Identity-oriented Psychotrauma Theory

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"Everything we need for our own healing is within us, when we are ready to take the risk"

Franz Ruppert

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What is IoPT?

Identity-oriented Psychotrauma Therapy (IoPT) is the theory and method developed by Franz Ruppert (Munich) over the past thirty years.

 

It is a sound, safe and profoundly effective way of understanding, processing and re-integrating our early trauma. It encompassess all our life experiences, from conception onwards – focusing primarily on our in utero time, birth and early childhood, as well as any further traumas we may suffer throughout our childhood, our teenage years and our adult lives.

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Based on the understanding that, in order to ensure our physical survival, our psyche splits off the experiences that would otherwise be utterly overwhelming for us, IoPT provides a secure framework to slowly build up our sense of ‘healthy self’, begin to recognize our ‘survival strategies’ and step-by-step to gradually make contact with – and feel - our frozen, unexpressed trauma emotions and physiological experiences from the earliest time in our lives.

Working experientially with your chosen ‘intention’ – either one-to-one or in a group setting - IoPT enables a gentle re-integration of body and mind. As we come closer to the truth of who we really are, rather than who we have had to be, previously entrenched physical ‘illnesses’ and ‘mental health issues’ no longer have such control over us and we become increasingly free to live the life we want for ourselves.

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"When our life energy connects with the warmth in our heart, we blossom and it gives space for our true being"

Franz Ruppert

 
 

The Theory of IoPT

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Trauma is a situation in which we feel utterly helpless and overwhelmed and believe we may die.  The fight or flight options of a high stress situation are no longer available; instead we freeze and fragment.  If I cannot say 'no' to the situation I am in (fight), and I cannot run away (flight) my only option is to dissociate from my physical, psychological & emotional reality, and to split off those traumatic experiences, in order to survive. This psychological splitting is an automatic function of the human psyche, which saves our lives. The time when we are most vulnerable to trauma is in our mother's womb, during our birth and throughout our early infancy - when we are physically helpless, and entirely dependent on our mother, in order to survive.

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When a part of us is split off, our identity is altered (see diagram on the next slide). We are no longer fully healthy: we retain a healthy part, but a traumatised part comes into being, is rendered unconscious and a surviving part guards this split. 

The traumatised part remains at the age it was when the trauma happened.  Our surviving self works to distract us from the pain of this loss.  We are no longer fully present to ourselves or others and may primarily be occupied with surviving behaviours to avoid our unconscious trauma feelings (in IoPT these are called 'Survival Strategies'). Surviving emotions such as anger, extreme optimism and even depression can also serve to distract us from our real feelings.

Surviving behaviours after a trauma include:

  • suppressing the trauma experience through somatisation - cutting off from our physical body

  • denying the trauma by siding with the perpetrator/pretending everything is fine

  • controlling ourselves and others in an effort to keep our real feelings out of consciousness

  • avoiding the trauma by distracting ourselves and keeping busy

  • compensating for lack of real feelings through substitutes such as gambling, drugs, extreme sport, alcohol and other addictive behaviours.

 

Survival behaviours can range from the more socially acceptable distractions such as watching tv, sleeping, playing sport, working hard and shopping, to the potentially destructive tendencies such as OCD, self-harm, eating disorders and even suicide.

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The Split Psyche After Trauma

When we are first conceived - when egg & sperm come together and a brand new, unique individual comes into existence - we are full of 'yes': to ourselves, our wants, our needs and all of our own innate potential. However, when our 'yes' comes up against a 'no' from the outside, we can no longer be whole, and we have to split off who we truly are, and align more with what our mother wants us to be.

As a child of a traumatised mother or traumatised bonding system, we may unconsciously bond/identify with our mother's trauma and/or survival strategies.  The fields of neuroscience and epi-genetics have now identified this phenomenon as trans-generational traumatisation. In our symbiotic need we do not discriminate and will bond with whatever is available, whether it is healthy or not.

 

Identity-oriented Psychotrauma Theory, using the Intention Method, provides tools with which we can safely, step by step, disentangle from trans-generational traumatisation.

'Opening the closed doors, behind which our traumatised parts are locked up, makes us whole again'

Franz Ruppert

 
 
 

How IoPT works:

The Intention Method

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In order to gain access to the trauma experiences and emotions that have been split off and held in our bodies, we start by formulating an 'intention' that in some way relates (consciously or unconsciously) to what we want for ourselves, or to the difficulty, question, or physical symptom we want to explore.

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Examples of an intention could be: -

Why do I get migraines?

I want a stable relationship

How can I be more me?

It is also fine to draw a picture, or use a collection of disparate words.

In a group setting, the next step is to choose one, two or three of the words (or elements, if it is a picture) from the intention, and invite members of the group to 'resonate' with them.

After an initial few moments of quiet, the 'intention-holder' (whose self-encounter this is) can then approach each 'resonator' in turn, and ask them about their experiences.

The information given will always in some way relate to the early, split-off, unconscious experiences and generational entanglements that underly the presenting difficulty or current question.

It may be necesssary during the process to bring in other, external people - mother, father etc - to clarify who is who, and to bring the focus more onto the intention-holder, and away from identification with others.

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The facilitator's job is to accompany the intention-holder during his exploration, and to use her knowledge of early trauma to support the understanding & integration of what is being shown.

The ultimate aim of the work is for the intention-holder to come into better contact with themselves, by: -

  • recognising the reality that they are traumatised

  • understanding and seeing some of the ways in which they have survived, and the ways in which those 'survival strategies' no longer serve them

  • strengthening their healthy self by allowing more of the truth of their early experiences

  • step-by-step starting to feel some of the split-off trauma emotions

During any self-encounter, the intention-holder's autonomy is paramount: you decide for yourself if you want to explore an intention, how it is worded (or drawn), how much information you want to hear from the resonators, and when it feels like enough for you.

In an individual setting, the process is the same, but instead of asking members of the group to resonate, the intention-holder will choose coloured floor markers to represent the chosen words - or elements - from the intention. Then the intention-holder can stand on each of those markers in turn, to get access to the information. Sometimes the facilitator can stand on one - or more - markers as well, depending on the intention-holder's preference.

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How does it work?
The principle of resonance

As human beings, we all have an innate ability to 'resonate' with each other. This is the primary way that all mammals connect with their young, through the limbic brain. When a person sets an intention, and invites other people to resonate with different elements of that intention, all we are really doing is opening that particular channel of communication with what is unconscious in the intention-holder's psyche. Resonating with other people's experience does not require any prior knowledge of their history, nor any form of logical understanding or 'role-play', just a willingness to be open to the information that presents itself, in the form of thoughts, feelings and body sensations.

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