Emotional Trauma and Acupuncture
Two years ago I received a patient, 45-50 years age group, that reported insomnia as the chief complaint. During interrogation, I patiently told me that insomnia originated as early as 30 years and had started with strong emotional trauma.
The patient reported that the trauma was overcome
However referring insomnia since the incident and had never been able to talk about it with friends, husband or even her shrink. By the time the patient had endured insomnia with medication prescribed by a psychiatrist. However, the diagnosis of a tumor sensitive to female hormones caused the patient to stop taking the medication and acupuncture become needed to get to sleep.
An important aspect of the empathic relationship with patients is to allow them to have all the freedom to speak only what they want. That is, the patient should not be forced to talk about something he does not want to.
However, acupuncture tends to cause in some patients an “emotional unlock”. This is a vague term and is not part of the technical terminology of TCM. I use it because it is the best way I have to describe it.
The “emotional unlock” is a very common phenomenon in patients with emotional problems like depression. In these patients, acupuncture tends to cause some physiological reactions such as trembling of the limbs, and especially emotional reactions such as crying. Who has treated patients with depression or emotional trauma has seen some of this phenomenon.
Usually, the patient feels relieved after crying caused by acupuncture. However, these patients seek to deal with their trauma. In this case that did not happen. The patient has deceived herself by saying that the trauma was overcome despite not being able to speak about the same and suffer from insomnia from its aftermath.
At the time I decided to do acupuncture and told the patient that the same phenomenon, the famous “emotional unlock” could arise. The “emotional unlock” came as both physical and emotional effects. The patient began to feel a cold body (she was always too hot) and legs trembling. Soon she began to cry a lot, something that was not too common in her.
Although I advised the patient to speak with expert help and write what she felt in a diary, she never went back to acupuncture treatment. She missed the second appointment, claiming illness and did not come to any further acupuncture treatment.
I never could get in contact with the patient again. However, I always feel I should not have done that acupuncture treatment. The question that raised in my head was whether the “emotional unlock” of acupuncture can be beneficial or not in a patient who does not want to deal with their trauma.
How far should we treat those patients? And does the reader thinks that that patient should have been treated?