The following is a letter to the editor.
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter to Newtown police officer, Thomas Bean; the Newtown Police Dept.; the Town of Newtown and everyone who suffers from P.T.S.D. or knows someone who does.
From the personal experience of having suffered (past tense) from Complex P.T.S.D., I will tell you that P.T.S.D. need not be a lifelong 'sentence.' P.T.S.D. can be cured. There is help far beyond pills and a lifetime of talk therapy.
Dr. Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. and consultant to NASA, has researched, studied and worked with P.T.S.D. sufferers for almost 40 years. What started Dr. Levine on his quest to help those overwhelmed by trauma, was observing animals in the wild.
Animals face trauma regularly, yet they recover. Why? How?
When a deer is caught in headlights, it freezes. When a human being experiences a severe trauma(trauma defined as anything which overwhelms) the human also freezes. Frozen, they can neither fight nor flee. The normal reaction to a threat would be fight -or run away to protect yourself. But as Dr. Levine states, a 'frozen' person, is stuck. Their normal action responses (fight or flight) are stuck.
P.T.S.D. occurs when a person remains in this frozen state. Perhaps well intentioned, but un-knowing EMS personnel or physicians come along and immediately give valium, or medications to 'calm' the person down. This is contrary to nature, and probably the worst thing they can do. They are locking the trauma victim into a frozen state. The victim's normal action responses remain stuck.
'Stuckness' prevents any trauma sufferer from releasing the pent up energy. This is what P.T.S.D. is: fight or flight energy frozen in the body. This is the energy the deer in headlights innately knows how to release. Our bodies actually know what to do. By working with Somatic practitioners, trauma victims learn how to trust their own bodies to release the frozen trauma energy.
Trauma victims are frozen into anxiety, panic, fear, etc. every time the trauma experience is triggered. And no one knows when that will be. This results in young officers, like Officer Bean, being unable to work; their jobs are in jeopardy; careers are ruined and families face great hardship. This does not have to be.
According to Dr. Levine and Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, international trauma researcher and specialist in Boston, talk therapy will never completely heal someone from trauma. Never. Since unreleased trauma energy remains locked in the body, it is the body which must release it.
In my own life, I have worked here in CT. with a therapist well-trained in Somatic Experience, which is how Dr. Levine describes the work he does. If you google Dr. Levine, you can learn about healing trauma and Somatic practitioners.
When you are triggered back to your initial trauma, your body has a mind of its own. You are re-acting to the past, not the present. The fear centers in the brain are activated and your body suddenly feels like the enemy. The sensations of panic and fear (etc.) are so unpleasant you want to turn them off with medication. Many turn to alcohol and/or drugs. Your life becomes smaller and smaller.
Dr. van der Kolk and his esteemed research team can be reached at the Trauma Center in Boston, http://www.traumacenter.org/ This website has a rich collection of downloadable research papers written by Dr. van der Kolk which can be read by non-medical persons as well as those medically trained.
I wholeheartedly urge Officer Bean, and any first responder, to also investigate the work of Dr. Peter A. Levine.
Officer Bean, there is help for you! You are a young man with a family. You do not have to suffer as you are. BTW, the Trauma Center in Boston is holding free webinar training for first responders!
I believe every public servant on the front lines should know about this. I believe every police department and EMS should seriously explore this.
P.T.S.D. need not be a life sentence. Officer Bean and others like him, should not be told their jobs will be terminated or their healthcare suspended. Especially when there is a viable, well-researched solution to P.T.S.D. This is not a fad or a quick fix. I ask you to learn about it!
An incident in my life kept me bound to my house - but no more. I am now thriving. I wish the same for Officer Bean and all others with P.T.S.D.
Good luck, and future good health to you, Officer Thomas Bean.