“PTSD is a Normal Reaction to Extreme Trauma – Just as Bleeding is a Normal Reaction to Being Stabbed.” ~Lynda Lee/@LadyQuixote
Since the discovery of modern brain imaging technologies, multiple studies have found that early childhood neglect and abandonment, as well as severe trauma occurring at any age, can damage the brain – by actually changing the brain’s structure and function.
This is why we can’t “just get over” certain types of trauma. Like a person paralyzed in a car crash, the traumatic event may be in the distant past, but the injury it caused is still present.
I have had a number of people tell me that all I need to do to get over my PTSD is to stop thinking about my traumas, forgive my abusers, and focus on living in today. This is about as helpful as telling a quadriplegic that he could get up and walk if only he will stop thinking about the car crash that severed his spine, forgive the drunk driver who caused the accident, and keep his mind firmly in the present. Although the car crash may have happened decades ago, the injury it caused is still present. The same is true for PTSD.
The good news is that brain imaging technologies have also found that the injured brain can heal – literally rewire itself – when the traumatized individual is in a SAFE environment, and in the context of at least one loving and affirming relationship. But from what I have seen and personally experienced, most trauma victims never get what we need to heal. Instead, we too often get the opposite: shamed and shunned by society and even by our own family, for the “crime” of being injured.
Browbeating and rejecting someone who is psychologically injured will only make matters worse. Would you whip a quadriplegic to get him to walk again? Of course not!
The single most humane and effective treatment for those of us who have been psychologically injured is simply this:
Treat PTSD with CARE: Compassion, Acceptance, Respect, and Encouragement.