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Letter supports new PTSD treatments

20 Dec
Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the only article I've ever read that made me go, "Yes! That's exactly how I feel." I was a victim of sexual assault at 16, but never told anyone until I was 26..
This letter supports everything we’ve been saying about posttraumatic stress. It appeared in Salon.com, in response to the story that appeared a couple of weeks ago by Lynn Harris on the power of imagery for healing PTSD, called "My Heart is Back"
(http://www.salon.com/mwt/letters/2004/12/16/24_7_ptsd/index.html) :

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the only article I''ve ever read that made me go, "Yes! That''s exactly how I feel." I was a victim of sexual assault at 16, but never told anyone until I was 26, and didn''t bring it to therapy until I was 34. When I did start talking about it in therapy, the panic attacks started, and my ability to relate intimately ended in stark frozen terror, even though my thinking brain knew the man I was with was safe and adored me. Before, when I wasn''t talking about it in therapy, my sex life was fine. So talking definitely seemed to make it worse.

What finally helped? A different kind of therapy, where we focused on the body, a part of myself I''d been denying existed for years. Not just how my heart felt, but my eyes, my mouth, my hands, my feet, my torso -- all of me, all the parts that I had to reclaim from that terrible experience. That helped some. And what finally put the nail in the coffin was painting a very detailed picture of my attacker. I''ve always wondered why, but something fundamental changed after that, something that all the talk, all the pillow pounding, all the cutting up of his image, hadn''t done.

I still get panic attacks, but they are very few and far between. I hope others with PTSD will read your article and see hope in it, and hope in the use of imagery to conquer fear and pain.

-- Name withheld
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award