Complex Grief or PTSD – New Treatment – Mirror Neuron Network Activation

It is proposed that PTSD and abnormal grief reactions are due to mal-wired brain connections that loop painful recollections.

In phantom limb, abnormal circuit changes potentiate the pain. Some of these connections can be over-written by “mirror therapy” where a mirror is placed so that missing limb is mirrored and limb movement is registered in brain as happening in missing limb. Repeated 10 minute session could have an impact.

“Mirror” therapy is similarly used in abnormal grief and PTSD and in a couple of cases noted improvements after two session.

Explore (NY). 2017 Oct 6. pii: S1550-8307(17)30004-6. in press
Two Case Reports: Using Simulated Reattachment to Treat Persistent Complex
Bereavement Disorder and PTSD.
Rider M

For  Grief – full size head shot of deceased is taped to adjoining chair where patient is nearby. A mirror of side to do head shot reflects image of patient with deceased. This is done for 10 minutes and appears to be cathartic with patient going through various stages:
1)sadness progressing to happiness – people move legs at this stage sometimes.
2) reintegration with physical and emotional calming

– image of younger self prior to injury – when happy and “whole”

-image of poor attached parent

Now here comes the hard part – considerable empathy and cathartic reflection is used as patient goes through the stages mentioned above.  In one case a loving grandfather was remembered and patient was told to imaging him hugging her. Talking through the difficulties with poorly attached patient was done.

In one case of complex bereavement and one case of depression, anxiety and PTSD, rapid improvment was seen in 2 sessions. In second case, subject had lupus, and inflammatory markers improved.

Confusingly, the neurons recruited when observing are  called “mirror neurons” and are subject to considerable research now.

Comment –  Complex Grief and PTSD are very difficult to treat and anything that could trick on brain to stop looping traumatic events or a loss would be welcome. Would be interested in anyone trying it out.


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