THE TWELVE STEPS TO THE FORMATION OF A PTSD
Submitted by Randy J. Hartman, Ph.D
The formation of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) starts with the event developing. The event(s) can be positive or negative in content. The event may start out initially as a traumatic occurrence, but this is not an absolute requirement. The event may start out as pleasant, but conclude as traumatic.
First we need to understand what constitutes trauma. The definition of “trauma” that I offer is; When an event occurs that causes us physical and emotional pain that goes beyond our control. The events can be initiated by our environment, people and us.
In these traumatic events we receive pain from two sources. Physical pain is the most obvious source. This occurs from an impact to our physical self and results in bruising, bleeding, cuts, fracture sand tears to our body parts. The emotional pain can also be horrific pain. This comes to our emotions from being told negative information, being threatened, demeaning and derogatory words to describe us lead us to believe we are a bad person. As a result of this pain our memory implants this information as well as our Skelton-muscular system becomes imprinted with memory. All of the body’s resources are affected.
There are buttons that become pushed because of things that are imprinted in our visual, auditory and old factory sensors. The senses stimulate the fight or flight response. Perhaps just the smell of an order or the sounds of something happening or maybe the sight of something can be the catalyses for negative reaction by the client that may send them into an uncontrollable panic attack.
The trauma may be real or imagined, the pain/symptoms the individual is experiencing is very real to them. For that fact we must respect their “Model of the World”. The client alone owns their reality, otherwise known as their “Model of the World”. If we attempt to deny them their reality then strong walls of resistance will develop and impede any attempt at a meaningful intervention.
Until proven wrong, I contend that people who have had a lobotomy or lost use of their frontal cortex and have no capacity for emotions are incapable of experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in its true form per the DSM Four, TR. To add an additional thought, I also assert that those individual who are Antisocial Personality Disorders are also impervious to the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Per the DSM Four, TR, page 647, the Antisocial Personality Disorder (301.7) states the following; that the client frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others. The description continues to go on to suggest that this client operates at a level devoid of human feelings.
There are two problematic areas in dealing with PTSD as a clinical hypnotherapist. First, is that the majority of people suffering with PTSD is being treated with medications for anxiety, sleep loss and nightmares/terrors. My experience has taught me that a good many PTSD patients do not want to stop or wean-off the psychotropic drugs. The pleasant feelings that the drugs creates is a depressed “buzz” that is legal and insurance companies pay for it.
Secondly, there is the issue mainly clinicians in the field avoid talking about; secondary gains. Patients will use their PTSD diagnosis to elicit sympathy and pity. There can also be a nice cash reward in the form of a permanent disability check every month amounting to hundreds, if not a thousand plus dollars. Unfortunately our society does not offer any real incentives for a person to improve or be cured. It takes a highly motivated person to seek and complete treatment.
Clinical hypnotherapy has proven itself in treating patients with “flashbacks” and intrusive repetitive thoughts. The NLP application of the Swish pattern and fast phobia cure has been very successful. Reframing of the crisis events is also extremely helpful. The mainstay of treatment for PTSD is still “talk therapy”, otherwise known as cognitive behavioral therapy. This has also been referred to as exposure therapy. The more a patient is repetitively exposed to the crisis; the impact of the crisis diminishes.
Another issue not to be overlooked in the treatment of PTSD is suicide. There are a significant number of suicide gestures and attempts in this population. The patients are not only overwhelmed by their situation, they are also usually under the influence of legal or illegal drugs that cloud their judgment.