Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental and emotional condition that has its origins in a physical and/or mentally traumatic event that occurred anywhere from a few days to several years in the past. PTSD can develop by one overwhelming trauma as in 9/11 or by a series of smaller traumas or abuses occurring over several years such as living in an alcoholic home. It can be recognized from symptoms such as recurrent and persistent recollections of the traumatic event and recurring dreams of the event.

Psychology has made great strides in recent years in the treatment of PTSD. Recent powerful psychology techniques such as Neuro Emotional Technique? or NET?, TFT, and EMDR have proven to be particularly effective in treating this disorder.

The Characteristics of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Include the Following Symptoms:

1. Recurrent and persistent recollections of the traumatic event.

2. Recurrent dreams of the event.

3. Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event is happening all over again.

4. Intense distress related to internal or external events that remind one of the traumatic occurrence.

5. Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma.

6. Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that might be associated with the trauma.

7. An inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event.

8. Decreased interest or participation in certain activities.

9. Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others.

10. The inability to have certain feelings.

11. A sense that time is short, and there is no future.

12. Difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.

13. Irritability or angry outbursts.

14. Difficulty concentrating.

15. Hyper-vigilance.

One type of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder develops when frequent abuse occurs in the home. This can have grave consequences for developing relationships in general and intimate relationships in particular.

It is a cliché that before you can be in a healthy love relationship you at first must be in love with yourself. This is a very true cliché. For someone to be loved they have to love themselves. But to love themselves they have to be first truly loved and cherished by their parents. Parents often feel love for their children, but it is much rarer to show the action of love in a consistent fashion. This means treating a child in a healthy, non-judgmental way. Often parents are too demanding in their expectations or have too many needs of their own, to be able to show that type of love. Even if they do, we live in such a perfectionist culture that children often do not feel that they measure up.

Whenever a child feels abandonment from one or both of their parents they internalize the hurt and the result is a feeling of not being good enough to be loved. This feeling is the feeling of shame. Even if parents are relatively healthy and loving a child can feel tremendous abandonment if their parents get divorced, if a parent is alcoholic, or if they simply work too much and not spend the amount of quality time a child needs. This often leads to a deep emotional belief that they are unlovable.

Later, they might realize on a conscious level that they are loveable and in turn desire real love. Consciously they look for healthy love, but subconsciously they search out those people who are incapable of showing real love. This is called a repetition compulsion. This problem becomes worse if the child has been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.

They find true love boring and yearn for people to treat them poorly, which ratifies their feeling unlovable. They often become addicted to these abusive relationships and feel that they cannot live without them. They become intensity junkies instead of trying to experience true intimacy. Finding partners who cannot commit is another variation on this theme.

When a child is repeatedly abused in childhood, as is often the case in alcoholic families and families where a parent has sexually abused a child, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder will likely develop in that child. PTSD is traumatic stress that overloads a persons' nervous system. This overwhelming stress creates shock in a person and dissociation between the three major brains and the body/brain. The dissociation also causes repressed energy that cannot be released fully so that the individual returns to balance or homeostasis.

This repressed energy and dissociation causes the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. When a person cannot return to normal functioning they often develop a repetition compulsion in an attempt to resolve the problem.

A repetition compulsion is concept mastery gone awry. Concept mastery is one of the major ways in which human beings learn. If a person is trying to learn a task and does not quite complete it appropriately he or she will have a tendency to keep trying until they figure out the solution to the problem. This healthy tenacity helps us develop and grow as individuals and as a species.

This healthy tenacity however can at times turn into an obsession. This is what occurs in a repetition compulsion. A person will try to solve the problem in the same fashion over and over again without making any changes to their strategy in the fruitless attempt to master the situation. They often become desperate in their attempt to complete the action and solve the problem. They fail to realize that something is wrong with their approach. There is often a blind spot where the solution resides. Instead of looking at the problem in a different fashion and discovering a new way to respond, the person attempts the same technique over and over again which results in repeated failure and frustration.

This psychological dilemma is best illustrated by a sad, but all too common tendency. When a child has been sexually abused by a parent the child will dissociate, which essentially creates a hypnotic experience. The child will remember on some level and in great detail everything that has occurred. He or she will remember how they felt like a victim. They will remember what they were dressed in, the time of day, and the furniture in the room. They will also remember what the abuser was wearing, what tone of voice was used, and a number of other details.

The child will then have essentially two models of behavior. One will be a victim, and the other will be an abuser. This will be especially confusing because the abuser might well be seen as quite loving in other situations. The child will then want to find a black or white answer to their confusion. This concrete and absolute thinking is characteristic of a child's thinking under the age of twelve.

The way a child attempts to resolve this conflict is to internalize the two models. Essentially a civil war develops when one part of the child feels like a good person who has been victimized and the other part acts like the original abuser and tells the child that they are worthless. The problem has no resolution however, because the two sides are usually equally matched.

It sets up a hot spot where increased psychic energy resides. It also sets up a double goal. The child will feel they are loveable and want love, but also feel unlovable and want to be rejected. This conflict will be mostly subconscious. Consciously they will move towards success and love, but usually because of their blind spot they will either act in a way or connect with a person who fulfills their subconscious desire or rather conviction that they are unworthy and either fail or get rejected.

In the failed attempt out of this stalemate they often subconsciously recruit a third person. Although, an abused child will identify with both the abuser and the victim, they usually specialize and follow one model more than the other. Therefore, a person who identifies more with the victim is drawn towards an abuser as if by radar and an abuser is drawn towards the victim in like manner. Often, even if aware of their blind spot and consciously trying not to repeat they are invariably drawn into the same snare or repetition compulsion.

NET? or Neuro Emotional Technique? theory postulates that we create our own reality and that we are responsible for our own story. This means that even if the story of past abuse when a person is a child is accurate and valid we are still responsible for repeating it if we do not deactivate the repetition compulsion and neutralize the energy that is stuck.

This is why NET? Neuro Emotional Technique? is so effective for the problem of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and repetition compulsions. PTSD is about delayed grief or to say it another way energy that becomes stuck. A large part of this traumatic energy gets stuck in the body and NET? is incredibly effective in relieving this energy. It seems to have the effect of allowing the client to reestablish homeostasis and therefore drain the energy and original belief behind the repetition compulsion.

When used in tandem with insight oriented therapy to understand the reason behind the self-destructive behavior, and EMDR to assist in shifting the short term memory loop of the trauma to long term memory, NET? seems to complete homeostasis by bringing the body back into balance. This has been a major breakthrough in the treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

© 2004 Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT

JEF GAZLEY, M.S., LMFT, DCC has practiced psychotherapy for over thirty years and is the owner operator of since 1998 and

He is the author of eight mental health educational videos and DVDs and is currently writing a book on distance counseling. Jef is State Licensed in General Counseling, Marriage/Family, and Substance Abuse in Arizona and is a certified hypnotherapist. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. In his private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, Jef specializes in ADD, love addiction, hypnotherapy, dysfunctional families, codependency, trauma, and gay and lesbian issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET?, TFT, hypnotist, and Applied Kinesiology. His favorite readings are history, biographies, and Russian authors. Jef resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with his partner, Janice.

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