Help With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder From a Spiritual Perspective

Editor's note: This is an introductory abbreviated version of a chapter in Roland's new book BECOMING A FRIEND OF GOD. The complete chapter is one of the most important and comprehensive discussions of the spiritual basis of post traumatic stress. In this ground breaking work, Roland discusses childhood trauma, war and violence trauma and how to deal with the resulting issues. He also discusses how our over-reactions to life's vicissitudes cause us mini traumas and how to learn how to become less reactive and more calm. Roland's new book is now available at our Common Sense Counseling Store.

First some basics. A famous and well known questionnaire was created to assess the impact of various events ona person's stress level--such as death of a spouse, change in living conditions, change in job, etc. The person is asked to check off which ones he or she has recently experienced and then add up a score. The higher the score, the more stress the person may be under.

What is interesting to me is how many, if not all, of these stressful situations are changes. It appears that change itself is stressful. A change in jobs. A change in homes. A change in living arrangements. A change in lifestyle (adjusting to the loss of a loved one, for example). A change in locale.

It may be interesting or even fun (though not necessarily) to go on a trip, move to a new apartment, or change jobs--but for the average person, there is stress involved.

So now let's look at the biggest change that occurred to the human race: the fall in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve went from being in Paradise to a living hell. They went from living forever to dying. They went from having God's approval to getting His disapproval.

Call it a myth if you will, but before you finish reading this article you eyes may be opened to see how true it is and how the evidence all around you.

In our own lives, many of us will never go to a war zone, though some of us will. But we may experience somewhere along the way theft, mugging, attempted rape, racism, prejudice, betrayal or unfairness.

Do you see why these are so potentially stressful? They often involve a big change. A change from faith to doubt, and from love to hate. A change from living in an orderly trusted world to one of chaos, mayhem, fear, and insecurity. From a world that makes sense to one that doesn't. From a world of being loved to one of being used.

It does not have to happen this way. Two people can go through the same event--one is not bothered, the other is devastated. But since we are all human, sooner or later events and circumstances will get to us even if we hide it), and we will suffer the stress of having to adapt. Just remember that it is an even bigger and more fateful stress to lose faith and hope, or love and trust, and then have to adapt to that sort of world.

I must also quickly add that we may fully recover from the event if our faith and love remain intact or if we are restored to faith and love at some later point. This restoration most often depends upon a spiritual change of heart: awakening through the touch of God and a willingness to let go of resentment, and thereby finding the ultimate security in the love of our Creator.

I must say it again, no matter how devastated a life or worldview a person may have; and no matter what horrors he or she may have experienced--it can all become a distant thing of the past, with a whole new world of joy and discovery opening up. This is not mere fantasy, Pollyanna thinking or a placebo; but a real thing that is in store for those who love the truth and respond to this message with joy. (Christ spoke of this in the Beatitudes in His sermon on the mount).

Before again stating the solution (forgiveness), I will describe in more detail the nature of the problem. The trauma is a result of a loss of innocence, a loss of faith, a loss of trust, a loss of love for others (when we hate them). The psychic trauma (and resulting physical changes) results from a loss of faith in good or a loss of love.

More often than not, the losses are the result not so much of what happened to us, but of our resentment and hatred of another. Our resentment cuts us off from the inner fount of love. And when we are cut off, we experience the loss.

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