Mirror Neurons in Trauma Therapy

 

If mirror neurons are fired when we empathize with the emotions or feelings of another person, then they are also that which fires when we empathize with the emotions or feeling of our own ‘person’.

Beyond vulgarities of self-pity, the release of the idea of ‘private’ self is critical to healing trauma through the reconnection of the rejected, traumatic part within the social and interpersonal field (the great, collective neural network). This is the premise through which most talk therapy works. Forbidden stuff gets reintegrated, through shared awareness, into the conscious whole.

Many can recognize traumatic states of differing severity: they are found in those phases when the parameters of reality seem to shift and we get sucked into an inner tunnel of pain and vulnerability – shrinking our universe to survivalist proportions.

Such states narrow our consciousness and close down our sense perceptions. When another is in deep connection with us, but remains open and relaxed, then our own neurons have the possibility of firing less in the direction of existential threat (activating the sympathetic nervous system) and more out of perspectives of freedom. Just through the unfettered awareness of the non-traumatized ‘other’, healthier neural networks are able to form within the brain.

If we were able to move with empathy towards ourselves at such times (“The smaller me is suffering a traumatic state now-“), through the additional use of mirror neurons, then a new spaciousness could arise in which healing possibilities emerge through freedom of perspective. We can “take care” of ourselves, in the same way that we would care of any loved one, as we are not ultimately the form which is suffering (we have just been hard-wired to the idea of individual isolation). 

Further reading:

 

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