Why is The Forgiveness Foundation focusing on veterans and PTSD?

With more veterans returning home, we are hearing more about the invisible wound of the veteran, especially PTSD. In the previous article, Veterans, PTSD, and Unforgivable Experiences, I mentioned about moral injury as a very possible precursor to PTSD. Thus Forgiveness Therapy can help but is being neglected by pastors, priests and therapists. I had PTSD for 13 years. Forgiving helped me a great deal. So, I feel that we have a responsibility to get Forgiveness Therapy used for these reasons:
“The Justice Department estimates that nearly a quarter-million veterans of wars dating back to Vietnam are serving time behind bars. The New York Times found 121 cases in which Iraq and Afghan veterans committed murder after their return from war. Only a few had been screened for mental health problems, and unlike many civilian criminals, the overwhelming majority had no prior criminal record.”
“The rate of suicide among vets of the current wars has also been on the rise. A federal study in 2005 found that veterans were twice as likely to commit suicide as those who hadn’t served in the military, and PTSD is considered a significant reason why almost 25 percent of America’s homeless are veterans of all wars, even though they make up only eight percent of the population.”
“Twenty percent of active duty troops and as much as 40 percent of Guards and National Guardsmen and reservists are coming back with PTSD. These are astronomical numbers, and we could go through substance abuse and divorce and child abuse and homicide and imprisoned populations, so they are really hurting.”
From PBS video “Moral Wounds of War”  May 28th, 2010

What is PTSD?

Dr. Charles Figley, who I quote in my book, is one of the foremost authorities on the effects of trauma and PTSD. He notes the following characteristics in the person with PTSD:

  • Re-experiences the most traumatic aspects of the event many times, in flashbacks, memory, or dreams
  • Makes efforts to avoid exposure to reminders.
  • Is on edge, unable to relax.
  • Is unable to think about the event without being obsessed.
  • Experiences symptoms for more than a month.

He or she can also exhibits these symptoms:

  • Phobia and general anxiety (especially among former POWs and hostages and natural disaster survivors)
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair. and/or intense guilt
  • Psychosomatic complaints, increased hospitalization
  • An altered sense of time (especially among children)
  • Grief reactions and obsessions with death (especially among those who survived a trauma in which someone died or could have died)
  • Increased interpersonal conflicts and outbursts of anger, (divorce and violence)
  • Absenteeism, criminal behavior, and truancy.

From:  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy -AAMFT -Clinical Update Volume 2, Issue 5, Sept. 2000,  http://www.aamft.org/families/Consumer_Updates/PTSD

_AAMFT_Clinical_Update.htm  And from AAMFT Consumer Update on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, www.aamft.org/families/Consumer_Updates/PTSD.asp

Also See the webpage,“What is PTSD”  It is put out by the Department of Veteran Affairs, Nation Center for PTSD and will answer most of your questions.    http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/what-is-ptsd.asp


Veterans, PTSD, and Unforgivable Experiences

“A group of mental health experts is giving a name to the guilt and remorse troops feel when they see or do bad things during war: moral injury.
They say failure to recognize and acknowledge exposure to military or civilian carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan sets up troops for post-traumatic stress, a severe and often debilitating anxiety disorder that affects 1 in 5 combat troops.”

This begins Mark Walker’s article on veterans, PTSD, and unforgivable experiences: ‘Moral injury’ as a wound of war -Conference To Examine Consequence Of Battlefield Transgressions, Exposure To Carnage Posted: May 8, 2010

The moral injury experience, the article says, comes from “perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to or learning about acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.” It is this experience that a group of therapists say leads to the symptoms of PTSD – withdrawal, self-condemnation and avoidance.

If there was ever a place for forgiveness it is in military experience PTSD. But who knows how to help people forgive? Certainly not the pastors and priest who only say “do it”. And sadly even though there is a forgiveness therapy psychiatrists and therapist are not interested.

Forgiveness teachers know the power of forgiving to help a people let go of their upsets with themselves and others. For me. it’s very frustrating to not see it being used. It’s like knowing about penicillin when it was first around and seeing doctors still chopping off limbs because of infection. It’s too bad, because pastors, therapists and priest could use this therapy easily enough. But, so can mothers, spouses and fellow veterans who are concerned.

This upset me because I had PTSD for years. A psychology-based forgiveness process pulled me out of my PTSD and deep depress. I know it works.

So please let others know that there is help and that there is a forgiveness therapy that works. Tell you pastor, priest or therapist. The tragedy of moral injury and ptsd harming our vets does not have to go on. Is forgiving the whole answer. No, but it does help!


Power Forgiveness

From Dr. Dincalci’s book, How to Forgive When You Can’t: The Breakthrough Guide to Power Forgiveness for Healing Upsets:

In discussing his book, By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept: A Novel Of Forgiveness, the famed author, Paulo Coelho, related a forgiveness process he went through.

One morning, going from Death Valley in California to Tucson in Arizona, I made a mental list of everyone I thought I hated because they had hurt me. I went along pardoning them one by one; six hours later in Tucson, my soul felt so light and my life had changed much for the better.

This was also my own experience. What brought me a personal transformation was to deal with every upset I had with others and myself.

The true heart and force of Power Forgiveness is letting go of your own regret, guilt, and self-blame. Self-forgiveness and self-compassion hold the key to releasing any kind of upset permanently. Self-forgiveness is essential because guilt and shame keep us trapped in negative thought patterns and feelings, which keep us convinced that we don’t deserve better.

The Power Forgiveness Process is the most complete system available to help people let go of residual anger, resentment and fear from past hurtful experiences. This book with its viewpoints, case studies, and exercises will carry you through to forgiving even the most terrible things. Though the book and The Power Forgiveness Process can be used for a single difficult situation, it can also transform your life by helping you letting go of all your known resentments, grudges, hates and upsets in a relatively short time. The systematic process found in this guide will lead you to full forgiveness.

This is why it is Power Forgiveness. This ultimate forgiveness workout can renew your life. I’ve seen miracles occur for people in every class I’ve taught and with clients in all age groups from young children to senior citizens and from all professional levels.


What is There to Forgive?

By Michael Berkes, PhD, MBA, Retired Psychology Professor

Almost from birth, most of us are bombarded with criticisms about our looks, character, worth, errors, weaknesses, what we should not have done, what we should have done and did not do, or did, but could have done better. The list of such “constructive” criticism from our elders is endless.

And this is only the ‘better’ half of the hammering we get from birth on. Sadly, there are grownups, themselves wounded souls, who add malice and cruelty to their put-downs of children, causing wounds so deep that they may take a lifetime to heal. Such parents, teachers and peers, should be nurturing and encouraging, providing loving support instead of the opposite. Even more tragic are the misdeeds of some of these care-takers who hurt the children physically as well as emotionally, committing serious crimes against their trusting charges, crimes that go mostly unreported and, most importantly, unpunished. We will not broach here the horrors of sexual abuse of innocents by criminal psychotics.

We store these toxic messages and traumatising experiences as we receive them, unchecked, because we are too young to understand, let alone reject and blot them out. With repetition, as we mature, the “truths” we stored earlier are added to by ones we receive later. All these “truths” (read: “lies”) are stored in some dark corner of our sub-conscious, where they fester, mostly unknown to us, robbing us of our ability to give and receive love and lead a happy and productive life.

Is it surprising that, as we learn to socialize in our various groups over time, dealing with people like us, all of whom carry similar “ballasts” of guilt, we often treat others as we were treated, by being critical, judgmental and hurtful ourselves? We put each other down, we ridicule, laugh at, or diminish each other’s worth, under the cover of only “kidding” and, much too often, we do even greater harm to each other. Our peers, employers, ‘elders and betters’, products of their own less than happy childhoods, add their insults to the injuries we suffer over the years, making the load of guilt even greater.

All this is done “For Your Own Good”, as psychiatrist Alice Miller’s book title reads, a very big and insidious lie that, unfortunately, most of us also believe.

When was the last time you had a truly restful night’s sleep? Do you even know what your minimum need for sleep is? Did you know that it varies from 4 to 10 or more hours, for an average of 7 to 8? Did you know that lost sleep is not ‘recoverable’ by catnaps, but only by several restful nights in a row? Do you know how harmful to your health and dangerous to your safety sleep deprivation is? Falling asleep at the wheel is the second cause of fatal accidents in the United States.

Did you know that an estimated 40%-60% of Americans suffer from undiagnosed ‘moderate to severe’ depression? Why would we, one of the world’s best fed, best housed, best protected, freest nations have cause to be depressed? Scientific studies show that the main reason is the burden of guilt we all carry from our earliest childhood.

When was the last time that you had a truly relaxing vacation during which you were able to let go of your work and unfinished tasks and enjoy life to the fullest?

Why do we take our work related problems home and why do we so often obsess about our personal problems at work? Again, it is the same culprit: unresolved hurts, rejections and humiliations we did not deal with, that gnaw at our innards.

Are there any people in your life, either past or present, about whom you would rather not think, or worse yet, who cannot walk through your mind without causing you to rage? Are there any disturbing thoughts that keep recurring that you cannot figure out? Are those memories, for wrongs you have done, not just those done to you, disturbing you, either in your dreams, or also when awake? And, before you say “NO”, remember that we seldom even know, let alone remember, what goes on in our mind while we sleep.

Are there any occasions when, for no good reason, you seem to lose your ‘cool’ and flail out at someone you care for, hurting them against your will? Most, if not all of such occurrences are caused by un-resolved hurts and conflicts from the past. They can be resolved, if there is a will to do it, by forgiving yourself and others through the method described in Dr. Dincalci’s book. It is not an “easy” method, but it is one that encourages those who are able to get into the work with a commitment to learn and profit by it. For these, success is virtually unavoidable.