Body Work: Not Just for Dented Cars Any More

“We use our minds not to discover facts but to hide them. One of the things the screen hides most effectively is the body, our own body.”       ~ Antonio Damasio

Up until recently, psychotherapy almost exclusively focused on the mind and pretty much ignored the body. You know, “I think, therefore I am.” Well, not so much, Mr. Descartes. If one engages in effective trauma therapy (my specialty; and I’ll argue some other time that all therapy is trauma therapy), one must focus on both the mind and the body. This is because the body holds the memories of the trauma, whether big T or little t trauma. Our brain automatically turns off our mind, or at least turns it down, during trauma. After that, as Dr. Damasio implies, the mind protects us by hiding the body memories of the trauma. To heal from trauma, we must get around the mind and access (slowly, carefully) these body memories.

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The Devolution of a Diagnosis: PTSD, Part Deux

“We don’t seem ready to acknowledge that the largest danger to our women and children isn’t Al-Qaeda, but the people who are supposed to love and take care of them.”                ~ Bessel van der Kolk, MD

NOTE: This is a continuation of the story started in Part One of this series about a diagnosis called Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD) that would apply to many children who are or were abused. We resume our story just as the people who decide what gets into the DSM-5® (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) receive an unprecedented amount of research data and information in order to make their wise decision. As in Part One, much of the following summarizes an article published in the magazine, Psychotherapy Networker by senior editor Mary Sykes Wylie, PhD, called “The Puzzle of Trauma: Redefining PTSD in the DSM.

Shall we find out what happens?

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The Devolution of a Diagnosis: PTSD, Part One

“Child abuse is the largest single public health issue in America.”*                                       ~ Mary Sykes Wylie, PhD

We currently wage war on drugs, poverty, terror, cancer, gangs, women, and Christmas (according to some). Why no war on child abuse if it’s such a big deal? Better still, why not a child “love-in” (a term from my generation where we professed to make love, not war, supposedly)?  Wouldn’t that pretty much take care of all those other wars, over time? Wait a minute, you were expecting another installment of my “Evolution of a Diagnosis”series on PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder)? Now I’m using the word “devolution” and talking about child abuse. What’s all that about?

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The Evolution of a Diagnosis: PTSD, Part Deux

Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun;                                                               not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul.                                                                      ~ Dave Pelzer

Note: This is the second part of a series on the evolution of the diagnosis called Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. While it’s not necessary to have read the first part, it may be helpful in giving you some context and an understanding of the terms used here.

One of the significant changes in the DSM-5®’s criteria to meet the diagnosis of PTSD has to do with the age of the person in question. Specifically, the authors have: (a) singled out children of age six or younger and (b) changed the criteria (the set of relevant symptoms) for those children ever so slightly. Such children don’t need to have quite as many symptoms as people older than six. This seems mildly interesting to me in a positive way. But my attention really gets drawn to the fact that the authors single out criteria for younger children at all. Let’s call this “the good news.”

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The Evolution of a Diagnosis: PTSD, Part One

Trauma is in the eye of the beholder.                                                                              ~ Dan Metevier

You have probably heard of PTSD, especially if you know someone who has served in the military. This “mental disorder” diagnosis stands for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. It was developed following the Vietnam war in recognition of the sometimes terrible after-effects of that war on many of the people who participated in it. For example, I once evaluated for disability insurance a Vietnam vet whose job was to load onto a helicopter the bodies of his buddies who had died that day. He did this all day long, day after day. Needless to say, he was not doing so well. I thanked him for his service and sent him on his way, with a tear in my eye.

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