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Body Cells Carry Emotional Memory

                      By Boris Prilutsky

I found the theory that body cells carry emotional memories to be a true one. During my 38 years of clinical experience, numerous times I have witnessed the emotional reactions of my patients/clients to soft tissue mobilization. To more clearly explain this phenomenon, I would like to share one of my most interesting clinical experiences with you that support the theory of emotional memory being carried body cells.

Over 20 years ago, I treated one of the world-renowned boxers of the time from a shoulder injury. The right shoulder had a severe sprain/strain case with suspicion of possible rotator cuff tear. As with all such cases, after 24 hours of cold application procedures (cold application must be applied no more than 10-15 minutes and must be repeated every two hours) we started intensive massage therapy on the unaffected side in order to awake vasomotor reflex that will express by increasing blood supply to the injured extremities. I began to follow the treatment protocol for the above-mentioned purposes, starting to mobilize all groups of rotator cuff muscles layer by layer, as well as the anterior, posterior, and middle part of the deltoid muscles. As he was receiving the massage therapy, suddenly this big, tough, extremely strong man started crying, vocalizing sounds like that of a little boy. He was confused and expressed his embarrassment at breaking down in tears.

Being familiar with the theory that body cells carry emotional memory, I suggested to him to cry out whatever this emotional memory was. The sport clinical psychologist was informed of the incident. During his evaluation, this professional athlete, with the help of the psychologist, recovered a memory from his deep subconscious of an event that happened to him when he was eight years old.

Briefly, the story was that the boy's grandfather (his mother's father) once interrupted the constant fight between the boy's father and alcoholic mother; his grandfather attacked his father with a hammer. Afterward, the father was delivered in critical condition to the hospital and the grandfather was arrested. During this period of time, the little boy future boxing champion fell, off his bicycle and hurt his left shoulder. Crying, he came to his mom who was screaming into the phone, and asked her to comfort him because of the pain in his shoulder. His mother reacted in anger, and took his pleas as just whining for attention and she hit him with the phone a few times on this painful shoulder. All these years, on a subconscious level, this man carried difficult baggage of these memories of events related to losing the most important people in his life; his grandfather and father; and related to rejection by his mother. This kind of crying, emotional release tremendously helped this athlete to get rid of this subconscious trauma. This heavy emotional baggage was terribly disturbing and robbed him of a lot of happiness all these years, without him even knowing it existed. My experience has taught me that usually these emotional releases happen with people at the time when we perform massage (including deep tissue mobilization) in the inhibitory regime. Please be aware that emotional release may not be expressed by crying. Many clients may report to you that they have trouble sleeping and experience worry, or they may start shaking during the massage. Some of them will report unusual emotional sensitivity. Please explain to your clients that all above-mentioned reactions are very positive reactions and within the next few days of going through these reactions, they will feel a great deal better. Regarding the boxer whose case I presented to you, he later reported to me that he never thought that this subconscious baggage could destroy the quality and happiness of his life so much. He told me that thanks to this innocent massage therapy on the healthy shoulder, he was able to find peace within himself.

It's reasonable to assume that the memory of the emotional experience is stored somewhere in the brain - the system that is specialized in memory handling and remained inaccessible, as many other memories a human being experiencing during the life. But the shoulder cells hold the bookmark or a memory address of where the actual memories of the incident were stored in the brain. Thus by activating the shoulder cell you triggered the process of loading the content of that remote memory in the active memory, causing the aforementioned reaction.

As you can see from this episode, clinical psychology approach alone wouldn't be sufficient, because of the emotional memories carried by the cells of his body. Presently, I receive professional referrals from clinical psychologists.

Dear colleagues, I would like to encourage you to contact clinical psychologists in your neighborhoods and to offer them your services to incorporate massage therapy in their treatments. The Latin word "doctor" means educator. After being involved in many cases,at US it is clear to me that we should educate not only our clients about the power and importance of massage therapy, but also other health care practitioners.

www.medicalmassage-edu.com

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This isn't about ego at all, Gary; it's about information and misinformation for students, practitioners, and clients.

 

If you read the discussion from the beginning, you'll see that sometimes Boris says memory is carried in the cells and sometimes he says it isn't. The times when he says it isn't, he is consistent with what we know about neuroscience, and when he says it is carried in the cells, he doesn't offer any real evidence why we should put aside all we do know about neuroscience, just his say-so.

 

I, on the other hand, am saying that with what we know about Neurobiology 101, it is clear that cells do not have the neural machinery to carry memory or emotion.

 

If a client says it *feels as though* the memory is in the cells, or if Boris explicltly says that his use of the title of this post "Body Cells Carry Emotional Memory" is a metaphor, despite his arguing in other comments for it being literally true, then you can say we're all saying the same thing. I don't deny at all that it can feel that way.

 

But as long as anyone insists that it is literally true, and that we should teach that claim to students, and sell it to clients, then s/he and I are saying the opposite of the same thing.

 

If you are interested in getting in touch with things in a psychological way, go have a look at Boris' attacks on me upthread for telling about my experience, after Steve asked me explicitly to tell about my experience. You may find that explosion most interesting.

Hi Gary.


as every person most likely I do have my  ego but in my age and position it a little bit less extensive.if really to read over again my posts, one will find out that I tried to discuss the phenomena  of "body cells carry Emotional Memory"theory.


And I never contradict myself by  speculation where this memories  stored  and many times in my discussions/arguments

repeatedly said:" no one's know where  this negative emotions/memories stored" "who cares at this point where they are"

ect.in my article I also very clear about it. It just extremely important to be aware about it, and to address it otherwise these negative emotions will constantly trigger stress related phenomena such as anxieties, clinical depression which is significant  opposition for us to reach sustained results in stress management, pain management ect. My discussion was directed on phenomenon and not about where, because I know that many clinical practitioners, including  MDs facing this phenomenon daily and no one knows where they stored but of course trying to eliminate it. By my and many others practitioners, extensive clinical observations evidently shows, that if practitioner will pay attention to  body signals,such as

with   no real pain sensation client will start crying, shaking, complaining feeling cold at a time temperature at room 75°,deep inhalations, short muscular constrictions, as well will address these areas by massaging a bit more time than usual it does stimulate release of these emotions, which is extremely important in order to get results. My discussion never was about where this memories could be located. In this case who cares?

Best wishes.

Boris

Gary W Addis said:

Ah, Raven.  What you're arguing isn't any deeper than whose ego is larger.  It's gotten to the point that you folks have begun to argue over who said rather than what said.  Once again I remind that each of the combatants in this discussion is a skilled therapist interested in the care and feeding of MT clients.  Umm, with the exception of Chris, a psychologist who apparently promotes the idea that therapeutic massage can help people to get in touch with their inner selves,in a psychological way.     You ARE all saying essentially the same thing.

 

Semantics is the study of meaning. We're arguing about the deep meaning of things; there's no "mere" about it.

 

If you don't think meaning matters, of course, then I can see why you would think there is no point to this.

Hi Gary.

 

Vlad, Christopher has earned academic recognition. In psychology.  His research interest in massage therapy is in how it can interact with the emotional center of humans...psychotherapy.  Boris is essentially saying the same thing: that the mind can affect the body, and vice versa.  IOW, semantics.  Chris wants to distance his psychological approach to MT from traditional labels.  IOW, the mind can affect the body, but the body cannot affect the mind or other muscles.

 

Not at all.  I'm very interested in both directions - how the mind can affect the body, and how the body can affect the mind.  Further, I'm convinced both of those directions need to be accounted for in the study of massage therapy for anxiety, which is my main interest.

 

A question for you, Chris.  Since you seem to deny the efficacy of the energy modalities

 

I deny their mechanism, yes.

 

(I myself am...skeptical, but open to learning), what is your opinion of the marriage between massage (i.e., "tapping") and psychological counseling as taught nationwide in one-day seminars? It practitioners claim to often cure combat PTSD in  one session-- get 'em talking about their emotional issues and tap 'em in the forehead to get their attention!

 

I haven't come across that specific practice, but it sounds very much like EMDR or a variation of EMDR itself.  My first though is that I'm very skeptical of a one-day cure for PTSD; rapid and dramatic 'cures' are sometimes observed in specific cases with various disorders, but they are rare and the exception.  My second thought is that if this treatment is effective, the tapping, if that's all it is, probably has little or nothing to do with the treatment's effectiveness, just as the eye movement part of EMDR has been shown to have no effect.  Essentially, EMDR is just an ordinary variation of psychotherapy, which works, plus a detail that doesn't add or subtract from the treatment.

psychotherapy.  Boris is essentially saying the same thing: that the mind can affect the body, and vice versa.  IOW, semantics.

 

As Raven and I noted before, it would be an issue of semantics - or if you prefer, as I suspect Raven would, an issue of terminology - if that is what Boris had said all along and says.  But it isn't, and the evidence is all over this site, including the title he gave this discussion and the very first sentence of his original post.

This is a silly argument.

 

If you honestly feel that way, then why would you waste any time on it?

 

It's not silly, and the reason it isn't silly is because a misunderstanding of how the body works has repercussions for how treatment ought to be conducted, how research ought to be conducted, and for the content of educational programs.

meta-analysis combines the results of several studies that address a set of related research hypotheses.usually one doing it when planning to write research protocol.otherwise for different "purposes" meta-analysis and all statistic that coming from it,having no value.

 

Well, you certainly cleared that up.  Iron-clad reasoning there.

 

you probably didn't  born when I already participate in researches including being principal investigator

 

Right, you're old, we got it.  39 years experience.

 

definitely I do not speak for you, but hoping that for many.you said:"I'll be looking out for your class on Wolf Energy work when you advertise it on here." it does means that you even didn't bother to find out that in my post I talked about  youtube clip and not about classes.nothing wrong to talk about classes, this is what this site is for. To  exchange ideas, experiences, knowledge as well to promote CEs and other professional events.

you are very rude, and never again I would talk to you,

 

Poor Vlad, she'll be crushed I'm sure. 

Raven you said:"This isn't about ego at all, Gary; it's about information and misinformation for students, practitioners, and clients."

my article is the issues that we are arguing. Please offer /pinpoint  misinformation for students, practitioners, and clients."


otherwise just stop confusing members, and stop destructing .
Ravensara Travillian said:

This isn't about ego at all, Gary; it's about information and misinformation for students, practitioners, and clients.

 

If you read the discussion from the beginning, you'll see that sometimes Boris says memory is carried in the cells and sometimes he says it isn't. The times when he says it isn't, he is consistent with what we know about neuroscience, and when he says it is carried in the cells, he doesn't offer any real evidence why we should put aside all we do know about neuroscience, just his say-so.

 

I, on the other hand, am saying that with what we know about Neurobiology 101, it is clear that cells do not have the neural machinery to carry memory or emotion.

 

If a client says it *feels as though* the memory is in the cells, or if Boris explicltly says that his use of the title of this post "Body Cells Carry Emotional Memory" is a metaphor, despite his arguing in other comments for it being literally true, then you can say we're all saying the same thing. I don't deny at all that it can feel that way.

 

But as long as anyone insists that it is literally true, and that we should teach that claim to students, and sell it to clients, then s/he and I are saying the opposite of the same thing.

 

If you are interested in getting in touch with things in a psychological way, go have a look at Boris' attacks on me upthread for telling about my experience, after Steve asked me explicitly to tell about my experience. You may find that explosion most interesting.

Hi Ravesara,

my brain cells may not be as clever as yours, but if a fetus can become a baby, I would not bet against a cells potential to carry memory. No way.......I'll leave that to you:)

Ravensara Travillian said:

I, on the other hand, am saying that with what we know about Neurobiology 101, it is clear that cells do not have the neural machinery to carry memory or emotion.

 

 

Chrisopher - From your webpage: http://www.uwstout.edu/faculty/moyerc/index.cfm  it appears that your focus is on:  "how MT can be used as an effective treatment for reducing anxiety and depression, and how the findings from MT research can improve our understanding of the social, physiological, behavioral, and cognitive processes that influence human emotion."  Therefore, I find it curious that you as a Ph.D. in psychology (a field not generally recognized as a "hard" science) feel qualified to publicly "validate" and "invalidate" clinical massage practice protocols as well as demand that non academics meet your standards for providing bibliographical references supporting their findings and opinions.

Since you clearly feel qualified to challenge experienced clinicians working in fields in which it appears you have no professional training or experience, I wonder if you are prepared to publicly state that Candace B. Pert, Ph.D.'s book "Molecules of Emotion, The science behind mind-body medicine" C 1997, David S. Butler's book "The Sensitive Nervous System" C 2000, and "Trauma and the Body, A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy" edited by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. C 2006 don't meet your standards for reference or support the use of non-scientific language when experienced clinical massage practitioners discuss what can oftentimes be clinically significant cognitive & emotional effects of massage.

Why are you wasting time on it? egotism?

Face it, Mr Moyer, you aren't changing anyone's mind-- it's a safe bet that the majority of readers believe--are you ready?--that you are both right.  In that, by whatever methodology or labeling applied to it, the body (this includes skeletal muscle) does provide feedback that absolutely, definitely does influence the brain's input and output response to the environment--so, yes, Christopher, Boris and countless others are correct in saying that the body's cells "remember."  And, yes, Christoper, in that cells are not equipped for the storing/retrieval  of thought, you too are correct. 

Now, if your ego can take the hit, let it go.

 

After the death of his beloved wife some years ago, a psychiatrist friend of mine turned to massage for comfort; today, he is both a practicing counselor and a highly skilled LMT.  With your interest in MT, you can follow the same path and diffuse some of the criticism directed at you.  Just a thought.


Christopher A. Moyer said:

This is a silly argument.

 

If you honestly feel that way, then why would you waste any time on it?

 

It's not silly, and the reason it isn't silly is because a misunderstanding of how the body works has repercussions for how treatment ought to be conducted, how research ought to be conducted, and for the content of educational programs.


Sigh. A heartfelt sigh.  Semantics, terminology, diction, jargon, language, lingo, locution, nomenclature, onomastics, phraseology, phrasing, turn of phrase, vocabulary, wordage, verbiage, patois, vernacular-- by whatever label, both you and Raven understand precisely my meaning.  This...nitpicking over a fully understood word illustrates the  problem with your argument.  I think it's plain that readers understand Boris' meaning, even if you do not.


Christopher A. Moyer said:

psychotherapy.  Boris is essentially saying the same thing: that the mind can affect the body, and vice versa.  IOW, semantics.

 

As Raven and I noted before, it would be an issue of semantics - or if you prefer, as I suspect Raven would, an issue of terminology - if that is what Boris had said all along and says.  But it isn't, and the evidence is all over this site, including the title he gave this discussion and the very first sentence of his original post.

Noel, an eloquent and informative post.  Thanks for your input--you have said it so much better than I.

Noel Norwick said:

Chrisopher - From your webpage: http://www.uwstout.edu/faculty/moyerc/index.cfm  it appears that your focus is on:  "how MT can be used as an effective treatment for reducing anxiety and depression, and how the findings from MT research can improve our understanding of the social, physiological, behavioral, and cognitive processes that influence human emotion."  Therefore, I find it curious that you as a Ph.D. in psychology (a field not generally recognized as a "hard" science) feel qualified to publicly "validate" and "invalidate" clinical massage practice protocols as well as demand that non academics meet your standards for providing bibliographical references supporting their findings and opinions.

Since you clearly feel qualified to challenge experienced clinicians working in fields in which it appears you have no professional training or experience, I wonder if you are prepared to publicly state that Candace B. Pert, Ph.D.'s book "Molecules of Emotion, The science behind mind-body medicine" C 1997, David S. Butler's book "The Sensitive Nervous System" C 2000, and "Trauma and the Body, A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy" edited by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. C 2006 don't meet your standards for reference or support the use of non-scientific language when experienced clinical massage practitioners discuss what can oftentimes be clinically significant cognitive & emotional effects of massage.

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