My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse (Includes Extensive Resource List)

Nearly 40 years ago at ~4 years old.

[***NOTE: IF YOU ARE VISITING TIM.BLOG/TRAUMA FOR THE RESOURCE LIST, PLEASE CLICK HERE OR SCROLL DOWN***]

[A transcript of this episode can be found at this link.]

For me, this is the most important podcast episode I’ve ever published.

In it, I describe the most life-shaping, certainly the most difficult, and certainly the most transformative journey of my 43 years on this planet. I’ve never shared it before.

My dance partner and safety net in this conversation is my friend Debbie Millman (@debbiemillman). She has been named one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company, and she is the host of Design Matters—a great show and one of the world’s longest running podcasts. She is also Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts and Editorial Director of Print magazine, and she has worked on design strategy for some of the world’s largest brands.

But I didn’t ask Debbie to join me because of her bio. I asked Debbie because she’s a close confidante, she’s an excellent interviewer, and she’s been an incredible support for me in the last few years, including late-night emergency phone calls. Last but not least, she and I have experienced similar trauma but have taken two very different paths to healing using very different tools. So, you get a two-for-one deal in this conversation.

#464: Tim Ferriss — My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse
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The transcript for this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

***

All resources mentioned in this episode—and many more—are listed below. If you have tips, advice, or resources that have helped you, please share in the comments. We will moderate to eliminate any bad actors, snark, or other nonsense.

And if you remember only one thing, remember this: there is light on the other side. I wouldn’t have believed this even five years ago, but I now consider myself living proof that deep, lasting change is possible. Don’t give up. You are never alone, and it is never hopeless. I’m right there alongside you, as are millions of others.

Much love to you and yours, 

Tim 

P.S. Disclaimer: Debbie and I are not doctors or therapists, and we don’t play them on the internet. This episode and blog post are for informational purposes only, and nothing is intended as professional or medical advice in any capacity. Please be smart and be safe.


LIST OF RESOURCES

CLICK ANY LINK TO JUMP TO THAT SECTION, OR SCROLL DOWN FOR ALL:

DOCUMENTARIES
BOOKS AND SUGGESTED READING
MORE EXTENSIVE BOOK LIST FROM DEBBIE MILLMAN
RESOURCES, ORGANIZATIONS, AND TOOLS
MOST MENTIONED PODCAST EPISODES
LIST OF RELATED PODCAST EPISODES

DOCUMENTARIES

BOOKS AND SUGGESTED READING

MORE EXTENSIVE BOOK LIST FROM DEBBIE MILLMAN

Please note that there is some natural overlap with the above list.

Self-help (the books that helped me in my twenties):

Newer book about rape culture: 

Particularly good memoirs, all of which are about sexual abuse and/or rape:

Novel or Semi-Autobiographical about sexual abuse and/or rape:

RESOURCES, ORGANIZATIONS, AND TOOLS

MOST MENTIONED PODCAST EPISODES

LIST OF RELATED PODCAST EPISODES

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Debbie Millman:

Website | Design Matters Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

SHOW NOTES

  • Despite enormous discomfort, here’s why this is a conversation better put in motion sooner rather than later. [04:42]
  • From amnesia to hypermnesia—how I began to remember what I’d long forced myself to forget. [09:45]
  • Where my first 10-day Vipassana silent retreat took me, and why I’m grateful Jack Kornfield was there to ensure I made it back. [11:54]
  • Taking note of behaviors that seemed strange and inexplicable out of context but make perfect sense when memories of the pain and trauma they’re meant to alleviate resurface. [14:23]
  • Excuses I made to put off this conversation and the realization—whether through breakdown or breakthrough—that choosing not to deal with my trauma was just dealing with it poorly. [17:10]
  • A concerning symptom of delving deeper into the trauma of sexual abuse that I hadn’t expected to experience and some wise words a fellow trauma survivor had to say about the evolutionary miracle of dissociation. [18:14]
  • How common is sexual abuse, and why has it been so difficult for victims in our society to seek the help they need to heal? [21:59]
  • Debbie shares the extent of her own trauma that was imposed upon her beginning at age nine and how she’s tried to cope with it from then to now. [24:44]
  • What is the Joyful Heart Foundation, and how is it working to eradicate the rape kit backlog that keeps victims from getting justice and allows offenders to walk free? [28:38]
  • How disclosing her experience to this show’s audience changed Debbie’s life, and what she discovered in the aftermath of telling the truth. [30:32]
  • Reiterating the importance of having a guide who can help you through the rough parts of an immersive experience that might dredge up darkness you’re not ready to face. [37:45]
  • Trauma toolkit resources I’ve found particularly helpful. [39:03]
  • How heart rate variability (HRV) training has been useful in treating my cardiac hyper-responsiveness to daily stressors. In other words, it’s allowing me to better control my physiology in order to change my psychology. [43:32]
  • While skeptical of Enneagram personality typing, I do think it may be useful in certain circumstances. [46:03]
  • Why ayahuasca might be an overkill treatment for trauma in many cases, and what might prove to be better alternatives for most—provided they’re legal where you live. [47:06]
  • What does Debbie recommend to people who are trying to work through their trauma perhaps for the very first time? Where should they begin? [50:22]
  • What did Debbie’s very first talk therapy sessions look like compared to what they look like now, and what’s the one stipulation she has for them to be truly effective—even during the COVID-19 pandemic? [54:39]
  • While antidepressants may be helpful for many people, here are some of their potential drawbacks and dangers that patients considering their use should be aware of. [59:34]
  • What we, according to Stan Grof, are really trying to kill when we contemplate suicide and how a chance delivery was instrumental in preventing my own suicide. [1:05:38]
  • Trauma toolkit resources that Debbie has found particularly helpful. [1:09:29]
  • What I discovered while seeking an answer to the one question that truly matters, as conveyed by mindfulness teacher Tara Brach: what are you unwilling to feel? [1:14:39]
  • How who we are today can be better equipped to help heal the wounds of—and nurture—who we were yesterday. [1:20:48]
  • You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for. Aim for the work that will allow you to retire at the end of the day with, as Debbie says, one notch more hope than shame. [1:25:53]
  • Why the seemingly perpetual act of recovery isn’t incompleteness—it’s connection. [1:27:47]
  • How reading the stories of other trauma survivors and learning what they did to incorporate that trauma into their own lives has helped Debbie. [1:32:30]
  • Why Debbie is hopeful that trauma survivors in our society will increasingly build and adopt the tools required to shift the shame of their experiences where it belongs but also advocate creating a new vocabulary that replaces words like “victim” and “survivor” with terms that don’t paint people who have endured trauma as other. [1:33:37]
  • Debbie and I share thoughts on tracking and confronting our perpetrators—which today has become as effortless as a Google search. Is there anything to be gained from seeking such contact? Can true forgiveness prevail over our desire for vengeance—and if so, should it? [1:34:39]
  • Is forgiveness more than just letting go of anger? How do you know where the line is between useful anger and anger that just consumes you? What can you do to reexamine how you process and utilize that anger in a way that’s constructive rather than destructive? [1:44:00]
  • Beyond the expression of anger, how has childhood trauma contributed to our other signature behaviors? What have we used to keep us “safe” from what we’ve been unwilling to feel? [1:56:19]
  • Another point in favor of having other people looped in on what you’re going through to act as a support system and, in turn, being available to support others who need you to be part of that system for them. [1:59:02]
  • When nearly 75 percent of a dozen male friends I’ve talked to about this have relayed their own stories of sexual abuse, is it time for a #HeToo movement? How can we most supportively respond to women or men who choose to share their experiences with us? Here’s how Jack Kornfield responded when I told him about mine. [1:59:22]
  • How has understanding and integrating my own trauma changed me and my perspective on life to this point? [2:06:45]
  • What do I hope listeners take away from this conversation? [2:13:07]
  • Parting thoughts and much gratitude to Debbie for having this conversation—and many other late-night conversations like it—with me. [2:15:28]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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333 Replies to “My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse (Includes Extensive Resource List)”

  1. You both did an amazing show on this difficult topic. As a psychologist and survivor of abuse there were so many personal and professional parallels that struck me. EMDR was personally helpful for me as well as the book 8 keys to recover from trauma. Thank you both for your bravery.

  2. Thank you to both of you for sharing your stories. Like Tim said, “What are you unwilling to feel?” – we are all prone to avoid and deny our pain. That’s our natural defense system, unfortunately often a very unhealthy one. What we really need to do is to turn toward our suffering and accept our pain. If we can do that, then we can live life as we desire, with our pain when there is pain. And this conversation is a perfect example of that! So again, thank you, thank you so much!
    You mentioned many helpful tools, but I would like to add one more: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. ACT is tremendously effective for any trauma or mental challenge. You can find out about ACT on https://contextualscience.org/ or get a copy of Steven C. Hayes book A Liberated Mind. Steven is a professor of psychology at the University of Nevada and co-founder of ACT.
    https://stevenchayes.com/about/

  3. Dear Tim,
    Thank you so much for releasing this episode!

    An essential book, which wasn’t mentioned is “Healing Developmental Trauma” by Laurence Heller and Aline LaPierre. In my view it is a game-changer for how childhood trauma should be treated in therapy.
    It’s primarily written for therapists but is also easily readable for the layman.
    By combining developmental psychology and attachment patterns with polyvagal theory and somantic experiencing it introduces a novel approach to therapy.
    It also offers an explanation for why classical psychotherapy like psycho-analysis or behavioural therapy often fails or even retraumatizes the client.

  4. Wow oh wow. The benefits that will spread far and wide from this podcast are endless. Thank you ever so much to both of you. Much love.

  5. Dr. Sarno for the physical pain of trauma i’m still looking for help with the emotional part, thank you for this podcast. So much love to you.

  6. One way to think about forgiveness if you struggle with the common understanding of it is Oprah’s definition: “giving up the hope that the past could have been different.” It takes the focus off of the perpetrator and puts it on you to focus on the present.

  7. I want to praise you for speaking out about your trauma; I heard how anguishing it was for you to do this podcast. I’m sure that you’ve helped any number of people by speaking out. My deepest esteem for you and wishes for wholeness.

  8. Tim, Thanks for your sharing and vulnerability. I am confident it will help so many. I hope you’re OK after making this choice and the consequences. Lots of love

  9. Tim – thank you for sharing your brave & courageous story with us.
    I would like to add some of my thoughts/feedback after going down the same path for the last 30 years. There is a saliva test for which test for what class of antidepressant will work for your body. I spent a shit ton of money, side effects and emotional swings (will it work hope to deeper despair when yet another one didn’t). Once I heard about the test, I took and it confirmed none of them would work for me – at least I could use my resources elsewhere. Save yourselves a ton of grief and take that test. I also used Hakomi and rolfing with great success. I also tried TMI – it didn’t work for me but worked great for several friends – very expensive approach. Ketamine does work for me – typically I get it quarterly unless in a bad place then every month. It feels like my brain is doing a disc defrag and the fog clears. I am have done talk therapy on and off for 30 years – sometimes I need to take a break from that and let it marinate for a while. So I respect the hell out of Debbie going that often for some many years but for me I needed time to integrate it on my own. One word of warning to everyone starting or in the beginning stages, be very careful who you choose to let into this process with you. My first therapist was wonderful and I accomplished a lot with her until she asked me for $10K. The emotional connection developed with a therapist can be powerful in the greatest of ways as well as the worst of ways. My self hatred and shame and her manipulation had me writing that check. This is the most delicate of journeys so make sure you all put yourselves in trustworthy hands. I have come to understand this is a lifetime pursuit (even though that still pisses me off). I hope this will help anyone on this journey.

  10. Tim, thank you for your vulnerability and the powerful conversation as you share your intimate experiences and allow us into part of your psyche. The dance between Debbie and you is raw and inspiring – you synthesized missing links of my healing journey. From the bottom of my soul, thank you! I’m humbled.

    We are never alone. We are never hopeless. There are tools.

    I’m even more curious about your knowledge and vast experiences as I’ve been drawn to your work on biohacking and psychedelics for some time.

    On Saturday April 4, 2020 after we were quarantined, I woke suicidal. I sobbed for many hours as I researched how I was ending my life – and I found your suicide blog and believe you achieved your goal – thank you! Waking with a deep desire to leave this earth caused me a lot of fear and was completely unexpected, even though I experienced a few triggers earlier that week.

    I’m extremely grateful for your post and your work. I could no longer cope and felt that I couldn’t ask for help from loved ones or my network of brilliant humans as I experienced extreme guilt and shame for spiraling so quickly. I believe I’m quite resilient with high emotional intelligence as I dug deep into who I am through years of unravelling sexual, emotional ,and physical abuse. I was sad as I contemplated how many people are perceived to be the strong ones – grounded, connected and ‘having it together’, who also suffer in silence. You helped me wake up and realize that I’m worth being here! Although this journey isn’t always easy, I choose to be a better human every day. Leaning into who I am, learning more about human behavoir, and open to seeing my blinds spots – I try to inspire others and model this behavior daily.

    One day, I too will have the courage to constructively share my story as I believe nobody should experience this level of trauma. When they do, it’s the work of humans like yourselves that support their healing journey. Posting this message took courage as I often stay behind the scenes and perceive that my story is not worthy as I unwind my own shame – one step at a time 😉 Thank you for your courage! Who knows, our paths may cross one day and would be honored for the connection.

    Continue shining brightly, Tim!

    Trina

  11. Dear Tim, thank you for sharing your story and all the resources that might help others on their healing journey. I’ve found your definition of forgiveness interesting and your journey reminded me of the story of Geoff Thompson https://www.theforgivenessproject.com/stories/geoff-thompson/. All these stories, including Geoff’s, have helped me understand that forgiveness has as many faces as human beings there are on this Earth, i.e. there is no one “correct” way of forgiving. Also, forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation or that you condone what had happened. Instead, many people forgive (in your case “let go of hate”) in order to heal themselves. Thank you again for consciously focusing on breaking the cycle of violence and for sharing a part of your healing journey with us.

  12. Dear Tim, That was very courageous of you. My heart goes out to you and Debbie. Thank you for sharing it. You are enabling more people to come in open and talk about their wounds, and find resources to heal. I also know that sharing this will also help in your own healing process.

    Every other person seems to be marred with this pain, I really liked Debbie’s idea to start a #hetoo movement. There is a need to raise a voice against this ongoing silent crime against children, especially boys.

    Thanks to Debbie for being so sensitive as well courageous in this discussion. Please take care.

  13. Tim 1st – Thank you for the 4HWW. I’m down from 50/60 to 20….still working on 4:)

    2nd – To me, this is also the most important podcast you have done. My childhood follows the same parallel. I have remembered everything from childhood albeit shoved back in my memories…letting it manifest in other negative ways. Since having 2 young children the “protector” and “I’m glad this happened to me and not them” feelings have arisen. Since listening and re listening to this podcast, then talking to myself as the wounded child (this is a first), the flood gates of emotion have opened. Something I am certainly not accustomed to. I’m guessing this is part of a healing process. I am up early this AM as I had a dream of my son being abused. I have never spoke of this to anyone and not sure why I am posting this. I just wanted to say “thank you” and your bravery is exemplary.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story. I put listening to this episode off but something in me said that before I act on my plan, I should listen. I’ve suffered sexual abuse as both a child and as an adult. I haven’t dealt with the bulk of it. Throw in there military service, coming out as trans and being in a transition journey for for years, it’s safe to say that my depression, anxiety, and PTSD have a habit of not only running but completely detailing my life. I have a family. My kids are younger. I’d decided they would forget about me eventually and my partner would be better off without me ruining things all of the time. I was spiraling hard when I listened to this one. I cried as I listened and I related so hard and truly to most of what you and Debbie said about your thoughts on your experiences.

    I just wanted to say thank you for your courage to share this. You helped save my life.

  15. Tim and Debbie. This episode reminded me of what makes a great podcast: a host and guest who are fully present in the moment. And that reminded me of what’s most important in life: being present and in the moment. Thanks for not just spreading the word about one of the world’s worst afflictions, but also helping listeners experience what you’re going through and what it takes to heal. You moved this listener and I’m sure millions more.

  16. Tim,

    I have been following you for years and books. A true fan since reading “4 Hour Work Week” when it first came out. Kudos to you and Debbie for sharing this highly vulnerable discussion and your path to healing with this podcast.

    The section in the podcast discussing your anger vs. hatred was very poignant and your description of how you handled it was very parallel with my world view up until years ago. As a child of sexual trauma, I too adopted that believe and wore it on my sleeve. It wasn’t until years later, not only was I protecting myself, but limiting or missing out on experiences that were/would have been more enriching due to alienating or “being that” guy who no one wants to be around because of his intensity or temper. Or more importantly, I did not want to put myself in situations of being uncomfortable with people who “might” take advantage of me and missed an opportunity at career advancement, deals not closed, etc, a relationship not tried, etc. There comes a point when you realize that’s just not who you want to be or how you want to feel anymore. How many “bad asses” are really just wounded children, now adults, simply looking at life through the filter of “no one will ever take advantage or hurt me again”? It makes me wonder what this world would be if, as adults, we would forgive and love ourselves from the event that has happened to us.

    I did Ayahuasca, too & Peyote to help with my healing. The only thing I would add is entheogen treatment helped me eliminate the emotional trauma I believe resides at a cellular level. The act of purging not only is it a result of the tea, but purging that emotional baggage. Not sure how scientific that piece is, but the healing from those sessions for outweighed the healing from talk therapy. It’s not for everyone and certainly life altering as you described with your reaction, have a safety net and trusted advisor when done for anyone thinking about this type of treatment.

    Keep pursuing your path of healing. The more you do it, the freer you will be from the trauma. Forgiving someone else is not about “approving” or really forgiving them of what they did to you. It’s forgiving your self for the way you have been beating your self up since it occurred. That’s true emotional freedom.

    Be well…

    -Luis

  17. Thank you for sharing this very vulnerable and courageous part of your story, Tim. I recently opened up to my own childhood sexual trauma before the age of 4-5 yrs. and have been doing the work to process the complexity that these experiences bring. Your resources, conversation with Debbie, and honesty about the grit it takes to go through the healing is so important and really helped me. I can very much relate to the turning the music up high in the room, so I wanted to say thank you for enhancing that whisper.

  18. Tim, thank you for your bravery, empathy, and passion. I’m fortunate to have avoided significant trauma in my life, but this episode gave me some amazing tools to be the best support I can be for those who have been dealt a tougher hand than me.

  19. Thank you Tim (and Debbie). This is the purpose of social media influencing. Your truth is the truth of so many men in the world, and an actual problem that Silicon Valley must provide solutions to. This starts with men’s work. 🙏🏼

  20. Tim, Oh man…I am so, so sorry for this experience but so eternally grateful for your healing path and courage to share! Such a help. You are a treasure!
    Blessings
    mz

  21. Hi Tim

    A truly brave podcast, as someone who had to deal with a different type of trauma as a child I understand a lot of what you mention.

    There’s a guy called Dr John Demartini who has some very powerful methods for these types of things and you bringing him onto the show could be a serious game changer not just for you but much of your audience.

    Please do check him out.

    Take care friend,
    Rupert

  22. Thank you for sharing this. I suffered abuse by a teenage babysitter at age 4, and then again by two uncles from 6-9. I still haven’t talked about it. I don’t know how to deal with the fear of exposing family members. This is inspiring to me, and I am going to do the work to get there. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

  23. Thank you for this. Thank you for your presence on this Planet. Thank you Debbie. I couldn’t love you more. You have helped so many people and will continue to help countless others now.

  24. Tim.
    Oh my goodness. Where to begin…

    I’ve been a longtime listener and fan of yours, and have meant to reach out with sincere gratitude so many times in the past but somehow never found the courage. I meant to message when you released your recent interview with Hugh Jackman, which proved to be something of a divine synchronicity with a personal upheaval. I meant to message after you interviewed Michael Lewis and reawakened me to the passion in writing and life. I meant to reach out after listening to your conversations with Brene Brown, Terry Crews, Elizabeth Gilbert, Debbie Millman, Neil Gaiman, James Fadiman, Brandon Stanton, and many more; conversations I’ve listened to dozens of times collectively and always gleaned inspiration from, without fail.

    This time, you (and Debbie, also) have freaking outdone yourselves. You’ve bared your souls in such a way that I would seem ungrateful to not voice my opinion in attempt to actualise the positive influence you’ve had on my attitude to life.

    Thank you, so very much, for the anomaly that is your podcast. Thank you for your dogged existence on this planet despite facing huge internal adversity. Thank you for articulating with such precision that convinces me to examine so many different aspects of myself under the microscope; while also offering a metaphorical, reassuring pat on the back to let us know there’s hope and it’s all going to be okay. Thank you for investing in, and bringing into public awareness, a range of groundbreaking causes that will surely change the lives of countless numbers of people. Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable — to lean into your pain in an expansive and intentional way — so that your listeners can feel less alone.

    It’s been a true pleasure to listen to you adapt and grow over the years to become more empathetic, compassionate, and open-hearted. You’re the furthest thing from a broken toy; you’re a slow-motion masterpiece being painted in real-time, and the privilege of tuning into your joyous evolution, good sir, has been all mine. (And your millions of listeners, of course.)

    Keep up the good work. I’m rooting for you, and will be tuning in for a long time to come.

    Yours in solidarity, Lauren.

  25. Trauma Release Exercises has really helped me with my childhood sexual abuse.
    During my 1st MDMA trip I started to shake, as per waking the tiger, which triggered my body to realise that it’s a good thing. I notice the need to shake, and shaking more often ever since, also during meditation. TRE really helps me to induce this shaking mechanism when I want to and schedule it in when I need it when I feel emotionally overloaded.

  26. Hello Tim & Debbie,
    Randomly discovered your podcast…what a blessing!

    I recently discovered a way to heal our damaged fight-flight-freeze limbic system wiring and wanted to share this.

    I found talk-therapy helpful in gaining a cerebral understanding, but I always knew there was something in my physical body that needed healing.
    The physical reactions when I get triggered are so powerful and have such a detrimental affect on my life, but it’s an automatic response in my body that I have no control over.

    I tried the Waking the Tiger, but the imagining a tiger thing just didnt work for me.

    I have been dealing w. chronic Lyme disease for a few yrs, and thru this I learned of Annie Hopper’s DNRS- Dynamic Neural Retraining Seminar.
    I knew in my gut this is exactly what my body needs to heal from how the abuse is stored in my physical body!

    It’s based in neuroplasticity, and how trauma can damage the limbic system of the brain, causing neurons to be cross-wired. Your fight-flight-freeze mechanism becomes hyper-vigilant & gets wired to go into red-alert mode at the slightest hint of these things it has learned are dangerous.

    But the brain can change. You can re-wire the neurons & create new pathways. The program teaches you how to do this.

    I am only a week into this, but I wanted to share it. I am so excited about it.

    An aside: Years ago I went thru the intensive year-long programs at the Berkeley Psychic Institute & Aesclepion Healing Institute, which has also been instrumental in my recovery. I have given & received hundreds of spiritual readings & healings. This has helped me immensely in reaching and healing the deeply buried parts of myself.

    I have wanted to offer this to others who are healing from similar experiences. So I am putting this out there:
    EveofGrace is my twitter handle. One can try me there…just know I don’t go on social media regularly & it may take me awhile to see your msg.

    I grew up with keeping my mouth shut in general programmed into me, and it’s always eye-opening when I see people share their experiences. I have decided to try and be less isolated. Thank you.

  27. Thank you for sharing your experience. The resource page is amazing and if you don’t mind I will be linking to it from my blog and podcast, where I have also shared my story of survival from childhood sexual abuse.
    This is a difficult subject to discuss at any age, but as a teacher I believe it is an important conversation to constantly be having as we all learn from each other and we all heal differently. Thanks for all the discussions you have on your show and the resources you make available to so many people!

  28. Over all the years I have listened to podcasts, I have never once written in or made a comment. I’m a welder, we talk about boobs and beer. This podcast made me tear up in sadness. It made me tear up in happiness. It filled me with anxiety and angst, yet I’ve never felt so hopeful and filled with joy. I felt understood, loved, and appreciated, without ever saying a word. Empathy is running through me on a level I have never experienced in my 35 years. You deserve everything you have, Tim.

    Thank you, and know that you are not unheard.

  29. Immense respect for you both, to use your experience to help others is such a noble act. Wishing you both and everyone affected the very best in your journey

  30. Thank you, Tim, for your courage to do this interview and share it with us. That is no small feat and my respect for you (which, as an avid listener/reader of your works for years was already high) just grew by a factor of 100. Like an alchemist you are truly turning your pain into medicine and the beauty is that, insofar as you are helping others to now heal through the “sharing” of this medicine you are also healing your own trauma.

    I know it is an overused cliché, but the adage “we are all connected” is a fact, and almost nowhere is this more apparent than in the healing process, where to share medicine, born of pain, is to automatically receive it for oneself.

    I am certain that this podcast as well as your generous support of the MAPS research has saved (and will save future) lives.

    Many blessings to you on your healing journey. May all all perceived “lead” continue to be transformed into gold.

  31. I don’t believe in coincidences and your name has been bombarding me for so long that I decided to spend these 200 minutes listening… now in my eyes you’re more real than I ever thought. I am sure this message will help thousands, if not millions.

  32. Tim
    Es más que triste el número de personas que hemos sido víctimas de abuso sexual en nuestra infancia. Necesitamos toda una vida para lidear con ello y nunca nos deshacemos por completo del trauma. Tengo 56 años y a veces aun hoy en dia pasó del horror a la rabia por lo injusto del pasado
    Aun así en estos dias lo llevo mucho mejor y gracias a tus libros aprendi a comer y ejercitarme efectivamente
    Te deseo siempre lo mejor y que sigas iluminando a todos por tu paso en este mundo
    Maria

  33. Thank you. I would add EMDR to the resources. It’s also a powerful technique that appears to work with many of us resistant to other trauma therapies.

  34. Wow. I am SO grateful for your incredibly courageous and generous share. I also got chills at the parallels of our story that, to me, prove the healing evolution of collective consciousness. I, too, am 43. I, too, uncovered childhood memories 6 years ago during an ayahuasca ceremony. After years of contemplating how I might share my story to help others, on the same day you released this episode, I released a music video called “America’s Got an Incest Problem” to a MUCH smaller platform, but it still helped at least 3 people that I know of so far. And it was a HUGE deal for me to find the courage to do that. I can’t tell you how much I relate to your story. You are a warrior of light, TIm. Thank you.

  35. Thank you Tim for being so vulnerable and thorough and willing to bring up the Darkness that you dealt with at such a young age that is definitely awful and not right and that is the final minutes of the podcast wraps up I just want to see if somebody had suffered this from an older sister when I was a little older than you compounded by a very emotionally and verbally abusive set a parents being raised in a cult church I’m giving myself permission to forgive myself for the pain of that and how twisted my thoughts around sex and romance and in intimacy is Not my fault. The loss of my 11 year marriage to the woman that I love who couldn’t love me back or I became too much for that leaves me on an island quite literally recovering from CPTSD In addition to the PTSD from The discard divorce in January. I’ve been unemployed ever cents as I lost my job only a couple weeks early returning from vacation after six years. 16 your business guy now 45 years old starting over and a lot of days I don’t know how I can possibly make it. I wanted to start my own business and I had launched an LLC in mid January Hope this year but only days later I discard a divorce as my wife was seeing somebody else just completely ruined me every part of me especially my parents gone both in 2018 from cancer and dementia. I don’t have any relationship with my four siblings who are all fiercely independent and quite frankly rather judgemental and toxic. I believe I have a voice in the story like you I’d love to be able to tell so many days I just want to turn on the podcast and just start talking another people like you and other men who even when we get support inside or eight memberships for another brotherhoods which I find myself in a stick Missouri on even though we want to we don’t wanna be looked at as victims and I definitely hate that term to we have to find some word for what we done because I don’t feel like a victim or a survivor. I just feel fucking hurt every fucking day. Lately it’s been one day for three days back but I’m glad I got to listen to this episode because I’m doing this before I got to do the hardest work of my life tonight as I am totally carving myself up across all major areas of my life to go find a lion that can lead me out of this mess. I AM that I AM!

  36. Tim, thank you for sharing your story. Are you familiar with Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work? It is healing many people from all over the world. You can do this work. Start with reading Supernatural (or watching “re-wired” on Gaia if you prefer visual learning). Much love to you in your healing 🤍

  37. Tim, I apologize for going off topic (this seems to be the quickest way get in touch with you). Before I get to the point, I want to thank you: I have been listening to your Podcast for a few years, and as Hugh Jackman recently pointed out, it’s by far the best source of useful and inspiring knowledge I have come accross for a while. So thank you, very, very much!

    Now to the point. It’s an idea: You should (by should I mean, you can if you choose to) create a MasterClass.com concept for Business, and use your connections to bring together the world’s top business minds/performers. Given that those guys are super busy (i.e. it may be hard to get them to commit to doing a full course), your concept could be more like Tools of Titans – each person does 1 hour of video content, focusing on their key lessons and main takeways/strategies – with a bunch of resources to follow.

    Imagine how incredibly cool and invaluable such a project would be!

    Anyway, think about it over a glass of wine. All the best!!

  38. Hi Tim,
    What incredible courage to come forward. No matter what anybody says, please know that you are saving lives by coming forward like this. You literally just saved a life somewhere. I did not see this on your list of resources. Marylin Van DerBur has helped me immensely in my recovery journey. She has emailed with me off and on over the years and is just a great soul, a beacon of light. I highly recommend her book, her videos, her organization. https://www.missamericabyday.com/. She has been working to help expand cultural consciousness and to help people heal from this epidemic of child abuse – her life work is beautiful. I wish you great healing on your journey.
    -Ellen

  39. Hey Tim,

    I never commented on your blog or any blog so far but I guess there is a first time for eveything.
    I am doing it to thank you a lot for your openess and relating your story with these powerful ressources that will help so many people.

    It is helping me both for my personal traumas and as well as for my activity as a therapist.
    Yes we are all together on this journey on earth and yes there is light.

  40. Thank you Tim & Debbie,

    For opening up the conversation between trusted friends.
    It comforts me in knowing I can be heard safely when I would tend to shut out.
    It models a space we are all longing for and I seldom dare to ask.
    Your talk encourages me to create & ask for more of it.

    Thank you for bridging eloquelently we are not alone and that there is hope:
    « I view it as work that connects me to humanity and the shared suffering that is life. …
    I am training myself to be a sommelier of suffering, not to increase the intensity but
    so that I can not view myself as an independent island of flaws but rather this interconnected human who has the capacity to sympathize and empathize. »

    From now on I won’t so easily forget the bridge is here.

    Tim, I have appreciated much of your work. and really connect to the times you shared openly how you felt. Were the Internet be fully erased, I might forget the hacks and habits. This talk with Debbie would resonate infinitely.

    Thank you both for your imprint and gentle touch

    Nathalie

  41. Namaste Tim and Debbie.

    You have given an enormous gift to all of those who will hear or read your conversation.

    I know how much this can help. 40 years ago I received the same gift from John Lennon and Yoko Ono with John’s “therapy” album “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” and John and Yoko’s long interviews talking about the difficulties in their lives in and their relationship, interviews given 1980 just before John was murdered. I was like “Wow! It’s not just me? Other people walk around experiencing this trauma too!”. It made me feel much less alone.

    John Lennon also chose the raw emotion approach on that album. I never thought anyone could sing those songs with more emotion than John, but then I discovered Barbara Streisand’s cover of John’s song “Mother” which is somehow even more heartbreaking.

    That you continue to give us so many gifts over so many years is humbling and inspiring. Thank you.

    I have an older friend who was old enough to really experience the 60’s. When I mentioned John’s vulnerability and openness on “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” he said “Yeah, but you know, John was never a wimp”, and that is true of you too Tim. You are a great role model of masculinity. It is a strength that you are able to choose to go to such a vulnerable place.

    Love and Light,

    Guy
    Cambridge, England

  42. Thank you for sharing your beautiful broken self.. you are helping heal a lot of broken souls besides yours, more than you can know. I was five but I didn’t remember any of it till I was in my late teens.. I don’t recall any triggers but for the last two decades plus, it plays like a movie. I have tried to reach out for therapy but have never succeeded. I’m 43 now. Perhaps time to get unstuck and love myself

  43. Hello!

    I am writing this as a letter of gratitude.I’ve been a podcast listener of yours since around 2015 or 2016 and I’ve learned so much since I tuned in. Last year I bought your book the 4 Hour Workweek, and I also have a copy of your book Tools of Titans.

    In listening to your amazing podcast, I learned so much. I learned that there are people out there like me, who think like me and who care about the things I care about. I also learned that there is a market for content that is deep, thoughtful, and heartfelt. I stopped trying to fit into the bite-sized content we’re told we should be creating via places like buzzfeed. I started thinking differently about my life, truly at a higher level. I started asking better questions, focusing on better things. You’ve introduced me to some of the most amazing, inspiring people that I never would have known about otherwise. You are such a light in the world and have created such a profound impact in my life. Thank you endlessly!

    I’m also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, so I know how scary it can feel to share your story publicly. I cried when I did mine. I’ve recently taken down my videos because I didn’t want the sons of one of the people to see it before they turn 18, but being open about these things is so important. When I first told my shaman professor, he told me, “You’re good. This is good, it’s good that you’re telling me. And you’re going to be ok.” I wish to relay that to you. It’s ok to feel anger towards the perpetrators, and it’s ok to talk about those experiences. Claim them, because they’re yours. You get to create meaning from them.

    When you share things like this, you’re making the world such a better place because you’re shedding shame and guilt around these topics. I often say that abuse hides works in secrecy. I never expected to hear a story like this from you, but I was already so grateful when I listened to Debbie’s episode. I think there’s a lot we can do to prevent these types of issues from being so prevalent in future generations.

    All in all, thank you so much for the amazing impact you’ve had even before this episode, and thank you so much for being vulnerable and courageous about your own experience!

    Much love,
    Egle

  44. Hey Tim
    I appreciate your work so much. It’s so great that there is so much awareness being raised about childhood trauma healing and all its complexities.

    My own healing journey has mirrored yours somewhat in terms of the tools I’ve been using to unravel it all. Here are a few resources I’ve found incredibly helpful in addition to the tools you’ve mentioned.

    On forgiveness, I found “A Course in Miracles” to be an incredible tool. The book could really be called “A Course in Forgiveness” and it sees forgiveness — returning from hatred to love — as the greatest miracle. The course itself is very dense and hard to get your teeth stuck into without a teacher though. I found Marianne Williamson’s audio recording from a live event a great introduction and super helpful. It’s called “A Return to Love Workshop” — it’s 10 hours long. This stuff isn’t for pussies though! This is real deep end forgiveness, like how you forgive the guy who just murdered your wife.
    Essentially the course is a training in “non-dual” psychology and the ultimate goal of the course is to wake us up out of the dream of separation. In that sense, the course teaches that there is only “one of us” here — the idea that there is an other, separate to ourselves, is an illusion, and when this is seen clearly, unconditional love to all is very natural, because we recognise that everyone is our very own self i.e. we awaken to oneness. In that light, the course views all the events and people in our lives, including our abusers, as being part of our personal curriculum designed to lead us to oneness and embodying unconditional love. (It sounds so much easier than it is!!!)
    The course uses a fair bit of Christian symbology and lingo, but there’s no need to follow any Christian beliefs to use the course. A few key take aways from the course that I’ve found so helpful are:
    1) Whoever comes into your life will either be your crucifier or your saviour, depending on what you are to them i.e. if we crucify someone in our mind for what they have done to us, they will be our crucifier and it will cause ourselves so much pain, whereas if we are their saviour, by loving them regardless of what they’ve done, they in turn will save us from ourselves and lift us into a higher love.
    2) When we feel hurt by what someone has done to us, the pain we feel isn’t actually a result of what they have done. The pain is actually the result of us closing our heart towards them because of what they have done. In other words, we closed our heart because our love is conditional, it is not yet unconditional. It’s very subtle, but in my experience it’s true, and when we open our heart again towards the other, i.e. when we forgive them, the pain starts to heal.

    

Parts work has been huge for me too. My entry in parts work was with Trauma Constellations (also known as IoPT) rather than IFS though. Trauma Constellations, developed by German psychologist Franz Ruppert, are an off-shoot of Family Constellations. It’s incredible stuff. In a Family Constellation you will have “representatives” who take the position of various family members, friends etc, and your relationship with these people will play out in the constellation. In a Trauma Constellation however , all the representatives become different parts of yourself. It’s nuts. You get to see your inner world, your unconscious mind, laid out right before your eyes. Very trippy, but the revelations and insights from this work are incredible and like nothing else in my experience, as you finally get to see what’s actually going on deep down inside. The goal of the work is to remember/reconnect with our lost and traumatised parts and start integrating them. It can lead to serious breakthroughs for some people. Franz Ruppert has a beautifully clear way of describing this trauma healing process (You can find some great videos of his on youtube and this is a link the UK centre: https://www.healthy-autonomy.co.uk/franz-ruppert/) 



    Second up on the parts work, is working with an empath. Gifted empaths are, I guess, hard to come by, but they have an incredible gift of being able feel other people’s emotions so fully, that they can mirror it back to us and help us to see what’s actually going on, deep inside, behind all the layers. The empath I worked with has the most incredible gift whereby she would basically become me and thereby show me to myself. Basically she becomes your “inner child” and shows you what’s actually going for your inner child. Again, this is seriously trippy work.
    In my first session she mirrored back to me an utterly devastated and terrified little boy, which I couldn’t recognise whatsoever. She told I wasn’t ready to see it or connect with the feelings this little boy had though. I remember thinking to myself, “What could be so bad that I couldn’t remember it?” 6 months later though, my memory vaults finally opened and I finally met that devastated and terrified little boy, and it all made sense. 
This kind of work is incredible for revelation and insight into what is actually going on, and a good empath will also help you to move through and release the emotions that the inner child is burdened with. Finding an empath with this kind of skill is probably quite hard, but here is the lady and her husband who I worked with (they literally saved my life on several occasions!)
    http://www.iamawake.com/

    A final word on parts work, an insight that I have found very helpful, is that if we find ourselves playing out the same old pattern again and again, for years, if not decades, the same old pattern that creates so much pain and suffering, which we can’t seem to resolve no matter how hard we try, to the point that it makes us feel utterly hopeless and suicidal, then it might because two parts within us are in opposition, and until those parts come out of opposition, the stalemate will continue.
    For example, if you were devastated by an abandonment at a young age, part of us will want to protect ourself from ever having that experience again. Yet at the same time another part of ourself wants and needs, in a healthy way, deeply loving connections. But these two parts are in complete opposition and until the protector part that says “no way are you ever having deeply loving connections again because you may get abandoned and devastated again” is brought into awareness, and recognised to have played such a loving and important role, but a role that is ultimately no longer serving us, we won’t be able to break the pattern and the protector part will continue to rule (and ruin) our life. IFS is obviously perfect for working with this kind of thing, but that insight alone has felt like a life saver to me.

    There are so many insights from other tools to share, but one more in particular stands out with regards to using MDMA. I haven’t heard it being talked about so much by the MDMA healing community (MAPS etc) but I found a profoundly transformational way to work with MDMA that is a bit more shamanic than the usual psychotherapy approach (like we might see in “Trip of Compassion” for example).
    Essentially the method is “be still”. Our healed self, our natural state of being, is utterly peaceful (imagine the inner world of Buddha, utterly still and calm) and this peace is a reflection of inner wholeness, of true health. If we take MDMA and go into a deep and undisturbed meditation, with the intention of “being still”, at first the MDMA (plus healing music) will help us to go deeper into inner stillness and peace. But before long, as we drop deeper and deeper into ourselves, we will start to come in contact with all the parts of ourselves that are not still and are not at peace. We start meeting all the disturbances and traumas buried in our psyche. 
Then what happens is that the healing wisdom of the body kicks in and the body starts to shake, very gently at first, as it seeks to release these disturbed energies. Before long though, if we stay focused and present, with our eyes closed and awareness focused inside, our body will go into a full on release and start shaking like crazy (although it’s voluntary rather than some kind of involuntary spasm). It’s like a release valve is opened and the body is finally given permission to start unburdening the backlog of disturbed energies it’s been carrying. And it feels soooo good! You can feel all this crap and heavy energy that’s been stored up for years just leaving your body.
When I stumbled across this way of using it, sitting on a beach one night all by myself, I spent 3-4 hours shaking like crazy, like an animal would to release trauma, and as a result I released so much terror that I never knew I was even carrying. I don’t know how else I would have ever been able to release it. So this is a totally somatic way of working with MDMA, where the wisdom of the body aided by deep meditation guides the healing process, and when the stored up energy is discharged, the next day you are a different person.
    A mantra for this work could be “love reveals all that is unlike itself”, or likewise, “stillness reveals all that is unlike itself”. When using MDMA this way, talking with a therapist throughout the session may actually be a distraction, as it will take us out of the deeply focused, meditative state that we need to be in in order for the MDMA to trigger really deep somatic release. At least that has been my experience. 


    One other thing of interest that I find myself working with that could be a useful tool in the trauma healing bag is yoga and bodywork combined with low doses of psilocybin (anywhere around 0.5g). Going along with the idea that “the body keeps the score”, I have often been lead intuitively into very deep, slow, yoga poses (yin yoga style), coupled with self body work, to help release all kinds of stuck energy that I feel I would never be able to access if I weren’t being assisted by psilocybin. I don’t feel it has the power to assist major healing breakthroughs like can be achieved on higher doses, but there are definitely still some benefits to be had, especially if done on a more regular basis.

    
Ok! Enough for today!


    Thanks again so much for your work Tim, and so much love to everyone on their healing journeys.

    

RanjitBaby

  45. Hi Tim, I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I would not want to add any pain for you but I’m sure this guy continued to hurt hundreds of other little children and probably is still an active pedophile today. Can we get this guy off the street?

  46. Thank you so much for this, both of you. I cannot imagine how harrowing it was for both of you to cross such a massive communicative threshold, reaching so many people and sharing something so personal and impactful on one’s life.

    It was extremely helpful to hear this episode as one who has experienced sexual trauma as a child. I related to so much of what was said, from always operating at a 6, to everything about dissociative patterns and how they can intertwine with narratives that continue to operate as a default setting, often below conscious awareness. Listening to this has instilled a sense of relief and hope in me during a pivotal time in my life and a difficult time in the world. It could not have come at a better time for me.

    The boomerang does come back hard. It’s amazing how deep this stuff can get buried and how creative and determined one can be in making sure it stays that way.

    I cannot express enough gratitude to you for taking this leap. I am glad to see so many similar comments here.

    I wish you and Debbie all the best.

  47. Thank you Tim and Debbie for discussing such details of your healing journey in this podcast. The resources you shared will be of incredible value to many listeners.

    I must say though, I feel there are some things you really failed to address. This podcast seems very much targeted to people who are already aware of having suffered trauma, and are aware of wanting guidance for healing. However it doesn’t really speak to those who are not aware of having suffered trauma, and how they might uncover it though. I hope you might go deeper into this in a subsequent podcast.

    Firstly Tim, you mentioned how as a result of the abuse you developed various behaviours to compensate for (or cover up) the trauma, many of which were actually beneficial in your life path. It would be very helpful to have heard some examples, the processes you went through.

    What specific behaviours or qualities did you develop? Were they both beneficial and detrimental? How did you reframe them through therapy? Have you replaced them, let them go, or simply see them in a different context?

    Secondly, you made the point that for 30+ years you had completely forgotten the abuse, or locked it away. Many listeners, myself included, may have also done a similar thing. You mentioned (14:30) that you had identified 17 specific behaviours that previously seemed unrelated but which suddenly came together like pieces of a puzzle and were all related to the trauma.

    You briefly mention rage, but it would be incredibly helpful to know others. If listeners were to notice similar behaviour patterns in themselves, it might help them identify previous trauma in their own lives and help begin their own healing journey.

    Of course you don’t want thousands of people self-diagnosing and falsely concluding that they must have suffered abuse too. But perhaps some examples might help people identify their own patterns and be able to notice connections that they hadn’t before.

    I say all this not to complain, but simply to point out some gaps in the content of this otherwise fantastic episode. Thanks again for your incredible podcasts, and for constantly pushing the limits to help others.

  48. Tim and Debbie- how tremendously brave and generous to share your stories. I had to ‘ digest ‘ the podcast in 4 bites due to the intensity. I do think there is tremendous value in sharing these stories to help others who have not been able to make progress on their challenges. Tim your podcast always teaches me many things, but this one was exceptionally transformative. Thanks for being so authentic.

  49. This is incredibly impactful Tim, thank you for your openness and putting this into the world. Hearing about your heightened response to stress resonates with me a lot, so I will be exploring HRV training as I think it may be helpful to me as well.

    What you have shared of your experiences with psychedelics reminds me of what I have felt during EMDR sessions, which feels like talk therapy in fast-forward mode. It’s weird at first and conceptually seems like nonsense, but I think that EMDR has actually helped facilitate re-processing of my traumatic childhood memories without the use of exogenous compounds. It has brought buried memories to the forefront in an overwhelmingly vivid way. In my experience, the rapid eye movement adds a physical element to talk therapy and the deliberate and prescribed nature of EMDR sessions has taught me how to ‘ground’ myself when trauma infiltrates my mind and body. It also requires me to describe what I am feeling and/or seeing in a very simple and primitive way, which helps me put words to my experiences more easily.

    EMDR seems to allow me to experience some of what you describe with psychedelics; I’m sharing because maybe it will work for others too.

    Also, I love you.
    Kristina

  50. Dear Mr. Ferriss,

    I listened to your podcast about your healing journey after child abuse and I was very moved by how you and your friend Debbie Millman supported each other and how you succeeded in showing to me as a listener that the healing process is as individual as the abuse itself. Even though I haven`t experienced any sort of abuse myself, as a councelling teacher here in Germany in Cologne in a demanding school district I talk to a lot of children who carry a heavy burden. Listening to you allowed me a lot of insight into how a person who has been abused struggles and can be a survivour. Please continue your brave work and all the best to you.
    Best regards
    Isabell Kruse

  51. Tim,

    I have come back to your podcast in recent months after a very long hiatus. I was surprised to find as I typed in the names of professionals that you were interested in doing these interviews. Turns out you have been on a healing path of your own.

    Bravo on being brave enough to share your story. I’m a firm believer that the best way to create vulnerability in an audience is to be vulnerable yourself. It is absolutely heartbreaking to learn we are just cracking the surface into the amount of male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. By you coming forward, you will have moved so many of your viewers to feel as if they are not the only one: as Debbie felt with her Dear Anne Landers L column so long ago. I’m sure this experience was extremely cathartic for you as you continue to move through the emotions of putting your story “out there”. I send you love, admiration and strength as you (hopefully) rest your spirit during this time and allow this outpouring of love to reach the scared young boy still living inside you. He is loved, and he is safe.
    Thank you for your service.
    Charlotte

  52. I have always felt an affinity with you Tim although we lead very different lives, are very different people (in some ways) and have never met but now I understand why I feel that way.

    I also uncovered my own memories of sexual abuse, mine was during a long silent meditation retreat and it was the best and most difficult thing that I’ve ever experienced.
    Luckily like you I had all the support I needed and more at the time and my healing was rapid.

    I feel heavy with sadness writing this though knowing that you have suffered from that kind of abuse because I know how deep that damage can run and what it takes to heal it but I wanted to thank you for sharing your experience because it has helped me with some of the residual shame that I was still feeling that I wasn’t aware of and that has allowed me to be just a little kinder to myself.

    The problem is much bigger than is ever exposed in main stream media so hopefully your telling of the truth of what happened to you will open some doors to more conversations and more exposure of the truth.

    My heart felt thanks goes to you for going past your fear and publishing this.

  53. Thank you. Thank you. When the dust settles, and you perhaps are reading these comments, please know that it did matter. It mattered to me.

  54. Tim and Debbie, thanks for your conversation and your work being friends.

    Love the way you have learned to see the material nature of thought. In addition to talking with teachers, therapists, reading books, have you watched this movie about David Bohm and Krishnamurti? [Moderator: YouTube link to “Infinite Potential: The Life & Ideas of David Bohm” removed.]

  55. Thank you for your courage and your bravery. Your words have lite a light in the world for others to follow and to heal. May your own healing bring a release of joy and wonderment into your life. Blessings. Kp

  56. This page maaay be the lightly wrong place for this suggestion, as it is centered around healing, not around abuse in general.

    However: If you (Tim) ever find the strength and intetest for something like that, I would be very interested into you interviewing Andrew Vachss (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Vachss).

    He is an attorny representing only abused children as well as an author, who writes dark novels as a way, to raise awareness about this topic… From memory, I think he once said that after he first encountered as a social worker a child with a sexual disease the red mist in front of his eyes never completely went away (quoted from memory.)

    He is – as far as I know – a good speaker with strong opinions based on lots of experience, but I have never heard him do any podcast so far…

    Once bad things happen, healing and recovery are immensely important. However, at least as a society the question is also very important, how to deal with violent, predatory people and how best to protect children… Or which measures cost lots of money and don’t offer any real results.

  57. Thanks Tim, beautiful you opened up and shared about this topic. ❤️ I have a question. I am very curious and interested in the psychedelic assisted therapy. I live in Amsterdam so I’m sure we mush have places to go here as well. 😉 I will google but if you have heard if a specific clinic, place, person or business that feels trustworthy to you I would absolutely LOVE to hear about it. It would really help as I also feel the heathy dosis of: “Oh man! Where to go with this that feels safe and held?” Thanks everyone. “There is light on the other side.”

  58. Thank you for this episode Tim and Debbie. I experienced trauma of child abuse from a family member. Ayahuasca has been an incremental help to understand the trauma and maintain sanity.

    One thing that keeps bothering me is the perpetrator side: how we as a society can prevent them to do fucked up stuff to kids?

    I believe it is important to speak publicly about our experiences, bring awareness, but there should be a national system of education and prevention from early ages, so there is less trauma in the first place. CDC puts all the responsibility on adults at home and agrees that there is not enough work has been done: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/childsexualabuse.html
    There are a few non-profits that people can donate, e.g. https://laurenskids.org/join-donate/

    I hope you feel better. Sending you lots of love <3

    1. I agree, and am happy for Tim’s road to recovery. But there are dozens, hundreds of other little kids that this molester hurt. This guy is now a man, still sexually active and now may have graduated to worse things. If he is found, and confronted, and searched, who knows what or who the police may find. I’m thinking of all the missing children.

  59. I was so happy to hear this podcast when it was shared with me by a friend. There is so much growing research out there regarding work with mushrooms, yet it seems none of them specifically address the childhood trauma/sexual trauma piece. I have been guiding people through one-on-one sessions with psilocybin therapy for years now to help uncover and heal childhood trauma. It is truly amazing to see them break through the layers in record time, compared to traditional therapy, and move on with their lives after integrating the memories and traumas fully. I have people come to me with multiple addictions and ailments, who are often on many medications, only to find that they have repressed trauma that needed to be released/processed. The more we talk about this and get it out into the public, the greater we can heal as a society. Thank you Tim!

  60. Hi Tim- as a mother of two young kids, I was very curious about an aspect of this conversation that you didn’t touch on…specifically, I’m wondering how to protect my kids from such predators, how to know what signs to look for, etc. I’m curious if your parents ever noticed any signs or change in your behavior at that young age afterwards that could have given them a hint or a clue that there was foul play…

    Anyway, I’d really love any tips or learnings you can share that can help from a preventative standpoint. Thanks in advance!

  61. Stigma

    As a man there are many stigmas around mental health,

    My recent experience when I walked into the victim services office in my hometown looking for trauma counseling reaffirmed that in a big way.

    Them “can I help you?”

    Me “yes I am looking for some help”

    Them “I think you might have the wrong office”

    Me “this is victim and trauma services right?”

    Them “um yes…”

    Me “ok then I have the right place”

    Them “um we normal service people who have been abused or sexually assaulted”

    Me “ yes I would fit into both of those categories”

    Them “oh… oh sorry please come in and have a seat.”

    This is why many men will not tell anyone about what has happened to them, or share the thoughts they have or explore if there internal climate is normal or not. But I want to encourage men to share your experiences, to share your thought life because one of two things will happen – one you will find that what you face is normal, and that is comforting, or two you will find out what you experience isn’t normal and then you can begin the journey towards becoming healthy. But if you silently struggle and try to survive that war that rages inside you on your own, you will find that eventually you will burn out.

    I am a 6’3” guy I have a big beard and a shaved head. I drive a big truck, I hunt and build homes for a living. I have tattoos and for all intensive purposes am somewhat intimidating – or least that’s what I have been told. I don’t look like I struggle with PTSD and I don’t look like I suffer from abnormal levels of anxiety. I have spent my entire life crafting an image and a persona that acts as a shield. The truth is I am a terrified person on the inside.
    I live a life that could be characterized as internal civil war, I live in a state of hyper vigilance, my brain is constantly telling me that everything is going wrong. That everyone is plotting against me, that at any movement a person twice my size might burst into the room and throw me at the wall. That at any moment that man twice my size might grab the people I care about most in the world and hurt them while I watch helpless. At this point in my life I know that this won’t happen, or at least my rational, logical brain knows but my emotional brain, my survival brain is afraid for its life and the lives of everyone I care about. I wake every night from dreams that terrorize me, dreams that at some point stopped terrorizing me because I learned to become numb to the dreams of helplessness, of watching the woman I love be hurt in the worst ways imaginable, of my kids being stolen from me, of the person who should have protected me as a boy be the person that is hunting me down and I spend night after night on the run in a world that my subconscious is creating and changing and I realize you can never truly numb these dreams out.

    I spend my days watching for signs that my boss might want to fire me, and worried that my co-workers are talking about me behind my back. I have gone from job to job because of my insecurities and my need to protect myself. I am in the process of losing my family, because some where along the way I picked up the belief that if I could control my world enough I could rid myself of this never ending fear. But the more I control the further from the thing I want I become.

    And so today I work hard to let go, to breathe, and to remind myself that it will all be ok – no matter what happens. I choose to send my boss a note thanking him for the opportunity to work when the anxiety around work becomes too much for me to stand. I take a knee at work and shed a tear when I feel my chest tighten to the point that I cant breathe, and then I breathe. Every day is a challenge, but today I go to a support group on Monday nights, and counseling every other Monday, I have been honest with my boss about my struggles and I will be getting trauma counseling when I am finished with the cognitive behavior therapy. Today I am ok with being weak and I now know that these are not normal experiences, that these things I face are not something I can just push through – that this belief this thing that I learned to do as a young man to appease my abuser does me a disservice every time I engage with it. When I try to push through it puts me back in the position of being abused and pushes me further down a path away from recovery.

    Today I give my anxiety room, I choose to honor it and I choose to let the experience come so that it can go.

  62. Thank you, Tim. It took me weeks to listen to this podcast but I knew I had to listen to every word so I took it at a pace that I could digest. This work is, by far, the richest work you have done (imho) and this particular podcast has already changed my life for the better – simply by reminding me over and over and over that it wasn’t my fault and that it never should have happened.

    The more practical takeaway was how my trauma is related to so many other trivial habits of behavior in my life that I never understood. Now, I am in the dismantling process, the carving out but soon will begin to fill up and create a foundation so that I can live more freely into my middle age years without the burden I’ve carried with me for 5 decades.

    I also am deeply grateful for the work and money you are putting in to psychedelic research bc for me, that was also the turning point in my healing journey. But I am still seeking help to continue to loosen and release the pain body blockages. So, I am hoping that I will find help in your resource lists. Thank you thank you thank you.

  63. Hi Tim,

    Thank-you so so so much for standing by your opinion on forgiveness.
    I think the notion of forgiveness is needlessly touted as the ‘cure all’ for processing trauma but in actuality, pressuring the victim to forgive their perpetrators before they are ready is not only re-victimising but hinders them from learning what healthy boundaries are and how to enforce them. It’s so crucial for more people to hear this side of the narrative.

    Pete Walker, in ‘Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving’, talks about the importance of processing trauma through angering, crying, verbally ventilating and feeling, noting that females are often socialised to reject anger whereas males are socialised not to cry. Anger is where will comes from, which might explain why you are so productive! I, myself, had enormous difficulty connecting to anger, readily grieving and crying in its place, but once I got there, the difference it has made to my life and the way I view the world has been enormous.

    I wish the best for you. May you experience yourself wholly, fully and more richly than you’ve ever imagined. Thank-you for sharing your story and being brave and courageous.

    Kind regards,
    Lizzie

  64. A few more pennies dropped listening to this – you know, an “aha”, “oh” “that’s what that is”. Super helpful and heartening, and so very generous.

  65. Hi Tim & Debbie – thank you so much for this authentic, heart-opening, vulnerable and essential conversation.

    I wanted to offer a resource for those who have reached the same place as you, Tim, who know they want to let go of their hatred, but don’t quite know “how” to do it.

    I have a particular approach to forgiveness in my book “Forgiveness Made Easy” – a non-religious, secular-ethics practice and a method that is like a process for letting go, so you actually know when you’ve done it. That’s not to say that you might also need to re-forgive sometimes, but at least it can be a start towards getting free of your hatred and resentment.

    I have worked with many hundreds of clients who have successfully managed to forgive all kinds of abuse, neglect, trauma and betrayals through using this method. As you mention, there are so many resources that are out there for those of us who have been the victims of these experiences. Healing is possible.

    Thanks so much for sharing such a powerful message of hope.

  66. I think you should try TRE — a self-help technique developed by Dr David Berceli — this series of exercises that assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma by activates a natural reflex mechanism of shaking that able to calming down the nervous system and encouraging the body to return back to a state of balance.

  67. Thank you. I had some difficulty getting through this podcast. I weep for the “child” within us that had experienced deep traumas. Photography and art has helped me heal although I still know it’s a process to self love. Forgiving and acceptance of others are challenging tools to demonstrate knowing that perhaps there are others who never acknowledge their traumas that they refuse to work on themselves. Being mindful on a daily routine for me is what I am working on now like having a sense of humor.

  68. Dear Tim, I appreciate all you have done to help improve all lies but definitely my own. I had just started my journey of healing and self/historical discovery right before you released this podcast. I am a long time listener and fan and what a weird series of events that you shared this around the same time I made my first conscious decision to really work on my past. I was also sexually abused around ages 6-9 or so by a family member. I had only really told one person about this and just recently felt like I needed and wanted to uncover this experience to help live a better life. Part of my first step was a bit of journaling but mostly reaching out and attempting to establish a relationship with a therapist. I had experienced talk therapy as a kid due to my parents divorce but did not have a good experience. Thanks to you and your guests for also talking about and recommending talk therapy, which helped me take the first step. I am so grateful that I came across your work one day and have followed you since. You always seem to be providing the information I need when I need it. From here I am also going to follow and look further into psychedelic therapy or experiences as well. From previous experiences these compounds helped shaped my life in positive and unexpected/intended ways, so feel this would be a natural step for me. Once again, thank you.

  69. Thank you so much, Tim: “How can you use your suffering?”
    I think it was actually several years ago when I felt you put voice to what had been my inner experience: being driven more by the “relief of not feeling terrible about myself for a fraction of day.” (This could even be a verbatim quote as I remember replaying it several times when writing it down for my notes. I hear this echoed by Debbie with, “And not because I feel if I don’t do it, I’m nothing.” Yes…yes…) At that time, it was meaningful to me even to see you share that, let alone your long post and TEDtalk on being so incredibly, totally close to suicide while a Princeton student. (I’m Princeton class of 2015, graduated from high school in 2001…long story.) And now this. I was reading the comments and would simply like to echo Christina M: How many lives will this one man save?

    In case helpful at all, I would second that HRV-coherence biofeedback (which I learned about via your podcast with Josh Waitzkin) is eye-opening feedback that can help bring one’s physiology more into the realm of what is noticeable and influenceable, even with the less-than-ideal biofeedback by HeartMath. I’d also second that IFS is revelatory in terms of how — effectively, quickly, and non-overwhelmingly — it can allow us to integrate and update the old, stressed, seemingly stuck “chunks” of our neurocircuitry. For people wanting to have deeper healing with IFS but may be hesitant to assist with drugs as you describe, I would recommend complementing with psychotherapist Loch Kelly’s approach to IFS (he is also on Sam Harris’ Waking Up app recommended by Tim in these resources).

    What I have found most helpful is nowflow philosophy, taught by Princeton physicist and tai chi master Wonchull Park (who teaches Princeton U Tai Chi Club: https://taichiclub.princeton.edu/resources/), as this lets me use lots of techniques and methodologies in my own healing journey from a place of what is most simple and general. Because it lets me lay down the burden of my striving for improvement (without risk of becoming “passive”), that’s how I could actually progress beyond what I ever thought would be possible for me in terms of being less stressed and more free from suffering.

    In terms of a specific tool for the short term, I would like to share a resource that definitely helped me along and has helped many when they’d felt that they’d “tried everything.” It’s a type of neurofeedback called dynamical neurofeedback. This is different from the protocol-driven linear neurofeedback that is encouraging or discouraging certain electrical brain-wave activity according to a bell curve of what’s “normal.” (BTW, I’m not involved as trainer or rep for this type of neurofeedback, though I do sometimes fundraise so that underprivileged children with special needs can have access to this neurofeedback.)

    I am a skeptical and safety-first kind of person, so I would add caution as, of course, we don’t know all that we’ve yet to learn about the brain. I am a fundamental fan, though, of the principle on how dynamical neurofeedback works: our brain is the most impressive information-processing, self-organizing thing known in the universe, so let’s give our own brain information about how our own brain is working (with practically real-time, useful feedback) because then our own brain will take that information about itself, identify inefficiencies, and self-organize more efficiently, given all that is unique to our own brain.

    For people who may be considering taking what Tim calls “very, very powerful compounds” that affect one’s brain, it would seem worth considering giving one’s own brain a “first shot” by letting it have information about itself. This links to Natalie Baker, psychotherapist and founder of Neurofeedback NY where NeurOptimal dynamical neurofeedback systems can also be rented:  https://neurofeedbackny.com/natalie-baker/ This page also tells a story of how training helped someone who was severely traumatized as a child. My own story is simply that a constant, underlying alarm bell of anxiety — perhaps my “simmering 6”! — went quiet with the help of these dynamical neurofeedback sessions. “There are tools. There are tools…”

    I do not for a moment compare my own sufferings with yours (or any one else’s for that matter). The numbers you share are staggering. I was so sorry to hear you suffered so. I had to switch over to the transcript to keep going as it got too much for me even to listen…

    As you say, too, “everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about.” When someone shares their path from suffering to hope, it makes us all less alone in this. Thank you, deeply, again Tim and Debbie for this.

  70. Hi Tim and Debbie, Thank you for sharing your healing journey. Dr. Willem Lammers has developed Logosynthesis to support healing trauma and anxiety. The philosophy is beautiful and the work is supported with one repeatable technique to restore our connection with our Essence. This work operates at an energetic / spiritual level and uses the ancient power of words and specific sentences to process the distress. The words shift the frozen perceptions that trigger the frozen reactions. From listening to your interview, a key benefit is that the structure of the technique supports the guide, and with a strong working relationship, the guide can help to process one piece at a time rather than open everything up at once. I will reference you to Willem’s website at http://www.logosynthesis.net and a list of professionals at The Logosynthesis International Association. http://www.logosynthesis.international/professionals. I am not a counselor or therapist either but when I was introduced to this group of professionals, I recognized that the work was profound. My interest in supporting this work is to use the same Logosynthesis model to help us to process our everyday reactions … the more each of us can understand why we react the way we do and how we can change our automatic responses, the more supportive we can be for those around us. In these covid times, Willem has published a number of books, including a new release – Discover Logosynthesis: The Power of Words in Healing and Development and I am close to releasing a new book: Thriving In Our Times: Changing Reactions to Action using Logosynthesis. Feel free to reach out and take care, Cathy

  71. Wow! There is a lot of discussion and resource sharing around trauma in my circles because I am a foster parent and I work in Healthcare. I was only half way through this podcast before I had to stop and broadcast to everyone I know what a gift this podcast is. Humans are amazingly resilient and I can’t wait for the day when we no longer perceive children who have experienced sexual abuse as “damaged” or “broken”. Because they are not. They are strong and brilliant and kind and worthy, so worthy of love and connection. Thank you, thank you for allowing us in and sharing a most helpful, self-aware, and sophisticated conversation around this topic. I hear you. I will be a better steward of trauma disclosures going forward. I will not try to fix hurt. Thank you for the work that you have done. Gratitude and respect for your guides along the way.

  72. Hi Tim, I’m so proud of you for disclosing this terrible secret that has been affecting your life. As a survivor of child sex abuse, disclosing the abuse is super difficult. Please know you’re not alone and that other men are going through the same battle. I happen to run a men’s peer support group for survivors of child sex abuse in Hawaii and know the importance of having a safe space to share. I hope you can find one near you. Here’s a link for some inspiration: https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/10/01/men-who-survived-child-sex-abuse-start-support-group-after-realizing-need/

    Andre

  73. Dear Tim – you are a gem. I think you’ll love this song: Control, Zoe Wees. The lyrics make me think of you each time I play or listen to it. Your impact is incredible – the world is a better place because of you, don’t you ever forget that. Lots of love from Antwerp, Belgium.

    Early in the morning I still get a little bit nervous
    Fightin’ my anxiety constantly, I try to control it
    Even when I know it’s been forever I can still feel the spin
    Hurts when I remember and I never wanna feel it again
    Don’t know if you get it ’cause I can’t express how thankful I am
    That you were always with me when it hurts, I know that you’d understand

    I don’t wanna lose control
    Nothing I can do anymore
    Tryin’ every day when I hold my breath
    Spinnin’ out in space pressing on my chest
    I don’t wanna lose control

    Sometimes I still think it’s coming but I know it’s not
    Tryin’ to breathe in and then out but the air gets caught
    ‘Cause even though I’m older now and I know how to shake off the past
    I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t have you holding my hand

    I don’t wanna lose control
    Nothing I can do anymore
    Tryin’ every day when I hold my breath
    Spinnin’ out in space pressing on my chest
    I don’t wanna lose control

    I need you to know, I would never be this strong without you
    You’ve seen how I’ve grown, you took all my doubts, ’cause you were home
    I don’t wanna lose control
    There’s nothing I can do anymore
    I don’t wanna lose control, oh-oh-oh-oh
    Nothing I can do anymore (anymore), anymore
    Tryin’ every day when I hold my breath
    Spinnin’ out in space pressing on my chest
    I don’t wanna lose control

    [Moderator: link removed.]

  74. Tim – thank you so much for your courage and vulnerability. You have helped so many people by not only sharing your story but with all of these amazing and holistic resources and approaches. I have overcome childhood trauma and a near death experience partially caused by repressed emotions due to trauma. I now run a purpose-driven nervous system technology company that helps people rewire their nervous systems. Our chief scientific advisor is Dr. Stephen Porges, founder of Polyvagal Theory (or the science of feeling safe). Please let me know if you’d ever like to speak with him. Either way, thank you so much again for your service to this world. With gratitude, Jason

  75. Your experience is very interesting to hear. It has been an eye opener to know that men have also experienced what I experienced as a child and as an adult. I don’t doubt there are more than 1 in 6 men. I also don’t doubt that there are more than 1 in 3 women. It must have been excruciatingly painful when you realized that you had been sexually assaulted. I use to be insulted and angry by the news in the 1980s of all the so called victims that came forward claiming they had been sexually abused but they had no memory of it. I felt my experiences had been diminished. My question to them was “How could you possibly not remember?” I became a believer after a co-worker told me her story while at lunch. I could not doubt her. Here is to your healing! May you find peace! I continue to find mine. Sharon 🙂

  76. Hi Tim. I really appreciated this podcast (sexual abuse) and as someone who continues to try to heal from incest (and has been a psychotherapist for 30 years) I think I have a story or two you might want to hear? I’ve recently been microdosing so would love to dialogue with you about that. Also, was struck by your comments on making suffering have meaning as well as the ‘forgiveness’ piece. To wit, the best definition of it for me; “Giving up all hope of having had a different past’ (Anonymous) And I hope you will feel free to contact me if you’d want to share insights.

  77. Wishing you well Tim. TBH I always saw something behind your eyes in interviews etc, always seemed like you were carrying something. Wishing you the best in your recovery x

  78. Tim, thank you for sharing with such honesty. Debbie, thank you for witnessing with compassion and sharing your own experiences as well.

    I recently finished reading a compelling memoir touching on many of the same topics: “I Never Said I Loved You” by Rhik Samadder. Brutal and unflinching, yes, but also wickedly funny, sharply observed and tender. It finds light in the darkness. Perhaps it may be of help to others.

  79. Tim,
    I can’t possibly thank you enough for this episode. It was extremely raw, vulnerable and it moved me to the core. I’ve been listening to your podcast for years and now some of your interests all of a sudden make sense. I wish you all the best in your healing journey.

  80. Hi Tim
    Thank you for another amazing podcast. I always Find the most interesting and useful resources through you for years now.

    Might I suggest you re-look at your enneagram type? Many of us are now qualified to type, however not all of us also have psychology training or an understanding of trauma.

    The reactions you state as being part of self pres six ie hyper vigilance is part of trauma and is the reaction of most people who are in fight-flight mode. Sixes are the most obvious ones caught by fear, but the fear in the Six is not due necessarily to trauma, otherwise all of us who are traumatised would be sixes.

    I’ve been a big fan of yours and have followed you since 4HWW was published and I see you as an Enneagram 7 with a 6 wing.

    Your brilliance and capacity to bring together so many amazing ideas and also your open mindedness and enthusiasm for new concepts and ideas fits seven very well. Enneagram 6 is typically conceptually conservative. They are usually not fans of trying new things and ideas on their own unless some leader they are looking up to is telling them it’s a good thing. New ideas scare sixes generally and you have made your career around exploring new ideas and concepts.

    Seven is also about escapism. Big time.
    What’s more escapism (in a good way than the 4HWW?)

    I wouldn’t say the six part I see in you is the capacity’s to drill down into the detail and figure out the nuts and bolts.

    I hope this is useful for you. Thanks for the amazing work you do.
    Ilias

  81. I was FLOORED by this episode. It’s been a while since i’ve listened to your podcast, because I’m trying to deconstruct the notion of peak performance in myself in order to perform better (I swear it’s working!) but when I saw that Dr. Mate had recommended this episode I had to give it a listen. Thank you, both to you and to Debbie. I think that every person who shares the ways in which they have moved through their pain does the world a whole lotta good.

    I’ve moved through my own pain of attempted honor killing/loads of honor based violence and childhood abuse at the hands of many people in my family. I ran away from home in my teens and never looked back, but my unprocessed traumatic response showed up as autoimmune illness and periods of dissociation. The moment I realized that what happened to me wasn’t right (because I stumbled into a workshop randomly with Gabor Mate 10 years ago!) was the moment the healing started. I’m lucky it started as early as it did.

    Psilocybin, LSD and MDMA (though clumsily used, and I would never recommend to others to do it the way I did!) have all been crucial in my journey. So have meditation, yoga, electronic music festivals and ecstatic dance. Over the years I’ve assembled as good a healing team as a do-gooder non-profit worker in Canada can afford, and I really do believe that it takes a team of professionals and loved ones to support, co-regulate, and provide safety as we move through our pain. I’m 31 now and I can’t believe how good my life is. I never could have imagined this kind of calmness as a self-harming, suicidal young adult.

    Once you start to see it, you see it everywhere and I really do believe that our purpose in life is to metabolize our own pain so we can be present for others as they metabolize theirs. I think your podcast episode is a beautiful example of that. Thank you!

    ps: a book recommendation – My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. I have been in love with his understanding of systemic trauma, the notion of how culture can often be a collection of decontextualized trauma responses, and a body-based (rather than cognitive) approach to systemic issues.

  82. Hi Tim, Thank you feels not enough for this, but from the bottom of my heart thank you. I am both in awe of (and terrified by) the courage it took for you and Debbie to share your experiences in an effort to help others. I cannot effectively convey its impact other than, for the first time ever, I recognize my experience in another. With extreme gratitude.