Soma or somatic memory

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Alexander
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Soma or somatic memory

Post by Alexander » Wed Jul 13, 2016 3:23 pm

I was recently told about soma memory by a consultant clinical psychologist who specialises in trauma and psychodynamic approaches. She described the case of a person who had earlier attempted suicide by hanging. During therapy, when talking about the experience (and possibly reprocessing the memory using EMDR) she said a distinct red line appeared on the clients neck, where they had hanged themselves. She cited it as an example of soma memory.

My understanding of human memory left me a little sceptical, but in the spirit of open-mindedness I have tried to find more information about this putative memory type. I have so far been unsuccessful. Does anyone here have any more information about soma or somatic memory (in relation to physical re-manifestations of past traumas) and any references I could read to learn more about the phenomenon?

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astra
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Re: Soma or somatic memory

Post by astra » Wed Jul 13, 2016 3:39 pm

Bessel Van Der Kolk is really good on trauma and somatic memory. His book "The body keeps the score" is really interesting.
From the point of view of mindfulness, as long as you're breathing there's more right with you than wrong with you. Jon Kabat-Zinn

lingua_franca
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Re: Soma or somatic memory

Post by lingua_franca » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:20 pm

Some years ago I read about the case of some women survivors of the Cambodian genocide who had started experiencing vision problems that could not be explained medically. A doctor at an eye clinic, Gretchen van Boemel, noticed that a disproportionate number of Cambodian refugee women were being referred to her with this issue. She and a psychologist found that the women had witnessed horrific things, including the torture and murder of immediate family members, and they suspected that the sight loss was functional. To test this, they conducted a study on the efficacy of psychological interventions in improving eyesight. (Van Boemel and Rozee 1992) They don't use the term 'somatic memory', at least not to my recollection, but I think their work would make relevant reading here.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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Alexander
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Re: Soma or somatic memory

Post by Alexander » Thu Jul 14, 2016 11:10 am

Thanks both. I'll check those references out.

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