How Does EFT Work?

How Does EFT Work –Craig's Theory Leaves Questions
EFT, a simple finger tapping routine, has been successful in dealing with the emotional problems of thousands of people. Yet, its success has been difficult to explain. Painful emotional memories are known to be entrained deeply into nerve channels through neural plasticity. How can such impulses be permanently suppressed through mere tapping? In Gary Craig's explanation, negative emotions are linked to a disruption in the body's energy system.

According to him, tapping balances electricity in the meridians of the body by sending healing pulses. The presence of such meridians is assumed in traditional Chinese medical theories. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence of their existence. Neither has science uncovered a mechanism, which can manipulate electricity through physical tapping. This page attempts to logically explain the workings of EFT.

  • Callahan discovered that tapping the stomach meridian point below the eyes stilled the water phobia of a patient. He used a diagnostic muscle testing technique to treat his patients.
  • Craig developed EFT as an acupressure shortcut. Thousands of patients benefited.
  • Emotions are known to modify attitudes and behaviors.
  • The amygdala forms lifelong memories for emotionally significant sensory perceptions.
  • The amygdala signals trigger depression, guilt, anger, grief and PTSD.
  • Acupressure originated in China and is now practiced around the world.
  • Combinatorial coding can explain the effect.

How Does EFT Work –EFT Is An Accidental Discovery
Craig based EFT on the successes of Dr. Roger Callahan, a psychologist, in dealing with emotional problems. Back in 1980, Callahan had failed to help a troubled patient, in spite of using conventional psychotherapy over a period of 18 months. She suffered from frequent headaches and terrifying nightmares, related to her abnormal fear of water. At one point, the patient had complained of some stomach discomfort. Tentatively, Callahan tapped her under her eyes with his fingertips. He knew it to be the end point of the stomach meridian for acupressure treatment.

To his astonishment, her water phobia vanished. She was immediately able to go to a nearby swimming pool and play with water. Her fear, headaches and nightmares disappeared. She has been free of the phobia ever since. Following this accidental insight, Callahan successfully applied the finger tapping technique on meridian points to relieve phobias within minutes. He was equally successful with negative emotions, including depression, guilt, anger, grief and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In many cases, the patients achieved permanent relief.

How Does EFT Work –EFT Is An Acupressure Shortcut 
Callahan used a special diagnostic muscle testing technique to detect the meridian points of energy imbalance. Craig, a Stanford engineer and practicing personal performance coach, developed EFT as an acupressure shortcut. Instead of detecting the meridian related to each emotional problem, the EFT routine sequentially taps the most important meridian points related to emotions in a one minute tapping routine. He added certain affirmations to be applied by the patient, while applying the routine.

Gary Craig narrates the story of Rich, a war veteran, suffering PSTD for 17 years. He was tortured by haunting war memories and a major height phobia, aggravated by his parachute jumps. Under strong medication, it took him 3 to 4 hours to go to sleep. EFT enabled Rich to be completely healed. He “didn't have a nickel's worth of anxiety.” Thousands more of such patients benefited from EFT.

How Does EFT Work –Emotions Modify Body Behavior
Negative emotions are neural signals, triggered primarily from the amygdalae, organs in the limbic system. With evolutionary origins in the early fishes, these organs are responsible for activating ancestral signs of distress, with a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions. Impulses from the amygdalae to the hypothalamus activate the sympathetic system, increase reflexes and produce expressions of fear. Adrenalin increases to prepare the body for a fight or flight response. Heart beats increase to improve blood supply. Blood pressure rises and breathing changes. Acidity increases in the stomach. The excretory system prepares to clear toxin. The endocrine system produces the adrenal hormone cortisol. Naturally, increased neural activity in the amygdalae has a powerful impact on the well-being of the mind.

How Does EFT Work –The Amygdalae Speed Dial Circuits
Receiving inputs from the sensory systems, the amygdalae forms memories of stimuli of stressful situations through long term potentiation (LTP) generating persisting links between the related synapses. Emotional arousal following the learning event influences the strength of the subsequent memory for that event. Essentially, changes in the amygdala form “speed dial links,” which generate abnormal activity, causing emotional problems.

A variety of sensory signals immediately trigger emotional problems for the affected people. Those memories are slowly assimilated into permanent lifelong storage. Excessive activity in the amygdalae has been associated with anxiety, autism, depression, narcolepsy, PSTD, phobias, and schizophrenia. While an endless, ever changing number of explanations are offered for countless emotional concerns, this single cause lies behind most of them.

How Does EFT Work –Emotional Coding
Apart from external signals, internal signals also could trigger emotional distress. The insulae, a part of the limbic system registers a host of internal sensations including sharp pain, burning pain, cool or warm temperature, itching, muscle contraction, muscle burn because of lactic acid, joint movements, soft touch, mechanical stress, tickling, flushing, hunger and thirst. The same organ is activated during social emotions - love and hate, lust and disgust, cold calculation, hot tempers, sadness and happiness.

A great many emotional problems originate from the signals of tension received from the internal organs. The organs “speed dial” the amygdalae to generate emotional distress. Its LTP circuits respond abnormally to these signals to cause depression, guilt, anger, grief and PTSD. The EFT tapping routine relaxes those organs and stills the emotional signals.

How Does EFT Work –The Acupuncture Background
EFT has evolved from acupuncture. It is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes. A legend claims that acupuncture started in China when some soldiers experimented with arrows (later needles) as therapy, after experiencing relief from pain in other parts of the body, after being wounded by arrows in battle.

Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Vietnamese and Korean forms of acupuncture are practiced and taught throughout the world. The beneficial effects of the treatment indicate a real life phenomenon. EFT applies the same principle. The effects of both EFT and acupuncture can be explained from known scientific facts.

How Does EFT Work – Combinatorial Coding
Acupuncture, acupressure and EFT work, because the mind has the capacity to sense and respond to combinatorial patterns. A Nobel Prize was awarded in 2004 for the discovery that the olfactory nerve system identifies smells by recognizing particular combinations of nerve signals. Neurons recognize and transmit functional messages. Their signals selectively signify smells, heat, light, sounds, touch, pain and much more. Those signals also tense muscles and trigger the production of neurohormones.

This website holds that all neurons recognize combinations of incoming signals to fire, or to become inhibited. Combinatorial codes enable neurons to interact intelligently. The code can still a sympathetic pain sensory neuron, when it receives a touch sensory signal in its dendrite. The acupressure signals are recognized by cells in other regions, which respond by inhibiting pain signals, or relaxing muscles. The nervous system recognizes myriad combinatorial messages to manage life.

How Does EFT Work - Pattern Recognition
EFT tapping at selected meridian points generates touch sensory signals. Touch and pain sensory neurons are located extensively over internal organs and the body surface. Since combinatorial codes work in this linked network, the application of tapping in one location generates responses in distant regions of the body. Thousands of years ago, the Chinese acupuncture physicians located the nodal touch and pain points linked to specific organs in this network. They discovered that the stomach network is linked to the points below the eyes.

In the case of Callahan's patient, tensed stomach regions sent continuous signals to the amygdala, which caused her water phobia. When he tapped the meridian point below her eyes, the related organs relaxed, shutting off troubling signals to the speed dial circuits in the amygdalae. Failing to receive the signals, the organ did not respond with fear patterns any more. Despite years of entrainment of painful signals, the absence of initiating signals from the stomach stilled the amygdalae and gave relief to the patient.

This page was last updated on 31-Dec-2013.

JUST THINK.  What happens when you begin to talk?  Your nervous system has picked an emotion. 
It has articulated an idea around it, chosen apt words, arranged them in lexical and grammatical order
 and adjusted the pitch of your voice.  You've no idea what words you wii use. 
Who's actually in charge?  You, or your nervous system?