Releasing Trauma from the Temporal Bone
In An Answer to Your Pain (pp. 5-7). Edited by Upledger Institute International, Inc., Palm Beach Gardens, FL: Upledger Productions. ISBN:978-0-9907966-4-0
My phone rang at around 11 am on November 25, 1994. Anne*, 34, an acquaintance from massage school, sounded frantic and confused. Words poured from her mouth in a torrent, but it was difficult for me to piece together what she wanted or what was happening. Eventually, I understood that she had been assaulted the previous night and needed help. I repeatedly suggested that she go to the emergency room (ER) and she repeatedly refused. She felt that she needed bodywork before she could decide what to do.
Anne was one of the calmest, most deliberate and considerate people I knew, but when she arrived that morning, she barely looked like the Anne I knew from massage school. She was unable to make eye contact or speak coherently. She was pale, shaky, confused, very jumpy and frightened. The pitch of her voice was high, her breathing was labored, and tears trailed from her eyes. She indicated that she had been beaten and she had a lump on her right temple, an inflamed left shoulder and bruises all over her head, neck and shoulders. She felt queasy when she bent over and had no appetite. Her face and eyelids were puffy, bruised and lacerated. I again suggested that she go to the ER and, again, she refused.
I spent an hour and a half working with Anne on grounding and releasing anxiety. When she finally relaxed a bit, I again suggested that she go to the ER. She finally agreed and I accompanied her to the ER and stayed with her while she gave the police report.
Four days later, I met with Anne again for a bodywork session. She complained of severe left shoulder pain, tenderness on her scalp, that her sacrum didn’t feel like it was in the right place and an inability to sleep. She still appeared pale, jumpy, confused and frightened—frankly, not much better than she had been shortly after the assault. I wondered what, if anything, I might be able to do to help her. I had become certified in massage therapy only two months before. Anne was in such a hyper-aroused state that I wondered if her pain perception was altered. I was afraid to use any deep massage techniques for fear that I would damage tissues that might already be bruised. I decided to use only the gentle 10-step protocol techniques that I had learned in CranioSacral Therapy 1 (CST1) which I had taken about one and a half years prior and hoped that doing my best would help her.
My preliminary assessment indicated that Anne’s CranioSacral Rhythm (CSR) was stuck in flexion, her sacro-iliac joints and her right temporal bone were immobile, and in general, all of her joints felt like there was thick glue or taffy holding them together and inhibiting normal movement. Her skin was pale and the muscles in her neck and shoulders were very tight.
I began the 10-step protocol, and felt like I was having some success, but not enough to relieve her pain and anxiety. When I reached the point at which I was to gently balance and mobilize Anne’s temporal bones, I took a deep breath. My CST1 teacher had explained how sensitive most people are to temporal bone dysfunctions and how it is important to maintain a very light touch especially during the procedures involving the temporal bones. I shook my hands to release any tension from them, took another deep breath to further ground myself, focused on pure loving intention of healing for the highest good, and lightly placed my hands on the skin covering Anne’s temporal bones. I allowed my awareness to gently sink into the tissues and connect with the structures. Slowly, Anne began to settle down. Her breathing became less strained and she seemed to relax. It became clear to me that her right temporal bone had been pushed in and wanted to come back out into its normal place again. I didn’t remember anything specific from CST1 about pulling a temporal bone out, so I just remained with the tissues, accompanying them into the direction of ease as I proceeded with the temporal bone release techniques. Finally, during the temporal ear pull, there was a sudden release and I swear that I heard a popping noise! Anne sat up, reached for the side of her head and asked what I had just done, because suddenly she felt so much better. Her voice had gone back to normal and her words made sense.
I briefly described the procedure and explained that I needed to finish the protocol to make sure that everything was balanced before she left the table. She relaxed and let me finish, making sure that her CSR was balanced from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet. After the session, it seemed as if her spirit had returned to her body. Unfortunately, she was a sad, angry, tired, bruised version of herself, but I could once again recognize Anne within the body before me.
I worked with Anne several other times to help her heal from this trauma, but the first session where I used CST will always stand out in my mind as exceptional. Following the 10-step protocol possessing what I considered rudimentary skills, had dramatically benefitted Anne. I am very grateful for the training that I received in CST and I continue to use CST techniques in the extensive work I do with people who have nervous system problems, who have suffered closed head injuries or trauma, who feel that their body-mind-spirit connection needs strengthening, and just as a general assessment and relaxation technique.
* Name has been changed to protect patient confidentiality