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Teeth Grinding Cases

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Childhood Dissociation Teeth Grinding Case

This client came for hypnotism for teeth grinding. She said that she had been hypnotised before by someone. She didn't like it because he kept wanting to go back to her childhood in order to deal with the anxiety that was causing it. At the time she could see no reason why she should go back to childhood and refused.

She also didn't like the fact that she told him about a termination she had had when she was a teenager. She couldn't quite believe that she actually told anyone that. She said the termination was irrelevant. Even though she was from a Catholic family, God had forgiven her, and she felt okay about it. But the other hypnotist kept going on about it. She did not go back to him after the first session.

The not-so-perfect childhood

She told me that she had a normal childhood. There was no connection between her upbringing and her teeth grinding. I kept asking her about her family life, and gradually she opened up, secret by secret. She said that her mother was domineering and bullying and always finding fault. Her father was distant and reserved, an introvert. He seems to have had some kind of depressive illness. She loved her father because he never criticized her.

Her mother was clearly depressed. As we talked about her family more and more relatives were brought out who, now that she thinks about it, have got various types of anxiety illness. Growing up, she and her sisters knew there was something wrong with her mother. But like all children, they decided it was their fault.

Outcome of an unpredictable childhood

The result is that she has very low self esteem. She has a constant nagging feeling that never goes away.  In school she did badly. People thought she was on drugs all the time. At the time she felt that she was never there in her mind. She spent a lot of time unconnected to things. For long periods she felt that she was an observer of her own actions, feeling like a robot, not in charge of what she was doing and thinking. This is called derealization. It is a classic response to childhood anxiety.

In general, she is a very spiritual person. She spends a lot of time in her own unconscious mind. This may be why she feels that she so spiritual. She said that she is highly sensitive to things. Highly strung. Little things affect her. She thinks she has  ADHD. She said that until she was in her 40s she had a problem with blushing in the presence of other people.

She's a bit afraid of hypnosis. Part of this is because she is afraid that if she goes into trance she will stay in that spacey frame of mind and not be able to get out of it. When she was younger she would stay in it for months. She is also afraid that if I succeed in changing her, then she won't know who she is. She is afraid of becoming some unknown new person and maybe not liking her.

Dealing with her anxiety

She was so nervous of what change might bring, that took a long time to get her to agree to any therapy (40 minutes). She finally agreed when I said I would be with her every step of the way. And I would be there to get her 'unstuck' if she got stuck.

Because she has a generalized anxiety, there is on one memory to aim at. So I got her to focus on her feeling of something might go wrong. It took a long time for her to relax enough to accept that feeling. I was asking her if he had the feeling, but she would not answer. But she was clearly resisting having the feeling in her body. She was very afraid of going back to whatever it was from childhood that was affecting her now. But when she got the feeling it was obvious that she was having it. She began twitching and grimacing and occasionally jerking as she went into the feeling. Her mind did not like it one little bit. But she was clearly in trance. There was something happening as I was talking to her.

I was trying to lead her into getting the feeling to turn into an object. But I was getting no feedback from her at all, even though it was obvious that something was going on.

To my utter surprise, she then woke up and said to me "it's gone." She told me that I was saying that she should keep letting the feeling come out. But in her mind the feeling was actually going in, going away, going deeper.  And as it did, it was getting smaller and smaller, until it was just a pinprick. She later said that was like a black ball. She felt it go inward until it was a tiny point. After she came out of trance on her own, I eventually got her to flick the last of it away.

She actually did the entire metaphor therapy process on her own. As soon as she was aware of the fear as an object, it started to change and disappear. She told me after that she had had a feeling of dread her whole life. And she wasn't aware of it until this thing went away. And now she realizes that she doesn't feel it anymore.

 

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