One of the things I think of regarding the treatment of PTSD is shamanism, especially with veterans. The reason is that level of trauma is beyond the scope of current methodologies. For one thing, in the shamanic and indigenous world view, the souls of the deceased often get stuck after an unexpected and violent death. Those stuck souls would be just one part of what one carries from the wounds of war. But everyone with PTSD would benefit from reintegrating and healing the spiritual wounds resultant from traumatic events, loss and shock.
Unfortunately our culture in the main still believes the mind is a closed system, and increasingly that consciousness arises from the brain. Which means that all experiences that are disturbing are symptoms and all treatments medical in nature – more and more so with the DSM5, the veritable Bible of the mental health industry. Clinicians are taught to apply industry-developed interventions with an ever increasing reliance on medications . . .
I’ve worked with spiritual practices as an avocation since the late 70’s and vocationally have worked in the mental health and psychiatric industry for twenty years. I am returning to the work that calls to my soul now that I have walked the other path and seen what it does and doesn’t have to offer. I came into the field as an adult in hopes of finding cures to various mental health conditions and treatments that were a guaranteed success. Well, that was naive but I did hope for solid answers. There are some solid answers but there are a lot more questions that the medical model will never be able to fully address.
For example, a therapy group I created was for “voice hearers” and was primarily directed at individuals with schizophrenia. One of the people in the group was diagnosed with schizophrenia after surviving a civil war, including witnessing the deaths of his entire family. He was riddled with voices and looked like someone in shock. I’m sure he was.
I believe that he suffered from soul loss and that much of his disturbance might have been alleviated with shamanic practices to clear spiritual intrusions, *psychopomp to help the spirits of the deceased that were attached to him move on and probably soul retrieval to heal his spirit and restore him to wholeness. But we’ll never know because symptoms cannot be addressed by spiritual means in a medical model – and it would have been unethical for me to do that work uninvited. I think that’s a great loss. But this is the world we live in, which I hope is on the verge of changing.
None of this is not to say that talk therapies aren’t important, just that if all you have is a hammer everything becomes a nail. And shamanism doesn’t take the place of thinking things through and finding counsel with someone, but in some cases, it might. Shamanism is the oldest healing practice on the planet. It’s Stone Age rather than new age and is experiencing an amazing renaissance all over the globe. On the east coast and in more progressive parts of the country, shamanism has been integrated into psychotherapy practices for several decades and seems to be increasingly visible here in the Pacific Northwest.
I’m a licensed mental health professional with a spiritual and esoteric bent. I do traditional therapy and am available for shamanic work and for deep trance hypnosis. I hope this post has been interesting. If you’d like more information on my work you can email me at email@example.com.
*Psychopomp means to help the deceased heal and move from the middle world (limbo, the bardo, purgatory) to the spiritual realms of peace, wholeness and light. Not everyone who dies needs psychopomp work, but many do especially in an age of spiritual ignorance about the afterlife and when death was violent, difficult or extremely medicalized. .