PTSD: Stress Versus Distress Disorders

I believe there is a different vision of how to look at what is called “post traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD).

The stimulus is in the nature of a great shock, such as encountered in a frightening war-created situation.  The remembering of the great shock extends well after the initial one has passed. 

Here, a stimulus or cue of any proportion — minor to major — can set off the original response.  Such stimuli - great, small, or in between - are impossible to avoid, nor do we have to place the burden on ourselves to avoid them.  Rather, these habitual quotidian stimuli of “remembrance of things past” serve as reminders to be here now and prompt us in our self-growth.

To heal, we shift our focus from the stressors themselves to our response to the stressors – to our distress.

We can never control the day-to-day habitual realities that are simply patterns of life, but we can recondition ourselves to respond to the stressors in a new way: Change the conditioning, the conditioned pattern, to something new.  Hence the shift on reframing from traumatic stress disorder to traumatic distress disorder.

Here the emphasis is placed on self-healing, which we have the power to do.  The shift from trying to control the outside to taking charge of the inside reflects a shift toward spiritual education.

Here is an example of how this may be done using our natural-born resource and gift of mental imagery and how any traumatic shock can be reversed. 

 Reversing Trauma Exercise

  • Close your eyes and breathe out a long, slow exhalation followed by a brief or normal — not exaggerated — inhalation.
  •  Imagine yourself at the traumatic scene at or about the moment of impact.  Breathe out once slowly and imagine a light coming to you either from within or without. 
  • Then reverse the memory of that moment in any way that you might. We are not dealing with the fact of that moment, but with the memory of the moment.  This is imagination, and anything can happen.  There are no “rules” such as those pertaining to our time-space everyday reality. 
  • When the reverse/change/shift/undoing takes place at the feeling and physical sensation coming along with that, keep it for yourself, noting the new feeling and physical sensation, and breathe out and open your eyes.

Repeat this exercise each morning upon awakening for twenty-one straight days.  If you miss, start from the beginning.  Do it for seven seconds, knowing the traumatic effects are vanishing. If the effects disappear before twenty-one days, stop the exercise. 

In going to your mental gym this way by mental reps, you are flexing new mental “muscles,” creating new neural networks and heart strength.  Now you are creating PTNE = Post Traumatic Normal Equanimity.