Monday, March 14, 2011

PTSD : An Indepth History

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder stemming from continuing and severe stress, including the stress associated with combat, concentration camps, near-death events, and other horrors. Killing, sustained exposure to the possibility of sudden death, and witnessing the violent death of friends can have a lasting, traumatic consequence for a high percentage of survivors.

PTSD has been prevalent among Vietnam War veterans, for example, even several decades after the war. Of the approximately 1,600,000 American soldiers who served in Vietnam, 800,000 have had severe emotional and psychological problems since the war, and 200,000 have been diagnosed as having PTSD. Virtually none of those vets diagnosed as such have had any measure of substantial relief in the years since, despite massive treatment intervention.

(3/29/07) The Iraqi War has yielded its own bumber crop of problems. In one report, "Iraq Reservists Face a 'Perfect Storm' of Post-Traumatic Stress", AlterNet has brought attention to the fact that while active-duty troops are required to participate in post-combat mental health sessions for 90 days after their reentry, National Guard reservists are not provided the same amount of support. In fact, if they are not diagnosed within two years, they lose all rights. Inasmuch as the reservists have to wait an inordinate amount of time for a comprehensive mental health evaluation and following that allowed access to treatment, the odds are very clear that they will not make the deadline. Accordingly, the statistics on Iraq PTSD will likely be skewed toward lower numbers, despite reality.
  Symptoms of PTSD in Vietnam veterans who have returned to the United States include dramatic personality changes, increased levels of drug abuse and criminal activities, continuing nightmares of having died in combat, and a grotesquely high rate of post combat suicides. It has been estimated that the number of casualties from suicides of veterans who returned to the United States now exceeds the number of combat-related fatalities! Truly, these are some of the most horrifying statistics of that ill-fated war.
  But PTSD is not confined to war veterans. PTSD sufferers also include survivors of airline crashes, witnesses and survivors of such tragedies as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and 9-11-2001, as well as individuals who have been close to the death of others and who were simultaneously psychologically vulnerable to the traumatic effect of that person or persons’ death(s). While the medical history of veterans in the post-Vietnam era provides for a massive data base in dealing with PTSD, the continuing plague of PTSD sufferers in all walks of life -- along with the largely ineffectual treatment of PTSD and related problems over the last several decades -- makes it clear that alternative treatments of this condition are necessary and perhaps essential. From the viewpoint of the PTSD sufferer (as well as his or her friends and family), alternative treatments that are effective -- even those treatments which are far outside the mainstream medical and psychiatric community -- must be considered a viable and worthwhile possibility. Effective treatments -- whether or not they are recognized by medical authorities -- may be far more valuable than the ineffective, standard practices of mainstream medicine and psychiatric practice.
Given this disclaimer of the ideas and concepts suggested in this brief discussion, an appropriate beginning might be the description of an actual scene between a therapist and a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD. In the scene, the vet is relating to his therapist the details of a nightmare which has been repeating itself over and over in his mind (nightmares being a common symptom in all cases of PTSD including non-combat ones).
“It’s a trail. In Vietnam. It goes down the hill and then curves around to the left. There’s a hill on the left and some kind of embankment on the right. I’m with five guys and there’s lots of noise.”
“What kind of noise?”
“Guns. M-16s. And helicopters. Hughies, I think.”
“What happens next?”
“We’re going down this road, and I’ve got this feeling that somebody’s going to get hurt. Maybe Jim. He’s point man. I was supposed to be, but Jim’s my best friend. He took point.”
“Your friend’s going to take point?”
“Yeah. But they’re all my friends. We’ve been together a long time. Six or seven months. Anyway, we start down the trail... Suddenly everything’s coming apart. Mines are blowing! Everybody’s blown to pieces! Jim’s right side is blown away!”
“You see it?”                                                                                                               “I see it. I’m the medic and I grab all the morphine I can find and I’m just crawling around because I’ve got shrapnel in my hand too, and I crawl (sob) around and I’m trying to help them and they’re screaming. I’m trying to hold their bodies together. They’re screaming. The VC opens up and they mow the rest of us down. Oh God! I shouldn’t sent Jim out there!”
“Wayne, there was nothing you could do.”                                                                 “I should have been the one. I should have... I grabbed him, and I’m crawling up the side of the hill. I’m dragging him, we’re going to get out, we’re gonna get out of there, somehow. Get to the top, this hill...”                                                                    “Who are you dragging up?” “Jim. What’s left of him.” “Is he still alive?”               “Still alive.”
“Okay. You get to the top of the hill.”
“I get to the top of the hill. There’s a helicopter, he’s coming down. The door’s opening, and I... I don’t have much strength left. It’s just about all I can do. The CO’s there. He’s yelling at me. ‘What happened, Wayne, what happened?’ I don’t give a damn. I pick what’s left of Jim up and put it in the helicopter. He’s bleeding. There’s not much left of him. He’s dying. He’s dead.”
“Jim’s dead now, isn’t he. You gave him morphine?”
“You eased his pain in the last minutes, didn’t you.”
“The CO’s screaming at me. He’s asking me what happened. He thinks it’s my fault.”
“He thinks it’s your fault?”
“Yeah. Smashed him right in the mouth.”
“Good. What happens next?”
“Blacked out, I guess. Next I knew I was in the hospital. They said I’d been there for 3 weeks.”
“Do you remember anything during that time?”
“Sometimes. Like seeing my body from overhead. I wanted to help.”
“You wanted to help?”
“Yeah. Give him strength. So I went in.”
“Give who strength? Who went in?”
“Me. Jim. Wayne was my buddy. I figured I could help him. All of us did. So we went in.”
“You went into Wayne?”
“Yeah.” “You said, ‘all of us’.” “All four of us. Tom, Jeff, Sammy. All of us.” “Who am I talking to?” “Jim.” “Is Tom or Jeff or Sammy there with you now?”
“Yeah. You want to talk to them?”
“Not yet. Jim. You were point man that day, weren’t you?”
“What happened?”
“It was pretty awful. Everybody was real tired. It was real hot. We got packed up, going down the road. We knew there might be mines, but we figured what the hell. Anything was better than where we were at. I just went on down, truckin’ it down the road. All of sudden, there was a big explosion. I didn’t feel anything at first. Everybody else was yelling and I turned around and I wasn’t all there. I started screaming. I couldn’t help it. Oh God, it hurt!”
“My whole right side’s gone. Wayne comes barreling down the hill. Trying to help everybody. He was everywhere at once. And the road kept blowing up.”
“The other guys...”
“He was trying to get to me. He was yelling, ‘I’ll be there in a minute, Jim, I’m coming. I’m coming. But it was too late. I knew I was gone. The last thing I saw was his face. He was crying.”
“He drug you up the hill, to the helicopter?”
“I was dead. He just didn’t know.”
  “Were you watching him drag you up?”
  “Were you in your own body?”
  “Were you in pain?”
“No. The hurt was all gone.”
 “What happened next?”
“Well, I was, what was left of me, laying on the floor of the heelie. It was really a mess. The CO was laying in my blood. (laughter) The heelie went up and they landed. I was quite a ways from the base camp, about four clicks.”
  “What about the other guys on the road?”
“Well, they were... It was pretty ugly, man. They were just smashed everywhere. They’d have to look around trying to pick those guys up. They blew ‘em everywhere.”
  “And you’re still in the heelie watching all this happen?”
“Yeah. We were just like up on the ceiling or... weird!”
“Yeah. Tom and Jeff and Sammy.”
“And then what happened?”
“At base they take what’s left of my carcass -- it’s pretty awful looking -- and they just stick it in a bag. They take Wayne up to the hospital and I followed him.”
“You followed Wayne?”
“I did!”
“Not your body, but Wayne?”
“Yeah. I was afraid. I didn’t know what was gonna happen to him. I couldn’t just let him think that it was his fault. It’s not his fault.” “He thinks it is.” “I know.”
“You heard him a few minutes ago?”
“Oh, yeah. I’ve been hearing him right regular for the last ten years.”
“When did you enter Wayne?”
“When he was in the hospital. He’s out. They’re keeping him out. All he was doing was just screaming anyway. He’s not making a lot of sense. They tried sending a shrink in there to talk to him, but he won’t talk about it. He won’t talk about it at all. It’s gonna be OK though. Me and the guys are gonna help.”
 “All four of you go in?”
“Yeah. Been there ever since.”
  This incredible dialogue is taken from the actual transcript between a therapist and his client. The implication is that a Vietnam veteran named Wayne, brought four of his dead buddies back to the States with him. All four of these personalities were somehow incorporated into Wayne’s memories. And in some fashion, the thoughts, dreams and nightmares of those four dead men became Wayne’s. In Hendin and Haas’ book, Wounds of War, numerous Vietnam veterans describe their dreams and nightmares -- dreams and nightmares very similar to that of Wayne’s. In considerable detail, the authors write that veterans “mourn for friends who have died, but they also mourn for what they have lost themselves, and often perceive themselves as having died in combat.” [emphasis added] One of their patients said that “he recurrently dreamed that he was back in Vietnam and someone would sneak up behind him and cut his throat. Periodically, he would be overcome with a desire to end his life and had made several suicide attempts. He had no idea why he sometimes became suicidal.”
Yet another veteran suffering from PTSD had nightmares in which he would see himself in combat fatigues, lying dead in a coffin draped by an American flag, while members of his family, including his wife and sister, would be seated around the coffin, crying. Other therapists such as J. O. Brende and I. L. McCann have reported on one veteran who claimed that since his return, something had changed inside of him. “Something was locked up within me.” [emphasis added] One veteran was preoccupied with friends who had died in an ambush. He dreamed of them frequently, but when he did, it was as if they were not dead. In another vet’s recurring nightmare, he would be turning over the bodies of soldiers who had been killed, and one of the bodies would turn out to be his own. Invariably the dream image involved finding his own body and sensing that part of him had died in Vietnam.
  Hendin and Haas noted that “this theme has a striking parallel with many Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress whose words and lives express a sense that their survival in combat is an illusion and that they have in reality died in the war.” [emphasis added]
  The conclusion seems tantalizingly easy. Perhaps there is a kernel of truth in the nightmares wherein the memory of dying is a real, actual memory. In other words, in some form or another the memories of a deceased personality who has died still continues to reside in a living person. The possibility is best described by a veteran who continually relived the experience of being shot by a Vietcong woman, felt the impact of the bullets, fell backward, and died. Hendin and Haas have noted that in many of the episodes where the veteran relived the experience, the vet seemed to “dissociate from his present life. He was absorbed with the death of his friends in combat, Vietnamese civilians, enemy soldiers, and his own sense of having died.” [emphasis added] After his tour, he wrote [taken from Wounds of War]:
  “Even dead men. Ours and theirs -- reside inside,rotting in my head.”
  Can we interpret the words in this poem in a literal fashion? Do they mean precisely what they say? Are many cases of PTSD but instances of the personalities of deceased individuals somehow incorporating themselves into living individuals, and thereafter residing within the mind of that living person? Hendin and Haas describe one veteran’s recurrent nightmare in which the vet “would be shot and killed, but he would be like a spirit outside of his body looking at what happened.” [emphasis added] If this description sounds like Jim’s account, or like the tens of thousands of individuals who have had a near-death experience and lived to tell about it, perhaps there is something very significant here. In near-death experiences, for example, individuals often report leaving their physical bodies and/or viewing it from a vantage point outside of their bodies. Often this vantage point is above the physical body remains -- just as in Jim’s description. With remarkable consistency, subjects describe a total cessation of pain, and often an intense feeling of peace and calm. Many are pulled very rapidly through a dark space, typically described as a tunnel, cylinder, cave, enclosure, or valley (i.e., “the valley of the shadow of death”). In their out-of-body state, they may become aware that their spiritual body lacks solidity, that physical objects appear to move though them with ease, and that they are unable to grasp any object or person that they try to touch. The spiritual body is reported as weightless, while the person describes sensations of floating or drifting. Many subjects involved in a near-death experience report being surrounded by a brilliant, guiding Light. The Light is invariably sensed as being quite bright, but never to the point of being uncomfortable for viewing. Once in the presence of the Light, any feelings of loneliness are replaced by remarkable feelings of peace, tranquillity, and intense happiness. Many subjects sense the presence of a close friend or relative, or in some cases a religious figure of importance to the subject. Communications with those entities in the Light is a direct, unimpeded transfer of thoughts, with no possibility of misunderstandings.
  George Gallup, Jr. of Gallup Poll fame has reported in Adventures in Immortality, that five percent of the United States adult population have had near-death experiences. Well-established medical doctors, psychologists, theologians, cardiologists, social scientists and researchers such as Cobb, Crookall, Savage, Hyslop, Richet, Moody, Kubler-Ross, Sabom, Lundahl, Gabbard, Twenlow, and a host of others have compiled an extensive and varied library of professional journal articles, research papers, and extensively researched books on the subject of near-death experiences. The validity and reality of these experiences are no longer in question by rational, open-minded individuals who have studied the subject. (But this does not assume that all who write on the subject -- both pro and con -- are necessarily “rational, open-minded individuals who have studied the subject”.  
  By implication, one can take the reality of near-death experiences -- along with the equally significant research from deathbed experiences -- and their combined description of what lies beyond and one can begin to grasp the immediate aftermath of death. Instead of the hell and damnation some would have us believe, human beings, as they encounter the life transition known as death, find themselves without pain, at peace, and surrounded by a warm and nurturing Light. Friends, relatives and religious figures may be there to welcome -- literally welcome -- the transiting soul into the Light (which may be simply another name for Heaven).
  The extensive research in the area has also brought to light [pardon the pun] the apparent reality of spirit attachment -- wherein the spirits from once-living human beings somehow attach to a living human being. Just as in the case of Jim, Tom, Jeff, and Sammy -- who having been killed in combat, their spirits left their physical bodes, and thereafter attached to their friend, Wayne; their buddy who had survived the war in Vietnam -- spirits from deceased individuals do not always go into the Light upon their death. In effect these spirits or souls, take an unfortunate detour from the Light, and for whatever reason find themselves “earthbound”. Instead of going into the Light, they remain in transition.
  One of the most knowledgeable therapists and researcher in the field of earthbound spirits and spirit attachment is William J. Baldwin, Ph.D. He has described in detail much of what is currently known about the subject of spirit attachment and its symptoms:“The emotions and feelings connected with a sudden, traumatic death can become the force which binds a spirit to the earth plane. Anger, fear, jealously, resentment, guilt, remorse, even strong ties of love, can interfere with the normal transition. Confusion and disbelief concerning religion and spirituality can prevent the spirit from moving into the Light. Obsession with food or sex can detain a spirit as well, and thereafter finds that it must attach to someone in order to indulge its needs through the physical sense of a living being. Drug and alcohol habituation exert a powerful hold on a being, even after death, and these appetites can only be satisfied by attaching to a person who already uses the substances, or can be induced to use them.
  “A discarnate spirit may attach itself to anyone who is available and open for whatever reason. The choice may be completely random. It may occur because of close physical proximity to a person at the time of death. Victims of an air crash, or fatal automobile accident, for example, can be drawn to a bystander who is deeply compassionate or sympathetic. One who dies in a hospital of a condition with certain symptoms, may be attracted to another patient with similar symptoms.
  “The disembodied consciousness seems to attach itself and merge with the consciousness of a living person, exerting full or partial control over the mental as well as the physical body. The physical, mental, and emotional conditions that characterized the entity when it was alive, may be imposed on the host. The attached spirits may not cause noticeable symptoms, but will use the energy of the person. In some cases, the only indication of an attachment is chronic fatigue. However, in cases of very recent attachment, personality changes may occur. Physical appetites for food, sex, alcohol, and drugs can increase dramatically. Personal behavior and attitudes may change quite noticeably. Symptoms of physical ailments may suddenly appear. The voice and even facial features and appearance can change dramatically. A victim of this phenomenon can be totally amnesiac about episodes of complete takeover.
  “Physical sensations and symptoms, in the absence of a medically sound cause, can indicate an attached entity. These sensations often move about in the body. A subject may report hearing voices, originating outside of themselves or from within, and have no other psychotic symptoms or behavior. Dreams or spontaneous visual images of faces, sometimes grotesque and frightening, may indicate the presence of such an entity. Severe stress may cause susceptibility to the influence of an intrusive spirit. Personality changes after surgery or accident, the sudden onset of drug or alcohol usage, inappropriate speech and behavior patterns, may signal the newly formed attachment of a discarnate being.”
  The good news is that earthbound entities, even those attached to other living beings, can be released and sent into the Light. In what is referred to as Spirit Releasement Therapy, attached spirits are counseled, healed, and guided into the Light. In effect, the normal transition procedures associated with death are reinstituted. For example, it is generally believed by investigators and researchers in the field, that when an individual dies, spirit helpers and guides are there to meet the soul consciousness after the death of the physical body. Unfortunately, strong feelings and emotions, those often accompanying drug related, violent, or untimely deaths, seem to block the connection necessary for a soul to be guided into the Light. Lack of religious beliefs, or strong incorrect thought forms regarding the afterlife, can also prevent contact. The spirit helpers simply can’t be seen. In many case, the person who has died is not even aware of that fact. They end up groping about, experiencing confusion and frustration, and ultimately do not make the transition into the Light. It is these spirits -- such as Jim and others -- who in their confusion and lack of understanding, do not complete the transition of death and are thus unable to find the Light on their own.
  The solution is to resolve the strong emotional feelings of the attached spirits, and acquaint them with an awareness of their own condition. Ultimately, this will allow them to see the spirit guides and helpers. Once that occurs, the attached spirits can then complete their transition into the Light.
  This kind of “therapy” has been practiced for centuries. It is indirectly recognized by the Catholic Church, where Catholic theology has long recognized the reality of people being earthbound for a variety of reasons. The Church’s response has been to pray for the deceased, conduct masses for the dead, perform last rites, and include usually the sacrament of reconciliation and communion.
  But often, such rites are insufficient, or are provided too late for the earthbound and attached entities. Often, these entities simply do not hear or see. Instead, a specific therapeutic session is required, such that each attached entity -- and there is often more than one attached spirit for each sufferer of PTSD and related conditions -- can be individually counseled and led into the Light. One at a time, the attached entities can be counseled and released, until the living patient is completely clear. Incredibly, often a single therapeutic session is required for releasing all of the attached entities. Some will, even after reading this passage, catch on or begin to understand, look up for the Light, find it, and quickly and easily move on. The results can be dramatic to say the least.
  Earlier, we included material from an actual transcript of a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD. In the process of hypnosis, the therapist, Dr. Baldwin, talked to several entities, including four of the G.I.’s friends, a Klu Klux Klan member (attached to one black G.I.), and a Vietnamese boy. The therapist was told about “several” Viet Cong, a baby, and “several others”, all residing within one living person. By the end of the session, the therapist had sent all of the attached spirits into the Light. In a subsequent visit to his therapist, the veteran reported that he no longer was having any symptoms of PTSD. Several other Vietnam veterans who were victims of PTSD have found similar relief.
   The idea that PTSD may be spirit-attachment in some cases is no doubt incredible. But if spirit-releasement therapy works, not using it because it sounds fanciful and nonscientific would constitute nothing short of malpractice. Surely it is time to try any means necessary to “heal the wounds of war”. At the same time, victims of PTSD stemming from more recent horrors, such as the Oklahoma City bombing disaster, the Twin Towers of New York City and Pentagon suicide attacks, may, in some cases, also be suffering from the same form of spirit attachment; whereby entities of formerly living human beings -- who having died so abruptly and traumatically that they were unable to make the transition into the Light -- attached themselves to another human being. The victims at the time may have been extremely vulnerable to the attachment of these spirits due to their own traumatic reaction to witnessing or being involved in the tragedy.
Whatever the causative trauma of PTSD, it appears that many of these cases may be due to spirit attachment, and that Spirit Releasement Therapy is capable of providing substantial if not complete relief. With the assistant of open-minded, licensed professionals in the medical and psychiatric fields, many of the symptoms of PTSD may be alleviated, and the sufferers of PTSD -- along with their family and friends -- may encounter a long-sought relief from a disabling, chronic problem.

This is a raw version of what soldiers go through in combat and as a result of combat. God Bless them all and God Bless the U.S.A.       theblogmeister

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