This article consists of seven stories by some who have used the Van Winkle technique to eliminate or reduce anxiety, depression and other problems. The author of The Biology of Emotions claims that her method of re-directing anger towards the original perpetrator allows a person to greatly speed-up the normal process of primal or other regressive therapies.
-- John A. Speyrer, Editor, The Primal Psychotherapy Page
The pain was unbelievable. And it stayed and stayed because she didn't wash it off. Since then I have not been able to touch myself there without feeling a burning. But with all this redirecting of feelings I have been doing, last night while I was reading I touched myself, and guess what!? No burning! No pain! It was gone.
You can tell people. . . about what my mother did to me. Because I have wished for 52 years to be able to touch myself without having the burning, and last night I finally could. And I know I could because of you, Ellie, and your self-help measures."
A note from "F"
A note on venting the anger: I have found that the handicapped toilet cubicle, which has some extra space, is really useful for venting anger in private while at work. The restroom is not too busy, and I can hear people coming because access is through a keycode in the door. Sounds weird, I know, but it is "very" useful.
Ellie, I don't think I can thank you enough for your help and support. If you hadn't taught me about these self-help measures, I would have been stuck in a really miserable life, with an untimely termination. Thank you so much. I truly appreciate you and your effort to reach out and help others. Take good care of yourself."
Ellie Van Winkle's Story:
I was locked on the violent ward of a mental hospital for four years. During the next thirty years I was locked in more than twenty hospitals and given every drug know to psychiatry. I was addicted to prescription drugs. In my 60s I was re-diagnosed with major depressive disorder, then manic-depression, and had the beginnings of Alzheimers disease. I discontinued the prescription drugs by joining a 12-step program, but remained co-dependent for twelve years.
About three years after discovering the biology of emotional disorders I used the self-help measures consistently with no guidance except my own understanding of the Ďwrong neuroní concept. I became post-flood in about four months, that is, about 95% of the toxicosis that represented my repressed rage was gone, I had no more major detox crises, no major mood swings, and I identified with most of the characteristics of normal people as described by Arthur Janov.
I experienced all the emotions I was born with -- anger, sadness, and joy. Anxiety and depression were gone. The muddy basin for me lasted about a year. During this period I had intense grief, some fear, and some of my anger in current interactions was mixed with old anger, and I needed to continue to redirect it.
I also found I had to be vigilant about not suppressing anger in current interactions. After about a year, my fight or flight reaction was fully restored. I have no fear (unless I see a truck headed my way), and my anger is only about current situations -- mostly I feel angry at peopleís denial. I have no symptoms of emotional disorders. I laugh easily and my mind is at peace. My addictions have disappeared -- no cravings for stimulants and no longing for those manicky Ďhighs.í
I sometimes shed a tear, but mostly the kind of tears that come when someone who has been disabled wins the race. God had kept his promise, ďand there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.Ē
The first important realization for me was that my anger was legitimate, and I was at last given permission to express that anger, in a way that would not affect others adversely and leave me feeling bad, wrong, guilty, and worse. I consistently redirected it mentally toward my parents and other abusers. I cannot express what a relief this was. Now I understand my anger and do not see it as a fault in me. Within weeks I was able not only to access my anger, but to express it fully and in temper tantrums and rages, and direct it toward my parents safely and in privacy.
I felt alive for the first time ever. I felt joy and a sense of well-being and relief. When in the throes of rage it felt terrible, awful, but I came out the other side calm and had an amazing feeling of peace until then next rage built up. Sometimes I thought, "Oh, I still feel bad," and then I would think, well there is no anger here so I canít bang on the bed, but when I did try . . . whoosh, there it was. I was amazed at how a small low could turn out to be a full rage; how I didnít know what was there, just under the surface, wanting to come out and yet being careful not to. It makes sense if you think about how much rage would damage us if we let it out on each other all the time, but when you realize you can experience and vent your rage alone, without hurting anyone, that is a real gift.
My life is very different now. I can feel. I became post flood in about three months, that is, the major detox of repressed anger was gone, and I identified with the characteristics of post-primal, i.e. normal, as described by Arthur Janov.
Now I only feel anger occasionally, some caused by present situations, some because of what Ellie calls the muddy basin. I still feel grief, although I know it will pass. I still feel afraid now and then, and allow myself to feel it until the anger comes, which I then express by raging privately in my room on my bed. I have joy in my life for the first time. I wish you joy.
What went further than Alice Miller, Stettbacher's method, etc is that you havenít got to recall things in details (as a matter of fact, when itís repressed itís suppressed, and the memory is difficult to unfold). But you can start from the symptoms (fear, heart pounding in the chest, disproportionate anger) as soon as they appear, and wait for your body to give you the signals when some anger has to be redirected, and direct it back in general to all the people who refused to understand your standpoint and mistreated, neglected, or abused your person.
The second crucial point you wrote about concerned nutrition, with some principles to follow to help the physical recovery process. I enjoyed your reassurance as to why it is so difficult to stop taking drugs (alcohol, sugar and coffee being my three top ones) and how I could hope for getting slowly weaned as I get better. It did not fix my marriage, but it salvaged it.
I had met my husband when I was in pretty good emotional shape, and we were both sure we could be good to each other. But with all my old repressed anger and my co-dependent behaviour always interfering, living together had become totally impossible.
Back in February, 1999, we were talking about separation, and today he claims we have the best relationship we ever had! The main reason for a divorce would have been -- Ďuncontrollable outburst of violence on my part.í Iím not saying what happened was a miracle. Maybe it was Godís hand, I donít know. But today Iím more self-centered and peaceful and joyful than Iíve ever been. I had been chronically depressed for 25 years and now itís been three months that I havenít felt depressed.
When I feel sad, I know Iím sad, and when Iím low, I can feel itís a cycling phase of the detoxification process. Depression, and its overwhelming feeling of despair and powerlessness, are gone! I canít believe Iím even saying this now. Having turned round and round in circles for ten years in therapy, I cannot express how much this means to me. And most important of all, now I trust my own body and soul to know the way. This is my tribute to Ellieís work.
I, too, shut down my emotions very early, although it is unclear to me at what age this occurred (my childhood memory is not good). At some point, I even shut myself down to the point of not communicating with my family at all, never sharing anything about my life. I discussed primal therapy and the twelve step program with my therapist yesterday, and she wholeheartedly agreed that I should try your self-help measures.
Reading about the biology of emotions, and your concept of toxic neurons, it seems clear that I need to do a lot of "cleansing" in order to get my emotional life working again, and I was willing to do anything in order to achieve this. I have tried screaming and kicking and hitting inanimate objects to get out repressed anger and in order to turn depression into anger.
The results are astonishing. My depression lifts immediately. I have also come down with a case of mono, which I am pretty sure was caused by my efforts to clear out the toxins in my brain. I am currently fighting a ten-year depression caused by an early dysfunctional family environment. I had an emotionally frigid mother who created a totally superficial and shallow family environment which was devoid of intimacy. I had an abusive, critical, narcissistic, manipulative father who further poisoned my family environment.
My parents have been the primary focus of my anger so far, but I will include all my wrongdoers in this process as I proceed. Again, thank you very much for your help. It has helped me understand how I can get rid of my depression, and develop a healthy emotional response. Only a month ago, I had a major depressive episode that almost cost me my life. I was totally in despair, and believed I would never get better. I simply couldn't see a way out of my misery.
Today I know there is hope. But I also know that I would never have been able to get out of this by myself, without help. I still think there is quite a bit of anger in me, but I am having trouble getting it all out. I think I will need some kind of external stimuli (i.e. present disappointments, hurt feelings, etc.) in order to find this anger, redirect my emotions at past abusers and get it all out. About turning depression into anger: I really found that to be the most important thing.
And it is extremely effective. I can lift even a severe depression in a matter of minutes by redirecting it into anger - a LOT of anger. I can really work myself into a rage when I am depressed. I was on 225 mg of Effexor and 150 mg of Wellbutrin. It had a moderate effect on my depression, but nothing major. I had my worst suicidal attack while on Effexor, so I doubt it could count as a lifesaver in my case.
I stopped taking the medication about two months after I started doing the self-help measures. I no longer use anti-depressants, and do not have many depressive symptoms. Sometimes they return, but on average I am feeling much better. I am making good progress on my way to healing, and can identify a lot with the post-flood symptoms.
I can easily fall asleep now, something I haven't been able to do for the last two years, I have much less compulsive thoughts, have lost interest in TV violence (I get sick of it), I cry more easily - both for myself and for others, I don't feel lonely - but very isolated in an unreal world. I recently got a cold, following a week of extreme sadness and melancholy. I was not depressed, just sad.
I recently had a major setback in my progress after experiencing most of the post-flood symptoms, and it became quite clear that more work is needed. I probably am not the most methodical person doing these self-help measures, since I lead a very busy life, but it seems that it is a gradual process, and that follow-through is needed.
Cindy is 41. She did some primal therapy about three years ago and began the self-help measures in April. She wrote on another list: "I just know how I struggle to thaw out with all the help and discoveries that people like Janov, Miller, Jenson, and Van Winkle have made---and I thank God that I have come across their wisdom." And to me she wrote:
"It has already given me such a useful tool to use on a daily basis. Everytime my interaction with someone leaves me feeling like something is missing or I am not enough just as I am, I redirect that feeling towards the culprits -- my parents who instilled in me the beginnings of those feelings and spent years reinforcing just how worthless they thought me to be by their words and actions and inactions. While I know the redirecting is helpful and effective -- due to the ongoing years of neglect and abuse I am left wondering if this isn't something I will be doing for the rest of my life. I suspect so. What is your experience?"
[Ellie's response: No no, not for the rest of your life, although the muddy basin for me lasted about a year.]I am so used to feeling bad I still haven't gotten used to the usefulness of redirecting. I believe it is one of those habits I will have to teach myself. It is foreign to me. But it makes perfect sense. That is one reason your encouragement is so helpful. It is something I have never had in my life and it is motivating me to keep redirecting.
What your technique has brought to my attention is how small my world is, i.e., lots of self absorbed thoughts having to do with what others are doing or thinking as it may relate to me or have done to me or just general feelings of inadequacy and not belonging. I often feel I can never "catch up" due to my early and ongoing deprivation of love and kindness from both of my parents.
I have always had a difficult time being angry since I did so much caretaking of my parents, friends, lovers so I can see this is important for me to explore. I will continue working on it. It is subtle but I'm feeling so much better."
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