On the 10th of August 2018, I was brutally stabbed while working a night job in a little town called Beaver Falls. Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with PTSD. Fortunately, I have benefited from many years of meditation and martial arts, which has equipped me with an uncommon strength of mind. But traumatic experiences are life-changing; they reform the psychology of the individual, no matter who it is.
My academic background is in psychology and philosophy. Clearly, most psychologists who work with trauma have never actually suffered from trauma. This may be for the best: Teaching psychological stability requires- first and foremost- psychological stability. And yet it creates blind spots.
For this reason, I think I have something special to offer.
This post will be short, something like a summary. Because I have learned three things from this experience that I want to share, I will delve more deeply into all of them in my next post. But for now, I want to share my three insights:
1. PTSD is an adaptation.
2. PTSD- as an adaption- can only be understood in tribal terms- that is, PTSD has evolutionary meaning within the context of war, conflict, and survival.
3. PTSD is either functional or dysfunctional only in relation to circumstances- that is, it is functional under a set of particular circumstances and becomes dysfunctional under another set of particular circumstances.
When we misunderstand these three points, we make a tremendous error: We divorce a necessary and justifiable evolutionary adaptation from its context. By doing so, we cannot possibly hope to understand what it is for, and therefore make it impossible for us to determine what to do with it. This is tantamount to trying to treat the "problem" of violence without understanding that violence has evolutionary value- and still does. And so by divorcing PTSD from its natural context, we stigmatize it as unnecessary or irrational (it is neither), and thus perpetuate its dysfunction.
But more on that in my next post.
~ Joshua van Asakinda
6 November, 2018