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The Fear Process - Beyond the Initials PTSD

by Ann Fillmore PhD(more info)

listed in mind matters, originally published in issue 203 - February 2013

 “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear 

Dune, Frank Herbert 1965. 

Fear

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear 

Dune, Frank Herbert 1965.

For a fuller understanding of how emotions work please read The Logic of Emotion by Ann Fillmore PhD published in Positive Health PH Online Issue 198 Sept 2012:

www.positivehealth.com/article/mind-matters/the-logic-of-emotion

When you experience intermittent violence, interspersed with attacks on self-esteem, an abrogation of causality and the perception that the perpetrator has good intentions, this brings on very dramatic changes.  In such cases as hostage taking and child abuse, the fear-based destructive affiliative bonding can be almost instantaneous. 

What is the Fear Process?

The newly invented disorders and syndromes multiply as fast as the psychiatric community discovers that the one does not begin to describe the full complexity of the entire spectrum of fear.  Each set of initials overlaps the other; some apply only to men, some to women, some to both and some only to children. Derek Summerfield doubts that any of them are accurate and, I agree, all of them contribute to the medicalization of treatment of trauma. [Lee 2001, Summerfield 2001, 2008.]

Few of these initials address the urge to bond through affiliative behaviours, to procreate and to protect one’s offspring.  None of them addresses the power of emotion. Red Skelton was a wonderful slapstick comedian from the 40s and 50s who suffered terrible stage fright, often having to be dragged from his dressing room, where he was puking, to perform.  Being a skilled actor he would use the energy of his fear, turning it to excitement and go on to take the stage by storm.  Good actors know that emotions are tools which all sentient creatures use as social signals. Each emotion has its own biochemical trigger and can trigger the chemical in a reciprocal fashion.

Fear is actually a higher order emotion ranging from terror / shock to anxiety / fear to thrill / excitement depending on the perceived degree of threat.  The Fear Process begins here, with the simple surge of adrenalin.

Remember, infants are born with only two emotions intact: anger (noradrenalin) and joy (endorphins) so they don’t exhibit any of the learned social behaviours of the Fear Process. There is adrenalin in the baby’s physiology so she does exhibit, like all living creatures, the startle reflex.  It is one of the first autonomic reflexes in the neonate. It repels away from pain and in the human / primate triggers both a clutching and shock reflex. The first to keep from falling and the latter to freeze in place.  Research with primates, including humans, to study fear and the flight or fight sequence are actually eliciting the startle reflex, not the emotion of fear.

In adult prey animals, like antelope, being startled does produces the urge to fight or flee, whereas infants freeze. The emotion - yes, all higher order creatures have emotions - of fear though, just as with predatory animals, can bring any number of learned reactions depending on which part of the Fear Process is triggered.  A prey animal, like a cow, who feels safe when the fear / excitement strikes will become curious and approach the stimuli. (see the video: Jazz for Cows (www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/lXKDu6cdXLI?rel=0 )

Fear as excitement is sought after as the social behaviour of playing. Think: riding a rollercoaster or being teased into accompanying friends into a dark cemetery to find ghosts. Sometimes play slips into fight (a game of football), which is where the primal emotion of anger (noradrenalin) reasserts.  With both prey and predator, the interactions of adrenalin and noradrenalin are highly species/ culturally determined. Understanding  the social construction of fear behaviours will give us dramatic insight once we arrive at the creation of the initials.

Affiliative Behaviours and Bonding

With the startle reflex - in a car accident - you may come away with bad memories, but no symptoms of PTSD.   If you’re trapped in the car, other cars around you are burning and the emergency crews are struggling to get you free, then because you are inundated by the emotion of fear / terror you could well develop PTSD.  

But to acquire the Stockholm or Battered Spouse syndrome, you need to be in a situation of extended counterfeit nurturing and destructive affiliative bonding.  This is the next level of the fear process.

Affiliative  bonding behaviours are brought on by the third innate emotion: shame-guilt-empathy which appears at around 18 months in human youngsters.  All social animals must be able to feel guilt; that is to be shamed, in order to belong to a family and tribe. To instill in the youngster the sensation of empathy for their caretakers, the mother wolf strictly rebukes her pups, the healthy human mother scolds her little one to keep it safe and close. Quickly afterward, Mom might groom the babe which produces oxytocin in both mother and child and thereby empathy.  All one nurturing process : feeding and mutual feeding, touch and grooming, social contact and teaching.

With human caretakers, there is also the implicit threat of loss. The more unpredictable the nurturing, the more the infant withdraws to the point of failure to thrive, then death. With toddlers, they respond with crying, clinging and startling. (Hyman  and Browne, 1979.) 

Adults respond to fear of loss as powerfully as do infants. The shame / guilt emotion produces social affiliative behaviours. First, the family; second, a tribe or community. The child cannot survive without parents who cannot function well without a social group for protection. In fact, the threat of isolation can be very potent in a tribal setting.

Only humans will use nurturing and affiliative behaviours destructively. Such use is learned. (I recommend watching a movie called: Mommie Dearest.  If you make it through the coat hanger scene, you are a brave soul). For example, when a mother becomes enraged while (grooming) combing the girl’s hair and beats her with the brush, this is counterfeit nurturing. Such confused nurturing makes humans behave in ways that are totally contrary to what is in their best interest as a species  In fact, when applied rigorously, counterfeit nurturing can cause individual and group suicide. Religious cults and the military use it to indoctrinate individuals.

  • Rituals - Training regimens;
  • Group ecstasy with chanting or praying;
  • Intermittent or no sleep;
  • Physical punishment including often sexual abuse at least by dominance;
  • ‘Counselling’ sessions by a person in authority;
  • Control of environment: money - food – habitation;

This produces what is called charismatic bonding and it’s been well studied. (Margaret Sanger)  If the individual leaves the group, he / she goes through fierce withdrawal symptoms:

  • Floating in and out of altered states;
  • Nightmares;
  • Amnesia;
  • Internal chanting;
  • Suicidal urges;
  • Sexual dysfunction.

Before we consider the best means of treatment for trauma and destructive nurturing, let’s return to the initials.

Inside Vault Stockholm Bank

On August 26 the police drilled a hole into the main vault from the apartment above.
This was the hole from which the picture of the hostages and Olofsson was taken. ...

Syndromes and Disorders

August, 1973 in Stockholm,  Jan-Erik Olsson, a newly released convict, tried to hold up a bank.  But the police surrounded the building. ‘Janne’ Olsson forced four employees into a vault and the hostage stand-off began.  Everything that could go wrong did so brilliantly. The police even allowed a really bad actor named Clark Olofsson to join the group. For six long days the hot, miserable stand-off continued and finally the police dropped gas through a hole drilled in the ceiling of the vault, where the hostages had been tied to the wall, and knocked everyone out before sending in the rescue team.

To everyone’s astonishment the four hostages supported Janne Olsson at his trial, especially Kristin Enmark who testified on his behalf. When asked why, she responded, “He gave me my life.” All four stated that they were more afraid of the police than their captors. Nils Bejerot, a criminologist, coined the name Stockholm Syndrome. He had no intention of making the syndrome into a disorder but with them, a new disorder was born. 

On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the notorious SLA terrorists. Only about 5' tall, she was locked in a closet for 52 days, to be taken out only to use the loo - and to be raped. Despite all evidence pointing to her forced cooperation with her captors, one FBI agent gave expert witness that she was a spoiled rich kid out for adventure and she spent a year in jail before her father’s influence got her released on parole. To this day she is terrified of the still jailed SLA members. [Brook]

Now we arrive at the most famous of the new inventions and the first to be put in the medical code books.

Nurses Landing at Normandy

Nurses Landing at Normandy

Soldiers returning from Vietnam were exhibiting what in WWI was called shell shock and in WWII combat exhaustion. But Vietnam veterans had symptoms that went beyond war experiences.  Because of the milieu of the times, these vets were dismissed as acting-out and unstable, and if given treatment, were often doped up on as many as 40 medications at a time. Finally, under tremendous pressure from anti-war psychiatrists, in 1980, a ‘rag-tag list of symptoms was cobbled together’ [Young], labelled Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) and added to the DSM III codebook as a mental illness. For the first time in medical history, a list of symptoms was sanctioned as an illness.

Mash Nurse

"A Real MASH Nurse"

www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/mashA.htm

Accreditation: www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/

The recommended medical / psychiatric treatment still uses pharmaceutical overwhelm, primarily SSRIs. (Mayo Clinic), the new drugs which came along the same time as PTSD. They are touted as ‘fixing an imbalance’ in the brain, as well as stopping REM (nightmares) and other claims.  What wasn’t advertised was that they performed no better than sugar pills when tested in well-regulated trials. Plus during withdrawal from the drugs, there were heightened suicidal tendencies.

PTSD symptoms in veterans

PTSD symptoms in veterans

www.newsytype.com/9690-antipsychotics-fail-ptsd/

Vietnam veterans have never found real treatment. Then came Iraq.  At least now some of the physical symptoms such as TBI (traumatic brain injury) are being taken seriously, although not so much the accompanying inner ear damage and exposure to toxins like depleted uranium.

Women couldn’t have PTSD until the early 90s.  This despite the seminal work of Lenore Walker, PhD in the ‘80's who wrote the Battered Wife Syndrome, mostly as a legal defence for women who finally struck back.  Much of my work in the 80s which demonstrated the similarity of battered women to hostages was neglected. (Fillmore). Battered Women Syndrome has been, reluctantly, subsumed into PTSD (Dutton). But almost without fail, psychiatrists diagnose actual  PTSD in women only due to sexual assault. This includes women combat veterans. In consequence, supposedly women are more susceptible than men to PTSD, (Downs, Miller, Ellwood) while other terms are applied to women’s complaints: Bi-polar, anxiety (read: hysteria), and so on.  You might like to see a paragraph from a recent online article concerning the use of ecstasy to assist therapy for PTSD sufferers: “These long-term results were primarily in women who suffered from chronic PTSD as a result of sexual assault and abuse,”” explained Brad Burge, Director of Communications for MAPS. “Our ongoing study in South Carolina is now looking at whether we can achieve such dramatic improvements in veterans...” [Buczynski]

Nor are cultural and societal traumas taken into account. Derek Summerfield rightfully criticizes PTSD on this issue. How could distributing anti-depressants to starving refugees or the victims of Haiti’s earthquake be other than absurd, even obscene?

Let’s look at some new research by Taylor et al showing how females react to stress much differently than males. Taylor and her women associates found that almost all the rat stress/ fear tests were done with male rats  and (paraphrasing) - the male flight or flight response is characterized by the release of vasopressin ... although structurally similar to oxytocin, vasopressin increases aggression in males due to the surge in testosterone.  Whereas female rats use affiliative behaviours to seek protection for themselves and their babies, and to recover from the stress.  Taylor, et al propose the theory of tend and befriend.[Taylor et al, 2002] An interesting addendum: go check out the disparaging remarks by Wikipedia and male researchers about Taylor’s group’s work. 

Recently, Judith Herman, who has worked in the field since the beginning, recently coined the term Complex PTSD to try and encompass the symptoms not covered by the original invention. An Australian psychiatrist has elaborated this with: Traumatic Entrapment, Appeasement and Complex PTSD: Evolutionary perspectives of hostage reaction, domestic abuse and the Stockholm syndrome. [Price 2008.] Generally, complexity seems to mean more of the same with no understanding of the fear process.

Surprise

We are now going where all academic researchers fear to go, except for Dr Mack of Harvard University ... to UFO abductees. Because an abductee’s experiences often must be recalled under hypnosis (not always!), validity was the first issue.  So many abductees have willingly been rigorously tested. The most recent, 2010, study used a questionnaire, the Omega 3, composed of ten investigative surveys, from personality tests to childhood trauma assessments, and even a Kundalini scale.

Of course, one of the included surveys was to determine if abductees were crazy or overly fantasy prone.  Neither is the case. [LeLieuvre, Ring] Abductees have had difficult, if not traumatic childhoods. They are able to dissociate skillfully, but they are also strikingly pragmatic in their approach to life and highly sensitive to environmental issues. They are remarkably compassionate folk.

Brain scans demonstrate clearly that abductees really have had hostage-style experiences even if they don’t fully remember them.  Their tested physiological and emotional responses during hypnotic or real-time recall have proven this. [Ring] Their dreams are taken seriously as are their physical ailments.  [Mack] And they have dramatically similar outcomes from their experiences: a strong belief in the evolution of humans, the possibility of ET life and the need for preservation of the welfare of our planet. [LeLieuvre]

Overall, the clinicians and therapists who work with abductees have the utmost respect for them. Men and women are treated equally. Several excellent support groups exist, one online: OPUS - Organization for Paranormal Understanding and Support. The one difference with abductees is that their hostage situation continues, unpredictably.   

The Quest Continues: Best Treatment and Insight

The only reason you are syndromed and disordered is because you’re confused. You’ve not been made aware you were like Luke Skywalker, thrust onto a quest, but without an Obe Wan Kanobe to give you the skills to handle the emotional and spiritual challenges. A quest which in many cases went terribly wrong.  Because of the continuous triggering of your startle reflex, over and over, and the inundation by the dark side of the fear process, you faced anxiety, terror and shock with no remittance. Your body and mind are still trying to make sense of what happened to you. You are reacting as if you are still being challenged.. 

So first and foremost, before you start on any repair work, you must have a safe environment. Soldiers, abused children, battered spouses - it is imperative you feel secure from further harm until you have acquired  the emotional and spiritual skills to deal with the blows even ‘normal’ life events throw at you. For example, financial security.  Which in our present climate is almost wishful thinking. 

Thus growing beyond the effects of the fear process, which includes withdrawal from traumatic bonding, is the real challenge.  Both the war veteran and the battered spouse, or the abused child must be able to recognize and then inoculate themselves against further counterfeit nurturing behaviours. Withdrawal can be heart wrenching, even dangerous.

If you choose a treatment path, find a facility (example: Morningside in California) which does not emphasize drugs, but rather talk therapy and a range of emotional and physical change programs such as CBT, Exposure and Adventure Therapy, Tai Chi, meditation skills and EMDR.  Such programs are fantastic, but - at least in the US - are very expensive and rarely covered by insurance.

For an individual who wishes to begin a regimen of withdrawal and change in the safety of his or her home, the best place to begin is with WREMS (http://wakingrem.com ).  It is not wise to start meditation, or even yoga, until you’ve learned how to clear flashbacks and recall episodes, emotional trauma and memories because you will only end up crying or re-experiencing. With WREMS, you can clear all the old stuff out. It’s not instant, but it’s fast. One bit of advice: be ready for the shift to happen because you’ll also start cleaning house and throwing stuff away and this may be upsetting to your relatives and friends. Plus, you’ll quickly start - how to put it? You’ll not tolerate other folk’s emotional games any more. Not to worry, WREMS is a skill you learn and although it is part of your further quest, it’s not rocket science.

Then the spiritual damage must be addressed. [Silver] Don’t freak - this is simply another hill to climb on the path, not some magical ring you have to deliver to the mountain. Now you should learn meditation arts and I highly recommend The Buddhist Method [Ruder], mostly because above all there is the emphasis of compassion and understanding, of you, for you and by you. 

The Buddhist method also gives you the essential support group.  Although just a gathering of like folk will serve as good mood lifters.  Again - warning, don’t fall back into the fear process.  You have become inoculated to bad nurturing behaviours so you should almost instantly be attuned to any person or group which tries to convert you and suck you back into the bad stuff again.  This is a lot like quitting alcohol. For battered spouses this is desperately vital. Trust your improved instinct and retreat quickly.

There are body - physical issues you must address. Body has memory. As tough as it is, because we so like our old diet, begin eating carefully. Avoid preservatives, GMOs and toxins, see if you have a sensitivity to gluten - remember, compassion - treat your body with concern. For exercise, anything that gets you moving is good. Tai Chi is excellent, martial arts like Aikido is good. Taking the dogs for a run or a horseback ride to feel the power is super good.  Being around animals probably should be put up in the spiritual healing section!

Also, anyone with a brain injury - and I would say virtually ALL returning vets have some level of TBI and thus, inner-ear damage (read: Coping with Vestibular Trauma, Fillmore), you have become susceptible to vertigo and even panic attacks.  Plus, you are far more sensitive to electromagnetic energy.  Get rid of the Smart Meter on your residence. Notice how you feel if you’re in front of the computer too long. High EMF environments like electronic departments at WalMart will send you through the ceiling.  On heavy chem-trail/ HAARP days, when the Geoengineering going on overhead is maxed out, you’ll feel frightful. And I mean that - the fear stuff could all come flooding back.  Learn to look at the sky and even check radar to see what’s coming. 

To rescue yourself when the fear hits, maybe learn some of Tibetan chants by Deval Premal.  Change that fear to excitement.  Become calm. Hint: To test if the fear or anger is something real, or something caused by your environment, do a quick round of eye movements with the WREMS.  If nothing comes up, the triggers are coming from outside you.

Back to the quest. Because once started, regardless of how you began it, you must continue.  If you do not continue forward, you begin to feel crazy and disordered. Imagine Luke Skywalker after 3PO has gone off to find Obe Wan and you, Luke, wanting only to find that important robot, are standing on the sand dune of Tatooine as the suns drop behind the horizon.  It’s that kind of moment. In the depth of your soul, you realize your life has irrevocably changed. [Campbell] You cannot go back. Your eyes have been opened and the truth is out there. 

References:

Bejerot, Nils. The Six Day War in Stockholm. New Scientist, Vol 61. 1974.

Brook, Marisa.  Sympathy for the Devil. www.damninteresting.com/sympathy-for-the-devil/  . April 2007.

Buczynski, Beth. 11/12 PTSD Sufferers See Long-TermBenefits from MDMA-Assisted Therapy.  www.care2.com/causes/ptsd-sufferers-see-long-term-benefits-from-mdma-assisted-therapy.html  Nov 23, 2012.

Campbell, Joseph http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces

Downs, Donald.  More than Victims: Battered women, Syndrome Society & the Law, 1996.

Dutton, Mary Ann, Osthoff, SE, Dickther, M.  Update of the Battered Women Syndrome, Nat’l Resource Center on Violence Against Women, 2009.

Fillmore, Ann. Coping with Vestibular Trauma, Positive Health PH Online, Issue 166. www.positivehealth.com/article/medical-conditions/coping-with-vestibular-inner-ear-trauma  . 01/2010.

Fillmore, Ann, Stress and the Police. Police, 12/1980Vol XIII

Fillmore, Ann. The Logic of Emotion. Positive Health PH Online, Issue 198 www.positivehealth.com/article/mind-matters/the-logic-of-emotion 09/12.

Herbert, Frank. Dune, Chilton Books, US. 1965.

Herman, Judy. The Mental Health of Crime Victims.J or Trauma Stress, 4/16, 2003.

Hyman, Clare/ Parr,R/ Browne, K.  An Observational Study of Mother-Infant Interactions

in Abusing Families. University of Surrey. Child Abuse & Neglect. Vol 3. 1979.

Lee, Ellie. The Invention of PTSD.. www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000054B0.htm   April 2001.

LeLieuvre, Robert, MD. Omega Project: A Psychological Survey of Persons Reporting Abductions. Journal of UFO Studies. 1990.

LeLieuvre, Robert, MD., Velez, L. Omega 3: Revelation or Revolution: A Comprehensive Study of Abductees and Experiencers.. Journal of UFO Studies. 2010.

Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.com/health/post%20traumatic%20stress%20disorder/DS00246 

Mack, John, MD. Alien Discussions, Proceedings of Abuction Study Converence. Cambridge, MA 1995.

McCarthy, Lauren. An Evolutionary and Biochemical Explanation for a Unique Female Stress Response: Tend-and-Befriend. Rochester I. Univ. www.personalityresearch.org/papers/mccarthy.html  2005.

Miller, Greg.  A Marker for PTSD in Women? Feb 2011 http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/02/a-marker-for-ptsd-in-women.html?etoc

Morningside Recovery www.morningsiderecovery.com/mental%20illness/ptsd/

OPUS: Organization for Paranormal Understanding and Support. http://opus501.org/

Preman, Deva  www.devapremalmiten.com/music

Price, Cantor. Traumatic Entrapment, Appeasement and Complex PTSD. Aust NZ.Jl of Psychiatry,  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17464728 . May 2007.

Ring, Kenneth. Rosing, C. 1990. Omega Project: A psychological Survey of Persons. Reporting Abductions. J of UFO Studies. 1990.

Ruder, Glenda. Buddhist Approach to PTSD, Diversity Practice Approach. 11/2009 www.scribd.com/doc/22303835/Buddhist-Approach-to-PTSD-Diversity-Practice-Approach

Sanger, Margaret. Lalich, J.  Cults in our Midst: The Hidden menace in Our Everyday Lives. Jossey-Bass. 1996.

Silver, Diane. Beyond PTSD: Soldiers have injured souls. 9/2011. Miller-McCune Report. http://truth-out.org/news/item/3112

Summerfield, Derek. The Invention of PTSD and the Social Usefulness of a Psychiatric Category.  British Medical Journal. Jan 2001

Summerfield, Derek. How scientifically valid is the knowledge base of global mental health? www.psychiatry.freeuk.com/DSummerfield.pdf Jan 2008.

Taylor, Shelley, Klein, LC, et al. Behavioral Response to Stress in Females: Tend-and-Befriend, not flight or flight, Psychological Review 2000.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10941275

Walker, Lenore, EdD. The Battered Woman Syndrome. 3rd Edition. Springer Publishing Co. 2009.

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tend_and_befriend

Young, Allan.  The Harmony of Illusions. Inventing PTSD. University Press Princeton, 1995.

Images Acknowledgement Copyright Notice

Cover Image:

Vietnam Women's Memorial, Washington, D.C. Copyright 1993, Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation, Inc. Glenna Goodacre, Sculptor.

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear  Dune, Frank Herbert 1965.

Stockholm Bank Vault Inside Vault Stockholm Bank.jpg

The photo of the hostages and Erik 'Janne' Olsson was picked up by the newspaper Dagbladet during the event - probably handed over to them by the police. The photo was taken by the police (dropped into the vault thru a hole drilled in the ceiling.

..."The drama went on. On August 26 the police drilled a hole into the main vault from the apartment above. This was the hole from which the picture of the hostage and Olofsson was taken. ..."

Nurses Landing at Normandy.jpg] Caption: Nurses Landing at Normandy

Mash Nurse Images "A Real MASH Nurse"

www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/mashA.htm  Accreditation: www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/

PTSD symptoms in veterans www.newsytype.com/9690-antipsychotics-fail-ptsd/

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About Ann Fillmore PhD

For many years, during her long career Ann Fillmore PhD was an international consultant dealing with victims of violence. As a behavioural scientist, she served as expert witness, worked as a therapist and before retiring, invented the self-help technique: WREMS (www.wakingrem.com).  Now retired, she is busier than ever, teaching Tai Chi and writing. Her mystery novel: Way of Escape is about rescuing women in danger and the sequel is on its way. www.amazon.com/Way-Escape-Ann-Fillmore/dp/0917990986  

As well as continuing her research into emotions and behavioural interactions, she also has become very interested in the development of psychic abilities: The Emerging Psychic  (http://www.positivehealth.com/article/psychospiritual/the-emerging-psychic-exploring-causes-of-paranormal-experiences

For intense adventure, Ann looks into what exists in other realities by heading up a paranormal and historical research team (COAST GHOST Paranormal Research Society  http://curious_country.wakingrem.com).  

Ann Fillmore lives on the central Oregon coast, is an ardent gardener, bird watcher and painter. Her three dogs and several cats allow her to share the old house and garden. She may be contacted via UUzul@aol.com   or on her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ann.fillmore.9?ref=tn_tnmn

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