Infant Trauma

A mother requested help for her six-week-old daughter, whose right eye was infected. Unbeknownst to the mother, the infection was the least of her daughter’s problems. The infant’s body and face were rigid and her eyes expressionless, indicating a severe stress response in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Their chiropractor found several subluxations that would quickly recur after adjustment. As far as the mother could judge, there had been no traumatic incident that could account for her daughter’s state. The birth was uneventful. Whatever the case, the infant’s organism was overwhelmed and unable to correct itself. Importantly, the infant was first examined by a medical doctor, who found only the eye infection.


In my simple procedure, the daughter sat in her mother’s lap while I focused attention on her emotional state and the blockage in her head. The block was thereby mobilized and converted to emotion that she could discharge. After a few minutes of agitation, she cried intensely for over 30 minutes, then fell asleep in her mother’s lap. She was quite relaxed where she had been rigid before. To be safe, we did a followup session one week later. The infection was gone and she appeared more alive overall, but there was still some rigidity in her eyes and face. She cried and wriggled for a time, stopped, then briefly glared at her mother with obvious anger, for unknown reasons. Her capacities for expression and emotional connection were restored to normal, a “clean slate.” Her problem was confirmed as emotional trauma, retrospectively. Three weeks later, when I saw the two incidentally, the daughter was bubbly and animated.


When instructed, adults can place their attention on their emotions or the sensations in an injury site. In both scenarios, contact with feeling triggers the SNS discharge mechanism—a healing function specially designed to 1) relax chronic stress response and 2) neutralize the psychological and nervous system memories that provoked the stress response. In other words, emotion or pain discharge affords complete and permanent recovery from psychological or physical trauma. However, when the subject is an infant, the requisite contact with feeling must come first from an adult, as the infant cannot be instructed to focus attention. In the Arneson Method, the practitioner focuses his attention on the infant’s emotional state plus the problem’s locus in the head. With that extra boost, the infant’s organism is able to 1) contact and tolerate the blocked emotions induced by early trauma, and 2) discharge them for full recovery. The dramatic before-and-after comparison leaves no room for doubt about the nature of the problem or the simple remedy.

Moreover, when the subject is an infant with a single “layer” of emotional trauma—whatever the source—the discharge scenario is comparable to adult pain discharge from an injury site with a single memory of physical trauma. In both cases, the body quickly expels pathology without complication, using the very same mechanism. However, as the infant ages and develops behavior defenses against blocked emotions, i.e. neurosis, more layers of trauma compound the problem and bury the core memory. The infant soon requires an advanced form of psychotherapy, as a toddler, in order to eventually access and discharge the core trauma. By the time this person reaches adulthood, early trauma is almost certainly beyond reach, even with years of discharge-oriented psychotherapy. In many cases, a lifetime of abject misery could be avoided with one or two sessions of infant discharge.

© 2019, 2020 Portland Pain Institute LLC