Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
Our center is in the Hudson Valley of New York State, about 90 miles from New York City. Our satellite office is in New York. People, who in 2001 saw the Trade Towers come down, or lost loved ones, or were effected in some other way, had a “blow” (the real meaning of trauma, equivalent to being hit over the head. We have seen many in our office, and helped some, deal with the aftermath of such a monumental tragedy. PTSD was only recognized, in fact, after the returning casualties of the Vietnam War, where people who seemed physically intact, in fact were riddled with sleep disorders, anxiety, nightmares, hallucinations or flashbacks, depression, and were exceptionally susceptible to alcoholism and addictions. (See section on Returned Soldier Syndrome).
Physiologically, brain researchers have determined that the memories of traumatic brain experience are stored very differently than ordinary “discursive” memories, or things you are trying to make yourself remember. Parts of the limbic system, especially the amygdala and the hippocampus make the memory stamped indelibly, and with intense feelings included in the memory which is almost “photographic” or eidetic. However around the memory the brain may place a neurological palisade so that it is normally inaccessible to cognition or ordinary memory. When recalled, it has vivid “replay” accuracy with sounds, visions, smells, and feelings intensely aroused. This is what is involved in what are routinely called “flashbacks”.
Unconscious problems may cause emotional upheavals and disturb the course of sleep or show up in the form of nightmares or night terrors. The alpha-theta neurotherapy of Eugene Peniston showed that cure included reliving with reduced or absent affect, and that the neurofeedback cure was better than almost all clinical modalities tried. When the LENS neurofeedback is used, people may have extremely brief relivings of traumas–and then they are gone. With repeated treatments the toxic, encapsulated memories seem to be drained of their pain or anxiety. People are free to live their lives without feeling like they are walking on a field of landmines.
We eagerly expect our LENS colleagues and other neurofeedback practitioners to do their part in ensuring that returning soldiers have a “fighting chance” of recovering normal functioning, and leading a happy and socially contributive life.