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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 2    Categories: You Asked (Text Files)      Tags:


A few months ago I sent out a "You asked" question concerning night terrors. I was mistaken concerning terms and offer this rewrite of the question. You can discard the other and update your files with this one. I equated night terrors with nightmares and dreams. They are not the same. Here is a rewrite to that question.


Dear Dr. Ed,

I have been through a number of your training sessions and have used Theophostic numerous times with excellent results, however in all of that I do not remember any discussion of "night terrors" nor have I ever had to deal with it. Do you have any comments or suggestions?


Ed Smith's response:


First off, I need to differentiate between night terrors and nightmares. A nightmare is very common with children and adults and can usually be disrupted by the parent waking the child and comforting him or her. TPM can also be applied to emotion that surfaces in a nightmare often with positive results. (I will discuss this later in detail.) However, with a night terror the symptoms and characteristics are very different. I found the following information on a pediatrician's website that I thought was helpful. (http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/sleep/a/night_terrors.htm)


"...Night terrors are a common sleep problem among children. By some estimates, about 15% of younger children have occasional night terrors. Although most common in children between the ages of 2 and 6 years, they can occur at almost any age. Although usually considered to be normal or benign, they are often very scary and distressing to parents who often overreact, especially during a child's first night terror. When you hear how most experts describe night terrors, it is easy to see why parents find them distressing. Children who have night terrors are usually described as 'bolting upright' with their eyes wide open, with a look of fear and panic, and letting out a 'blood curdling scream'.

These kids will usually also be sweating, breathing fast and have a rapid heart rate (autonomic signs). And although it will seem like they are awake, during a night terror, children will appear confused, will not be consolable and won't recognize you. Typical night terrors last about 5 to 30 minutes and afterwards, children usually return to a regular sleep. If you are able to wake your child up during a night terror, he is likely to become scared and agitated, mostly because of your own reaction to the night terror, especially if you were shaking or yelling at him to wake up. Instead of trying to wake up a child having a night terror, it is usually better to just make sure he is safe, comfort him if you can, and help him return to sleep once it is over. ...Night terrors are most often confused with nightmares, but unlike night terrors, a child having a nightmare is usually easily woken up and comforted. The other worry for many parents is that these episodes are a type of seizure. Although different types of partial seizures, including temporal lobe and frontal lobe epilepsy, can appear similar to night terrors, they are usually brief (30 seconds to a few minutes) and are more common in older children and adults. No treatment is usually necessary for routine night terrors. Since they are often triggered in children who are overtired, sticking to a good bedtime routine and making sure your child is getting enough rest can help to prevent them.


It appears that TPM may not be effective with a night terror (as far as resolving the behavior) unless there was a lie-based root behind it. You could try to have the child focus on any residual feelings that might be present, but it appears that there is not much memory of the event once the child is fully awaken. I cannot say with any authority, in that I have never had the experience of working with a child experiencing this. I have work with several children and adults with the emotions that surfaced out of dreams with good results, but never with a true night terror.


However with dreams and nightmares there is the potential for doing TPM. I have had good success when working on myself as well as with others. However, I only attend to the emotion that surfaces and not any aspect of the dream itself. I never try to interpret dreams for myself or for the person who is seeking ministry. Interpretation of dreams is NOT a part of TPM. I know that some people believe that they have the ability to do dream interpretation, but not in a TPM session. If you choose to do dream interpretation then call what you do something other than TPM. I believe dream interpretation is just as precarious as a facilitator trying to interpret what a person visualizes in a ministry session which is risky at best and filled with potential error (and not TPM). There is no check and balance, no way to know for certain if the interpretation is accurate and whatever the facilitator comes up with is ambiguous. My advice is to not even go there. Even if you could interpret a dream for someone you would still have no useful information for doing TPM. What we are looking for when doing TPM is two basic things; emotion and belief not memory content or interpretation. It is the belief that is causing the emotional pain and it is this pain that can lead us to the belief. Interpreting a dream does not accomplish either of these objectives.


Second: However, the emotional factor in a dream may be useful for the TPM session. Emotion is generally associated with a belief. All belief was instilled during a life experience. Everything we know and believe was put in our minds during life experience; no exceptions. All life experiences are presently memories since everything from the present tense back is memory. What you just read in this last sentence is now a memory. If a person comes to you for ministry and says they had a terrible dream the night before and say that it is bothering them, you may choose to explore it. That is, explore what he is feeling about the dream. The emotion he surfaces from the dream could be rooted in a belief. However, it is also possible that the emotion was created by what they believed during the dream and nothing more. For example, if his dream was about him being chased by a two-headed bear, the fantasy itself would create fearful feelings. In the same way that a scary movie stirs up fearful feelings (that may not have any historical root) so can a dream fantasy. However, it is also possible that the dream is symbolic and connected to an unresolved memory where lie-based thinking is harbored. Therefore the emotion in the dream could be rooted in belief.


Third: If a person came to me reporting a bad dream and was still feeling the emotion of the dream I would ask him if he wanted to pursue it (that is the emotion). I would not make any assumptions as to what his dream might mean. I would only focus on the emotion and allow the person to connect to any memory that might be attached to the emotion that was present. I would follow TPM procedure and see where it led. I would not be emphatic about what I thought, but let it be solely the person's decision how far we processed it.


I have done ministry with myself a few times after waking up from a disturbing dream. I did not try to figure out the dream, but simply focused on the emotion of the dream. In every case I found myself in a real memory with the same emotions. In the real memory I did TPM and found truth.


I hope that this helps


Ed Smith


What follows was an email response I received from the original "You ask..." that I sent out. I thought that what she had to share was helpful and practical. I have included the essence of what she wrote below.


"When a person experiences night terrors they usually have no recollection of if the following day, but it's extremely draining and frightening for the parents. I've worked with a family in East Asia who had this problem and no amount of prayer or spiritual warfare, etc would help the child. And the child would have no recollection of the event the next morning--so doing TPM would not have been helpful. Some suggest that it is a physical response to being over tired or going to bed too late. It often happens about one hour after the child falls asleep. In the book, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child" by Marc Weisbluth, it suggests putting the child to bed a half hour earlier. It claims it usually resolves the problem within a week, if not immediately.


The family I worked with did this with immediate resolution. A while later, the night terrors began again, and they moved the child bed time earlier by yet another half hour, and the child fell asleep even sooner after getting into bed and the night terrors never returned. It appears that if a child is over tired, it takes the child longer to fall asleep. This particular child would go to bed at 9 pm, fall asleep by 10 pm. 11pm have a night terror. When the child went to bed at 8:30 pm, fell asleep by 9 pm, the night terrors left, but then after celebrating new years, where every body stayed up all night, the child got over tired and night terrors again returned. Mom began putting child to bed at 8 pm; child fell asleep by 8:15 pm and night terrors never returned. The total amount of sleep the child got per night increased daily and over time the child also felt better and better throughout the day. It was good to find such a simple solution"


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  •  troubadourscall wrote 1762 Days Ago (neutral) 

    Well I do know of someone who had a child w/ nighjt terrors that showed up for no apparent reason and happened 2 or 3 times years ago. I may have been that the child was overtired. I do recall it being very frightening, concerning and hard to understand.

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  •  JonathanHall wrote 2703 Days Ago (neutral) 

    Very helpful. I have an adult who reports that as a child they would wake up at night feeling "frozen" and can't move. They also feel at times as if they were sliding off the bed, but that is not really true. They can't speak and feel terrified. At times, they believe they sensed a presence in the room. The father prayed over the child and room on several occasions. They remember these events 20 years later. This does not sound like nightmares or night terrors. Is there another category?

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