PTSD. Discussing the mental & spiritual causes and solutions.

Dedicated to Alan

The last six weeks of my life I have been desperately trying to get my family into our new home. This has entailed an immeasurable amount of DIY, from gardening, to painting, to the polishing of floorboards. The benefit of this laborious paint-stroking and on-and-off-waxing has been two-fold:

1) I have had a great deal of time to consider the merits and causes of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, otherwise known as PTSD,

and

2) I’m finally ready to take on the Cobra Kai at the next All-Valley Championship.

When assessing what I consider to be spiritual problems, I generally pay only minimal attention to the possible intervention of secular topics, for whether the secularist chooses to believe it or not, his spirit is as influential in his life as it is for the religious man. Reader Alan, however, is a non-believer. He suffers from PTSD and depression, and discussing only the spiritual viewpoint is unlikely to help him, which I sincerely hope to do. It is for this reason that I am breaking my views on PTSD into two categories, and each is independent of the other. They are The Mental, and The Spiritual.

The Mental

When we experience extreme trauma, as occurs in living the extremities of war, something undeniably different occurs in our mind. It’s not like the experience of the daily mind, which causes us to live in a near-zombified state, more attentive to our thoughts than our surroundings. In moments of extreme trauma our mind experiences a state of being that is extraordinarily uncommon.

To understand the mind-state to which I am referring, consider what happens to you psychologically in a car crash. You are driving along, your mind is wandering to-and-fro, when you are suddenly alerted to a new state of being. Your mind, no longer asleep but now entirely sharpened, is not concerned with pointless and unproductive thoughts, but is entirely in the moment. Everything moves quickly, yet also in Matrix-like slow motion, and the mind takes it all in, aware of every dream-like detail.

For small rear-enders you are likely to be a little shaken up, but still pretty okay. For larger incidents in which you fear for your life, the psychological impact will be far worse, and you will probably experience shock.

This latter example is but a morsel of what happens to the mind when it experiences extreme trauma. The mind, not used to being completely alert, suddenly awakens, and it does so not to positivity but to the most severe kind of negativity. Due to it’s alerted state it takes in every detail with acute accuracy, and the effects of the experience multiply to uncommon levels, resulting in uncommon emotions.

How then, once experienced, can we overcome the suffering caused by the permanent imprint of these experiences?

Without resorted to spiritual methods, the answer is ironically similar to the cause, but unfortunately far more difficult to achieve. It is, of course, to free the mind of the thoughts that haunt it. It is to return to the state of being that was felt while experiencing the trauma in the first place. This is not done to re-live the experiences with the hope of overcoming them (as some therapists would have you do), but to fill the mind with current experiences, and to refresh it endlessly in every moment.

Although trauma is real in the hearts and minds of those who experience it, once it has occurred it is not the trauma that continues to effect us, but the recollections of and associations to it. An incident is recalled and all conscious presence in the moment is lost. While there is no danger, and there is no threat, yet the sufferer sufferers anyway. This is what happens with PTSD.

What the aforementioned experience is, is a negative state of being. You are no longer living in the moment but escaping it to live in your thoughts. When you don’t think about the trauma you don’t experience it, and joy and happiness become possible. But when you do think about it everything goes to shit, and this is is why one of the common traits of PTSD sufferers is avoidance. However by trying not to think about it you are most definitely on the right path, and you simply haven’t learned the mechanisms to achieve it.

So how do you stop thinking about it?

Not easily. Zen masters have practiced non-being (or being) for generations and have never achieved it without struggle. What they have all learned is mechanisms for returning to reality. They do it through intense meditation and deep mental practice, as they learn to recognise when their mind is drifting and to pull it back to the moment.

A Zen master is as present as the rest of us in body, but even more present in mind. His thoughts do not run away with him, nor he with them. As quickly as they come to him, he lets them go. He is as thoughtless as you were in your traumatic moment, except that he is free of himself. Some call this egolessness, and others call it being, but what is really boils down to is living thought-free.

So should people like Alan simply ‘let go’ of the memories that cloud their thoughts? That would ultimately be the goal. For the man who does not believe in the spiritual the only solution is to free himself of his mind, and to just be. He has no choice but to learn to live in the moment. He needs to learn to let the thoughts go as easily as they come, and he needs to do this through extensive daily meditation and simple, stress-free living. His priority in life must be mindlessness. It is the only way.

The Spiritual

We’ve all heard of Born Again Christians. While many understand this to mean they have been ‘born again in life’, its intended meaning is that they have undergone a spiritual rebirth. This is necessary as the spirit records everything that happens to it, whether good, bad, or inconsequential. Being born again cleanses the soul of past experiences and gives it a new spiritual beginning, hence why they say Born Again [spiritually as a] Christian.

Traumatic experiences, such as those that cause PTSD, are pure evil. We don’t get PTSD from seeing two people fall in love on a ferris wheel, but by being exposed to the worst extreme of the spiritual spectrum. Evil permeates the soul, and in the absence of its extreme (good), it leaves its mark on the life of the sufferer.

Experiencing evil brings us to a state of spiritual imbalance, tilting us affirmatively towards hell. The resolution must be a spiritual one, and it must counter the imbalance that has taken place.

There is a spiritual balance of Good and Evil. Events that cause PTSD weigh heavily on the Evil side.

There is a spiritual balance of Good and Evil. Events that cause PTSD weigh heavily on the Evil side.

 

Think of it as a scale. On one side of the scale (the evil side) there is a lone weight knocking it off balance. On the other side (the good side) there is either nothing or much less countering it. The imbalance can be corrected in one of two ways. An item of equal or greater weight can be placed on the good side, or the weight can simply be removed from the evil side.

Barring divine intervention, attempting to balance the scale with goodness requires time and a very open and positive mind. Life will need to be lived with an appreciation for all of it’s goodness, and a sincere belief that in spite of the evil, life and people are fundamentally good. The catch-22 of this approach is that due to the events that have caused PTSD, there is a natural inclination towards negativity and suffering. Life seems bad because bad has entered the soul, and this can blind us to what is truly good.

The best way to address spiritual imbalance is to undergo a spiritual rebirth. Spiritual rebirth can only be achieved by turning yourself over to God and allowing him to enter and cleanse your spirit. God is the ultimate source of goodness, and when he enters your heart and your life, all evil is remarkably forced out. Through God the soul gets a new beginning, and it is a beginning filled with goodness and warmth, free of the cold, brutal imbalance caused by evil.

ANY man who turns himself over to Jesus Christ will find happiness. It has happened too many times throughout history not to be true, and it will continue to happen through our lifetimes. He who is willing to be reborn will have his troubles washed away from him and his soul will be set free. He who is not willing will continue to suffer, and life will be his torment, with he as his own tormenter.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew,[a] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicode′mus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[b] Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ – John 3:3-7

PTSD is a spiritual problem, and those who experience it require a spiritual rebirth. To have it they must let go of their ego and give themselves completely to God. He will reward them with a new mind, a new spirit, and a better life.

 

21 Responses to “PTSD. Discussing the mental & spiritual causes and solutions.”

  1. shira
    October 2, 2013 at 12:03 AM #

    Um, why didn’t you approach your article about depression not being real the way you approached this article? Why were you so mean in that one and more sensitive in this one? Many people who read the other one are suffering from PTSD as well and depression applies to them. You basically said almost the same thing in this article as you did in the other but this one was gentler and more thought provoking whereas the other one was just hard and mean.

    • Toma
      October 2, 2013 at 11:15 PM #

      I really appreciate this comment, shira. I may have been gentler in this one because I don’t view PTSD as something that can be blamed on the individual. I do think that depression can. We may not be able to choose whether or not we suffer as a result of trauma, but we can definitely choose not to let our emotions destroy us and those around us.

  2. DarkDancingDubstepDragon
    November 3, 2013 at 10:33 AM #

    Agreed completely, toma.

  3. Mr Cellophane
    November 15, 2013 at 4:55 PM #

    Definitely appreciate the gentler tone. So, thanks. And I think it’s a great idea to try to separate the spiritual argument from the non-spiritual so that your arguments don’t get conflated.

    I was a bit hesitant as soon as I read, “I have had a great deal of time to consider the merits and causes of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome,” because you cannot just THINK your way toward an understanding a real-world phenomenon. You have to look outside yourself, research, hear people’s stories, and research some more.

    Then again, you didn’t necessarily state that you DIDN’T research, so who knows. Perhaps you did. So I read on.

    Once again unfortunately, I believe you have over-simplified a mental disorder. Your description I don’t mind so much (that the remaining memories and associations are what continue to haunt the person well after the real trauma is gone, and that PTSD sufferers tend to use avoidance to escape their anxiety — these are both true).

    There are some inaccuracies in the description, but nothing that totally undermines the article — for example, it has been demonstrated time and time again that our so-called flashbulb memories (memories of important or traumatic events) is not one bit more accurate than our everyday memories. Our own RATING of its accuracy, however, is wildly inflated. Interesting how our minds trick us into certainty, isn’t it?

    However, the big fault in this argument is that, as with your solution to depression, you pretty much seem to assert that the sufferer should, in simple terms, think of something else. Distraction, devotion to a cause, avoidance of the negative thoughts, etc.

    In both PTSD and depression, avoidance of negative thoughts is horrrrrible practice. Absolutely horrible! How incredibly outdated and out of touch… The effective way to deal with negative thoughts (from a purely cognitive standpoint, that is — I don’t feel like getting into the medication discussion here. There’s plenty of that in the depression article commentary) is to accept their presence and process them in a healthy way.

    Please stop trying to epiphanize your way to conclusions about REAL WORLD PHENOMENA.

    Oh, and I don’t address your argument about the spiritual aspect, because spiritual arguments are always nebulous. No real way to argue either way. I can, however, comment on the assertion that “any man who turns himself over to Jesus Christ will find happiness.”

    My commentary? Ha. Ha. Ha.

    • Toma
      November 27, 2013 at 3:02 PM #

      There is an assumption that I believe everything is such an easy-fix, and it’s a real issue for me. There is no easy-fix, there is only a path the length of which nobody knows.

      You oversimplify (or fail to understand) what I am saying. It’s not ‘think of something else’, it’s about leading an existence in which thoughts have no impact on the moment.

      Your reference to ‘outdated and out of touch’ shows how completely full of shit psychotherapies are. What’s ‘in’ today will be ‘outdated and out of touch’ at some point in the future. There is no truth behind them, just an eternally incomplete, inaccurate and futile science.

      • Arby
        December 2, 2013 at 12:30 PM #

        It reminds me of the motivational and personality theories they keep feeding us at work. Every two or three years there is a new spin on them with another slock company charging enormous fees to get us to take tests and talk about them. It doesn’t actually change anything in the workplace though.

        With that said, there are therapists that help people, probably by meeting them as people and less on theory, so there’s that.

        • Nick
          March 16, 2014 at 5:07 PM #

          “With that said, there are therapists that help people, probably by meeting them as people and less on theory, so there’s that.”

          On the topic of psychotherapies, I remember once reading a part of a book a few years ago that cited a paper which studied the efficacy of different psychotherapy modalities. From what I can remember, the paper apparently concluded that with regards to treating depression, the type of psychotherapy made zero difference but that psychotherapy did, in fact, help – so long as both the patient and the therapist believed in the psychotherapy and that it would work to improve the patient’s depression.

          The implication, of course, is that the theories underlying the various psychotherapies are complete junk but if a patient has found someone he can talk out his problems to and both believe that he can get better, then he will get better.

          Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the book, nor the paper it cited, and Google has not yielded any results (I think the terms I Google are not specific enough) so you can believe me at your own discretion.

          • Arby
            March 17, 2014 at 1:20 AM #

            Hi Nick!

            Yes, I have read this in multiple places. Here is what Google helped me find this morning.

            You may need to hold your nose at this source: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/12/wampold.aspx

            More your style perhaps: https://umdrive.memphis.edu/mpmrtens/public/CPSY%208200/Wampold%20et%20al.,%201997.pdf

            Also, there is something else interesting I found while searching. It is on the efficacy of a specific therapy on personality disorders.

            http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210101955.htm

            As a layman, all I can say is that if this approach truly is more effective, it might just be due to the fact that you have an adult helping another person grow up. Where can this logic found? Um, in all of human history.

            • Arby
              March 17, 2014 at 1:30 AM #

              I am sorry. It looks like you will have to copy paste the link I gave you to the memphis.edu pdf. The way it is configured, the webpage will break it every time.

            • Nick
              April 17, 2014 at 4:22 PM #

              Thanks Arby. That second link is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about, and the psychologist’s answer in that first link seems to summarize things pretty well. I’ve been looking for that for ages.
              As far as that third link regarding the “schema therapy,” I’m sorry but I just couldn’t take the article seriously anymore after reading
              “The therapist works to get past modes like the Detached Protector and Punitive Parent Mode to reach the Vulnerable Child Mode. Direct access to the Vulnerable Child is the key to the therapist being able to meet these needs and is the cornerstone of treatment.” Lol. That isn’t to say there might not be some truth or efficacy to this treatment, but I just couldn’t bring myself to take it seriously after that. I freely admit my biases affecting my judgment in this case.

              • Arby
                April 20, 2014 at 2:17 AM #

                Yes, there are a lot of Words of Woo in psychology. There always was.

                I think we agree on schema therapy. My take is that if it does work, regardless of how they speak about it, it due to the fact that helping someone grow into a mature adult is something that mature adults do, should be doing, and have been doing throughout history. It isn’t a therapeutic approach.

                Although, nowadays, I can see where it would be relegated to therapy, because so little of it happens naturally in society anymore.

                • Nick
                  April 20, 2014 at 3:47 PM #

                  Yes, I would agree with that. I love how psychology, when it’s not jumping to unfounded conclusions based on limited evidence, likes to identify things that are obvious and call it science.
                  Off-topic, another field that seems to really like doing that is the field of “pedagogy,” or the “science and theory” behind education. It’s just filled with hilarious buzzwords.

                  • Arby
                    April 24, 2014 at 10:20 AM #

                    Haha, I am sure there are many hilarious buzzwords. But, I don’t find pedagogy funny. I think it sounds like a disease of some type. Are you studying it?

                    • Nick
                      April 24, 2014 at 11:06 AM #

                      Oh, no, I only read up on it occasionally for fun. The topic of education seems to be a hot one, especially in the United States since kids here do so badly on tests these days. There are plenty of theories as to why and most or at least many focus on the supposed lack of “quality teaching” in the school systems, while completely ignoring the home environment factor, which seems to me to be the single most important factor by far.
                      The field of “pedagogy,” also known as the “science of teaching,” comes up with all sorts of pseudo-intellectual nonsense that’s supposed to improve teacher and lesson plan effectiveness. It’s partly based on psychology, I think, and partly just straight-up fabricated, if you ask me. I had a brief exposure to the field when I was in college; at the time, Bill Gates (or his foundation anyway) was throwing money around trying to improve public education since education is one of the fields he likes to “champion.” Through this funding, my university created special classes that were designed to teach undergraduates interested into going into teaching how to be more effective at teaching (through the “science” and principles of “pedagogy”). However, the classes were open to all so I took one to fill a requirement. It was, I think, the first time where I realized that almost the entirety of the substance of what I was being taught was complete and utter BS.
                      Anyway, rant over. :)

                    • Arby
                      April 24, 2014 at 11:39 AM #

                      Yep, like I said, a disease.

                      I hear you on the BS. Many subjects like that today. Ever taken an MBA course? The real giveaway is that the theories change every few years, but nothing gets any better, and generally only worse. Like the motivational tests they give us at work. I have taken so many personality assessments through the years that supposedly tell me how to get along with everyone at work that I think I have finished a course of therapy in psychoanalysis by now.

                      I guess finding the humor in these theories has some benefit to us. Laughter the best medicine. :)

    • Nick
      December 2, 2013 at 10:42 AM #

      “In both PTSD and depression, avoidance of negative thoughts is horrrrrible practice. Absolutely horrible! How incredibly outdated and out of touch…”
      I’m just curious, why do you say this? Because it’s “common sense”? Because you read it on another website? Did Dr. Phil say so on one of his specials? What constitutes processing “negative” thoughts in a “healthy” way? Since different people have different experiences, have different definitions on what constitutes a “negative” thought for them and just generally think differently from one another, and since we do not yet have the power to read each others’ minds, I find it difficult to believe that an objective scientific study could ever be done that clearly supports the statement you’ve made.
      That’s the problem with psychiatry as it is practiced today. Human experience is an inherently subjective thing, and thus, the terms and “theories” used in psychiatry are themselves so vague and subjective that it very quickly begins to lose any credibility of being based on any kind of legitimate scientific fact.

      “I can, however, comment on the assertion that “any man who turns himself over to Jesus Christ will find happiness.”
      My commentary? Ha. Ha. Ha.”
      I’m not sure what you find so funny, though I admit I personally would probably change the word “happiness” to “contentedness.” I don’t think it’s so unreasonable or laughable to think that a person who completely turns himself over to an ideal or cause other than himself can find contentedness.

      • Arby
        December 2, 2013 at 12:42 PM #

        It sounds to me as if it was a rather poor way of explaining mindfulness. I recommend that you look into mindfulness at some point, as positive thoughts can be as irrational as negative ones. Mindfulness gets you to a place where you can accept your thoughts without being ruled by them.

  4. Vanessa
    November 17, 2013 at 1:27 AM #

    What do you think of post partem depression?

    • anon
      May 9, 2014 at 2:56 AM #

      Don’t even bother asking him that. He doesn’t think it’s real. He thinks of depression as prolonged sadness rather than an actual disease since he has his PhD in spiritual psychology, lol. He has another article about depression where he says as long as you start to do positive things and live life, that depression will go away on it’s own. He’s ignorant about it all because he’s either deluded in his spiritual ideology or hasn’t been through it.

  5. Lani
    November 18, 2013 at 11:44 AM #

    Toma, this article truly inspired my sympathy in you. I feel strongly sympathetic although I can’t truly empathise with what it must feel like to have your power to reason stolen from you by religion and replaced with hatred, divisiveness and fear [of hell].
    Not to mention never having experienced the oneness of all things by being trapped in a mindset of individualism, classism and superiority. I hope that one day you can overcome your need to demean others because of their lack of attention to their toilet roll. I hope one day you’re able to learn to connect with nature, have incredibly tantric sex with your partner and experience a true state of spiritual bliss. Your mental state is sick, to the point where you are blind to it. Despite all of this, I have only sympathy, not hartred. As you will one day learn, you must act from kindness, not hatred, if you want to end suffering. I do request, however, that until you become much more enlightened than you already are, you cease to push your ill informed propaganda onto potentially very vulnerable people. I also recommend that you research academic material and properly reference your material instead of publishing your random thoughts and opinions that are incredibly biased and dangerous. Thank you.

  6. Jane Kent
    January 19, 2014 at 10:23 AM #

    It seems odd that you support the idea that one can just get over depression with a positive attitude, but that PTSD is a spiritual problem. Perhaps depression can be a result of PTSD, or vice versa. Perhaps our experiences, although not seen or touched do influence our bio-chemistry.

    I am confident your stance on depression is a bit attention-seeking, just as really, the whole idea of a blog is. Attention seeking cannot be seen or touched, nor grief, heart-ache, or many other ‘feelings’.

    Your reply to an earlier poster, “You…fail to understand) what I am saying…” demonstrates either your inability to empathize (I imagine you would be diagnosed narcissistic, but that cannot be seen or touched…so you wouldnt believe that pscho-stuff either) or else, write meaningfully–either way it is poor form to blame the reader.

    You mention chemical imbalance, but feel the cause and effect is backwards…we lack a certain chemical therefore we feel depressed…but you argue we think sad thoughts therefore we become chemically imbalanced.

    You wrote, “Your depression was all in your head. It wasn’t real. You were never actually depressed. You were just being selfish. And if you refuse to admit that you were simply being selfish, then you still are.”

    Perhaps PTSD patients, those whom have lost loved ones, buried children, grew up abused, suffered injustice, are basically, selfish.

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