NORTH KINGSTOWN – When he was 10 or 11, Kevin Brady found his diabetic uncle unconscious, threw him over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, and rushed miles down Tower Hill Road in South Kingstown to South County Hospital.
He remembers no details of that trip, only how it started and how it ended.
“I’ve blotted it out,” he says.
Now 41, Brady works to help others confront traumatic memories and work through them. It is a one-on-one holistic process, based on metapsychology, called Traumatic Incident Reduction. He studied at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, Calif., before graduating in interdisciplinary studies from the New College of California.
He became fascinated with the process after studying with expert and author Gerald French.
“I did not have an interest in being a psychologist,” Brady says. “I just wanted to work with people who are traumatized and help them get back on their feet. I’m more of a technician.”
Indeed, his title is that of facilitator as he assists clients – called “viewers” – to look at painful, sometimes horrifying, incidents that have been repressed for years and work through their feelings so they can truly move forward in life.
Brady’s gifts as a committed listener and a non-judgmental presence willing to unflinchingly lead clients to relate stories of nearly unimaginable emotional injury, are helpful to victims of sexual abuse and violent crime, war veterans and survivors of such tragedies as 9/11.
“Typically,” he explains, “you don't have a lot of time to examine something during a traumatic incident or you can't show it to others. You can't process it, then you don't [when it's over.] It’s usually right under the surface. These are repressed, buried emotions. If you don't deal with them, they control you for the rest of your life. They’re never gone.”
Born in Mattapan, Mass., Brady grew up in Wakefield, R.I. His late father, Dr. John Brady, practiced medicine there as well as at the North Kingstown Treatment Center. His mother, Carol, was a psychiatric nurse.
Emotionally withdrawing is a common way to sidestep coping with profound events and that can lead to what is commonly called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Combat-shocked veterans from World War I through today’s soldiers returning from Afghanistan have historically been unwilling to speak of their experiences.
“If you dissociate, you can function in the environment,” says Brady. “It’s a survival technique for immediacy. You’re doing it deliberately but it’s not good in the long run. Ninety-nine out of 100 people going through traumatic incidents are usually impacted. It’s random chance if they aren’t.
“I was in Somalia [with the 63rd Signal Battalion in 'Operation Restore Hope' Mogadishu.] I have Army buddies and some of those guys went through pretty big firefights.”
He describes being terrified as rocket-propelled grenades rained down.
“They were hitting fuel bladders, generators. You could hear the whistling sound but didn't know where they were going to land.”
Another traumatic experience involved having villagers beg for food and water which he couldn’t give them because he needed to keep the limited supply for himself.
“Some guys may find combat thrilling, fulfilling, satisfying while another doesn't want to remember it in his personal life. Trauma differs from person to person.”
To work with a survivor of a disaster such as 9/11, Brady says, he focuses on how the survivor felt at the time it happened.
“They had a feeling, emotion, sensation, intention, pain from that period that is persistent in the present. They need assistance because they say, ‘Ever since then I have this sense that I don’t feel safe.’ Or, ‘I remember when it started and when it ended. I can't deal with it.’”
He might ask the client to start now and work backwards to 9/11. “There can be a trigger, a reminder of a time when they couldn't do anything: ‘The building fell and I was scared as hell’ or ‘The building was falling but I couldn't help my buddy.’”
In Traumatic Incident Reduction, Brady explains, “You examine a top memory, then the next comes into view and so on until you get to the bottom. You get to the root incident that's holding all the rest in place.
“The more you're conscious of something, the less of a problem it is. If you're aware of it and you know what needs to be done, you solve it.”
There is another phenomenon called Survivor’s Guilt: Why did I survive when so many did not?
“Survivor’s Guilt is very common. These attitudes come out and I help them face the time it happened and get through that moment. People who survive sexual abuse often blame themselves for ‘causing’ it."
As his confidence as a facilitator grew, Brady began taking on more clients.
“I decided I wanted to do this as my life's work. I’m a good person to talk to because I've been through issues. I’ve had Army buddies who were never really the same after combat experience. It’s one of the reasons I started this.”
Since returning to Rhode Island, Brady has married and credits his wife, Meredith, with encouraging him to start a business. It’s called Clear Objectives and he can meet with clients at their homes, his place or “anywhere they’re comfortable.”
To learn more, contact him at http://www.clear-objectives . com or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN and can be reached at email@example.com .