Re-evaluating and adapting during lockdown has meant, for me, a period of locating and tapping into the freedom that can be found within. For several months pre-lockdown I had been undergoingpsychotherapy to address the long-standing effects of trauma. Of course, lockdown has made face to face therapy impossible which means that much of the work we’d been doing has been put on hold, and instead we’ve been working on techniques to retain the progress that has been achieved so far.
One of the key tools in this is a technique termed Soothing Rhythm Breathing (SRB), which is essential in the processing of trauma. The technique allows the reptilian ‘fight-or-flight’ part of thebrain (which can be triggered unnecessarily when trauma has triggered it previously) to be calmed, which then allows the neo-cortex or ‘thinking brain’ to activate, which it cannot do in fight-or-flight mode. Given that the reptilian part of the brain pre-dates language, and can therefore not be reasoned with verbally, successful treatment of those whose reptilian brain activates unnecessarily depends upon this ability to physiologically tell the reptilian centre that we are not in danger, which it understands because this controlled breathing is not possible when an actual threat is present. Here, then, is freedom – freedom from unwanted memories, from anxiety, from external stressors.
SRB is a video work designed for use with headphones. Runtime: 00:07:59
Katy Richardson is an artist researcher based in Plymouth, UK. She explores memory, trauma and haunting through the lenses of women’s writing, medical history, and psychotherapeutic approaches. She works across moving image, installation and sound.