Understanding How Traumatic Information is Routed and Processed in the Four Blinks Version of Flash

To do any Flash approach well, it is probably helpful to have some working theory about what is happening and how the information is being routed or processed.

This episode assumes you are familiar with the Four Blinks Version of Flash and how it is different conceptually and practically from other versions.  If you’re not familiar, check out the script.  To remind you, after developing the hardware of this approach in Steps One and Two, we identify the memory in Step Three and immediately contain the general idea of it.  We then cycle between going in and out of our calm scene in Step Four and lightly activating the next micro-slice of the memory in Step Five.  When the client can’t find any distress in the memory, we cycle through each frame of the video of the memory in Step Six.

Flash approaches have the potential to transform how we understand healing… how we make hot implicitly stored information absolutely normal memory information.  In this version of Flash, we’re trying to process the information as information, not as distress.  It’s a remarkable concept, the idea of separating difficult information from the distress inside it… and as we’ll talk about… what really makes recovery difficult isn’t always the distressful information in the memory, but our defenses against too much of that information coming into awareness at a rate or an intensity beyond our capacity to digest.

It is important to identify the specific memory that we are working on:

  • We want to confirm that it is an individual memory
  • We want to identify it, but not activate it
  • We recognize that identifying it might cause some activation (which is inevitable)
  • Which is why we pivot to the container quickly.  Identifying the memory is essential, but identifying it and containing it are part of the same process… part of the same movement.  After the “general idea” of the memory is contained, we do least two rounds in the calm scene to make sure the client can find their way into the calm scene/process (and to distract from any residual distress lingering from identifying the memory).

In this version of Flash, we never contain the whole memory after Step Three, only the microslice of it that comes up on each activation in Step Five.

Immediately after Step Three we move to the calm scene/calm process and do two thirty second rounds there with blinks every five seconds, not to actually process the memory, but to confirm that the calm scene is accessible and inducing an experience and to further pivot away from any broader activation that may started.  Again, no reprocessing of the memory happens in the first several rounds after containing the “general idea” of the memory.

After Step Four, when we check the memory in Step Five, we are micro-activating it, ready to receive the information in the memory as information, and prepared to direct it away from the body and into the container.

Important point: our goal is not to active defenses against the memory content, not to snap the mouse-trap of the amygdala.  Preparation includes an agreement with the client not to go-there-go there.  I jokingly describe this as like Catholic teen dating.  We have an agreement to kind-of, but not go there-go there.  There is distress in the memory content, but if we activate too much of the memory content then we have to also deal with our defenses against that memory content (which are often much more distressing and may play an active role in pushing a client out of their window of tolerance).  Metaphor: Imagine a prison warden who walks to a particular cell and unlocks it with a key.  He comes out and they walk, step by step, down the prison hall.  They pass prison guards, who nod at the warden.  Step by step, they can walk straight out of jail into sunshine.  Now, rewind.  Imagine the same Warden and the prisoner starts running. The defenses built into the system are activated against that.  The whole system is designed for containment.  Our goal is to walk this memory out, one directed step at a time.  We do that, in part, by activating the memory one tiny piece at a time.  If the video plays, the prisoner is running.  If other memories are connecting, the prisoner is running.  If the client is noticing distress, the prisoner is running. If the client is trying to make sense of anything, the prisoner is running.  

After we container whatever comes up in that micro-slice of the memory, we pivot to the calm scene and process.

The blinks every five seconds in the calm scene “break up” the 30 second exposure to the calm scene into six five second exposures… presenting an exposure, exposure, exposure, exposure, exposure, and exposure to the disconfirming information of the calm scene.

The information that is being fully or partially processed while we are in the calm scene is the microslice of the memory that we just put into the container.  If that microslice had a distress of 6/10 (and we’re not asking… don’t ask… but if you were to ask…), after the calm scene, it is likely to have a lower distress.  If it now has a 3/10, that 3/10 will show up in subsequent openings of the door on the memory.  In short, whatever residual is left in working memory from that microslice that we put into the container, gets put back into the room of the memory.  And if it doesn’t come up when we open the door to the memory in subsequent checks, it will come up when we walk through the video of the memory in Step Six.

So we do this lightly activate/container (Step Five) and calm/scene blinks (Step Four) cycle over and over until the client can’t find any distress from looking outside of the door of the memory.  Then in Step Six, we ask the client to walk through each frame of the memory and let me know on one hand when you find any distress on any channel and immediately container with the other. Metaphorically, now that the client has cleaned out the things that really want to jump out of the room of the memory, we now walk through the room and look under the cushions and behind the couch.  Don’t be surprised if some distressful pieces are hiding somewhere in Step Six, within a round or two in Step Four they are effortlessly metabolized.

You’re probably noticing a pattern here: Step Three, identify the memory and contain it.  Step Five, identify the microslice and contain it.  Step Six, identify any distress on any channel in any frame of the memory and immediately contain it. It’s hot potato, hot potato, hot potato, all day long in the Four Blinks Version of Flash.  Hold the distress more than a moment and we have a problem.  And what we are doing, over and over, is the client is identifying the distressing memory content (what goes into the container, goes into working memory, just a tiny bit of it).  We are identifying (in the sense that the client is seeing the content), but not attaching to the memory content.

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