Last Updated 9/11/2016
PTSD is, and always has been, one of the natural and inevitable consequences of warfare. This should come as no surprise, since the killing of one’s own species is a profoundly unnatural act, all the more so with the massive and wanton slaughter that typifies warfare. Among the Traditional or Aboriginal cultures, ‘unwinding’ a tribe’s warriors after battle was an existential issue. They typically lived in villages of a thousand or less population and if they were to lose a bunch of their best and brightest every time they engaged in battle, they would soon become extinct. Those who do still exist did so because they successfully dealt with this issue. We ‘civilized’ cultures (read massive, organized, cohesive populations) with ‘modern’, ‘superior’ weaponry (such as steel, gunpowder, smallpox, cavalry, artillery, measles, alcohol, etc.) could learn a lot from our indigenous brethren had we not slaughtered them all. There is still much for us to learn in the fragments of their wisdom and traditions that remain.
Those who have studied PTSD outside the Ivory Towers of Academe and Government, have long since exposed it as a Spiritual Issue and not a Mental Illness. These are the real heavy hitters, and they commonly refer to it as [P]ost [T]raumatic [S]oul [D]istress (or something very much like it). in any event, this seems like a much better acronym than the one we usually hear, so we will refer to it this way throughout this site and in any information originating here.
For our own purposes, we define “at risk” Warriors as those of us who have persistent Flashbacks and Nightmares, as we believe these to be the principal drivers of our hideous (and totally unnecessary) suicide rate. The VA tells us that about 22 Veterans commit Suicide every day!! That’s north of 8000 per year. And that’s the Government’s count, which uses a definition of Suicide so tight and specific that it excludes at least as many as it counts. We could argue that a more realistic definition might yield a total north of 15000 per year, or over 40 a DAY! But we’ve all done the math.
Sooo . . . Let’s examine a few Facts on the Ground:
The Current Status our Government and our Mental Health Industry at Large:
Our Government and Mental-Health Industry seem helplessly mired in their own “traditions” around PTSD – such as:
- A) Acting all surprised and blindsided and bewildered whenever it occurs [again].
- B) Going back to square-one, giving it a new name and re-inventing it every time we go to war;
- C) Losing interest when hostilities subside and moving on – long before a solution has been
In WW-II and Korea, it was called “Combat/Battle Fatigue”; in WW-I it was “Shell Shock”, in the Civil War, folks called it “Soldiers’ Heart”. Same problem, different label each time out. This approach does not in any way alter the realities. PTSD is a fact of life (or, perhaps more accurately, warfare and death). By whatever name the authorities give it, from whatever conflict, it’s still that same ancient critter, and it comes at us for all the same ancient reasons.
Currently, the government, its agencies and the Mental Health Industry at large regard PTSD as a Mental Illness, and treat it accordingly. They have two fundamental approaches to it:
- A) Their primary treatment modality – Cognitive Behavioral (or ‘Talk’) Therapy (CBT), that old standby that’s been with us for well over half a century (and proven ineffective 40 yearsu ago).
- B) Heavy dependence on Pharmaceuticals (Opiates, powerful Barbiturates, etc) which mask symptoms but solve absolutely nothing.
- C) An apparent compulsion to ridicule and ignore any new (actually, millennia old) ideas around how to handle it.
The Heavy Hitters Outside Government:
The great bulk of highly qualified people Outside Government, who have been seriously studying PTSD since the late Sixties and early Seventies (about a decade before the “Establishment” “Invented” it this time around) concluded early on that PTSD does not respond well to CBT and began looking elsewhere for solutions. Interestingly enough, they found some (quite a few by many accounts).
First, and most importantly, they discovered that they were not dealing with a Mental Illness but a Spiritual Problem. Now, right out the gate, we can all (most of us?) intuit that a Spiritual problem is not going to respond well to Opiates and Barbiturates and the like. We might also intuit that a Holistic Problem begs for a Holistic Solution. Turns out there are a number of those [so far] that seem to work a whole lot better than the Establishment’s approach (not a particularly high bar :-).
The Nation of South Vietnam:
- a) The prewar population of South Vietnam was just under 19 million.
- b) During the war, 3 million Vietnamese people were killed outright – or 1 out of every 6 citizens!
- c) Statistically, every South Vietnamese Citizen lost at least one immediate family member!
- d) There is NO PTSD in South Vietnam. NONE!
- e) South Vietnam has NO ‘Scientific’ Mental Health resources – only the old backward, traditional
One might guess that the authorities in this country would be all over South Viet Nam (what with our losing north of 8000 of our best brightest every year to Vet Suicide), trying to figure out how those folks did it and how we could replicate whatever it was they did. One would be sadly mistaken. Thankfully, some of the folks operating “outside the wire” have spent a lot of time in Viet Nam, and have discovered some of the simple, logical, [traditional] solutions.
We try very hard to implement them here.
A huge resource in that effort will be Ed Tick’s books “Soldiers’ Heart“ and “Warriors’ Return“. They are pretty much the best references available, for helping us understand where we are and how we got here. They are available online for $12 – $18. We feel strongly that they are essential to understanding PTSD (and mandatory reading in our group(s)..
Young News from the East:
- The BAD News: The Military, the Government, the Mental Health Industry, the Population at Large, have pretty much ALL failed us.
- The GOOD News: We have each other, and we’ve NEVER failed each other!! We can and will prevail