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!