Original Article: http://medicalwhistleblowernetwork.jigsy.com/ptsd-injury-not-disease
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a natural emotional reaction to a deeply shocking and disturbing experience. It is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Any human being has the potential to develop PTSD. The cause is external not internal. It is a Psychiatric Injury not Mental Illness. It is not resulting from the individual’s personality. The Whistleblower who is the victim of the retaliation is not inherently weak or inferior. In fact, any human being has the potential to develop PTSD. Whistleblower retaliation is extremely stressful and may lead to burnout or stress break-down – which is not the same as nervous or mental break-down; as stated above, everyone breaks down under the stress of a life altering trauma that is deeply wounding. Thus individuals suffering PTSD are injured, not mentally ill. PTSD indicates severe trauma and stress which causes a weakness in the individual, and not the reverse. This is confusing for mental health practitioners and laypersons alike. But the distinction is important if mental health practitioners desire to assist a traumatized victim. Too often reactions which are normal under excessive or prolonged stress are assumed to be signs of abnormality or deficiency within the person affected, which may then be assumed to be the cause of the problem rather than a consequence of it (this is sometimes referred to as the “Mental Health Trap”). The diagnosis Complex PTSD comes from being exposed to multiple traumas, sometimes small but causing cumulative emotional damage over a long period of time. PTSD changes the diagnosed individual’s life and greatly impacts the lives of those with whom they are close and regularly interact. The explosive rage, depression, isolation, anxiety, cognitive difficulties, and lack of vitality combine to cause loved ones to leave. But a strong support network is essential for healing. Friends and families are an integral part of that network. Trusting relationships are essential to combat the dehumanizing effect of trauma. Many therapists practice narrative therapy believing this is essential to overcoming the trauma. This however is not good for all who are suffering from PTSD because it forces them to relive the events of the trauma. Some people do better never narrating the trauma and should instead focus on coping techniques to deal with triggers. A trigger is something that causes memory flashbacks and intrusive thoughts of the previous trauma. Under extreme or prolonged stress people of a previously very strong constitution may become unassertive, over-anxious, compliant and unable to cope with even the most trivial of stressors. A person’s reactions under stress may resemble symptoms of mental illness – loss of emotional control, apparent over-reactions to seemingly trivial stimuli, hypervigilance (e.g. being on constant alert for further abuse) etc., may be mistaken for instability, irrational behavior and paranoia. It is important for supporters to provide a safe physical environment, but also emotional safety and be willing to accept a wide range of emotions. According to Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy of needs, the being needs, the three higher-order needs, cannot be met until the deficiency needs the four lower-order needs, are met.. This is critical to relationship building, which will help provide the strong support network that is essential for healing. Recovery requires a sense of power and control. All relationships should be respectful and empower the Whistleblower to make choices. The Whistleblower ‘s symptoms and behaviors are adaptations to trauma, so services should address all of the Whistle-blower’s needs rather than just symptoms.
DRS. ZOELLNER AND BRYANT TALK ABOUT PTSD
Psychological disorders following exposure to trauma include personal suffering, decreased productivity, occupational and social dysfunction, medical disorders and demands on health services. In this talk, Drs. Zoellner and Bryant review current research associated with the persistence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the variety of viable options that exist for treatment. Speakers also explore treatment options and focus on the effectiveness of both therapies and medications.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”Buddha
“I define a survivor as one who has touched, witnessed, encountered or been immersed in death in a literal or symbolic way and has himself remained alive.”
— Robert Jay Lifton, American psychiatrist and pioneer