(725 words – 4 minute read)
About 15 years ago I came across this new way of treating trauma and phobias. It involved tapping on certain acupuncture points to calm the nervous system and dissolve the trauma.
Sounds too good to be true but I bought the manual anyway and read enough of it to get an idea of what to do.
That evening we were having some friends over and during the conversation it came up that I had this new ‘phobia cure’.
A friend piped up “I’ve got one for you, I’m terrified of mice and I’m visiting my in-laws this week-end, and it’s a farmhouse and its got mice all over the place and I don’t know if I’ll be able to go.”
By now she was shaking and pale.
“So can you do something about it – or not?” her husband said in a friendly but sort of challenging way.
I’m on the spot now and I had to accept the challenge. Everyone was watching.
As an aside: everyone was pretty drunk and noisy. There were dogs and kids so just imagine the lunacy of doing a mind altering process in the middle of this setting…plus, the client with the phobia was drinking a beer with one hand and smoking with the other!! So…here I go.
“OK” I said, “Let’s do it.” I turned to face my mouse phobic friend.
“On a scale of one to ten, with one being perfectly happy with mice and ten totally freaked out be them – how would you rate your distress?”
“It’s a twelve” she replied in a loud but shaky voice.
“OK, and what is it about mice that makes it a twelve?”
“Its the dirty smell and the feeling of their little claws crawling all over me.”
“OK, now, for the next step, you’re going to have to put down either your beer or your cigarette as I’m going to ask you to tap on certain places on your body.”
She paused a moment to consider her options and then handed her cigarette to her husband and took a swig of beer. “OK, I’m ready.”
I had her tap about ten times on two places around her eyes, under her arm and on her collarbone. We did this routine a couple of times. It just took a minute or so and then I noticed that she had begun to relax, the color came back to her face and she was smiling.
“So how does this thing you have about mice seem to you now?” I asked.
“It’s down to a four.” She replied calmly.
“OK” I said “let’s do some more of this and get it down to a one.”
“Oh no you don’t,” she said, “I’m no longer afraid of the little buggers and when I get to the farmhouse I’ll be ready to knock them off. But I don’t want you to make me actually like them!”
She lit up another cigarette. The session was clearly over. She’d gotten what she wanted.
“Interesting” I thought, “I think we’ve got something here with this strange tapping business.”
Shortly after this they moved away and I thought that was the end of it.
But a few years ago, some ten years after this ‘party trick’, she called us.
I was out and Amy took the call and when I came home she said our friend had told her she has not been afraid of mice since that session – even likes them sometimes, and went with her granddaughter to a Mickey Mouse movie.
As a footnote to this story another mouse phobia came up a few years ago when I was working at the Behavioral Health Center. It was a quiet moment in the day, the waiting room was empty and we were hanging around the front desk. The psych nurse brought up the fact that she had a mouse phobia and could I help her?
“Of course” I said “let’s do it right now.” We traced her phobia back to a time when she was a little girl and she saw a bulldozer unearth a mouse metropolis. Seeing what seemed to her to be a million mice running around was the moment that was frozen into her mind. In a few minutes the incident became just another picture in her mind.
So if you have a mouse phobia…