George: Migraine Headaches

CASE #459

Date: 1984. Place: Salt Lake City.
   George came to my office on one of his better days. He stated that, for a number of years, he had been examined by doctors without relief for his recurring migraine headaches. The migraines had been increasing in frequency, especially after one of his frequent nightmares.
   In deep hypnosis, George disclosed that he’d been a freedom fighter against the Nazis in WWII. Sixteen years of age at the time, he’d been forced to think and act like most adults twice his age. George was now 56-years-old.
   A number of years prior to visiting with me, he had gone on vacation to his native home in Amsterdam. As he and his wife window shopped outside a jewelry store, he suddenly felt an intense headache. Upon returning to the States, he was unable to find any relief. Over time, he began having those nightmares. After three sessions, George felt much better.

The following is our actual conversation during the second session. George is in deep hypnosis:

Therapist: George, I’d like you to think back to that time, when you were standing in front of that jewelry store window. Take a good look and tell me what you see. That window is now a ‘picture’ window, revealing something very important to you.
George: I see a reflection in the window.
Therapist: Yes. You see a reflection, and….
G: I see a young man on a rooftop behind me.
T: That’s right, there’s a young man on the rooftop…and what is that young man doing?
G: I don’t know. I just see this young man, and my head is beginning to hurt.
T: Now George, your head will stop hurting when I snap my fingers. (Snap) There, just like that…your head is feeling fine now…and your memory is becoming very, very clear. Go down, deep into your gut, George…and tell me what you see and what you feel about what you see.
G: I feel…no…I can see my friend, Klaus.
T: And as you see Klaus, what is happening? (Keeping proper tense).
G: We’re hiding from Nazi soldiers. I’m hiding in a stairwell. Soldiers are coming down the street. They see Klaus up on the roof across the street and open fire. He’s hit and falls to the ground. I know he’s dead. I’m so scared and I’m trying to curl up deeper into the shadows.
T: And…what’s happening now, George?
G: I don’t know. (Back to the present) I continued in the resistance effort, until the end of the war. Then I immigrated to the United States.
T: Tell me about the nightmares, George. (He is now fully alert but keeps his eyes closed.)
G: In my dreams, I always see bombs falling over my home but they never hit the ground. I’m terrified but there is never any explosion. I wake up in a cold sweat.
T: George, take a deep breath now.

   At that point, I reminded George that his subconscious knew that there has not been an aerial bombing of the United States by a foreign power. Because of that, he could not allow his dreams to come to any other conclusion.
   Further discussion revealed that the reflection he’d seen in that shop window had been a chimney sweep on the rooftop behind him. This knowledge, plus reinforcing the obvious fact that he had survived the war, eliminated his migraine headaches.
   George needed a total of five sessions. A six-month follow-up revealed no recurring migraines or nightmares.