February 13, 2009

PTSD: No Simple Cure

A few months ago, I saw Kimberly Dozier on CBS Sunday Morning talking about the experience of surviving a devastating car bombing in Iraq. She claims she does not have PTSD because she talked and talked and talked. I hope she is right. But during her interview on Sunday Morning, she claimed that the only people who have problems after trauma are people who are too proud or too afraid to talk about it. Dear Kimberly: Bullshit. Perhaps Kimberly is one of those people who believes that everyone's life and everyone's experience is--or should be-- just like hers.

There are plenty of people who think they are experts on PTSD. In many cases, that "expertise" is largely misconception and pop psychology delivered with a dose of socially appropriate stigma.

One reader on the site Addiction-Free Pain Management (a site that sells a treatment program) wrote, "The good news is, when PTSD is treated the physical side effects heal themselves." To that, I posted the following:
I have to speak up for those of us whose bodies have sustained serious damage due to PTSD, damage for which there is not a known “cure.” It is incorrect to say that if one’s PTSD is treated, the physical “side effects” heal themselves. For some fortunate people, that may be very true. But for others, the damage is so deep that physical problems are likely to remain throughout life. These problems are not “side effects.” Please do not ever diminish the suffering of people whose bodies have been ravaged by severe, prolonged trauma. They may have long ago experienced psychological healing but still have debilitating physical problems due to the powerful hormonal and neurological changes associated with that trauma.
Another site, Parasites of The Mind, is an up-beat, new-agey site devoted to mind-over-matter PTSD "education and healing." The site's philosophy is summed up in this statement:
The past only continues to affect us because … Well, the truth? Because we let it, subconsciously or otherwise. -PTSD Healing Resolution No. 2
If the site helps anyone--and it seems to--then far be it from me to rain on anyone's parade. However, overly simplistic solutions promoted by people who understand only part of the picture help to prolong harmful misconceptions about PTSD. I've visited a fair amount of PTSD-related sites on the Net. So far, I haven't seen any simplistic solutions for PTSD promoted by US soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. PTSD is not a one-size-fits-all disorder.

So, hooray! if your trauma is healed by talking and writing. I'll celebrate with you. But don't judge those who are not so fortunate. Instead, take the time to understand their stories.

No comments:

Post a Comment