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For further information about neurofeedback, biofeedback, and psychotherapeutic services offered by Drs. Dan and Lucy Chartier and their associates, contact:



5613 Duraleigh Road, #101
Raleigh, NC 27612
Telephone: (919) 782-4597

“We Are the Source of Our Own Distress”

A 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that 25.3 million American adults experienced pain in one form or another every day for the last three months. More than 40 million reported experiencing severe pain on a regular basis. What’s striking about these enormous numbers is how sophisticated the medical field has become in terms of diagnostics and treatments, with everything from pharmaceuticals to physical therapy to surgical options. Why, then, are so many people still suffering with daily pain?

Using a variety of computer-based tools and programs, Dr. Chartier is able to measure psycho-physiological stress indicators of unresolved self-inflicted conflicts that are the source of pain.

The answer may be hiding within the confines of the subconscious. Pain, it seems, has many causes, only some of which are purely physical. While the secrets of the subconscious are often difficult to access, this is an area in which Dr. Dan Chartier, of Life Quality Resources, is an expert.

“When it comes to unrelenting, daily pain that is refractory to treatment, it is very often the case that we are the source of our own distress,” Dr. Chartier explains. “Habits we develop to guard against emotional pain, unresolved issues that we repeatedly push to the back of the mental closet, unexpressed and unprocessed distress that leads to emotional and physical disturbances—all of these seemingly benign occurrences set us up for emotional and indeed physical ramifications.

“Because I’m both a psychophysiologist, as well as a psychologist, I often see people who experience some level of pain or physically-based distress after failing medication or more invasive treatment methods. They come in having believed there was simply a physical problem, only to discover as we begin to unravel the circumstances that produce this problem, that the pain is actually rooted in some kind of unresolved trauma or distress.”

Back Pain

For example, says Dr. Chartier, “a patient I’ll call Rhonda had chronic back pain she’d been experiencing for 25 years. She’d seen orthopaedic specialists and spine care specialists, and had diagnostic imaging, but no one could identify a physical source of her back pain. As we began to work through her history, incorporating psychophysiologic assessment tools and unraveling layers of tension, it turned out that there was an unresolved psycho-emotional conflict of childhood. Rhonda’s mother had been killed in a violent car accident when Rhonda was 12, and as we processed this event, it turned out that the last physical contact she recalled having with her mother was a hurried pat on her back as she dropped Rhonda off at school that morning.

“A few years later, Rhonda’s chronic back pain began. It was as if the body said, ‘I’m going to hold onto this pain, the physical pain, until you heal this emotional pain, this sense of loss and separation from mother.’
“It often turns out that this is the case with the patients that I see,” notes Dr. Chartier. “And that, by not taking on the task of resolving those echoes of past distress or those issues of abandonment or hurt in whatever way it may have occurred, their bodies hold onto that as a physical tension, which then gives rise to a physical stress and thus pain.”

The Psychophysiological Approach to Pain

“There’s a simple approach that we take in our practice,” Dr. Chartier explains. “We ask the question: ‘Is this normal?’ We have very objective ways of determining whether or not something that a person is experiencing is a normal experience, and I’ll give you very specific examples.

“If a human being is sitting in what they believe to be a relaxed state, and our measures of things like surface muscle tension of the forehead, jaw, or shoulders, for example, are above 1 microvolt, then that person isn’t truly relaxed. This indicates that there’s something going on beneath the surface that points to some residual strain or stress from a historical perspective.

“If a peripheral temperature measurement at the end of an index finger is substantially less than 91 or 92 degrees, that’s another example of this kind of psycho-physiological stress that is a representation of some unresolved self-inflicted conflict. If a person’s heart rate variability fails to fall into a high coherence ratio range, that’s another indicator of physiological stress. Lastly, if we are monitoring brain activity, EEG, with eyes closed, and a person is doing their best to be subjectively relaxed, but their beta frequency EEG is still greater than their alpha frequency EEG, that is yet another objective indicator that there’s something unresolved, unexpressed, self-inflicted in the psychophysiologic realm that results in physical manifestations of distress.”

Nature of Stress

Interestingly, the way in which psycho-emotional distress manifests physically can often provide Dr. Chartier with clues as to the nature of the stress itself. For example, he says, throat or jaw tension such as TMJ, is often related to something which needs to be given voice.

“If someone needs to open up their expression about something that they have been reticent to do, whether that’s an abuse experience or some kind of other near death experience, often the experience of pain gets locked into part of the body that is physically relevant to the experience,” he explains. “The case of Rhonda was a good example of this. In many ways it is the mind’s defense mechanism, protecting itself from suffering. The consequence of course, is that the suffering is passed onto the body, which gets locked into a pattern of essentially self-inflicted and needless pain.

“But,” he says, “that’s how our brain works. The brain has an experience; it wires in the reaction to that experience, which becomes a nexus to accumulate similar experiences as we move through life, echoing and reverberating feelings of fear, anxiety, worry, stress. Only by unwinding and unraveling that first experience and understanding: ‘Oh. That’s what it was! I was just imagining that fear; I didn’t really get trapped underground’—or whatever it may have been, that then allows the adult self to say: ‘Phew, okay. I’m really all right now.’

“As we work through the experience, the body lets go of the pain it was inflicting on itself, no longer needing it to protect the mind.”