HELP FOR STRESS DISORDERS
By Eleanor Eggers, Ph.D., LP, BCB, (Senior Fellow)
A Free Course on
By Eleanor Eggers, Ph.D.
Autogenic Training has been found to be very effective for reducing and eliminating stress disorders. It was invented and developed by Johannes Schultz, M.D., in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. He and his student, collaborator, and successor Wolfgang Luthe, M.D., wrote a six-volume text titled Autogenic Therapy. It was published in 1969 and 1970. Autogenic Training is one portion of Autogenic Therapy. (The word “autogenic” means self-generated.) This text has been used widely in many parts of the world, and academics have conducted many scientific experiments with Autogenic Training. They have published numerous scholarly treatises reporting on their findings. Many articles are published in other languages as well as in English. Worldwide, it is actually used by many more people than Edmond Jacobson's Progressive Relaxation, which is better known in the United States.
I learned Autogenic Training from Wolfgang Luthe in San Francisco in 1980. He had migrated from Germany to Canada. He was a prominent member of the Biofeedback Society of America at that time. He regularly made presentations at their annual meetings. I also was a member of the Biofeedback Society of America, and I always attended their meetings. I found his talks to be especially interesting and valuable.
Since 1980 I have practiced Autogenic Training regularly, and I have taught it to many of my patients, both individually and in groups. I feel that learning Autogenic Training has been extremely valuable to me personally, and I have seen many of my patients succeed in eliminating their stress disorders through the practice of Autogenic Training.
I strongly recommend it to you as a treatment for your stress disorders and also as a way of preventing any from developing in the future. It is very powerful and very good for your health. It also has the potential of helping you become a much calmer person.
I believe that it would be well worth the small amount of time and effort it would take to learn it. If you do decide to learn it and practice it, I predict that you will enjoy it so much and find it so beneficial that you will continue to practice it indefinitely. I promise you that you will almost certainly find that Autogenic Training will become one of the very best friends you ever had.
Why does Autogenic Training work? Because we are re-balancing the autonomic nervous system by practicing Autogenic Training. The autonomic (involuntary) nervous system has two divisions, the sympathetic (active or tense) and the parasympathetic (passive or relaxed). As a reaction to all the stress we have been subjected to, we have spent too much time in the sympathetic mode and not enough time in the parasympathetic mode. As a result we have become "stuck" in the sympathetic mode. This sets up a condition of chronic low-grade tension. This constant tension is what causes the stress disorders.
The good news is that stress disorders can be eliminated. When we put the body and mind in a completely passive or inactive state (a state of deep relaxation) repeatedly over a long period of time the autonomic nervous system becomes re-balanced and resumes its normal method of operation. It is as though we were reminding it to function in the way it was designed to function in the first place. When it is functioning normally, it alternates back and forth between the sympathetic (active, tense) mode and the parasympathetic (passive, relaxed) mode. This gives the body a chance to eliminate the chronic low-grade tension which has caused the stress disorders.
After about six months of practicing Autogenic Training the stress disorders either reduce in severity or go away completely because the chronic low-grade tension has either diminished or disappeared. The improvement is automatic. The re-balancing takes place slowly and gradually.
Therefore, Autogenic Training is not a quick fix. Like all natural methods, it brings about changes very gradually. It usually takes about two months until one is able to notice an improvement in one's condition and about six months to achieve the maximum effect and eliminate the stress disorder. That time is going to go by anyway; you might as well have something to show for it.
There are numerous articles and books on the subject of Autogenic Training written for the general public. There is also a great deal of material available on the internet. However, I am not satisfied with any of them as a source for you to learn how to practice Autogenic Training. Therefore, I am making this course available to you at no charge in the hope that you will find it helpful.
A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION BEFORE WE BEGIN
Please consult your physician before beginning the practice of Autogenic Training to make sure that he (she) approves, especially if you plan to use it for the treatment of the stress component of a serious condition or one which could become serious.
Autogenic Training is meant to be a supplement to medical care by a physician. It must not be used as a replacement for medical care. Also, you must never reduce or eliminate your medicine without explicit instruction by your physician.
People who take medicine for high blood pressure or who take insulin for diabetes should monitor their blood pressure or blood sugar carefully throughout the training and report any reductions to their doctors immediately because their medications may need to be lowered accordingly. Autogenic Training tends to reduce both blood pressure and blood sugar.
A few people should not practice Autogenic Training. They are the following:
People in the above categories can safely do Minis. Minis are very brief practice periods of just a few seconds which involve quickly checking and relaxing certain critical areas of the body. I recommend that everyone practice the Minis. Adding them to your practice of Autogenic Training will increase its effectiveness and accelerate your recovery. The Minis are described in detail in the section on Relaxation Therapy.