#PTSD – Therapy (Beware the Charlatans)

PTSD Word MapYesterday, I got a message from Paul, a relative and contributing reader of my blog (see here). Paul was aware of my interests (and modicum of knowledge) on the subject of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mostly because of that, he asked me to cast a critical eye over a website called The Medical Medium and in particular a blog post on PTSD. Time for a little surfing…

I suppose I should have had my immediate suspicions, especially when I saw the word ‘Medium’ however; any prominent and natural scepticism aside, I continued browsing. The site (and its author/owner) unsurprisingly hail from North America, the world-wide spiritual home of the ‘therapy’ expert. If you can’t earn a living as a therapist in the USA, where most people’s pets are neurotic or suffering from some form of anxiety and consequently, provided with their very own (‘Expensive’) healer, it’s time to swallow your pride. Quickly and self-indulgently guzzle down your Californian Poppy, Guava and Zucchini smoothie, laced with Elderberry syrup and Grape Seed Extract and then, head off to the bar to drown your sorrows with Jack Daniels (other spirits are available)!

If there is one, almost guaranteed method of making a handsome living in the USA, its being a therapist of some kind. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve got a medical qualification or not, just so long as you can produce the odd ‘celebrity’ endorsement or two…

“Anthony is not only a warm, compassionate healer, he is also authentic and accurate, with God-given skills. He has been a total blessing in my life.” — Naomi Campbell

That should about cover that bit, now let’s look a little deeper into the ‘ABOUT’ section of the site. Apparently… “Anthony William was born with the unique ability to converse with a high-level spirit who provides him with extraordinarily accurate health information that’s often far ahead of its time.” But wait a minute, not only was Anthony born with ‘special’ powers, he even started practising his ‘craft’ at an early age… “When Anthony was four years old, he shocked his family when he announced at the dinner table that his symptom-free grandmother had lung cancer. Medical testing soon confirmed the diagnosis.” Right all cynicism aside, but I expect you get my drift; what do I make of his methods and ethics?

Well as you can imagine from my tone, I’m no great fan of the predominant “praise be” type sales pitch so often adopted in the American therapeutic industry. Irrespective of any possible scientifically based medical worth, I see it mostly as evangelical diatribe and rhetoric, designed to capture the needs of the needy for the increased financial gain of the (often) already wealthy. But hey, if he can earn a living from what he is providing, there must be a market there!

And here is the crux of the matter, in the main there tends to be a large proportion of the American population who are either psychologically unbalanced in one form or another, or at least actually believe they are… Easy pickings for any therapist. But, all the sarcasm aside, I can actually agree with some of the stuff he is spouting, it isn’t all total drivel. The modern-day prominence of PTSD, is a condition or mental illness that can befall anyone.

“There are no limitations to what can cause PTSD, yet even in today’s modern times of self-help, therapy, and emotional understanding, health professionals mostly reserve the term PTSD for life-or-death experiences.” – Anthony William

He is also correct when he says; “there’s an epidemic of hidden PTSD in our culture” and that is in addition to the impacts upon so many of the military veterans. The psychological results from lingering negative feelings, resulting from any adverse experience can be immense. How an individual is psychologically impacted by their thoughts, feelings and emotions after something they perceive to be traumatic – losing your job, the end of a relationship, chronic illness, or even simply feeling as if you have failed something or someone – create a psychological/chemical imbalance in the brain. Something that some can’t deal with as easily as others, irrespective of any resulting imbalance post their experienced trauma.

Feelings of fear, doubt, panic, avoidance, anger, hypervigilance, irritability, sadness, shame, vulnerability, distrust and more are all perfectly natural prevalent results of traumatic experience. That said, how is it that so often, two broadly similar people with the same levels of training, life experiences and cognitive abilities can be impacted to different extremes?

It’s simple… irrespective of similarities, perceived or actual, we are all individuals, unique people with differing thought processes and personal values. I have no desire to be flippant or distasteful however; Mrs Miggins could suffer PTSD from witnessing her pet cat getting crushed by a truck but, her son who killed many people and say many horrific injuries in a war zone has no (apparent) mental injury… Go figure?

“One of the most powerful ways to heal PTSD is to create new experiences to serve as positive reference points in your life. These experiences don’t have to be big, or risky (nor should they be). It’s all about how you perceive each new adventure, however tame.” – Anthony William

I can see the value in the above statement. According to my research so far, and the experiences relayed by suffering friends, some of the most useful therapeutic methods for PTSD involve talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness methods.

That said, sadly I also believe that PTSD has become something of a ‘label’ and/or flag of convenience. A badge that is awarded or worn to proclaim a message, one that has different purposes dependent upon the presenter or recipient. Our society is now full of ‘labels’ if you don’t have one, to indicate you are in some way different to your peers, you feel left out, you aren’t ‘special’ or you may even be ostracised in some way. We don’t appear to have the capability to accept that individuals are and can be different any more. We can’t manage without a label that proclaims and identifies that difference.

None of the above should read or seen as an undervaluation of the negative impacts suffered by anyone who is clinically diagnosed with PTSD, by a medically qualified professional. It certainly isn’t, I know people who have been and are impacted by this debilitating mental illness. PTSD is a condition which has severe consequences for their daily life and their personal well-being. It is something that, even today, is mostly misunderstood by society and something that isn’t always well catered for by our medical profession. This is the main reason why so many suffering from PTSD resort to self-medication with alcohol, or other substance. It is also a reason for my angst when I see / hear of people who adorn themselves with the PTSD badge, mostly whilst searching for sympathy in a quest for self-worth or social acceptance. As my (suffering) friend would say… “you can find ‘sympathy’ in the dictionary, it’s found between shit and syphilis!”

We are however individuals, what impacts on me won’t necessarily bother you, or perhaps it might and immensely. What you perceive as trauma could actually be frivolous and nonsensical tosh for me, as I said before, we are all individuals. How we get to a better place, from the dark place we are currently resident in, usually through no particular fault of our own, requires tools and methods tailored to that individual. In short, if it works for you give it a try…what have you to lose? Only the possible benefits you could have gained but didn’t, because you didn’t give it a go.

Disclaimer: This blog, its content and any linked material are presented for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing. Nothing contained in or accessible from this blog should be considered to be medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing, or a promise of benefits, claim of cure, legal warranty, or guarantee of results to be achieved. – Anthony William

What I would say in conclusion is; resources such as the ‘Medical Medium’ should always be entered into with an open mind, without any expectations of desired/required results and… ‘Snake Oil’ is often more palatable with a large pinch of salt or two… especially in light of his disclaimer (above)!

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