Define the "flu". Maybe one of a multiple set of debilitating symptoms arising from any one of several hundred viruses which can be difficult to identify, not clearly understood, with only minimal means for treatment.
Define the "cancer". Maybe one of a hundred types of debilitating tumors, arising from any one of several hundred possible causes, which can be difficult to identify, not clearly understood, with only minimal means for treatment.
Define the "PTSD". Maybe one of a multiple set of debilitating symptoms arising from any one of several hundred causes which can be difficult to identify, not clearly understood, with only minimal known means for treatment.
While folks with PTSD have many varied symptoms arising from a seemingly unlimited range of causes, there is one cause unique among those with CRPTSD; extreme difficulty in leaving the world of warfighting and re-entering the reality of family and community.
In the military in general, and in combat especially, things are pretty much black and white; you know your place in the hierarchy, the limits are clearly defined, you do what you are told, everyone not on your side is enemy until they prove otherwise, you and your brothers and sisters have each other's back and trust, the legitimate response to aggression and threats is greater aggression and violence, if you can't win you are defeated, etc. This is the world of "warfighting". Almost all martial arts; Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Jujitsu, the various forms of Kung Fu, MMA, etc, are all forms of warfighting, the exception being the Aikido O Sensei developed in his later years.
In the "outside world"; there is no black and white, everything is shades of gray, often vague, expectations are unclear, the enemy is not defined so it can be anyone, maybe everyone, you know how dangerous you can be but the limits are unclear so you are afraid, always afraid of yourself. The external controls you have been rigorously trained to obey are no longer in place, and you can't find, or trust, your own internal controls. It is a scary world out there troop! Fight Escape And Run!
When, at an absolutely critical point in your growth as a human being, you are;
? totally removed from everything you know
? thrust into an environment deigned to tear you down and strip you of everything you have ever been
? rebuilt into a "warrior"
? forced to exist in the world of warfighting
? sent back into the reality of family and community with a pat on the back and maybe a medal
? given no assistance in re-learning how to not be that warrior
? having no idea of the internal resources you have for dealing with your highly trained, conditioned potentially dangerous self
no wonder you exhibit the symptoms of CRPTSD. You must be a bad person.
But, anyone who has managed to survive in the world of warfighting must have some extremely powerful, if untapped, inner resources. What is being discovered in the very few effective treatment programs for vets with CRPTSD, is that by helping these individuals identify their symptoms and tap into this internal power to re-establish and retain control of their self, their individuality, they can begin to move away from warfighting and begin to participate appropriately and positively in the reality of family and community.
And this is what we have to offer, a kinesthetic complement to the intellectual, mental therapy programs. If, as Shakespear said, "as the body goes, so goes the mind.".
I believe that the ultimate purpose of Aikido is to bring peace to the world. But to do this, you must first bring peace to yourself. You can not deal effectively with a chaotic, unbalanced reality if you are not centered, balanced and at peace within yourself. In the usual dojo, you come to understand the need for, and power in, being centered and balanced over a long period. It is often not obviously taught, and seldom discussed, but eventually it sinks in, ah ha, technique work best when I am centered, balanced and relaxed, and I execute movement from that center, not the muscles in my arms, shoulders, chest, earlobes or wherever.
For someone who has had their "self" overwritten, over powered, removed, reestablishing that self through therapeutic "centering" reinforced through the kinesthetic centering of Aikido practice, can be a life altering experience. Learning, and experiencing, that, with help, continuing support and hard work, they can become successful, constructive, safe members of their family and community allows these victims, these powerful survivors to return to the human race from which they have felt so isolated.
(Original blog post may be found here.)
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