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Outrage, Dismay over Update on Imagery for Warfighters

02 Aug

Hello again.

We’ve had some terrific but insufficient debate over the morality of using guided imagery for active troops.  (Better killing through mind-body methods?) Some of you were horrified at my update on this last week.   I welcome all comments, because this is something many have been pondering for a long time, myself included, and it deserves more than our first knee-jerk responses.  Here is what I wrote in response to the dismay some of you expressed.

My main goal for making these audio programs has always been the same, since 1989, when Steve Kohn (composer/musician) and I created some guided imagery to accompany chemotherapy: to alleviate a little suffering. Not terribly ambitious and definitely achievable, this simple intention. I'm still there.

Another effect is that sometimes - maybe often, even - the imagery helps make people more competent, more confident, more capable at whatever it is they do.

My aim in getting guided imagery to the veterans and the troops is to try and reduce the traumatic stress, help relieve the grief, and ease the depression, insomnia and self-doubt that occur either before, during or after combat.

We've had great good luck with this in nearly one hundred V.A. hospitals. More recently we've been introducing guided imagery downrange, to active troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. On this score, we sometimes hear the concern that it's a really dumb idea to teach relaxation and self-regulation skills to war fighters, because they simply cannot afford to relax. This entire update is a response to that oft-expressed worry. I stand by what I said. Learning self-calming skills and how to become very still not only does not make soldiers more vulnerable; it makes them better fighters, bomb defusers, snipers and noticers of danger.

Just for the record, I'm 67 years old and I was around for Vietnam. My husband and I took a lot of flak in '64 and '65, because we were against that war from the outset - way before most of our progressive Hyde Park friends and relatives were - they jumped on that band wagon, along with the rest of the country, much later.

We also were clear from the get-go that it was really messed up to send our soldiers to go kill people and then castigate them for it when they got back.

We were also keenly aware that some had a much easier time avoiding the draft than others, and from the safety of their student deferments, got all bent out of shape over those who were getting their butts macerated in Vietnam.

Do I want my imagery to help make our soldiers better killers? It's not what I had in mind, but I don't think there's a simple black-or-white answer to that question. Sorry.

As I said earlier, it's complicated. I want our troops to be safer. I want them to be inoculated (to whatever extent it's possible) against acquiring PTSD; I want them to be able to protect themselves and each other.

What do you think about this thorny issue? Troops, vets, civilians - talk to me! We need to be thoughtful and deliberate, and that means getting past our initial, knee-jerk responses to this thorny issue.

In a much milder (but related) sphere, I’m glad to report that Cindy’s put together a 15% off Back-to-School Sale through August 15th that will delight anyone looking for tools to help with confidence, test-taking anxiety, peak performance, mental acuity, memory skills or social anxiety. 

I’m proud of the superb resources we’ve pulled together for this - Emmett Miller’s Winning at Learning consists of four, easy-to-use, accelerated learning techniques for studying and test-taking;  Shirley MacNeal’s impeccable Test Taking Mastery keys listeners into a state of relaxed focus so they can maximize their concentration and recall; the one and only Martha Howard’s Greater Memory & Learning Skills allows students to discard their fear of failure, concentration problems, test anxiety and low confidence, and excel.

And, really, those are just some of the titles that would be perfect for the worried, paralyzed or dispirited student in your life.  Our audios for Self-Confidence and Stress would fit here, as would Mary Sise’s amazing EFT Stress video and a terrific selection of CDs and downloads by that mellow master of Ericksonian hypnotherapy, David Illig

The only caveats on this broad-based sale is that it doesn’t include Playaways or our pre-existing sale kits - we just can’t afford this deep discount for those guys.

So, if you’re interested, just use the code SCHOOL710 when you check out online, or when you call the office at 800.800.8661.

And, by the way, the Imagery International conference, Imagery for the Future: Illuminating Lives, will be held on October 22-24 at Vallombrosa Center in Menlo Park, CA.  Co-sponsored with Beyond Ordinary Nursing, it offers 11 contact CE hours for 6 terrific workshops and an experiential imagery practice session.

There’s a discounted rate for early registration (before Sept 22nd). You can find out more by clicking here.

OK, that’s it.  Take care and be well!

 

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