The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress
PTSD/SUBSTANCE ABUSE COMMITTEE REPORT
Dressing-up Our Minds
BY STEVE MASON, CHAIR
I am a
long-time advocate for Vet Centers. Those early rap sessions in
the '70s, subsequently seeded by congressional funding, have
developed into a strong lifeline for many drowning in the
downward suck of personal trauma. Like most of us, I wish there
were available funds to increase their number and the dedicated,
competent personnel to make the Vet Center mission manifold.
``Getting it all out'' among those with whom you can relate makes
it less a burden to carry. Adjusting the course of a life instead
of merely holding fast provides hope for the individual and offers
the promise of help to others.
Recently, a prestigious publication reported that research
indicated there was no significant difference in the two major
ways group therapy treats those suffering with PTSD. One way is to
focus on the personal story and the specifics of causal events.
The other program emphasized treating the symptoms, as opposed to
the cause. Apparently, no appreciable difference in the healing
process was found.
With these findings in mind, I am reminded of the studies a
quarter century ago that dealt with depression regardless of its
origin. The consensus of the professionals was that treated with
or without medication, the client (in those days, the ``patient'')
usually achieved the same result six months later. I say: Whatever
works for the individual is the right way.
I believe that it is behavior that defines who we are - as a
nation, as a community, and as an individual. Everyone knows that
habit stabilizes behavior. Whether good (as in daily exercise) or
bad (such as smoking two packs a day), changing behavior is like
giving up a habit. It is difficult.Yet, if we begin to act in a
positive way, i.e., become tolerant of others' views, do
something instead of brooding about it, soon our behavior becomes
us - not only in the minds of
others, but in our own.
If we feel good about ourselves, others will. I say, don't
dress-down yourself, dress-up. If you
feel lousy about yourself, about life, what do you have to lose?
Give yourself the chance to look
at yourself differently and turn negative energy into the power
only pain can teach and good
deeds can accomplish.
That recent report also found that long-term users of marijuana
experienced no deleterious,
permanent effects to their brains. Well, it may do no grievous
damage to the brain, but what of
our minds and what does it do to our behavior? The report did not
speak to that; therefore, it did
not speak to who we are.
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