Traumatic Stress Disorder
the book's preface, by Marc Bonagura
is a term coined after the Vietnam War. Earlier and similar forms
were "shell shock" in World War I and "combat fatigue" in World
War II. Yet only in the last twenty years or so have doctors really
been able to understand this condition; even so, its impact on
peoples lives is still largely a mysterious phenomenon.
times of extreme stress the body switches into a state of hyper-awareness,
a survival mode, altering every physiological and psychological
response with only one objective to endure the trauma.
But this survival comes with a terrible price, and the longer
the time period the person is subjected to the trauma, the more
severe the damage. In such extreme circumstances, the rational
mind shuts down, and the wisdom of the body reverts back to some
long lost primal awareness.
of sexual abuse, rape victims, those who lived through a concentration
camp, people imprisoned and tortured, and some combat veterans
specifically those select few who served on the front lines
all these people have one thing in common. Their flesh
stores a record of these experiences, and for the rest of their
lives they must cope with permanent changes to their psyche and
their physiology. In time the mind can forget, but the body always
remembers. The resonance of the war, the energetic vibration of
those battles never left these men, rather it became a part of
them. Malnutrition, anorexia, malaria, dysentery, jungle rot,
the sight and stench of horribly mangled bodies, the stench of
the living, the methodical, skillful, efficient killing machines
that these human beings became these occurrences became
locked forever into every organ system and muscle fiber of their
bodies. The men were never told this would happen and they were
never given instruction as to how to cope with these permanent
mystery is in the way the effects continue long after the trauma
recedes, constantly bringing the survivor back to that state of
hyper-consciousness necessary to endure the original conflict,
and, unfortunately, reviving again the cellular memory of these
events in a vicious cycle as if they were happening all over again.
It is important to remember that this is not merely a psychological
or mental state. It is a series of energetic memories that are
as real as the day they occurred. An energetic memory is the resonance
of an event in one sense there is no past, present or future
all these events are constantly and simultaneously recurring
for the PTSD survivor. These survivors become trapped in this
cyclic realm and will go to great lengths to quiet this process.
Especially useful are drugs and alcohol, but the relative calm
only lasts as long as the numbing effects of the high. As Ive
implied, even if you could wipe out the memories in someones
brain, the memories in the body would live on. Adrenaline is a
powerful hormone, also capable of temporarily quieting such memories,
and Bob Worthington lived on that hormone for most of his life,
constantly creating and seeking out stressful, dangerous situations
from which he had to extricate himself.
more common coping skills for these survivors are silence, an
intensely personal, private suffering, depression, nightmares,
and chronic physical illness sometimes masked for many
years behind productive, seemingly contented lives. But spouses,
children, and close friends know what lies beneath; they often
live day by day in an energetic battlefield only somewhat less
literal than the ones these soldiers walked away from in the first
a physical level, the stress hormones released constantly during
the original event or series of events and afterwards, whenever
the trauma is relived again and again, in memories or dreams,
or when any stressful situation brings them back into that original
state, combine to create a downward spiral. Many combat veterans
repeat this cycle for years and years until they reach their fifties
and sixties when their lives start to unravel. During these stressful
episodes, whether real or imagined, the body releases adrenaline,
just as it did when the original event was taking place, and instead
of quieting the memories, they are revived again and again, producing
the need for more and more adrenaline, yet stress hormones when
released over long periods of time do an amazing amount of damage
to critical bodily systems, especially the cardiovascular and
digestive systems in men, and the reproductive system in women.
In Bob Worthingtons case, one can trace the patterns and
symptoms of his fatal heart disease to the same eighteen-year-old
Marine, just days out of combat, lying in a bed in a Naval hospital
in Vallejo, California. The disease process fully manifests decades
later exactly as it had begun all those years before. Most
of the poison went right to the center of the chest.
have come to my own understanding regarding the breakdown of the
bodily systems and the chronic complaints these people suffer.
As the soul expresses its desire to free itself from the body
that has internalized these experiences, a gradual or sometimes
a rapid disintegration of that body and its systems takes place.
Most physicians and health care providers have never been completely
able to understand this relationship.
the only way to understand the meaning of Bobs experience
is to examine what happened to him when he came back to
trace the ripples of energetic vibrations moving ever outwardly
and forever altering the lives of everyone around him. In fact,
Bobs eventual struggle for healing and search for closure
took a lot of hard work. The process began only when he started
to speak his truths. For the greater healing to begin, we must
first respectfully ask all these warriors to break their silence
to share their stories and we must be prepared to
listen without judgement. In this work I have attempted to do
just that to move into the psyche of one such remarkable
warrior, Bob Worthington, to explore his visions, to explain them,
and to help heal the broken parts.
here for a message from Dr. Carnahan regarding the WWII Marine.