Shamanic Healing for Veterans
There’s something to be said about alternative therapies and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Decades ago, it was discovered that this mysterious mental affliction of veterans had something in common. It wasn’t until the mental/emotional/spiritual afflictions of soldiers coming back from war began impacting the way that veterans were integrated back into regular society. It used to be covered up, ignored, and not really acknowledged. Those who don’t experience that type of experience don’t really know how to tangibly understand what it is that these soldiers experience. Perspective is one thing, and it is another to receive validation to have such a concrete diagnosis of “PTSD”… but then what do you do about it?
The department of Veteran Affairs and our government officials have slowly begun to recognize that the effects of this mental/emotional/spiritual affliction was big enough that the National Center for PTSD was founded in 1989 to help aid in the support of Veterans coming back from duty, integrating into a life apart from the military. Until then, this unknown affliction was treated with drugs and small support groups. It wasn’t until 2009 that more treatments were being discovered for Veterans besides just drugs. There began an interspersion and experimentation with psychotherapeutic and pharmacologic intervention. Because it was becoming a larger epidemic (that many with Veteran relatives or loved ones can testify) and psychotherapy/drugs were only making marginal improvements, there has been more exploration into “alternative therapies”. Of course, in our modern every day society, clinical research and data needed “proof” before commenting and providing evidence that “alternative therapies” really worked. Even in 1992, they still considered cognitive therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and hypnosis “alternative therapies”. It became a blur when things stopped becoming “alternative” and slowly started integrating into Western Medicine. In 2012, the National Center for PTSD even admitted that “alternative” refers to their use
in lieu of conventional practices within the branch of Western Medicine, and it’s changing all the time. The latest that is considered “alternative” that is getting recognized is Acupuncture, Relaxation, and Meditation. If that is the case, why don’t we try exploring some other options? There’s already some experimentation by Veterans who are not documenting their progress with mainstream because it is not openly acknowledged or talked about as commonly. Here’s an article by Social Work Today that indicates that while it’s not acknowledged, there’s definitely hope. However, alternative therapies should not solely be used, but can be used in conjunction with Western Medicine to have a more balanced approach.
There have been any number of accounts, from yoga to scuba diving and yes – even to shamanism. PTSD is not a mental illness, and should not be treated as such. Shamanism is a very old form of diagnosis/treatment for diseases of the emotions, mind and spirit. It actually encourages one to not look at oneself as having something “wrong” with them, but finding a way to balance out the extremes of imbalance in ones life. When we are not given the support for mental wellness, then our foundations crack and what is labeled as mental instability/illness by our modern day society is a natural occurrence.
As many well known modern day shamans acknowledge, PTSD is a strong symptom of a spiritual disease known as soul loss. When we experience something traumatic, a part of our soul steps out of our body, and there is a common feeling of “emptiness” that happens. Some may just feel “not there” while the experience is happening, just running on auto-pilot. Others may go to the degree of watching things happen on a movie screen, or feeling like they’re just watching things happen to them, or (if really traumatic) they can blank out completely and not remember anything at all. Modern day psychology labels this as dissociation but no one in academic science really talks about what happens to the soul when it’s outside of the body because it cannot be proven/measured. This is the realm of the energetic/shamanic practitioner, who is able to see/interact/help heal those realms of the unseen. When the soul temporarily displaces itself out of the physical body, a piece of itself breaks off during the traumatic event. When the traumatic event is over, the soul returns back to the body, but without the piece that broke off. If traumatic events are seen/witnessed/experienced repeatedly, then these pieces of the soul accumulate to a large degree of what is called “soul loss” which is where people with the diagnosis of PTSD normally fall.
We can see how the predicament of having large amounts of ones essence or soul missing can lead to emotional, mental, or spiritual handicaps. Again, it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with the individual, and there is no hope. A soul retrieval is a simple procedure that can be done by many Shamans and Shamanic Practitioners. No, Veterans are not the only individuals that have PTSD, but they are a large population of the homeless, diagnosed as mentally ill, and some individuals have PTSD so bad they cannot function in a full time job. If we turn our attention and support of those who fought for our country instead of focusing on expanding our military, perhaps we might be a more well balanced society. If you happen to be an auditory learner and would like to listen to a series of podcasts on these thoughts, a good resource is Why Shamanism Now.
This is one of the many reasons why Eagle Therapies is going to host a Shamanic Healing Ceremony on October 22nd. It is a firm belief held by many that mental, spiritual, and emotional support to Veterans and others with PTSD is crucial at this juncture to help heal. It doesn’t take one therapist. It doesn’t take one drug or cocktail of drugs. It doesn’t take one Shamanic Practitioner to do one big soul retrieval. It’s a fact and a reality that recovering from post traumatic stress disorder involves a community and team of people who support the individual affected. The worst symptom of PTSD is death by suicide. This usually happens when a Veteran is feeling isolated, alone, and doesn’t have people around them to help them (i.e. a community). According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, there is a 22% increase in suicide of adults in the US population that have been in the military.
The intention behind the Shamanic Healing for Veterans is to help people who are Veterans as well as those who support Veterans. Community is something that is sorely needed, and feeling like you are apart of something, or feeling like you’re not being judged as soon as you walk in the door is a comfort that most people take for granted. It’s not just for people who have something wrong with them, it’s actually for people who want to see Veterans as human beings; to laugh, sing, and drum with them as if they are whole human beings with an intact spirit. Because sometimes seeing someone with joy, love, and happiness in their being is something the every human being deserves. And being in the company of someone who thinks that someone with PTSD is “less than” can easily be picked up by the sensitive. It’s an attitude as well as a mind frame to look at someone with PTSD is just a regular human being, and we need more sacred places where people who have these treatable ailments can find comfort with others. We need more places where we can be ourselves. And that’s the hope for the Shamanic Healing for Veterans event.
Maybe this event might happen again, and maybe it’s just a “one-off” but the biggest intention is that events like this are not the only one.
- U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
- PTSD: National Center for PTSD
- Cukor, J., Spitalnik, J., & Difede, J. (2009). Emerging Treatments for PTSD [Abstract]. Clinical Psychology Review, 29(8), 715-726. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272735809001184
- Jackson, K. (2014, March 15). Treatments for Veterans With PTSD — Outside the Traditional Toolbox. Social Work Today, 14(2), 18.
- Libby, D. J., PhD, Pilver, C. E., PdH, & Desai, R., PhD. (n.d.). Complementary and Alternative Medicine in VA Specialized PTSD Treatment Programs. Psychiatry Online. doi:http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ps.201100456
- Solomon SD, Gerrity ET, Muff AM. Efficacy of Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress DisorderAn Empirical Review. JAMA. 1992;268(5):633–638. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490050081031 from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/398882
- Strauss, J. L., PhD, & Lang, A. J., PhD. (2012). Complementary and Alternative Treatments for PTSD. PTSD Research Quarterly, 23(2). from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/newsletters/research-quarterly/v23n2.pdf