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Status Update: Making More Inroads on Traumatic Stress

08 Feb

Hello, All.

The piece comparing our Vietnam vets to our current crop of troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan has gotten some great conversations going, both here and on Huffington Post.

I stand corrected on the matter of draftees - only a third of our Vietnam troops were drafted - the majority was volunteer.  Many related points about current needs were highlighted by postings from various vets and their families under the original article, and it’s worth having a second look, just for the comments. 

We’re also getting queries from various NGO’s about helping the exhausted, emotionally fried volunteers working their tails off in Haiti.  We’re following up on those.  We didn’t jump in right away because my feeling was that what we have to offer comes in handy right about now, after the realities have sunk in and the workers get some respite from working 24/7 - that’s when they get assaulted by the gag-worthy smells, sights and sounds crowding his or her mind from that continuing catastrophe.  

It really is like being in a war zone.  William Spear writes about this very eloquently here. I know that one of the more powerful, traumatizing images that get stuck in the mind is the look on the face of someone you’re helpless to assist.  This has to be happening to these volunteers, in spades.  Of course, it’s a testament to our common humanity and compassion that these memories create a loop that forever keeps breaking our hearts.  But imagery can create a bridge from there, to a peaceful place that coexists in the heart. That’s what we’re aiming for.

We were also delighted to learn that a group of OIF/OEF veterans with TBI’s (traumatic brain injuries), who were subjects in a sleep study that compared different treatment methods (meds, sleep hygiene training, guided imagery, basic relaxation, etc) were reporting such boffo satisfaction with the guided imagery intervention that the research team asked for CDs for the entire population.  

These are male vets, from teenagers to middle age, who’d experienced a blast exposure or other injury that resulted in a period of altered consciousness, and who suffered from sleep disturbances and daytime impairment as a result of their injury.  Many suffer from posttraumatic stress as well.  We’re very happy to hear that the imagery is making a dent in their insomnia.  

OK, 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