PTSD Damages the Human Soul
PTSD Resources From Amazon
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is much in the news these days. We know that there are physical and psychiatric symptoms that correspond with PTSD. On the physical frontier there are observable changes in the amygdala and the hippocampus associated with PTSD. These are two of the structures in the brain. On the psychiatric frontier there are observations of anger, stress, and black outs, to name a few of the symptoms of PTSD.
But what about the human soul? Does PTSD affect our souls?
Yes, PTSD also damages the human soul and creates what I call the PTSD-Identity. The physical sciences observe and measure physical changes in brain structure and chemistry, and psychiatry attempts to mitigate behavioral symptoms of PTSD. Meanwhile, the harm of PTSD can be so severe as to damage our souls.
The damage manifests itself in how PTSD creates an identity in the sufferer that harms the four essential relationships. Our essential relationships are with
The PTSD-Identity damages these relationships and seeks isolation. In severe cases, their sense of self-worth continues to decrease until they die of either fast or slow suicide. Fast suicide is out and out killing one’s self, and slow suicide is through addictions to alcohol, drugs, and/or reckless behaviors. In many cases the person with PTSD will try alienate others by engaging in adultery, promiscuity, and pornography.
The goal of the PTSD-Identity is to drive our loved ones and friends away, to ruin our relationships, and make us despise ourselves. This happens as we try to feel alive by engaging in atrocious behaviors or trying not to feel at all, by engaging in numbing experiences like drugs or alcohol. It usually works: we drive away our friends and family and then despise ourselves.
Just What is Our Soul?
For the purposes of healing PTSD soul wounds and finding hope, you can equate your soul with your identity. Some people are uncomfortable with the term “soul” and they can interchange “identity” with ease. Your relationships with other people and your sense of self are not merely chemical. Whatever constitutes that entity of consciousness, self-worth, and relationships can be understood as a soul. If you desire to add in the notion of eternity, that works too. Regardless, PTSD wounds men and women beyond merely the physical. They need not suffer endlessly and lose hope.
Philosophers and cosmologists still try to sort why the Universe “is” rather than “is not.” That is, they ask, why is there something rather than nothing? I happen to think God has something to do with it.
And, while I don’t intend rudeness, the existence of God as debate topic is not one I waste time on. People who engage in it are not usually interested in actually learning about God.
My focus is on helping people to heal from PTSD and to help them find hope.
How to Treat PTSD
Excellent PTSD treatment requires components from the following three areas of expertise:
Medical science can offer some medications to deal with PTSD symptoms. Psychiatry can offer the expertise of when to administer and adjust dosages. A mature spirituality helps the PTSD sufferer learn and integrate that they have real value and that their lives matter. Additionally, a mature spirituality can help people to seek, offer, or accept forgiveness and/or apologize as necessary.
Healing as We Develop a Mature Spirituality
A mature spirituality offers one the opportunity to be open to the possibility of God. Not to be a thumper or smack down with self-righteous religion, but to be open to the wonder of all the creation and the universe that is. In this journey of PTSD recovery we find that our understanding of God changes and matures beyond the angry Santa Claus image so many of us have had inflicted upon us by others.
A mature spirituality engages in ritual and prayer which affirms life – the value of everyone’s life. If we affirm life, we then remain open to hope and the reasons to stay alive for another day.
PTSD is a horrible hard road to live through, but it can be done. Remember, every life has value, including your own.
You can learn more about PTSD and the Soul at www.PTSDspirituality.com
Semper Pax, Dr. Z