The Importance of Ritual in Over Coming PTSD

Many people who suffer from PTSD also have pre-existing personality “issues” such as OCD behaviour, social phobia, etc., which seems to play a part in their job vocations. Let’s face it; a person who is OCD is likely to be more contentious about their work, and pay more attention to fine details, while a person who deals with social phobia is more likely to have increased situational awareness and observational skills. Which likely explains why although it seems counter-intutitive, you might find people who are dealing with anorexia as nutritionists, those who cope with OCD as physicians or investigators, and those who have social phobias as EMTs or teachers.

In the initial stages of post-traumatic stress disorder, while the body’s neurophysiology is attempting to resolve the chemical imbalances caused by an overload of stress hormones and neurotransmitters, there is frequently a great deal of loss in an individual’s life. Aside from whatever incident finally brought them to this breaking point; when a person cannot function at all because of night terrors, hand tremors, inabiity to focus and concentrate, etc; they invariably also lose the last vestiges of self confidence in their competancy, and often are shunted into social roles where they are forced to rely on others, therefore losing independence and self reliance. For those individuals who work in the support/warrior castes – EMTs, RCMP, military, physicians, lawyers, etc – this loss is particularly brutual, and the depressive symptoms which accompany this loss of sense of self is likely more psychologically damaging than the PTSD symptoms which brought them to this point. There are few things quite as difficult for a person who has prided themselves on their ability to be strong in the face of adversity like suddenly being treated without any respect or as if they are a child. I grant, it is difficult to tell how to respond at this point, because by the time that a person has been this psychologically damaged, it is very possible that they have lost all ability to care for themselves and that they do require intervention; however, suddenly being treated as if they are two years old is not the way to go about it.

That said, PTSD to me appears to actually be a psychosocial-physiological response to pain and suffering, and it can be considered something of an evolution on both an individual and physical level, much the same as a second infancy of sorts, where their ability to function as a social animal has failed them but their intuitiveness and and intelligence — factors needed for developing and maintaining composure in the face of absolute terror — are exponentially increased in much the same way that the neurology of a newborn infant is.

Which means that to address what we are calling PTSD – which we seem to use to call executive burn out in corporate executives, battered wife syndrome in the abused, failure to thrive in children and dogs, gulf war syndrome, or shell shock – we need to take a good hard look at the world we are in and what we are doing to our kids through media exposure.

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