Welcome back to the Healing Pain Podcast with Dr. Meg Haworth, PhD
Suffering from chronic pain can be challenging. It makes you feel powerless either because you’re unable to heal your body or can’t find a way to get the pain to stop. As a result, you feel victimized by the pain. Helping you overcome the effects of victimization is transpersonal psychologist, Dr. Meg Haworth, PhD. Learn how the emotions affect the illness and how to release them through the mind. Familiarize the simple mind-body medicine tools for resetting yourself when you encounter some triggers. Find out how proper nutrition supports the body to heal itself, accelerating the emotional, mental, and spiritual work. Ultimately, take control of your condition as you begin to feel better and move your health to the next level.
Our topic is going to be one that’s very new for people and for others, it’s going to be one that hits home hard. If you’re someone who has lived with chronic pain for years or perhaps even decades, one of the most challenging things about living with chronic pain can be the powerlessness that you feel because you’re unable to heal your body or find a way to stop the constant or persistent pain. When this occurs, you may feel victimized by your condition, by the pharmaceutical drugs that you’ve been prescribed, the invasive procedures that you have placed your trust, or the other practitioners that currently, we don’t have a whole lot of good research that these invasive procedures work for chronic pain.
Perhaps the most common one that I hear from people with pain is being caught in this trap of the impersonal nature of our healthcare system and the institutions that those chronic pain are forced to negotiate. Joining us now to talk about overcoming the effects of victimization is transpersonal psychologist, Meg Haworth. Meg is a survivor of sexual, physical and emotional abuse as a child and later went on to study transpersonal psychology where she received her PhD and helps people with trauma and other types of chronic health conditions.
In this episode, you will learn how emotions tell the illness story in the body and how to release them through the body and mind, how to use simple mind-body medicine tools for resetting yourself when you become triggered by something that’s unpleasant, how proper nutrition supports the body to heal itself and can accelerate the emotional, mental and spiritual work that’s oftentimes necessary, and what you can do now to begin to feel better and take your health to the next level. To help accompany you through the topic of this episode, Meg has provided a great free PDF download called The Ten Steps to Overcoming the Effects of Victimization. To access this free PDF, all you have to do is go to the www.DrJoeTatta.com/106Download. You can also text the word 106Download to the number 44222. Go ahead and take the opportunity now to download that free guide that will help you with this episode. Let’s begin with Meg Haworth.
Overcoming The Effects Of Victimization In Pain Management with Dr. Meg Haworth, PhD
Meg, welcome to the podcast. It’s great to have you here.
Dr. Joe, it’s great to be here with you. Thanks for the invite.
I’m excited to talk to you about this topic. It’s one we have not covered on the podcast. We’ve covered a lot of different topics, but the one with victimization is something I know that you spend a lot of time on and you’re an expert on. It’s not talked about much in the healthcare world outside of some of the things that you do. First, take me a little bit on your journey to how you arrived where you are now.
It’s a long story, but I’ll keep it short. I, myself went through victimization as a child. I was sexually abused by several different people. I drowned when I was two. I had an overall difficult childhood experience. By the time I was in my twenties, I ended up with ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, headaches, I can’t open my jaw for weeks at a time. I had scoliosis in my upper back and I got these horrible muscle spasms. I was on painkillers and muscle relaxers on a regular basis. I was told to go to bed and sleep it off. I was depressed and had a chronic low-grade depression. I was on Wellbutrin for two years for that. I had started in therapy young at about fifteen. I took my first psych class I was fifteen and I fell mad for psychology. I was like, “That’s what I’m going to do.”
It’s been part of my lifelong journey. What I did though, after going through all of those illnesses, I finally took my healing into own hands and started going to a chiropractor. She sent me to a nutritionist and she told me to do yoga. I did all kinds of things to help myself get well after going the Western medical route for quite some time, getting more and more diagnosis and getting worse and worse. Eventually, I went back to eating the old way I was eating, and I ended up with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Then a few years later, I was struck by lightning and that was a very intense experience where I had a whole other thing to heal at that point. Then I had brain damage, damage to the disc in my lower back, damage to the muscles and the nervous system. You think about being a victim, that’s been my story over and over again.
Turning it around has been also a huge part of my life story, how I did it and how I’ve helped others along the way for the last twenty years to turn around their victim story and to step outside of the victimhood. We briefly discussed that there’s a difference between victim mentality and being victimized. Not everybody who was victimized is caught up in victim mentality, but usually, they are to a certain degree and maybe aren’t even aware of it. Some people get a little offended when they hear victim mentality like, “I don’t see myself as a victim. I want to get well, I want to get better,” so that’s a basic.
How would you define someone as being a victim? What does a victim behavior look like?
Somebody who’s in victim mentality is somebody who is constantly in the, “Woe is me, poor me,” frame of mind. Some people think of that or talk about that as being an emotional vampire where you feel drained after you are around them. Some people are in that space all the time or maybe we were victims as children to some sort of abuse and then later they’re a victim to a disease that came about that’s connected to that. It’s connected to that through the thought processes that the person has been spinning in for years and years and the good news is that that can be undone.
If we had to talk about victimization, how would you articulate that for people?
Victimization is people who have been victims of things, victims of violent crime, victims of sexual abuse or rape. Sometimes they feel victimized by a social system, a church, or a school. There are different ways that people become bullying victims. That’s the thing that’s topical these days.
As we may be on the tail end or not on the tail end of the #MeToo Movement, how important is this to people who have been obviously sexually abused, physically abused as oftentimes victimization is not a diagnosis? No one’s going to say, “Here is an ICD nine code or CPT code to treat this.” It’s something that is a lot more intangible for both practitioners and those who are obviously being victimized.
About the #MeToo Movement, it’s been powerful for women and men to stand up and say, “This happened to me,” and for us to all collectively see how prevalent this issue is. It’s gotten people to think about, “How am I treating other people?” That’s a good examination for us to have. There have been a lot of criticisms about it as well, but everything that becomes a movement has criticisms attached to it.
In your own journey, which sounds like it was very integrated, you started to do a lot of different types of treatments, different types of interventions. Which ones would you say were the most profound for you?
The absolute most profound one was transpersonal psychology. It’s why I ended up acquiring my PhD in that subject because it looked at me as an entire person, mind, body, soul, and integrated those parts of the self together. Whereas even though psychology helped me so much, I had some of the best therapists you can find and it was fantastic, but I felt like it got me to a point where I was feeling so much better and doing well that I thought like I’d hit a ball. I knew there was something more out there. Then when I started to discover transpersonal, that’s when things opened up to an even higher level that I knew was available to me.
What distinction do you make between traditional psychology or psychotherapy versus transpersonal psychology? People are familiar with what psychotherapy is. Transpersonal psychology is something that’s relatively new. There are not a lot of programs around the country where you can study it and it’s still not necessarily recognized by the entire psychological community as an evidence-based intervention.
It’s been around for maybe 60 years. I’m one of a handful of PhDs in the subject around the world and it’s a pioneering field truly. It boils down to the study of consciousness and raising conscious awareness through shifting our perceptions, through inviting the soul to be a part of the journey, so it starts to sound religious. Then that crosses the boundary and then a lot of people are uncomfortable with it. I was uncomfortable with it at first. I was like, “No.” I had religious wounds on top of all of the other things that I had gone through. The difference between traditional psychotherapy is psychology looks at your personality. It’s your mental and emotional self. It looks at pathology and treatments of disorders. It’s saying, “This is the pathology. Perhaps it’s bipolar disorder and here’s how we treat the disorder,” and that’s very valuable and very useful.
Transpersonal can be used as an adjunct to that type of therapy or when a person feels complete with their therapy or they feel stabilized. It could be something that if they feel compelled to go towards it, it could help them get to the next level. Transpersonal looks at what’s great about you. Whether your skills, your talents, your abilities, what are the best parts of who you are because those things get buried. We get into living a life that we’re expected to live, that our parents tell us to live, and that our institutions tell us to live. We don’t feel right inside of those occupations that we stepped into or those things that we feel like we should be doing. That there’s a rightness and looking at, “What are the things that I’ve always loved and enjoyed and I had been putting on the back burner because it’s not going to make me any money?” or people are going to look at me like, ‘What’s wrong with her?”‘ It’s bringing those things to the forefront, so it helps people answer big questions like, “Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the purpose of my life? How can I collect these great parts of me and live them in the world?” It doesn’t mean you’re going to do it as a job, but just to even have it as a hobby. A lot of people push them all away.
Is there a certain amount of sessions or visits or weeks that someone would sign up for when they start to explore this idea of transpersonal psychology? Is it more that each of us have our own exploration that we have to go through in life and oftentimes when we’re confronted with something like chronic pain or chronic disease, there’s a path there that we start to open up to?
It’s a very individualized type of therapy that it’s based on where the person is and what they need. Not everybody is ready. I’ve turned a lot of people away and say they need to do more work with traditional psychotherapy before you’re ready for this. A lot of people are called to do it. I do offer packages of sessions. I do have specific things that I help people go through, but because it’s so driven by the subconscious mind of the person, that’s where we’re working and it’s in the deep subconscious parts of the self, specifically with the emotions. I don’t think of negative emotions as negative anymore. I think of them as teaching emotions.
They’re here to teach us something about who we are, but we’re busy numbing them or running away from them, not wanting to sit with them and hear them. This type of therapy that I do gives the client the space to be able to get to know these parts of the self and to see how they’ve been operating, where they’ve been believing where they’re located in the body then helping to release them from the physical body. The cool part comes afterwards when their emotional triggers lessen and disappear and they become lighter and freer.
What might a first visit look like for someone who signs up for a transpersonal psychology session with you?
I’m glad you asked that question because this is an important distinction to make. I work a lot with sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse survivors or people who had a tremendous or not even a tremendous amount, it could be a small amount of family dysfunction that they know is connected to their daily life. Looking at what’s happening in the here and now, they don’t necessarily have to go back to talk and tell me all about their traumas and we don’t have to get into that space of reliving it. That’s why a lot of people are afraid to go. It’s hard enough to deal with it. They’re trying to keep it at bay and they know they have all these issues that are going on around it.
We look at the here and now and what is happening in your daily life. The first session might look like somebody would come to me with, “I’m feeling disconnected from my life. I don’t feel happy, I feel depressed all the time. I feel like my life has lost its meaning and purpose,” so we then start looking at what’s happening? What are the emotions? Then we start working with those and start to shift those and change those. Within a few sessions, sometimes one session, people make huge strides because it’s unleashing the stuff underneath the surface way down deep that we often don’t address. We don’t understand how much it’s running the show in many cases, not every case.
It’s initially in the approach you took about how you don’t look at negative emotions as negative anymore, that they hold a different weight. Is that more of helping someone open up to the fact they’re there and not to avoid them or that the negative emotion is somewhat of a different sign or signal or something else that’s happening in the body?
It is part of a sign or signal of something happening in the body. We do look at where it is in the body. We always find that when they get into that emotional state, let’s say they get into anger, they can feel their stomach is tightening up. I’ll ask them to describe the sensation going on. It’s like, “There are shooting pains in my stomach. It’s tight.” They’ll get to see from the beginning of the session to the end of the session that that tightness disappears as they speak to that part of the self that is stuck. We can all relate to feeling stuck in an emotional pattern. We see ourselves doing the same thing over and over again, “Why do I keep doing this thing and having the same result?”
This is more of a general question. If I ask you, “What are the keys for someone to heal from a chronic illness or a chronic pain?” What would you say they are?
The key that I’ve seen over and over again is the first step in the ten steps to overcoming victimization. It is to take your healing into your own hands. I don’t mean to discount what your practitioners are saying at all. It’s that we often discount what’s going on inside of our own bodies. We often discount the messages that we’re getting intuitively that are telling us, “This doesn’t feel right for me. I feel like there’s something else that might be helpful for me.” It’s about getting in touch with that part of the self and saying, “I want to look at other things out there. Not everything’s going to resonate with me and that’s okay,” but opening up to looking into the possibility that there are ten other things that could be helping you along with this therapy. Maybe that therapy is not the right thing for you. You’ve exhausted that avenue.
Not to confuse it with mindset because some people can say, “This sounds like a little bit of a mindset. I have to develop a new mindset.” I’m not a big fan of the word mindset. It’s not very descriptive and it’s not very objective, so it falls in the middle. Why is mindset not enough to help someone who’s been through abuse or trauma?
I think about this all the time because you can’t just change your mind when you’ve been through a trauma that deep and that scarring. You have to change something much deeper than just the way you’re thinking. One of the best ways I’ve ever heard it under or described was up by one of my mentors I studied with, Caroline Myss. She talks about energy and the way she talks about it is calling your energy back from these experiences. It’s a big part of what the work that I can do with people does, is it helps them bring energy back into themselves. Another way to look at it is there’s an old program running in there. We delete this old program and then we bring in a new energy. At the end of every technique I do with people, we’re bringing in joy, happiness, love, confidence, or those things that they feel like are missing and it makes a huge difference. I sometimes think of it as instead of a mindset, I think of it as soulset.
It’s something so much deeper than your mind can handle. You can’t change your mind until you have the energy available to you to be able to make a different choice. Addiction is one of those places where we see people in that space of not being able to make a choice. They don’t have enough energy available to them in the present moment because so much of it is trailed back to, “I was sexually abused as a child and my energy is still stuck there.” I know I was one of them. I was pushing it away. You can’t think your way out of those traumas.
I know you do work with nutrition. You and I both know that nutrition is super important, but in this wave of functional medicine that we’ve created which has helped thousands of people and vitally important, sometimes people get stuck in, “The way I’m going to fix this is diet and supplements,” and they’re clinging and grabbing to all different types of diets. They have a bag of supplements that is as big as a house basically. They have tried every vitamin, mineral and all sorts of different things. How do you start to open up the conversation with someone that there’s more than just nutrition that’s going to help them with healing?
Your biology is being helped tremendously by real food and by certain supplementation. It has to be very specific to the individual and that’s part of the problem as if there’s that shot in the dark like, “I’ll take this, take that, and take this other thing,” that you have seen. I was one of those people where I had a whole cabinet full of them. I’m down to maybe two. You’ve gotten your biology to a point where it’s supported now. It’s going deeper into your biology by looking at your emotional and mental makeup and then bringing in the spiritual or the energetic component. Your energy is what animates you.
The only thing you can’t live without is your energy because once you pass, your energy is gone or your soul, spirit or however you’d like to look at it. I have that conversation. The subconscious mind is holding so much more than you could possibly know or understand. I’m sure a lot of people have seen that the iceberg drawing, where there’s the tip of the iceberg and that’s the amount of what you know consciously to be going on. Then the rest of the iceberg is submerged and that’s what we work with is the submerged iceberg. What’s in that thing? What got stuck in the ice and how can we chisel it out of there?
Can you share with us a case study of someone you work with that was able to overcome this victimization and the trauma that they had in their life where they’ve tried everything, but this was the one thing that helped them break that wall down?
I had a client with fibromyalgia. There are major links between childhood sexual abuse, particularly in fibromyalgia. It’s well-documented in the medical communities now. She had been sexually abused by a parent and was afraid to go to sleep at night because she might get pulled out of bed. She had all of these things and she never put two and two together that the trauma could have been associated with all of the illnesses she had with fibromyalgia. She had severe stomach problems. She’d done everything she could from changing her diet. She eliminated all the allergen foods, gluten, dairy, and all of those things, but was still spinning in anxiety, fear, sadness and grief. The archetype of the inner child which I worked with extensively, she was stuck. That part of herself was stuck in the trauma. Helping her release that, going into the unconscious mind and releasing that is what released her so that her body healed. Doing all those things together, that’s a holistic healing, supporting the mind, the body and the soul.
You must rely on the ACE study a lot when you do your work, assess people and evaluate them.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, I’m certainly not an expert on the study itself, but I do use it because it’s the largest public health study ever done that most people don’t know about. It was done in San Diego at Kaiser Permanente. The two doctors, the author of the study, Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Robert Anda started with an obesity clinic. Fast forward, they eventually started to realize that their patients, they would get to a certain point where they’d lose 100 pounds. We’re talking about morbidly obese people. They would get to a point where they would quit the program because there was a sexual abuse history under there. They were trying to pack themselves emotionally and they were emotionally eating, trying to keep themselves from being a sexual being, from being looked at as sexy, attractive, or dateable. They wanted to remain undateable because they were so afraid to grow into that part of themselves.
The genesis was in that and they started to notice. They started to question people through Kaiser Permanente that asking them specific questions about their upbringing, covering three different types of abuse, that’s emotional, physical and sexual abuse as children and in five different types of family dysfunction like divorce, abandonment of a parent, alcoholism of the parent, mental illness in a parent. All of these things that a lot of people have been through like emotional abuse from a parent and constant criticism. They created the ACE quiz, which is a ten-question quiz, simple take yes or no answers. They created the quiz that when you get your ACE score, they found that people with a score of four or above were far more likely to decades later develop cancer, autoimmune diseases, lung diseases were significantly connected to the adverse childhood experiences. Stomach issues, IBS, fibromyalgia, all of these things that we’ve mentioned and most of them I’ve had personally.
Meg, I wonder if you can give us your three most powerful tips of advice for people who are overcoming trauma victimization.
When you’re in the middle of going through the experience, the darkness is unbelievable, especially these childhood traumas that are so deeply rooted in abuse. Begin to learn to pay attention to your body’s signals and what you’re feeling and thinking at the time and what you’re eating. Starting to bring that awareness is extremely important. Most of us dissociate. We’re disconnected from our physical bodies. We basically left them to survive the experience. Starting to get in touch with your body is important. Taking your healing into your own hands and looking into other things that might be helpful to you through your journey is super important. One of the most important things that I’ve talked about too is your power of choice is the most important power you’ve got available to you.
Every moment is another opportunity to make a different choice. That choice can seem simple right now, just pick up the phone and call a friend who’s been raving about her chiropractor. It’s like, “I’ve got muscle spasms in my neck,” and it could be that simple. Step out there and share with somebody, anybody that you trust and feel safe to talk to. It’s a one step at a time thing to be gentle with yourself. That’s one of my favorites is be gentle with yourself with the whole experience because it’s a difficult thing to diverse and it’s okay.
Being gentle and compassionate with yourself is so important when you’re overcoming a chronic pain or any type of chronic disease. I have been speaking with Meg Haworth. You can learn more about Meg by going to her website, which I encourage you to do at www.MegHaworth.com. She’s got some great gifts and things there for you. Transpersonal psychology is something that’s brand-new, but I highly encourage everyone to check it out.
Check out Meg’s work as it could be the one thing that has been missing from your healing approach. Also, don’t forget to download the free gift, Ten Steps to Overcoming the Effects of Victimization. You can go to www.DrJoeTatta.com/106Download or you can text 106Download to the number 44222. I want to thank Meg for joining us on the podcast. Make sure to share this out with your friends and family on social media. Hop on to give us a five-star review on iTunes. We would so appreciate that. I’ll see you in the next episode.
- Meg Haworth
- #MeToo Movement
- Caroline Myss
- Dr. Vincent Felitti
- Dr. Robert Anda
- Healing Pain Podcast on iTunes
About Dr. Meg Haworth, PhD
As a Wellness Coach & Celebrity Chef, Dr. Meg Haworth helps people get well with food and the power of the mind. Dr. Meg has had and healed Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcers, Gastritis, Depression, PTSD, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and brain injuries. Dr. Meg uses the tools and strategies she used to recover her health from those illnesses to help you get well too. She has endured both drowning and being struck by lightning. In her coaching program, Get Well Now, she reveals all the secrets that can help you get on the path to wellness. She is the author of five books in healthy cooking and self-help. Dr. Meg has taught cooking for wellness at Whole Foods Markets and has been featured in NBC Nightly News, The Huffington Post and the LA Times and holds a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Studies.
The Healing Pain Podcast features expert interviews and serves as:
A community for both practitioners and seekers of health.
A free resource describing the least invasive, non-pharmacologic methods to heal pain.
A resource for safe alternatives to long-term opioid use and addiction.
A catalyst to broaden the conversation around pain emphasizing biopsychosocial treatments.
A platform to discuss pain treatment, research and advocacy.
If you would like to appear in an episode of The Healing Pain Podcast or know someone with an incredible story of overcoming pain contact Dr. Joe Tatta at email@example.com. Experts from the fields of medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic, nutrition, psychology, spirituality, personal development and more are welcome.