During ordinary, day-to-day events, both sides of our brain process and store what we experience. However, when you have a life-threatening experience or you witness another person in such circumstances, your verbal brain can be overwhelmed and your executive function (the ability to think your way out of the trauma) fails. You can no longer organize your experience in a logical way. The parts of the brain that deal with survival take over. If you cannot fight or flee the situation you will go into the freeze. The body and brain are hardwired to help us survive. This is called the Instinctual Trauma Response (ITR).
The ITR components occur in order for almost any overwhelming or life threatening experience. Some experiences may have several components over again as the event goes on over a period of time. Many people get “stuck” in one of the aspects for an extended period of time. This is known as a “fixed state”.
ITR Components: Startle, Thwarted Fight/Flight, Freeze, Altered State of Consciousness, Automatic Obedience, and Self-Repair.
Going into the ITR affects your memory for the event. You may feel that the fragmented memory is “stuck” in the non-verbal parts of the brain, where there are no words and no sense of time. We call these fragments “mental shrapnel.” These bits and pieces of the trauma then become triggers that intrude into life at unexpected times. The result can be bewildering and can change how an individual views him/herself, others, and the world at large.
What is the Mental Health Freedom Movement?
Dr. Tinnin and Dr. Gantt always have had empowerment (self-help and prevention) as a major part of their work. They joined the Hearing Voices Movement in Europe in the ’80s and now it has grown into the Mental Health Freedom Movement worldwide. The focus is taking back control and accessibility of our mental health. The MHFM is a grassroots movement of trauma survivors and supporters rejecting the medical-model’s initial step of heavy psychotropic drugs, and the broken 50-minute-hour-once-a-week-insurance-supported business model.
ITR recognizes “voices” or “parts” are natural consequences of trauma and are easily dealt with, including the suicidal voice/part.
Drs. Tinnin and Gantt said well over 50 percent of their trauma clients had “voices” or “parts.” It was really perfectly normal and after the event is finished with Graphic Narrative™, they are easily dealt with through a task called Externalized Dialogue™.
The ITR motto has always been: “Resolve the trauma first and see what’s left.”
Instinctual Trauma Response educates a person as to what actually happens to their body and brain during an overwhelming or life-threatening experience. The ITR program allows a person to quickly, gently, and effectively resolve their lifeline of events within a few weeks. ITR is being introduced to the world and will revolutionize how we deal with traumatic stress. ITR is a leading approach for the Mental Health Freedom Movement. Psychoeducation, services, and training to any and all.