Managing Traumatic Stress and Combat PTSD Through The R-E-C-O-V-E-R Approach*
EDUCATING YOURSELF ABOUT PTSD (PART 1)
"A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing": In the 45 years since the end of the Vietnam War, what has permeated our society about PTSD is a little knowledge. Exactly that, and nothing more. And because our societal knowledge about PTSD is so little, it is seriously sketchy and incomplete. And that may make it a dangerous thing.
The products of the "little" knowledge that circulates through society about PTSD are misconceptions that do as much damage to the sufferer as the disorder itself. False notions that PTSD makes people "crazy", or "paranoid", or that it causes people to engage in "antisocial behaviors" which cause them to become societal misfits areseriously inaccurate. Sadly, they are also enough to drive people to the edge of suicide, which is whythese falsehoods must be exposed and replaced with the light, and hope, of truth. To provide light, hope and truth is the ongoing mission of our book , "I Always Sit With My Back To The Wall", and of this website.
The "KISS" Theory (Keep It Swift And Simple): One reason that so much inaccurate information circulates about PTSD is that, like any medical condition, it has its share of complexities. Most authorities have not taken these complex concepts and simplified them in ways that everyone can understand. That, however, is what we seek to do. My long history of working as a trauma therapist with critically burned, abused, and traumatized children was a great training ground. It required that I reduce things to the simplest form. By the time I got done, however, even my 5 or 6 year old counselees understood the basic elements of what had happened to them. I would watch with pride, and even with joy, as they would explain it clearly to their own parents. I saw the sense of empowerment that filled their eyes. They felt like they were EXPERTS at something ! Most importantly, they felt a sense of mastery over what had happened to THEM. As a result, they felt less helpless and, therefore, less traumatized. I wish for every PTSD-affected adult to feel the same sense of empowerment that is enjoyed by the children I am privileged to work with.
It's Like Legos©: Build Your Knowledge Piece By Piece: I have been an academic, clinical and military instructor for many years, and have taught over 5000 students. One of the frustrations I feel after every class I teach is that, in the academic world, my students get "one shot" at seeing and understanding what I have to provide them. Communicating with people on the web is a wholly different experience. Here, you can read one paragraph per day, if that is all you can absorb. No problem. Come back tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Take one paragraph, one concept, one page at a time. Build your construct of knowledge as gradually as you need to.
You will find a more complete treatment of the general principles of PTSD in Chapter 2 of our book. We strongly suggest that you read, and re-read it, SLOWLY, and at your own pace. Underline, circle or highlight those statements or concepts that connect or "have traction" in your own life. For the purpose of this commentary, however, we'll keep it swift and simple. You will find many more articles appearing in this section in the weeks and months to come, so continue to check back with us on a daily basis. In the meantime, we want to help you understand the most important and fundamental truths about PTSD.
Please see this website for other articles in this continuing series on Educating Yourself on PTSD, and be sure to read about this topic in "I Always Sit With My Back To The Wall".
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