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4 Steps to Healing PMS Anger with Parts & Memory Therapy

The drawing is the artist’s (Siena Holland) depiction of Amelia’s PMS anger Part, from the forthcoming book HEALING AMELIA.

Step 1. Define the anger management problem in simple terms, especially with emotion words. For example, irritation, anger, sadness, tearful, suspicious, anxious, afraid, depressed, overwhelmed. In our YouTube video on healing anger and other mood shifts in PMS or PMDD (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEXmdGjcvjnZTuncsWXD9GA), we worked with anger management. The name of our approach to emotional healing is “Parts and Memory Therapy” (formerly called “Parts Psychology”).

Emotion words are especially useful when they are linked to a woman’s body sensations as they appear in throat, chest, stomach, or head. We could work with more abstract descriptions such as, “I’m feeling out of sorts today,” but we could still benefit by linking that description to a body sensation.

Step 2. Find the Part of you that feels the anger or other emotion. This is the Part that blends with you when you are angry. Parts are also sometimes called ego states, voices, sides, and subpersonalities. They refer to enduring Parts of you that express emotional states or particular attitudes or beliefs. They are important because they are created by life experiences and maintain themselves by their collection of memories with common disturbing themes.

More than 70% of us can discover an image of an angry Part simply by thinking about something that makes us angry, locating where we feel the angry feeling in our bodies, and asking (aloud or silently) that emotion to show itself to us in a picture. Most often the image that comes to mind is one of ourselves with an angry face or at an angry time in our lives. But often as well the picture will look like the sun, fire, the color red, or even a ferocious monster.

Step 3. Locate the memories that are the foundation for the negative emotion you feel, in this case anger, irritation, or annoyance. The easiest way to do this is to speak to your angry Part (aloud or silently) and ask it to share with you its earliest disturbing memory (not necessarily an angry memory). Whatever memory comes to your mind will be a foundation memory for the anger. It needs healing. Typically, the memory comes from early childhood for general angry parts or from a time near puberty for PMS angry Parts. Whichever memory comes up, it needs healing.

You can also skip Step 2 if talking to a Part is too weird for you. In that case, you just focus on the feeling or body sensation of anger or annoyance and, as you stay connected to it, let your mind float back to the earliest disturbing memory that comes up. Whatever the memory, it needs healing.

Step 4. Neutralize the negative emotion (e.g., fear, embarrassment, sadness, shame, anger) attached to the early explicit memory by using a fantasy to symbolically cleanse the memory of the negative emotion. This step will usually require the assistance of a therapist who specializes in working with Parts or with healing painful memories. However, if you can easily visualize the child stuck in that early memory, you can guide her in vomiting up the negative emotion into the toilet and flushing it, or washing it away in a waterfall, or blowing it away with wind, etc. You are limited only by your imagination.

If successful with this memory, you can move on to the next early memory and carry out a new cleansing ritual. The technical term in neuroscience for the neutralizing of these emotional memories is “memory reconsolidation.” WARNING: Don’t try this on your own for chronic abuse memories or major trauma. Always work with a therapist. More information available at PartsandMemoryTherapy.com.

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Parts and Memory Therapy

Parts and Memory Therapy is the new name for Parts Psychology. We’ve chosen this name because it better represents the kind of counseling or psychotherapy that we do. The “Parts” in the name is necessary because the therapy recognizes that the mind is not a single, unified thing; rather, it is made up of many Parts or subpersonalities, each with its own submind. Therapy requires that we locate the emotional Parts or subpersonalities within the whole person that carry the problems. If a person has panic attacks, for example, we find the Part that has the panic attacks. Most likely, we don’t need to work with other Parts of the self, such as the romantic Part or the angry Part. “Memory” needs to be in the name because the healing of Parts, and therefore of the whole person, works through neutralizing the memories that are the foundation for the problem. For example, to heal the Part that has panic attacks, we need to seek out and then neutralize the memories that are the cause of the panic attacks. Quite often, these memories reach all the way back to childhood, but it’s possible for panic attacks to result from much more recent events recorded in memory. When we have neutralized the emotional memories connected to the relevant events, we have healed the Part and the person of panic attacks. The protocol for healing in counseling and psychotherapy within the framework of Parts and Memory Therapy has four major steps, easily stated, but often complex in application. I will talk a lot more about these steps in future blogs.

  1. Define the problem in simple terms, especially with emotion words.

  2. Locate the Part within the whole person that carries the problem for the person.

  3. Collect the (usually) disturbing memories that underlie a Part’s problem.

  4. Heal the problem by neutralizing the emotions connected to the disturbing memories.