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One of my friends, whom I didn’t even know was a Vietnam war veteran, sent this comment after reading my blogs on trauma and war veterans.  It matches so much of what I have read and  heard from other veterans that I am quoting it below before I post my thoughts:

“In reading all of your recent posts about veterans and the traumatic experience of war, I am struck by the huge difference in treatment of veterans of the Vietnam War and those of the present set of debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq. Psychological services to veterans have improved greatly since the Vietnam era and it is fortunate that the military is starting to look at the many damages produced as a result of deployment in impossible situations and unrealistic tactical schemes.

It is sad to notice that while our society’s treatment of veterans of the Vietnam War and the current wars is different, certainly improved in our present time, it can never be adequate. Always it is with one sort of stigma or another attached to being the survivor of the national service demanded by a nation such as ours where military service is more about ‘national interests’ than our homeland.

Some who have gone to such wars eventually come to the realization that their post deployment life will ultimately be of their own making. They realize that the national system that sent them to the realms of impossibility, although now more sensitive to the issues of Post Traumatic Stress today than in the past, cannot possibly be completely sensitive to their needs in the aftermath. They must, if they can, ultimately elect to be healthy on their own and choose to be independently at peace.

This understanding and self affirmation is the basis of a very great healing process available to all who have a feeling of being a part of a much greater good; one that transcends war and the sometimes negative results of national service. Such individuals are fortunate and their stories of survival should be told as well to serve as guidance for the others who will inevitably follow.”

M.S.M.

One of the best books I read on the trauma that afflicts returning war veterans is written by Edward Tick, PhD, War & the Soul: Healing Our Nations Veterans from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 2005. Read the rest of this entry »

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O.k., I’m back to Belleruth Naparstek’s Keynote Address, the second part re the latest treatment for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are some marked differences between Vietnam war veterans and our most recent ones.

Read the rest of this entry »

I read in the below news article this morning that a soldier waterboarded his 4 year old daughter. I am appalled every time I hear about any abuse to an innocent child.  I don’t know if this soldier has seen action or whether he is an abuser who happens to be in the military.

Whichever it is, perpetrators abusing children must be stopped!

http://slatest.slate.com/id/2244044/?wpisrc=newsletter

“The Hurt Locker”, directed by Kathy Bigelow is nominated for nine academy awards and rightly so. In Hollywood, war films are usually shown after the U.S. has left the war zone.  It is out of character for the producers to show this one while we are still fighting in Iraq.

I, for one, am glad they did. It brings the harsh realities of war right to our doorstep.

Reviewing this film in terms of the psychological impact of trauma for our war veterans, several questions come to mind:

  • Is this film romanticized?
  • Does it give a fully accurate portrayal of what our soldiers face on a day-to-day basis?
  • Is the scene of war accurately portrayed, or was it dramatized for viewer effect?
  • Are the costumes true to form for military personnel?

My response to all of that is that I really don’t  know. If you watch this film, and I highly recommend that you do, please keep in mind that this is FICTION. It is NOT a documentary.

However, as a practitioner, I believe it accurately characterizes the psychological impact that a war on terror has on returning soldiers. So, rather than report on Belleruth Naparstek’s  keynote on the latest treatment of our war veterans, I thought it would be relevant to address some of the circumstances and actions in the film that could lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd).

In that respect, I do believe the emotional portrayals are raw. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m finally back to posting on the keynote speakers and  workshops I attended at the NICABM Conference- National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. With the earthquake in Haiti, I felt it was important to discuss the trauma that was affecting the world.

Belleruth Naparstek was the main reason I decided to attend this conference. Before I write about her keynote on veterans of war, I want to first tell you how her work helped me.

She first identified for me one of the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that I had lived with my whole life. I would freeze when triggered. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think, couldn’t speak. I was always told it was because I was stupid, so each time this occurred, my face would turn red-hot with shame.

Belleruth called this  paralysis the freeze (immobility) response. This was the first time I let myself really know that I wasn’t stupid.  It was a response based on earlier trauma. I was so relieved. It’s like finally finding a doctor that can name your illness, and not tell you that nothing is wrong with you, that it’s all in your head. Now that I understand what is happening to me, I have hope that I can change this behavior.

As I continued to read Invisible Heroes, Belleruth stipulated that conventional talk therapy works only to a certain extent with trauma survivors. In fact, she found that frequent retelling of the trauma could be even more harmful to the client. She discovered that complementary healing modalities work with this population – guided imagery, tapping, energy work, etc. 

Qigong is one such complementary modality, and I had intuitively used it  to help my clients become calmer. In this calming state, I discovered that they were able to release repressed memories and heal.

I instinctively knew that I was to return to this work almost thirty (30) years later.  I feel like I have come home! Read the rest of this entry »

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