PTSD is a real physical injury.



19 thoughts on “PTSD is a real physical injury.

  1. So the brain actually reacts to its experiences. I remember learning about changes in my brain that occurred due to early attachment issues but heard that it could heal and grow in. I remember the hope that gave me. I am a borderline who got better, eventually. Yes, it took a lot of time.

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  2. I am so glad that you posted this. I get so mad at myself for how I react to things, but it really is a brain injury. Yes, we can learn mindfulness, develop new neural pathways, but the brain will not miraculously heal from these changes.

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    • Yes, according to my research on the latest findings about PTSD, modern brain imaging studies have found that the injured brain is neuroplastic, meaning that the brain can heal, when we are in a safe, nurturing environment, and in the context of at least one loving and affirming relationship. But it has been my experience that most of us get the opposite of that. Too often, we are shamed, shunned, blamed, rejected, and re-traumatized, both by our families and by society as a whole, for the “crime” of being psychologically injured.

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  3. Reblogged this on A Blog About Healing From PTSD and commented:
    “PTSD is a Normal Reaction to Extreme Trauma – Just as Bleeding is a Normal Reaction to Being Stabbed.” ~Lady Quixote/Linda Lee

    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.

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    • Teary eyed at this post. It is so true that most survivors are not given the safe environment for the brain to do its magic of rewiring itself. The wiring is different too there are still challenges despite the brilliant neuroplasticity of the brain. Yes, it is considered a moral crime when you are injured with invisible injuries that do not exist in the witnesses mind because they aren’t evident in a wheelchair. There an assumption “you have your symptoms for attention and you make them up”. Officially its called malingering. Yet, this growing awareness that PTSD is real is happening because Vets (primarily men) began to get recognition as a war wound. You got your PTSD serving your country so you get a medal and all sorts of new research to try to fix it.

      Meanwhile many non-service females that have it by virtue of abuse heaped on the vulnerable. In the overall narcissistic bend of the larger society, women are often the scapegoat. You get raped, ‘what were you wearing”… Women get paid less for the same work, when an affair takes place the other woman is the “homewrecker”, when a woman is equally assertive as a male she is considered a bitch while men are considered normal for the same actions and attitudes.

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      • This is all so true. Even male veterans aren’t getting the help they need. Yes, the Vietnam war did help to bring the problem out in the open, but all too often, these returning soldiers weren’t equipped to cope with life anymore and found everyone had abandoned the upon their return. This probably worsened their PTSD. But at least it opened the door. You are right, women are still blamed for things happening to them (rape–why did you dress that way) or abuse (she must have asked for it). We still have a long, long way to go.

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        • I know that in my state more vets kill themselves than were killed in the war, something is very wrong with that picture. PTSD is not understood well enough. I think too that poly trauma, PTSD combined with the traumatic brain injuries of blasts or head injuries is more common from multiple deployments and more difficult to treat. I have the combination of a TBI and PTSD. The MRI’s show enough injury that my current MDs now believe me and treat me with respect I never had when I was just a psych patient. Despite the respect that when I say I have a headache they believe me, I’m still not getting any kind of treatment for it.

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  4. Linda thanks so much for these replies and information. I was pretty certain of what I was told. Let me share a bit about my recovery.

    I had a lot going for me, but that was a very long time ago. I had some horrible, wicked abuse throughout my life. I entered therapy at age 25 because I had difficulty performing at my job. By 32, I was disabled.

    Anyway, I continued on with therapy, never really stopped going, went weekly and had to change therapists as I moved, but otherwise I pretty much stayed with who I was seeing and later realized that I learned something different and valuable from each one. By age 43, I was with the therapist whom I would ‘get better’ with.

    That therapist was highly skilled. That’s the difference. Borderlines really need that highly skilled AND dedicated therapist. It was pretty amazing that that happened because I had pretty minimal insurance coverage. The therapist wasn’t in it for the money and would always go beyond the call of duty. Thats one way of knowing you’ve got somebody good.

    I got better finally at age 47. I realize now that just prior to ‘my getting better’ I started recalling all kinds of neat stories from my past. I started sharing memories from High School with my therapist, good memories, things from my past which I never really did before. They were points of interest. I had been always pretty much speaking in the present until then, so the ability to recall ones past must have something to do with it.

    The other thing that is important is that this therapist taught me logic, to think logically and to be able to apply it. I had suffered so much psychological abuse that I needed to re-learn that, if I even ever knew it.

    What motivated me to keep going for all of those years? Well, hope for one. You’ve got to have hope. But more than that, the amount of emotional pain I was always in kept me going to my appointments because I would always feel better after the appointment and then eventually it began to have a cumulative effect. I didn’t only feel better but life began improving as well.

    Yes, it took too long. Yes, it was definitely worth it!

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