A Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapeutic Treatment of Dystonia Symptoms

In this step: CHANGE 
What You Know About Your Subconscious Mind

Step Two

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 Routinely, your mind issues commands to the body to perform certain actions and your body promptly obeys; for example, you may feel the need  to make a fist and your hand will immediately make a fist.

 One remarkable aspect of this is that, in most cases, the time between the idea to make a fist and your hand actually making a fist is almost too short to measure; we are talking about far, far less that a second.

 In fact, your mind doesn't even formulate (put into thoughts or words) the idea of making a fist, because this type of conscious thinking is not necessary; the action happens largely below your conscious level.

 Does this mean that you are not in charge of what's happening? No, it doesn't mean that: you continue to be the master of your actions  .

 What is true is that many if not most of your daily actions are handled subconsciously, relying on learning, muscle memory, habit, and automatic responses. Once you learn how to drive or ride a bicycle, you no longer need to think about every aspect of driving  or riding; your body learns, and your mind is free to focus on other things  .

 Dystonia, i.e. tremors, spasms, shaking, jerkiness, locking, etc. may lead you to believe that these movements are involuntary and entirely out of your control; and you'd be right... almost.

 Try to stop a tremor by issuing the conscious command, "stop shaking!" to your hand--and you won't be able to make it stop; the body no longer obeys your mind!  This is perhaps the most frustrating experience for dystonia sufferers.

 In fact, there is something else going on: your mind is and continues to be fully in charge of your body; you are in charge of what's happening; you're in charge of dystonia.

 How?  At the subconscious level, your mind responds to a stressor (see step 1) in an automatic way (this is the stress reaction).

 Almost immediately, your subconscious mind causes a release of adrenal and cortisol hormones into your bloodstream; almost immediately, the hormonal release causes your dystonia symptoms.

 By the time this happens, it is too late for your conscious mind to do anything about it, and your conscious attempts at stopping the motion or reactivating the muscles will not work. In dystonia sufferers, when the stress reaction has occurred, any effort by the conscious mind to modify a dystonic movement or a dystonic lock will not succeed.

 Do the following experiment to mimic what's happening at the subconscious level: focus on the part of your body that is showing a dystonic movement or is locked; try your best to make it stop or release; this will cause your stress level to go up (i.e. more adrenaline and cortisol in your blood stream) because you're now stressing about not being able to control what's happening. It is likely that your tremor, spasm or lock will not get better and in fact it may get temporarily worse.

 Trying to intentionally eliminate dystonia symptoms only makes them worse; this is because your body is now driven by your emotions, i.e., by your subconscious, not by your conscious, rational mind.

  Train your subconscious. Learn to think and feel differently.  See stress-reducing thoughts and concepts. 

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