Using MRT: Recovering From Trauma

Updated: Sept 04, 2011

Young Jaycee Dugard (

This post will provide information to guide a person when using Muscle Release Testing  (Applied Kinesiology) to treat trauma.  To learn how to use MRT, go to that website for instructions. Since all emotional trauma registers as physical damage to neurons and circuits in the brain (sometimes in the spinal cord), then “mind” = body here. I will use the case of Jaycee Dugard throughout this post as an example. I will also emphasize the repair of the brain and body parts most likely to have been damaged as a result of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) that she suffered. I will also refer to the kind of nervous system damage that probably occurred in her that needs to be addressed using mind-body medicine techniques.

I will refer to a particular case in the news during the summer of 2011, that of Jaycee Dugard.  It involves the return of a little girl, now a grown woman, to her family after she had been abducted when she was 11 years old.  In 2011, an ABC Primetime Special interview of her by Diane Sawyer gave us insight into how Jaycee Dugard coped with repeated rape by her abductor, who kept her locked up in a shed in the backyard, where she delivered two children by him, without any medical attention. The world was astounded, first by her disappearance, then her discovery 18 years later, then by the details she revealed about her captivity, her hopes and dreams while growing up, and the recovery from this severe emotional trauma at the time of her interview, two years after her return, as revealed in depth by her book, A Stolen Life: A Memoir. I present information here that will increase our understanding of how to help a trauma victim recover emotionally and physically.


Abductions by strangers are much rarer than abductions by parents, usually only about 100-130 cases per year in the US, but more than 40% of situations that resemble stereotypical kidnappings end in the child’s death (The Abduction Story–NISMART). Only 4% are never found. It is known that more than 203,900 children are abducted by a family member in America each year.  The NISMART study did surveys in 1988 and 1999. It is estimated by NISMART that 58,000 children were taken in stranger abductions during 1999. Findings are summarized below:

Abducted children taken by someone they knew                              53%
Male abductors                                                                                                 75%
Victims aged 12-17                                                                                          81%
Female victims                                                                                                 65%
Abductions took place outdoors                                                              71%
Abductions took place outside of home or yard                             > 5%
Physical or sexual assault of Children abducted by strangers    77%
Duration of abduction less than 24 hr                                                   90%
Of these, child was returned alive                                                            99%

A study funded by the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in 1997 examined 600 abduction cases that fit the “kidnapping” definition. It found that the most typical child abduction murder was an eleven-year-old female from a middle class neighborhood (similar to NISMART’s findings).

Diane Sawyer Interviews Jaycee Dugard (from

Jaycee Dugard Interviewed

One thing I am struck by in this interview is the lack of expression most of the time on Jaycee’s face. She can look happy at happy thoughts, but when talking about anything to do with her ordeal, she has no facial expression.  There is only one instance where she shows a glimmer of the pain she must have felt–that was when she spoke of the day she gave birth to her first child and the feeling that now she would not be as lonely. She wiped tears from one eye just then. Most people would have been lost into sobs after saying that. One would expect that anyone having been through the pain of induced loneliness, loss of contact with the familiar, and the actions of her captor, would remember it with a lot of pain, even after extensive treatment.

She talks of not letting herself cry, because the dried tears would become sticky and itchy and her hands were cuffed so so she could not scratch the itch.  Someone who must deal with a terrorist will learn to hide their facial expressions so as not to become exploited more easily.  She also said that she cried every day at first, but at one point she just willed herself not to cry anymore. Although she does not say this in her interview, Jaycee probably had learned from the age of 11 how not to show her feelings, especially sadness, anger, anxiety, or frustration so that she could avoid being exploited by this stranger.  So now when she remembers anything that causes pain, she will not show it on her face.  However, this problem shows that she still has such strong feelings and even, possibly rage, against her captors. It is only to be expected under these circumstances.


Diane Sawyer repeatedly wonders why Jaycee did not just grab the kids and run. Jaycee has a hard time explaining why she did not do this. She suspects that she thought of it but doesn’t remember. She explains her behavior by thinking out loud what a person would consciously think about, that she felt helpless, that she was afraid of the unknown. Her captors had constantly told her it was worse outside of the fence than it was inside the fence, trying to keep her feeling like the 11 year old that was abducted.

However, the unconscious reasons are never talked about in this interview. I discuss how panic attacks affect people who suffer from different types of PTSD  (post-traumatic stress disorder) in Physiological Responses to Terror.  Sexual abuse victims share the same symptoms as rejected children. When an attack on either person occurs, the victim feels totally helpless, and will go limp, a typical parasympathetic response (the “freeze” response, see Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Faint at Striped Giraffe Press 2006). The victim feels almost paralyzed, muscles will not contract, joints relax completely. The victim cannot push the attacker away or do any other active movement away from the attacker.

Centers in the unconscious parts of the brain that are responsible for translating ideas into movement would be blocked in this case, most likely in the pons at the base of the brain.  However, there are other centers that govern motivation. Motivation here involves supplying information to the Red Nucleus which gives the final go-ahead to the pons to carry out commands that come from anywhere in the brain.

A major motivation center is the putamen, a center in the unconscious brain that is closest to the motor pathways descending from the neocortex where ideas may originate to do something. The putamen takes in all the information from the unconscious brain about physiological and emotional status and integrates it with information coming in from the hypothalamus about fight or flight status.  It is an advisory center to the frontal lobe’s decision-making center and provides the motivation necessary for the decisions made by the frontal lobes.

No doubt Jaycee’s motivation center only blocked the Red nucleus and could not give it the go-ahead.  We could expect that motivation would shut down in any long-term exposure to terror because it would not be adaptive for the brain to keep trying to find an escape if it just used up resources needed to survive in the situation.  Over time, the brain would block centers which would upset a program that allowed survival so far. In this way, the motivation to run or the command to push the attacker away might end up being blocked, leading to the strong feeling of helplessness.

Facing What Happened

When asked about how she can put such detail about what her abductors did to her into her book, Jaycee says “Why not look at it, stare it down, until it can’t scare you anymore?”. She wants to let other victims know that it should not take over their lives. Her therapist relates how she said to Jaycee that these things do not define her, they are what happened to her–to disown the awful events.

So much of how most people dealt with trauma in the past, and still do in many ways, is to try to help the victim forget as quickly as possible. Jaycee verbalizes what many in the therapy world realize now, that talking helps. However, the patient has to get to the point of being able to talk about what happened.  As I have discussed in greater detail elsewhere (see Types of PTSD) speech is most often blocked by the brain when the victim remembers what happened, so talk therapy while speech is blocked is not very helpful at all. However, the details of what happened are still stored in the memory banks and are readily recalled, not for speech, but for guiding the brain in physiological and behavioral responses to anything that shares a link with the trauma. I discuss the same topic as it relates to toxins in Finding Toxins and Repairing Tissue, and what I said there applies to emotional trauma and all physical trauma.

The main reason for even confronting the emotions in this treatment is that the patient can use Muscle Reflex/Response Testing to track down signaling of emotions by cells representing memories and concepts associated with the memory of traumatic events.  There is no reason why a cell should maintain contact with very bad emotions, e.g. depression, anger and rage.  The therapist can show the patient how to disconnect the synapses between centers representing these emotions in the amygdala and all other neurons associated with the memories.  This allows the patient to be able to confront the trauma directly without feeling such emotional pain every time. Sadness, frustration and anxiety will still be felt, but these emotions do not cause more damage to the brain.

Talking vs Writing

However, Jaycee had more difficulty talking about what had happened than to write about it. There is something about saying the words out loud, but not converting concepts into words that causes such pain.  I suspect that since concepts are stored in the unconscious brain to be closer to the centers regulating physiological responses to all events, the words associated with these concepts are not stored there, but only in the language and speech centers of the temporal lobe of the conscious brain. When we formulate words in the first stages of getting ready to speak or write about something there is a lot of signaling between the conscious and unconscious brain. Both conscious and unconscious centers involved with concepts and language are also linked to emotion centers, so emotions could theoretically be felt regardless of whether we are consciously speaking or thinking about an event or only unconsciously thinking about the event.

However, speech is different from writing, since we are activating our ears in the first process but not in the second one.  Activating the ears now sends the words back into our brain through other gateways from outside the body, as contrasted with just thinking about the words. These spoken words relay information in our voices that carries the painful emotion with it.  Such emotion is now doubled in its input into the conscious brain, making it seem almost like experiencing another traumatic event in and of itself.

A Name Makes Us a Person

Another significant aspect of her captivity is that she was stopped from using her real name.  She was not allowed to write her name in the journal she kept. When the police arrested Garrido they keep asking Jaycee what her name is and she cannot say it, but finally can write it down on a piece of paper.

A person’s name is a both a very personal thing as well as a public thing.  A person must have self-esteem to be able to even say their name out loud in public, as we have seen in the story about The Gospel Kids  (I discuss this in Special Case of Type I PTSD–Rejected Children. We all must instinctively know the importance of our own names. Thus, her captors will not allow Jaycee to say her name. We can suspect that the primary reason is to hide the fact that she is alive from any accidental ears. However, I also suspect that denial of this privilege to Jaycee deprives her of any sense of self, anonymizing her so that she becomes less likely to try to escape. Moreover, as long as she is less of a person to her captor, the easier it is to rape her.

In the case of the Gospel Kids, there were several young adults who could not even say their names out loud.  I suggest in my post on this group that many were rejected by their mothers at birth and never accepted them. In this way, they were constantly denied of “personhood” by a mother who forgot about them often, who ignored their cries for help as babies, who were attacked by a parent if they were seen or noticed by them. We saw such evidence in one young girl whose parents never knew she had joined The Gospel Kids, or came to their singing practices or performances.


When Diane Sawyer asks her repeatedly how she survived, she says that sometimes you just have to hold onto hope to survive. She talks about what she did to keep from living in the moment of terror. One of the things she did was to remember good things that happened to her in past. She was training her brain to develop workarounds.  No doubt the brain was doing the same when she “switched off” and “went some other place” when Phillip Garrido was raping her. I strongly suspect that her ability to survive those 18 years under such horrible conditions resulted from the strong bond her mother made with her. Children who were rejected have no such strong bond, and thus, never get the firm platform built in the brain that allows them to endure such abuse without apparent major emotional damage. If it took Jaycee two years to reach the point where she could be interviewed, then how long would it take for a child who had less strong of a bond with her mother? How long would it take for a child who was rejected at birth?

Ancillary Information

Phillip Garrido’s mother was interviewed by the British newspaper The Mirror.  She was very feeble and stayed in bed but lived in the same house as her son did.  She claims that Phillip had lied to her and told her that all three girls were his daughters from an earlier marriage.  She admits that she had not wanted boys when her sons were born but would have preferred having daughters. This is a very important person to interview to get information about Phillip Garrido’s childhood to see if there is a story there that could explain his psychological status. I believe that someone mentioned he suffered from schizophrenia.

We know so little about these people.  It seems almost a conspiracy of the news media to avoid details that make these people become human to us, to help us understand how they could do the things they did.  Nancy Garrido clearly comes across in this interview as one caught between a rock and a hard place.  She sympathizes with Jaycee, but is using her as well.  I suspect that Nancy could not give her husband any children, and he makes her think that he has to abduct and rape young girls because of that. It doesn’t absolve Nancy for her actions, but that information might help us gain depth in our understanding about such criminal behavior.  As possible support for my suspicion is the fact that Phillip Garrido told Jaycee that he wants her to help him make Nancy feel better by saying that Jaycee’s two daughters are Nancy’s. Knowing the motivations and backgrounds of the perpetrators might help us as a society develop methods to prevent the making of such people.  There is absolutely no evidence to support the supposition that criminals are born and not made.

Using Mind-Body Medicine for Repair

I will refer to a more personal aspect of using this technique. Most recently, after having removed most of the toxins, and have only a few small areas still releasing them, my brain started to do some basic repairs.  I speak of it as separate from myself because I was unconscious of what it was doing, even though I had monitored it doing these things before, by consciously bringing it to my attention and awareness, using MRT and mindfulness techniques and asking the right questions.

I practiced mindfulness while listening to classical music on one of my favorite radio shows, The Record Shelf, and just monitoring my stream of consciousness.  My thoughts wandered to several images from the past, from all stages of my life, but I did not know what they meant.  I also monitored the words that would enter my mind, and one was “vulnerability”. I thought about how I could not answer some of the comments on this blog right now because I knew I was feeling too vulnerable.  I also knew that my brain had dealt with this vulnerability for the past three days, almost non-stop, just from the thoughts and dreams I had during this time.  So my mind wandered to past events of enormous vulnerability.

One thought stuck in my mind and caused me to break down into tears. I had thought about how difficult it was for me to accept any compliment by anyone outside the family because I had such difficulty trusting anyone, and compliments were so rare from anyone inside my family. I then wondered if there would ever be a time when I could have this part of my brain repaired and not feel so vulnerable, and that was when I broke down in tears.  I then pursued this event, since I could not explain why I felt so strongly that I cried (mindfulness does this to you, as you discover which of the events in your past are connected to the strong emotions, and you tell the brain to disconnect them by breaking off the synapses). I discovered through images and words that passed through my mind that this feeling was also associated with something I heard in the music being played at this time. There was definitely something (the word “ominous” came to mind just as I was analyzing this thought) in that music that caused me to feel weird all over the body.  I tried to verbalize it and the word coming to mind was “ominous”, again. I was feeling as if something bad was going to happen.

Through a series of questions that I asked, using MRT, I discovered that it was associated with what happened to me as an infant. The image that came to mind was the living room floor, but that was not the problem.  Instead it was a vibration setting up in the floor. Then suddenly, using my conscious analysis of where I was at the time, my age, and what could cause that vibration, I realized what it was. I had that feeling that something bad was going to happen because that was what I felt whenever my mother went down to the basement and started up the washing machine. First thing in the morning, she would do this and then come up and put me into the baby carrier, carry me up to the bathroom, open bottles of toxin and leave me there to be exposed to some of the worst fumes that one could imagine. I learned to associate that vibration in the floor with those toxic exposures. (I discuss more about using MRT and mindfulness to find out when and what my mother did to think of using toxins to kill me in Finding Toxins and Repairing Tissue).

During this time, when I was asking questions and when this weird feeling of something ominous swept over me, I got all sorts of answers in the form of images, like a wiener dog coming up to me, tail wagging and licking my face, the sound of car door slamming, a professor I knew sitting in his chair and complimenting me for my ideas, etc. I was baffled since I had no conscious memory of these images or sounds, when I realized that these had been blocked because they, too would elicit very strong emotional responses that had to lose their synapses, as well.

They all seem minor to read about here, but they, too had associations with other memories that caused severe emotional trauma, and these memories would signal other, associated, memories as well. Because I had practiced mindfulness and visualization, along with MRT for some time before this day,  the entire process tends to become unconscious so that my conscious brain can be protected from more trauma during the process of repair.  My unconscious brain had learned how to do this by analyzing circuits that fired when I was consciously thinking about how to repair these circuits and applied it while I slept or otherwise occupying my waking thoughts. Mindfulness, MRT, visualization and other mind-body medicine techniques allows enormous learning by the unconscious brain to occur when otherwise it gets left out of the process.

Picture Credits:

Jaycee Dugard at 11

Jaycee Dugard and Diane Sawyer

Other Helpful Sites

Behavioral and Emotional Responses to Terror
Emotional Representation in the Brain

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© Copyright 2011-2016 by Martha L. Hyde and



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