-normal capacities describe a history of traumatic events. These adaptations are rooted in psychobiological responses to traumatic experiences and extend into the extra-ordinary range of consciousness.
Consider this young woman who sought treatment:
Jane was raised in a Christian, charismatic, healing family and was abused by her mother. Jane made her living as a “trance healer or shaman.” When she had told her previous practitioner about her work, he told her she was delusional. She soon left treatment and it was four years before she sought another practitioner. Jane was not psychotic. She came for treatment because she had a difficult time separating her capacities and her need to take care of herself.
She explained, “I find myself responding to everyone who asks me to work with them and don’t safeguard my own needs. Every time someone asks me to help them it triggers the feelings that I am compelled to help them; it reminds me of my family. Now I see the connection to having lost the right to my needs at the same time as I left my body as a child. My work now is to stay focused on what I want. I still enter a trance, but I do it on my terms”
Jane and others who present this way are not necessarily psychotic, borderline psychotic, or even magical thinkers. They benefit from a deep understanding of the nature of trauma dissociation and its positive and negative effects on their lives. This enables us to work with them more effectively.
In my practice, I always try to look beyond conventional diagnostics and focus on the individual experience of my patients. My book Rhythms of Recovery: Trauma, Nature, and the Body will guide you through that and provide a comprehensive look at trauma, diagnosing PTSD, and finding “hidden in plain sight” symptoms.
If you are a trauma-informed health professional or mental health professional, I urge you to learn more about comprehensive approaches to trauma treatment in my CE and certification course Nutritional and Integrative Medicine for Mental Health Professionals.