Table of Contents
Summary Part I
Summary Part II
TOUCH AND KINESTHETICS
Be aware: If I haven’t done a good-enough job at explaining, many of the things written in this ebook will seem misguided and even cruel.
one.I am not saying to talk. Simply be aware that many things go on psychologically when one is looking back and trying to understand alleged past emotions. To do so, may be another attempt to ‘prove a negative’.
2.Sense of Self is almost never discussed as something separate from someone’s personality or identity.
3.The clearest example I can think of, that Sense of Self is something different, is in the theory behind the use of a baton in riot control. At least in theory, a baton is used not to hurt or punish, but to drive the rioter out of ‘groupthink’ or ‘herd-mentality’ (Expanded Sense of Self) and back into being an individual, located in one’s own body.
4.I use the expression “trying to prove a negative” as an explanation of the situation the demobilized Warrior finds themselves in. It is the best metaphor I could come up with. I believe the Warrior may be left searching for elements of his or her Expanded Sense of Self which do not exist in the present external environment.
The Expanded Sense of Self, itself, may be “insisting” that those elements do continue to exist.
5.Hallucinations, of all types, may be present as the mind tries to figure-out what is happening. Analyzing or interpreting hallucinations with, or for, the Warrior, is an extremely bad idea. Analyzing hallucinations has led to dramatic increases in suicides.
In addition to appropriate medication, it might be helpful to see battle-related, PTSD, Sense of Self hallucinations more as ‘alters’, or fragments, that need to be more integrated into the individual’s identity or personality.
6.It is unusual to suggest that “symptoms” and emotions can be self-generated attempts at self-regulation and self-treatment by the individual. It smacks of ‘blaming the victim’ for their life situation and their psychological pain – especially ‘guilt’.
I mean to suggest that battle-related PTSD is significantly different from PTSD in other individuals. PTSD in non-combatants originates from a different psychological substrate.
Deliberately groomed, encouraged and developed Expanded Sense of Self, in war, makes for a different person.
Battle Ego is almost a prerequisite for psychological survival in war. It grows out of war and, maybe, only out of war. In order to return to some sort of pre-war “normal”, the mind takes active measures in order to adjust and compensate. These ‘adjustments’ and ‘compensations’ can be extraordinarily painful. They may be seen (confusingly) as grief work for lost aspect(s) of themselves. The individual may never even wanted these aspects in the first place.
Best of Luck,
It was recently reported that, on average, 20 veterans a day kill themselves, not the 22 previously reported. 20 ! A day! Something is obviously very wrong when it comes to helping returned warriors.
It is past time to add entirely new approaches to our helping arsenal.
In acknowledgement of the differences of Battle PTSD from other forms of PTSD, and the near ubiquitousness of its occurrence (in some form) in returning veterans, it should be renamed. A name such Psychological Transition Subsequent to Demobilization might be an appropriate designation which would still correspond to the initials PTSD.
Battle PTSD differs from non-battle-related PTSD in, at least, three important ways:
one) For various reasons, it takes longer for the primarily visual, auditory, and kinesthetic experiences of warfare to be “translated” into words and language. The translation process itself is fraught with danger.
2) The personal disposition of Warriors, military training, and battle itself, leads to an Expanded Sense of Self. Expanded Sense of Self is not well-understood, nor is it usually included as part of treatment strategies.
3) Battle Ego, a subset of self-esteem and Expanded Sense of Self, is also poorly understood. It is extremely confusing, distressing, and painful to the individual, as Battle Ego (a necessity for survival in war), struggles with, and against, its return to pre-war “normal”.
Each of these interacting elements must be taken-on in both its own terms, and in relation to the others.
SUMMARY of PART I
Why and How Talking is Dangerous
Complex language and speech are marvelous things which made complex human thought possible. It should be remembered, though, that they evolved as a result of genetic mutation. As hominids lost the ability to ‘smell’ at a distance, mutation occurred, and language developed. Language was evolution filling a vacuum. It was, in part, a metaphorical ‘translation’ of the other senses, including olfaction, into complex human speech. However, the translated language ‘map’, is not the sensory ‘territory’.
Every sense modality has a direct route to the brain which skips “higher” language-based functions. Not only that, they each have an instantaneous complex muscular response which also by-passes thought. Hot flame, loud noise, sour or bitter taste, objects flying towards the eyes; each elicits an automatic physical response.
In war, as in team sports, through training and practice, precise, complex, integrated, and complicated activities go on without high-level thought. Later, all these activities can be described with words, but, as they happen, they are not encoded, recorded, laid-down, registered as words.
On top of this, neurological, biochemical, and hormonal events are occurring within the Warrior, during war. Normally these events would be called ‘emotions’ or ‘emotional responses’. But, some of these events do not have words or labels available to describe them. The human organism is left having performed and experienced, highly complex, emotionally volcanic behaviors, with no ‘talking-cure’ outlet for them, because none exists.
No matter how much treatment or counseling is done ‘of’, or for, the ‘map’, until it is successfully ‘translated’ into words, little help is provided to the ‘territory’ by talking.
A further complication is that little appreciation is given to the Sense of Self and Expanded Sense of Self, in which much of war experience resides. The U.S. military (among others) dramatically enhances bonds of brotherhood, situational and environmental awareness, emotional control, pack-hunting mentality, selflessness, objectification of The Enemy/ prey, etc. Each of these enhancements expands the Sense of Self.
The Sense of Self is the most basic form of self-identity. Even most animals possess a Sense of Self. Expanded, this becomes every animals’ (including humans) feeling of oneness with the environment, sense of herd, or tribe, or family, the knowledge of the existence of predators to be wary of, food and prey to search for. Some call this the human eusocial.
In the contemporary Warrior, this Expanded Sense of Self is then cut-off via rapid demobilization. The Warrior is not given the opportunity to return to their non-verbal, pre-war ‘normal’. The Warrior is metaphorically castrated and penectomized; cut-off, not only from the body (the corps) of sensory input, but from the emotions which energize them.
Like the character of the Genie of the Lamp in the movie Aladdin (as voiced by Robin Williams) the Warrior is granted “Phenomenal cosmic powers!” and then crammed into an “Itty bitty living space!”
Despite many Warriors telling us that talking does not help and may actually make them feel worse, we continue to live under the “spell”, that talking will make them feel better and cure their PTSD.
If Warriors don’t come in for counseling or don’t share ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’, the lack is seen in the Warrior, not the helper’s toolbox. It may be that, for a while, help needs to come in a different form; a form which especially takes into account that few Warriors are given the opportunity to ‘unwind’ their Expanded Sense of Self and Battle Ego along with the fellow individuals who helped form and comprise it.
For the Warrior’s benefit, we begin by discussing concrete ways ‘talking’ can be explicitly dangerous, and then move-on to ways in which talking can be psychologically and emotionally dangerous. The intention is not to discourage talking. Rather, we hope to show that the Warrior may have good, and justifiable reasons for not talking before nonverbal psychological integration has occurred, and become ‘the verbal’.
Retroactive ‘reification’ and mis-labelling of emotions with non-battle social constructs, by the Warrior him or herself, or others, can be excruciatingly, and progressively more painful.
● You are a law enforcement officer. A bad guy ‘gets the drop’ on you – has you at gunpoint. Per your training, you ask him “a question which must be answered.” As he starts to speak, you have about 2/one0 of a second in which to draw your gun and shoot him.
Talking when he should be shooting gets him killed.
● A professional pickpocket or magician successfully distracts you,
using multiple inputs to all your senses. Especially, he gets you to talk. He steals your wallet, phone, keys, and ring.
Listening and talking can put you at a disadvantage with another person.
● You are driving a car with several teenaged passengers. You are chatting, engaged in casual conversation. Suddenly there is a downpour of rain, a construction zone right ahead, and a traffic accident with rapidly braking cars. You say: “Everybody shut up! I’ve got to drive.”
Conversation can distract one from danger.
● You know a number of individuals who are working on PhD’s in clinical psychology. As part of their training, they have to have participated in, at least, group psychotherapy. Several of them reveal to you that, the “game” in their group therapy, is to talk without really revealing anything about themselves. To do so would make them too vulnerable to their classmates. Even some future professional ‘listeners’ know that talking and revealing oneself affects other’s perception of you and can be dangerous.
● You know that experts say about 90% of the meaning of a communication occurs nonverbally.
A great deal of weight is placed upon a very small part of human Communication.
● Boy children are spoken to less often and with fewer words than are female
● In most, non-business settings, males talk less than females.
● Day-to-day, on average, males speak significantly fewer words than females.
● The majority of clients in talk-based counseling or psychotherapy are females.
● Therapists and counselors prefer clients who are Y.A.V.I.S – young, attractive, verbal, intelligent, and sensitive. (Not the attributes which come to mind when describing a Warrior).
● Women read for pleasure (a primarily auditory activity) far more and more often than do men. Most Warriors are still men. Talking is more a strength of women than men. It may be futile to try to turn a man’s “sow’s ear” into a “silk purse”.
● While a professional or Olympic athlete is actively engaged in their team or individual sport, they are not ‘thinking’, in the traditional sense, about what they are doing. Sports announcers may be describing, in words, what the athletes are doing, real-time, but the athlete is proceeding more by ‘feel’, including kinesthetics, proprioception, movement detection, and other inputs, usually called ‘feel’. Word and language-based thought is not occurring, and is not being recorded in the brain as such.
Word and language-based thought, actually interferes with quick and complex physical actions.
● In battle, the Warrior engages in complex physical activities, relying on ‘feel’ and things called ‘instinct’, ‘reflex’, ‘situational awareness’, or ‘training’. As with the athlete, experiences and actions are not initially “recorded” in the brain in verbal terms. Thinking in words may endanger survival.
● Every sense modality has its corresponding physical response, one which bi-passes traditional thought. Eyelids blink when something suddenly approaches. Heads turn away from an overly-loud noise, and hands may cover ears. A hand, or other body-part, automatically pulls away from a hot object. Mouth and nose recoil instantly from a foul smell or taste.
● The 7 basic human emotions (fear, anger, sadness, disgust, contempt, surprise, happiness) have corresponding, universal, facial expressions which, by virtue of their universality, transcend verbal thought – seem to have a direct sensory input to physical reaction, connection. Visual images alone, for example, seem capable of eliciting the emotional / facial expression reaction.
Things which are experienced through the senses, which are not initially understood in words or thoughts, can still have lasting emotional impacts.
Sight: A (fractal) painting by Jackson Pollock. A train flying through the air (propelled by a tornado).
Sound: The roar of a tornado as it rips a home from its foundations. A moving piece of music.
Touch: The experience of sex. Getting severely burned by a fire.
Smell: The scent of the pipe tobacco, your beloved uncle smokes.Your first girlfriend’s perfume.
Taste: The taste of having your mouth washed-out with soap. Your grandmother’s oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies.
It is unlikely that ‘talking’ is going to ‘undo’ these emotional events, experienced without words.
In terms of the dangers of ‘talking’ for Warriors, the greatest one is that talking will tend to ‘make real’ (reify) the emotions and feelings which get “imported” with the spoken memories. If, for example, the Warrior says to him or herself, or to anyone else, that they felt ‘guilty’ about some aspect of their wartime experience, that is what they will begin to feel. Labelling the intense neurologic, bioelectrical, biochemical, hormonal, sensory, and sensori-motor experience, as ‘guilt’, will draw-in that feeling. It will also draw-in that individual’s entire life-experience of the feeling they have labelled as ‘guilt’. The feeling will grow and intensify.
It should surprise no-one, that many Warriors do not want to talk about their war experiences, that talking makes them feel worse.
What then does one do about PTSD, by whatever name you call it?
This ebook is about talking. If talking helps, please do so, even if it is only other people who tell you it is helping you. It the contention of this ebook, that sometimes talking is not enough, at least not initially.
As the human brain and mind ‘translates’ experience and visceral emotions into words, the experiences and visceral emotions are still there. Unlike magic incantations, speaking the words, does not make it so. Like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the wrong spell (emotional label) can create havoc. In clinical work, it is not just a matter of the therapist misinterpreting the emotion. Real, lasting harm can be done.
There is a quote from Lewis Carroll: “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Even while actively involved in talking with a ‘helping professional’, holding inaccurate renditions of feeling and emotions in abeyance may be in the Warrior’s best interests. This may be true, no matter how much the Warrior wants to ‘get rid of’ the pain, by talking about it. ‘Six impossible things’ (emotions held in suspension) may need to be believed while the senses, viscera, and Sense of Self, make adjustments.
This is the area in which this ebook tries to help.
Labelling War Emotions.
‘Pblebit’ and ‘Vwosterstrung’.
Perhaps “horror” is a good word to describe the emotions of war. Short of that, labeling or naming the emotions experienced in battle has little effective value. If it did, the following might be useful. Try it and see.
“Deliberately killing another human being in war is an emotion and feeling we call ‘pblebit’. It is an emotion men and women experience while killing another human being and the ongoing feeling they have afterwards. ‘Pblebit.’
‘I felt pblebit when I killed that person.’
‘I felt pblebit after I killed the person.’
‘Repeat the word after me. Pblebit.’
‘Pblebit. I felt pblebit. You’re right. I feel much better now. Pblebit.”
“When watching or hearing a friend die in war, the feeling we have is called ‘vwosterstrung’. If you identify your feeling as ‘vwosterstrung’ and repeat the word ‘vwosterstrung’, you will feel less vwosterstrung. ‘Vwosterstrung’. You are absolutely correct. I do feel less vwosterstrung.”
“Expanded Sense of What?”
There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’, but there is a ‘Team’ in ‘You’.
Warriors, possibly more than most people, have little tolerance for the ‘theoretical’. Questions such as: “What if a frog had a glass ass?” hold little interest for them. They want things they can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
Unfortunately, by virtue of their very nature, Expanded Sense of Self, and Battle Ego, cannot be seen, heard, smelled, or touched. The Warriors who are experiencing these phenomenon are, in some ways, the least able to sense them. The one sense which access these phenomenon, is actively discouraged and trained-out of Warriors. Personal experience in battle also hardens against detecting it.
one evidence of Expanded Sense of Self, and its longevity, is in the death-bed experiences of veterans. It is not just in books and movies that, when nearing death, former Warriors have auditory and visual ‘hallucinations’ of wartime comrades. It is a very common experience. Vets may have lengthy conversations with battle colleagues, from a half-century past, who are not actually present.
Even psychotherapists do not take into account the Expanded Sense of Self. Most do not even begin to understand it. It can only be ‘felt’; but not in the “gushy”, “touchy-feely”, inward-searching, emotional sense. Psychotherapists excel at detecting feelings and emotions in others. Experiencing others’ feelings and emotions internally, themselves, may be part of a psychotherapist’s ‘process’. Understanding Expanded Sense of Self is different. It may be more similar to the mindset and understanding necessary in Family Therapy, when the abstract concept of ‘family’ and ‘family system’ is the unit of treatment.
Expanded Sense of Self may be the human manifestation of what some call ‘the eusocial’. It may be the ‘stuff’ of ‘love’, ‘hate’, ‘jealousy’, true altruism, attached sentiment to objects (‘childhood toys’) and ideas (‘alma mater’, ‘flag’, ‘country’), and much more. It is more than identifying with identifying with some‘one’, some ‘concept’, or some ‘thing’. It is a virtual ‘becoming’ the other.
An example of the Sense of Self expanding which many may have felt, comes after a move to a new domicile, in a new location. As the Sense of Self expands, the domicile progressively begins to feel more and more like “home”.
“Home”, where the ‘heart is’; “home”, what ‘domicile-less’ people, do not have.
Eventually, for most recently ‘re-homed’ people, the Sense of Self expands until the vicinity begins to feel like “the neighborhood”. People living nearby become “neighbors”. Just approaching their neighborhoods after an absence, people may say: “Home again, home again.”
Like it or not, the Warrior’s Sense of Self gets expanded to virtually everyone and everything around them. Sense of Self expands to their wartime ‘home’, to their battle ‘neighborhood’, to the Chain of Command, to the environment, even, to The Enemy. Only, in the Warrior, because of the intense psycho-physiologic responses going on continually, the experience and attachment is amplified, maybe one000 fold, over the sense of an individual who is merely ‘re-homed’.
Working with battle-related PTSD, usually, means working with Expanded Sense of Self and the attendant Battle Ego.
● Neurologists tell us that there is no ‘self’ located anywhere in the brain.
● Counselors and psychotherapists seem to deal almost exclusively with ‘self’ in the form of personality or character.
● If you ask a 2onest century American, they will tell you that, not only do ‘they’ exist, but, if pushed, they will tell you ‘where’ in their body ‘they’ are located. They will tell you they are located behind and slightly above their eyes. They will probably give you ‘logical’ reasons why ‘they’ are located behind and slightly above their eyes.
● Experts tell us that the ‘consciousness of self’ (as they call it), can and does move around the body. In the Middle Ages it was located in the middle of the chest, over the heart.
● Some people will tell you, when they were under stress or in an altered state of consciousness, they moved outside of their bodies. People talk of literally ‘going inside the wall’ when they were being abused, dissolving into furniture when using recreational drugs, having ‘out-of-body experiences’ when falling asleep or when under anesthesia. Some athletes will describe the ‘flow-state’ of superb performance in terms of being outside themselves.
● Best theory now suggests that ‘self’, including ‘Sense of Self’ [the ‘that’ we are, not the ‘who’ we are], is part of ‘working memory’. Somewhat like a computer’s RAM, it must be uploaded daily, or after alterations of consciousness.
“Then why do I feel like a piece of…”
Research is clearly showing that when even a subliminal suggestion or reference to mortality is made, there is a compensatory lift in one’s self-esteem. Improved self-esteem leads to documented improvements in performance in all physical activities, including battle.
In the war and battle environment, reminders of mortality and overt threats of death are intense and, virtually, constant. Reminders and threats of death, in battle zones, leads to the same compensatory increase in self-esteem. This is true. Even if the Warrior does not ‘feel’ it.
Enhanced self-esteem leads to improved battle-field performance. Enhanced performance, not only increases the chance of survival, but also leads to enhanced self-esteem. A self-reinforcing cycle develops. At war, this cycle is virtuous, however, it does not stop with simple removal from the battle-field.
If the Warrior developed Battle Ego, which most active combatants do, even if they thought everyone else’s ego was bigger than theirs, it expanded just as did the Sense of Self. An analogy may be made to ‘weight lifting’. If the Warrior lifts weights until his or her arms become the size of The Hulk’s thighs, they become part of their identity and Sense of Self. Eventually, one stops continually thinking about one’s massive arms, it is just part of who you are.
Battle Ego becomes part of who one is: a fish’s sense of ‘water’.
In war, the Warrior’s ego becomes, necessarily, outrageously expanded. Natural and automatic self-esteem enhancements occur due to continual reminders of mortality, and threats to one’s personal survival. This level of self-esteem is extremely difficult to maintain in civilian life, because, ordinarily, one’s life is not under continual threat.
A Hulk psychological body-suit is trying to be suddenly deflated. Even though the Warrior did not experience their ego as inflated, it feels bad as it deflates, and fights deflation. It does not feel natural or normal. Thoughts of suicide may actually serve to try to recreate battle ego and stress, which leads to clearer, quicker, more battle-like thinking.
An additional factor, is that huge parts of the Warrior’s psyche (Expanded Sense of Self) are missing. one feels like one’s self-esteem is ‘in the shitter’ because it is not the same as one felt when performing super-human feats. Also, the rest of your Sense of Self (primarily incorporated war comrades) is not there to reinforce your sense of worth.
The returned Warrior may feel like ‘a piece of crap’ even when those around him, or her, thinks they are an arrogant, egotistical, self-centered, ‘dick-head’. Without the constant threat of death, and the ‘brain food’ of lactate-inducing, stress and muscular tension, the Warrior’s self-esteem suffers.
The Warrior may, unknowingly, engage in cognitions which serve the purpose of implying mortality and threat. Some thoughts of suicide, paradoxically, may give ‘jolts’ of self-esteem. Again, strangely, suicidal ideation and attempts may become a negative feedback system. Feeling terrible about oneself, and acting against oneself, can actually make the Warrior feel better about themselves.
This is not the system in play in non-battle PTSD. Tender attempts at trying to make the Warrior feel better about themselves, as one might attempt with other victims of trauma, are unlikely to be effective with these,unknowingly, actually battle-arrogant individuals. If they stick-around long enough, the mind and brain will make the necessary adjustments.
Similarly, seeing the whole world as being against them (in effect, The Enemy) may mollify Expanded Sense of Self, create muscular tension, and feed self-esteem.
“At least I didn’t eat anyone!”
“I should have eaten someone when I had the chance!”
Great Apes of all kinds conduct periodic raids on their neighbors. Though these raids are not primarily for food, they do sometimes eat their neighbors.
All early hominid groups cannibalized other hominids, either from neighboring groups, or their own children and adolescents. This occurred at various times, not just during drought or famine.
During WWII Japanese soldiers regularly ate enemy soldiers and airmen.
Such is human heritage.
Since the U.S. military does not teach, condone, nor approve of it, it is doubtful that many reading this have literally eaten The Enemy, or comrades. However, to do so, is well within the range of natural human behavior.
If the Warrior needs to condemn him or herself for something, they can try not condemning themselves for dining on those they killed, or saw killed.
It is best to not judge one’s past by the beliefs, attitudes, values, and morals of the civilian society to which one has returned.
If ‘self-judging’ in the form of ‘guilt’ is necessary in order to modulate Battle Ego, the Warrior might best be aware that blaming oneself for being a human being has two contradictory results. On the one hand, it “jacks one up” temporarily; creating ‘brain-feeding’ stress, awareness of death, and a resultant spike in self-esteem and cognitive performance. On the other hand, ‘guilt’ is painful, leads to depression, lowers androgen or testosterone, lowers self-esteem and cognitive performance.
If, in service of the Battle Ego, a vicious cycle is entered, a continually larger ‘hit’ of guilt may become necessary. Such is not likely to help in the long run, and is likely to hurtful to people around the Warrior. Other ways of coping with Battle Ego would be more helpful.
If the Warrior needs something to ‘prove the negative’ (something to feel not guilty about, or to feel guilty about not doing) the following can be tried [and yes, I’m serious]: Repeat this mantra daily in a mirror:
one) “At least I didn’t eat anyone.” or
2) “I can’t believe I didn’t eat someone when I had the chance.“
“God damn it! I should have eaten someone!”
“Maybe I’ll go back to war and get a chance to eat someone.”
“Man, I’m really sad I didn’t eat someone.”
“I guess I’ll just have to accept that I’m not a cannibal and move on.”
Try each, one time, and determine which feels better.
This amounts to temporary suspension of painful belief.
I believe ‘guilt’ is a word and thought-based feeling, not an emotion present in the moment. It can develop quickly. In the psychologically transitioning Warrior it can also develop very slowly. This can happen as word-thoughts and socially constructed emotions are applied to past experiences or actions.
If especially ‘guilt’ is held in abeyance, other emotional and cognitive understandings will develop.
Eusocial Failure in human beings, was a two-sided event. First, humans lost the ability to use their sense of smell at a distance. Eventually we lost half of our olfactory receptors, which were crucial to providing information about the environment, creatures in it, and our fellows. Second, as a result of a genetic mutation, complex language and thought arose and took-on many of the roles previously filled by olfaction.
Unfortunately, even language and complex thought could not, and cannot, begin to fulfill the unbelievably complex, sophisticated, ubiquitous, near global functions of smell.
Language, and language-based thought, are a tiny part of human experience. Language, and language-based thought, are a tiny part of the actual and complete human mind, or psyche. Whatever their names, therapies which are based solely on language, language-based thought, and language-based emotions, are, unfortunately, dealing only with an infinitesimally small part of what it is to be human.
The ‘tin god’ of all ‘talking cures’ not only has feet of clay, it is built of the genetically-mutated clay of ‘language’; a much lauded, but poor substitute for what was lost.
Speech and language should properly be considered a separate sense modality. Shared communication between two or more human beings can provide much of the information which is available to bats through echolocation. This is information which most other mammals acquire through the sense of smell.
Speech and language becomes encoded in the human brain and mind. Producing and processing speech and language requires so much energy that it is antagonistic to input from other senses and vice-versa.
Other than the primary emotions, which most other animals can detect and process by smell, human feelings and emotions are social constructs. They are made of shared words, speech, language, and complex language-based thought, or cognitions, with others. Much of human experience, much of what it is to be a human animal, therefore, occurs outside of traditional word-based thought. Much enters the human brain and nervous system ‘automatically’, without mental processing and reflection.
These inputs are unlikely to be helped by any “talking cure” until those inputs, in essence, are ‘translated’ or ‘interpreted’ into language-based thought.
This is very true of much of combat. Events are not immediately recorded in language and word-based thought. Intense, neuro-chemically charged, sights, sounds, kinesthetics, smells, and tastes, are ‘seared-in’ but initially bypass higher brain functions.
Intra-species conflict is one element of eusociality which remains fully active in humans. The eusocial bond is especially strong among Warriors. It is enhanced by military training and the experiences of active combat and warfare. In human beings, the Sense of Self i s ‘the eusocial’. It becomes enhanced and expanded as can the eusocial.
After warfare is over, individual combatants may be abruptly left with an enhanced and expanded Sense of Self, but without the r eal objects, real people, and real environment to which the Sense of Self should be attached.
Battle PTSD, or Psychological Transition Subsequent to Demobilization, is the brain and mind’s struggle to try to come to terms with a distorted and abandoned Sense of Self, torn from its moorings.
SUMMARY of PART II:
How it might be handled differently.
During WWII many countries sent men to war together who were all from the same geographic area. An unforeseen consequence was, when there was a major battle, with multiple fatalities, virtually all of the men from an area ‘back-home’ might be wiped-out. This procedure was ended.
An unforeseen consequence of the halting of the procedure, was that men no-longer returned to civilian life as a cohesive unit. They no-longer saw their comrades at arms, their Band of Brothers, and themselves, shuck the mantle of Warrior, and once-more become ‘regular people’. It took a long time for many to stop seeing themselves, first, as Warriors, and then as ‘civilians’, which inherently implied its opposite. Even the civilian identity had to be replaced with another new identity.
There is a great deal of debate as to whether or not Posttraumatic Stress Disorder was less prevalent among Americans returning from WWII. Among those who believe it was less prevalent, are those who contend this was because of the extended period of time it took to demobilize the troops, most of whom were overseas. They believe this gave the troops time to talk among themselves, share their emotions, and basically debrief themselves.
I posit that there were fewer symptoms of what we, today, would call PTSD, proportionate to the number who served. I believe the beneficial factor was in the ‘returning together’ not in the talking and emoting about war experiences. I believe it was unlikely returning WWII Warriors spent a great deal of time ‘emoting’ and sharing their feelings about war aloud among themselves. I believe that individually, and as a collective group, they were focused on returning home to (other) loved-ones, and civilian life. The protective factor was in the collective experience.
Because a high percentage, and absolute numbers, of American men fought in WWII, they were not returning psychologically ‘alone’. Most men had only to look around themselves (their extended families, their neighborhoods, their workplaces, their recreational activities, their civic leadership) in order to experience and identify with men (part of their Expanded Sense of Self) who were becoming new self-identities. This evolution began with the start of demobilization.
In the contemporary U.S.A., Warriors are not from the same geographic area. They are completely demobilized and discharged much more quickly. They have comparatively little time to speak with their buddies about returning home, much less to collectively experience it. The protective factors are all-but absent, and a new identity, absent their actual Expanded Sense of Self elements, is difficult to form.
Less than one% of Americans have been active participants in recent wars. A modern Warrior returns with an Expanded Sense of Self (encouraged, developed, and enhanced by the military and the experiences of battle) to a country where he or she has little opportunity to identify with ‘like’ others. The Expanded Sense of Self and Battle Ego have little opportunity to deflate and/or reattach.
Not Language, Sense of Self, Battle Ego,and Guilt
● The experiences of combat are not initially ‘laid-down’ in the brain via words and language – that comes later.
● While neurologists say there is no ‘self’ in the brain, counselors and psychotherapists deal almost exclusively with ‘the self’. Americans not only think there is a ‘self’ but, if pressed, will say that ‘they’ are located behind and slightly above their eyes.
● Sense of Self may also be thought of as: ‘consciousness of self’; ‘that’ you are, instead of ‘who’ you are; human eusocial; the ‘stuff’ of all kinds of love.
● Military training and combat experience, extends the Sense of Self to team members and beyond. In essence, Sense of Self becomes extra-psychic, if the common understanding of ‘intrapsychic’ is applied.
● For treatment of battle-related PTSD to be effective, it must address Expanded Sense of Self and Battle Ego.
● Even oblique references to mortality leads to compensatory increases in self-esteem, in anyone.
● In a combat vet, continuous threat of death creates over-blown self-esteem: Battle Ego. In civilian, and after civilian, life, both Sense of Self and Battle Ego need to return to some sort of “normal”.
● The adjustments of Sense of Self and Battle Ego can cause complicated grief and loss issues, which feel terrible, having to do with loss of this “unnatural” self-identity and self-esteem.
● The actively searching human brain, mind, and emotions can create their own havoc. Here, the metaphor of trying to ‘prove a negative’ is used.
● Just as a canine can not understand the concept of ‘leash’ well-enough to deal with it effectively when it is wrapped around a tree, a returned Warrior cannot deal effectively with Sense of Self and Battle Ego which he, or she does not understand.
● Unknowingly,aWarriormaybestrivingtolocateand‘prove’whatthe mind says is there, or should be there.
● Missing Sense of Self may include teammates, friendlies, the war environment, The Enemy, the Chain of Command and superiors, just about anything.
● Trying to find elements of the Expanded Sense of Self, externally, will prove futile. They are not there, no matter how much the Warrior searches.
● one cannot prove there are no enemies in the environment; there are no teammates or friendlies there; not voices of authority telling you to kill people.
● ‘Guilt’ is a word and language-based, socially-constructed, feeling.
● As battle experiences are eventually processed in words and language, there is continual danger that (totally inappropriately) the mind will try to retroactively apply ‘guilt’.
● Guilt can be “sucked-along” with word-based thought.
Taking Charge of Battle Ego
Battle Ego is the arrogant, egotistical, “dick-headed” sense of self-esteem that arises from war. Writ tiny, it is similar to the ego of a ‘football hero’, or ‘big man on campus’. Rest assured, if you have seen a great deal of active battle, to ‘normal people’ you are arrogant, egotistical, and “dick-headed”; just as you probably see ‘them’ as lesser human beings.
If you need a reference point, see Jack Nicholson’s performance and speech in the courtroom scene of A Few Good Men. The more justified you think Jack was, the further you are.
In combat, Battle Ego is a very good thing. You don’t have to work at it. Research has shown that, with even a passing intimation of mortality, the human mind responds immediately with enhanced self-esteem and performance at skills and tasks. With the constant threat of death in an active war zone, Battle Ego not only comes immediately, but is amplified exponentially .
When you ‘above live’ (‘survive’) the ultimate high of something like a ‘fire-fight’, the surge of neurochemicals and hormones is extreme, as is the surge in self-esteem.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, just like a power weight lifter’s strength, Battle Ego does not suddenly atrophy and disappear with demobilization.
Now, if you want to feel like you’re a victim of your emotions, including your self-esteem, stop reading here.
If you know that part of you, down deep, likes feeling angry, and guilty, and stressed, and even suicidal, then you can keep reading. For lack of a better word, you are trying to ‘heal’ yourself.
You are trying to simultaneously both grow and shrink your Battle Ego, but if you don’t understand that that is what you are trying to do, it isn’t likely to go well.
If you had been demobilized slowly, along with dozens, or hundreds of your war buddies, it would have been different. If you were surrounded by buddies who had their Senses of Self expanded (unintentionally, but by design), and their self-esteems exploded by Battle Ego, you would have experienced the/their/your own, change. Together, you would have become, at least, ‘civilians’, on the way to becoming ‘regular people’.
If you were victorious, and experienced the war’s end, you would have seen ‘friendlies’ and non-combatants turn back into ‘regular people’. The ‘war environment’ would have changed into scenery. The Enemy would have become The Vanquished. The most important thing, from a PTSD point of view, would have been, not what happened to ‘them’ and ‘it’ out there, but the changes in your ‘self’ – the Expanded Self.
Your Expanded Sense of Self would have taken on a new, more benign form, and your Battle Ego would have returned to something resembling ‘normal’ under the influence of a new reality, with new emotional experiences for your expanded self.
Grief, Loss, and, Bereavement
For whoever you knew, who has died, you must go through the pain of grief and loss. There is no way around, or over, it. No one ever gets over the loss of a loved one, simply it.
Traditional counseling and psychotherapy methods and techniques can be very helpful with reaching an accommodation with loss, bereavement, and grief.
‘Depression’ is a normal and expected part of the grief process. Guilt and Survivor’s Guilt of the type and intensity found in post-combat Warriors, is not a usual part of this grief-process depression – though it can complicate and contribute to it.
The relative costs and benefits of guilt and survivor’s guilt, specific to the Warrior, are discussed elsewhere.
In brief here, it is a contention of this ebook that, generally, guilt and survivor’s guilt are not usually the emotions experienced a t the instant of the trauma, but acquired later. They can be an impediment to grief-work, if their contributions to, and detractions from, especially Battle Ego self-esteem, are not recognized and dealt with.
The Four Horsemen of the Resurrection
The psychologically transitioning Warrior has 4 basic options regarding how to ‘stand’ with regards to Expanded Sense of Self and Battle Ego. Baring in mind that the individual does not have direct control of these phenomena, here are the options:
I.The Warrior can attempt to maintain an expanded sense of self.
II.The Warrior can attempt to shrink the expanded self.
III.The Warrior can attempt to maintain the Battle Ego.
IV.The Warrior can attempt to shrink the Battle Ego.
Attempts to maintain, or shrink, both Expanded Sense of Self and Battle Ego are possible. Contrary-wise, attempts to shrink one and maintain the other, are also possible.
It may be advisable to ‘titrate’ Battle Ego in order to maintain self-esteem at some desirable level.
Generally speaking, Expanded Sense of Self is maintained by active and emotional engagement with people and all animate and inanimate aspects of the environment. It is shrunk through limiting the amount of involvement, to self-selected people, other life-forms, and things of personal interest. Excessive ‘limiting’ (‘withdrawing’) will have convoluted and unpredictable effects on both Sense of Self and Battle Ego.
Battle Ego will be generally maintained by engaging in activities which are a threat, dangerous, or challenging, in any way. In general, it will be shrunk by engaging in activities which are rote, automatic, or routine. However, ‘talking’ with loved, or cared-about, individuals may carry a curious dual function. Talking (especially sharing emotions) may at the same time be challenging a nd still skip-over the ego-feeding, non-verbal aspects of Battle Ego.
[Be aware: For the purposes of Battle Ego maintenance or shrinkage, talk should not be about battle, war, or warfare. Those conversations are for another time; though they may be therapeutic for all involved. If conversation heads in that direction, it may be best for the Warrior to state directly, he or she does not what to discuss such topics at that time.
To be fair to others, if the Warrior is ready, willing, and able to talk about their war experiences: a date, time, and the circumstances should be set for such a conversation.]
Survivor’s Guilt is a Selfish Feeling
Survivor’s Guilt has a special place in the pantheon of guilt. The reason for its special place is inherent in its very name. The word ‘survive’ means ‘above living’. A Warrior, under the influence of war realities and war morality, probably doesn’t feel so much guilty about the other person dying and them living. Intellectually, and from the emotions active at the time, the Warrior understands that that is what happens in war. Some people live and some people die.
What the Warrior probably feels guilty about are feelings of superiority over the fallen. The Warrior experiences a feeling ‘above living’. That ‘above living’ feeling, in the face of mortality and the death of another who was loved, also shoots one’s Battle Ego into the stratosphere, regardless of the intense feelings of loss. [Incidentally, these feelings can extend to The Enemy portion of Expanded Sense of Self: “Ha ha, I’m alive and you’re not.”]
The Warrior also knows: Hubris will be punished. Best to feel guilty, so the gods of peace and civilization do not punish you.
Guilt and Not Guilt
When mixed-in with Expanded Sense of Self and Battle Ego, guilt and ‘not guilt’ are multi-edged swords of pluses and minuses. Some of these might be called ‘secondary gains’ promoting the preservation of guilt.
Among the positives of guilt:
● Because it is a ‘small’, localized interior,SenseofSelf‘feeling’ (not emotion) it can help shrink, or contract, the Expanded Sense of Self.
● Guilt lowers testosterone, and the female equivalent, androgen. It therefore diminishes Battle Ego self-esteem from its overblown state.
● Guilt increases feelings of stress. Stress leads to prolonged muscle tension throughout the body. This leads to sustained lactic acid release. Lactic acid metabolizes into lactate – the brain’s favorite ‘food’.
● Guilt, therefore, makes a person think better and faster. Therefore making the individual feel they are thinking ‘better’ in order to deal with ‘threat’ – including the ‘threat’ of guilt.
● As clinicians who work with non-battle PTSD have discovered, prematurely removing a person’s feeling of ‘fault’ (a close cousin to guilt) can leave them feeling like a complete victim in their world. They can lose a sense of self-agency, power, and control in their lives. Feeling guilty may make an individual feel; more ‘able to respond – responsible, more in control, less a victim.
● Paradoxically,therefore,feelingguiltycanincreaseself-esteem in the midst of terrible self-induced pain.
● In a phenomenon commonly called ‘undoing’ or ‘magical undoing’ an individual may attempt to undo a tragic event by attributing it to the perceived most-proximal cause (i.e. “If I caused, am responsible for, guilty of, this terrible thing, I could have undone it by some simple action”)
● Guilt can lead to thoughts about suicide. Reminders of mortality lead to increased self-esteem and performance in mental and physical activities.
● Guilt-inducedthoughtsofsuicidecausea‘limitedtime’element to life. Like a ticking time-bomb in a movie or book, guilt can lead to an increased sense of significance and meaning, lost after direct combat ended.
Among the Negatives about Guilt :
● Guilt is a word and thought-based ‘feeling’, similar to an intense ‘mood’, not an ‘emotion’. It can develop slowly. As the PTSD survivor is just beginning to apply word-thoughts to past experiences or actions, the feeling ‘guilt’ can be “sucked-along” with those thoughts.
● There is no such thing as being able to retroactively apply morality.
● Guilt can become self-inflicted pain, resistant to talk-based help, because guilt is an overlay on top of the non-verbal roots of emotion/experience/action.
● In part, guilt is constructed in order to tell the self: “I’m a good person if I feel guilty about what I participated in. The more guilty I feel, the better a person I actually was, or am.”
During war, the individual may have their sense of guilt – had it trained-out of them.
How does one grieve lost guilt?
Denial: “I felt guilty about those things, when they happened.”
Anger: “God damn it! I really didn’t feel guilty, when it happened.”
Bargaining: “Maybe if I feel guilty now, it will make-up for it.”
Depression: “I’m sad, depressed, and guilty now.”
Accommodation: “Okay, from now on, I will only feel appropriately guilty; to an appropriate amount, for what I do now.”
Drugs, Alcohol and Marijuana, and Weapons
Are 3 enough, six too many?
Your overheated Muscle Car is speeding through the midday desert. The temperature gage is pegged on Hot!. You pull into a Service Station and pour a huge bucket of ice water over the engine.
Is it any wonder your head is cracked?! – OPIODS
Your Drag Racer is careening out of control down city streets, near an elementary school. You hit a button that makes nitrous spew into the intake.
Crash anyone? – STIMULANTS
Alcohol and Marijuana: Are 3 enough, six too many?
“ Sir! Permission to [be violent] freely, Sir?” -ALCOHOL
MARIJUANA- “Marijuana is just a relaxer and calmer, isn’t it?”
Ever notice, or wonder why, many top war video-gamers have monikers which are references to marijuana? Your brain may already be trained that way. Do you want to make it more so?
‘Drug’, ‘set’, and ‘setting’ (type of drug used, one’s mindset before and while using, and the setting one is in while using the drug) are important. The absolutely ENORMOUS issue for psychologically transitioning Warriors, regarding recreational drug use, is their mindset. How many ‘hits’ before ‘relaxation’ turns into battle-like hypervigilance and reactivity?
The issue isn’t so much that the Warrior will have some sort of PTSD ‘episode’. The issue is the need to retrain one’s mind. Until the Warrior has progressed to being a ‘regular person’, while ‘high’, the drug will have the lead in determining/uncovering the direction of the experience. No currently battling PTSD Warrior can always ‘titrate’ their usage well-enough to maintain control, and not set-back their progress.
Weapons: Are you still in love with her?
Ordinarily, one might expect a male Warrior to become very attached to his weapon(s) of war. Warriors do often name their weapons (usually with a female name), and are encouraged to remember which is their ‘weapon’ and which is their ‘gun’. Their lives depended on a well-functioning weapon. Yet, most do not purchase their weapon to take home with them when they are demobilized – though the opportunity to do so exists.
Once in civilian life, many returning Warriors purchase arms from a local gun shop. They say their new weapons are superior to, and less-expensive to purchase than, their battle-field weapon, and are for self-defense and target-practice. It sounds very logical, financially prudent, and sensible. But not what one would expect of a young, testosterone-driven Warrior just returned from combat.
Warriors themselves will talk about going “gun crazy” when they come home, and sometimes buying large numbers of weapons. Yet research shows that men who are unfamiliar with firearms have an increase in testosterone levels and adrenalin upon seeing, or handling a weapon. Men who are familiar with weapons have no such response. Having weapons must serve a different purpose for returned Warriors.
This purpose may be in line with attempted self-regulation of Battle Ego. For a demobilized Warrior, a weapon may serve as a subtle reminder of mortality, leading to increased self-esteem, and thence to improved cognition and performance.
Happiness is a warm gun.
one definition of addiction, however, is: A pathological relationship with a mood-altering experience.
If the Warrior’s love-affair with their weapon is interfering with normalization of Battle Ego or leading to jealousy from a spouse, or partner, the Warrior may want to have another mortality-reminding pet: A Komodo Dragon, A Gargoyle, The Hulk, A Boulder or Mountain, An American Buffalo, Paul Bunyan or Babe the Ox, A Hurricane, Ben Grimm, A Giant Sequoia, An Orca, A Sumo Wrestler, A Military Tank, The Crack of Dawn, or Twilight, for example. Any reminder that one is human and mortal, may be helpful.
Maneuvers Against Battle PTSD
This ebook is intended to try to help people. At times, to accomplish this, it is also intended to induce active irritation, puzzlement, or offense.
This is done for a reason. The act of reading, itself, is intended to be ‘therapeutic’, in the broadest sense.
Here, I am not interested in enriching psychological trauma theory; except to the amount necessary in order for the reader to understand. This ebook, necessarily, deals with an area of the psyche which is often neglected in psychology. The Sense of Self (also called ‘consciousness of self’) and its attendant ‘Battle Ego” are the areas being addressed.
Like many other things ‘psychological’, Sense of Self cannot be touched, seen, heard, smelled, nor tasted. It does, though, have a very, very, peculiar advantage. If you really, really, really press people to answer the question: “Where are you located in your body?” They will not only admit that exist, but they will tell you ‘ in their body ‘ ’ are.
Most 2onest Century American males, will tell you ‘’ are located behind and slightly above their eyes. They may be amazed by the suggestion that ‘ could be located elsewhere in their bodies. They might be surprised to hear that, in other cultures, at other times, individuals were located in other places in their bodies.
Few, if any, other intrapsychic psychological concepts have the advantage of the individual not only saying “Yep, it’s there” but “Yep, it’s ‘ there.”
Through ‘personal attributes’ (things like ‘patriotism’, ‘love of country’ and ‘love of flag’); military training, which emphasizes ‘teamwork’ and fighting for one’s comrades; and, direct combat experience, of various sorts; the ‘Senses of Self’ of military personnel, become expanded. This is sort of the opposite of autism or asperger’s syndrome.
Sense of Self is more a ‘ we are, rather than a ‘ ’ we are. It is a thing of the senses: sound, sight, kinesthetics, odor, and taste.
Acquaintances become friends and lovers; a place becomes ‘home’, an area becomes a ‘neighborhood’ with ‘neighbors’; a team becomes ‘yours’ and another your ‘rival’. All of these developments occur in conjunction with Sense of Self.
Unawares and undetectably, Warriors’ Sense of Self grows to include comrades, friendlies, the battle environment, superiors and the Chain of Command, even The Enemy. Just as a principle of commercial advertising says that any emotional response of the consumer (good or bad) makes them remember and have a response to (and purchase) your product – the Warrior ‘imprints’ on the world of war.
Especially in the Warrior, Sense of Self and Expanded Sense of Self are not primarily based on ‘words’, ‘language’, or even ‘verbal thought’. They are made of ‘experience’ and emotion. To be modified, they need to be dealt-with from that perspective and in that manner.
Usually, this Expanded Sense of Self is abruptly severed from itself upon demobilization. The Expanded Sense of Self is left foundering as if searching for itself. More than a lost identity, it is a built-up, and then lost and displaced, ‘self’
This is the phenomenon here called: Psychological Transition Subsequent to Demobilization. Grieving for, shrinking of, and reattaching the Expanded Sense of Self; and, re-adjusting Battle Ego; these are the ‘maneuvers’ this ebook presents.
Yes, you could have come-up with these yourself. Why didn’t you?
You are working on multiple things here:
● These are non-talking ways to express and exorcise, non-verbal experiences.
● Since many aspects of your Expanded Sense of Self are unavailable for direct, verbal-thinking experience, you are going to take steps to:
one.Change your mental representations of Expanded Sense of Self, to reflect a new reality.
2.Rather than search for some things which are not actually there (attempting to ‘prove a negative’) you are going to replace them with real things. Using as many sensory modalities as possible.
3.Replace ‘ghosts’ of Expanded Sense of Self, which could, or have already, become, hallucinations.
Although Battle Ego will eventually make adjustments on its own, (if you stick around long enough), you will be working to become more self-aware of its presence and actions one may take to influence it.
Unless you have ongoing, daily contact, for several hours, with your actual teammates, they are no-longer what is important to you. What is important is you growing out of their war-fighter representation in your Sense of Self.
For now, only teammates should be included; not ‘friendlies’, or The Enemy.
Exercise one: Easy as Nails
Step 1: Have someone, not yourself, carefully and respectfully, write your ‘battle name’ at the base of the thumbnail of your dominant hand, in permanent marker (Sharpie). Have this same person, write the ‘battle names’ of important, living, teammates, in permanent marker, at the base of the other fingernails, of your dominant hand.
If necessary, you can write names yourself at the base of the nails of your non-dominant hand. Names may also be written on your toenails.
Do not have these names tattooed anywhere on your body.
Step 2: Trim all your nails, as needed, as usual.
Step 3: Begin working on Exercises Two and Three
Step 4: As you completely trim-off each name, write a new “civilian” name for each individual. This time, you can write all the names yourself. Trim all your nails, as needed, as usual.
Step 5: As you completely trim-off each “civilian” name, replace it with that individual’s new “regular person” name. Trim all your nails, as needed, as usual.
Exercise Two: “Just sit right back, and you’ll tell a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…”
Step 1: Begin to formulate post-demobilization stories for each living member of your teammate Sense of Self. These should be the names written on your nails. If you know anything of their actual lives, you may begin there. Unless you want to order yourself to do so for Battle Ego reasons, you needn’t formulate a story about yourself.
Step 2: Amplify the post-demobilization stories you have created for each “individual” who is part of your Expanded Sense of Self. What is important is that you come to half-believe the stories you create. If you feel you need to create stress, or put yourself under pressure, you may set a time limit as to when this step must be completed. You might say it must be completed before the first, second, or third, nail grow-out is completed.
Who is this new self? He or she has a new name because you give them ones during Exercise one. Or maybe it is they who have changed it. In what way do they look different? A new hairstyle? Moustache, beard? Gained or lost weight? Gained or lost muscle? How do they dress now? Hat or no hat? What kind? Shoes, sandals, or barefoot?
What do they do? Do they work? Do they volunteer? What kind of work or volunteer work do they do? Do they find satisfaction or challenge in ‘living rough’? How do they spend their day?
Where do they live? What state? What city? What wilderness area? In a house, apartment, tent, mobile home? Where do they spend their holidays?
When did they begin doing what they are doing? Immediately after discharge? Years later? When did they do any other personally important thing – get married, have a child, get a job, become a Tibetan monk?
Why are they being the way they are being? Living where they are living? Why were they so quickly able to do what they are doing? Why did they take so long to do what they are doing?
How are they living? Are they in a relationship? Have a sex change? Are they involved, engaged, married, single, divorced, in a group marriage? How have they created necessary stress and meaning in their lives in order to regulate Battle Ego? How have they replaced Battle Ego? How have they replaced stress-induced muscle tension in order to “feed” their brains energy?
Step 3: Assign a ‘regular person’ scent to each part of your teammate Sense of Self. This should not be an odor you associate with war or battle, or your teammates in war or battle.
The scent can be anything else: meat, leather, perfume, nut, fruit, fish, vegetable, flower, plant, animal, PlayDoh or some other smell from your childhood or schooling. Anything.
Step 4: If you need to, in order to remember, you can write the name of each “individual’s” scent on the associated nail.
Step 5: If, in order to make these parts of your Expanded Sense of Self more real, you need to write-out, or audio record, or draw pictures of their stories, that’s okay. Just remember, these are not ‘war stories’. These are demobilized, discharged, ‘regular person’ stories.
Exercise Three: Play with Dolls
Step 1: The dolls you play with may be dolls, toys, action figures of any type, except direct military figures, or characters you associated with your comrades in arms. Comic heroes of any gender, Transformers, aliens from another world, animals, insects, Legos, Duplos, etc.
Step 2: Each doll must be assigned the ‘regular person’ name of a teammate part of your Expanded Sense of Self, And the correlating scent.
Step 3: Each doll must be played with individually and separately (actually physically moved), in the ‘regular person’ environment you created for them. Where they live, what they do, etc. If you included others in that individual’s life, dolls must be provided for these others. If these ‘created others’ were military personnel, they may be represented by military figures.
Exercises one, Two, and Three are complete when you can semi-realistically imagine each part of your Expanded Sense of Self in ‘regular person’ life.
If, in real life, one of your actual comrades dies, actual grief process must be begun, and the doll and scent ‘retired’.
Scouting-Out Non-Combatants and Friendlies
Exercise one: Finding Them
Step 1: From a grocery store, buy small bottles of extract of scents, or containers of spices, you do not associate with battle. For example: mint, almond, cherry, strawberry, orange, lemon, vanilla, garlic, oregano, onion, pepper, etc.
Step 2: Learn American Sign Language Signs for ‘Hi’ and ‘Sorry, I don’t sign.’ – unless you actually do know how to sign.
Learn military hand signals for: ‘You see friendlies?’
Step 3: Defining: Indoors and Outdoors, Friendlies are:
● [Individuals with 2 different colored eyes – brown and green, brown
and blue, green and blue, etc.]
● People dressed in Orange shirts or blouses.
● The deaf or Hard of Hearing
● Other vets, including homeless vets.
Step 4: Identifying without frightening.
● Bi eye-colored people should be identified outside of their personal space and acknowledged only with a slight smile. If indoors, your reward can be delayed.
● ‘Orange people’ need only be acknowledged with a smell of scent reward, preferably scent of orange, when appropriate to do so.
● Deaf and Hearing Impaired friendlies (often identified by their use of Sign Language) should be given a ‘Hi’ in Sign Language and then ‘Sorry, I don’t sign’, also in Sign Language. Scent reward yourself when appropriate.
● Vets and homeless vets may be asked, using military hand signs: ‘You see friendlies?’, and waiting for any response. If there is any misunderstanding, you can simply say: ‘I was wondering if you are a vet.’
Step 5: Rewarding yourself.
● Each time you find a friendly out-of-doors, you can reward yourself with your chosen scent. Take a short, quick scent of extract or spice.
● If a friendly is located indoors, simply wait to reward yourself when appropriate.
● If possible, the scent of orange should be used for ‘orange’ people.
Step 6: Anyone who does not directly physically attack you, is a non-combatant.
Exercise Two: Finding Friendly’s Headquarters, Bases, Camps
Step 1: The Headquarters of bi eye-colored people are venues of activities you have never watched before. This might be bird-watching sanctuaries, field hockey fields, rowing, fencing, paralympics, dance recitals, battle horses training, live plays, etc.
Step 2: For locating Headquarters for the remaining friendlies, you may not use written materials or speech in any form – no internet, no phone books, no maps, no asking anyone who uses written materials ‘where’ the pertinent Headquarters is located. Devise and implement search procedures of your own. Remember, these are ‘friendlies’. You must only physically ‘go’ to each Headquarters.
Step 3: Orange people may have Fields, if there are orange groves in your area. If you become sure there are no groves in your area, locate the largest supply or supplier of oranges, or orange juice in your location.
Step 4: If you don’t Sign yourself, most likely you will identify the deaf or hearing impaired via their use of sign language in public areas. Their bases are schools, colleges, and universities for the deaf. If you, for the first time, take in a performance by The National Theater of the Deaf you may reward yourself (as described below) for locating Camps for bi eye-colored and the deaf.
Step 5: You should already possess the skills necessary to identify vets and homeless vets. Headquarters may be institutions of your choosing, such as the VFW, and, in the case of the homeless vet, shelters or the equivalent.
Step 6: Rewarding yourself. Smell and taste rewards are part of the re-training of your sensory motor system. Rewards should be smelled or eaten at the time, or as soon after as possible. Any time you locate a Headquarters, Field, Base, Camp, etc., give yourself a food reward. Food rewards may be things like: an orange, a handful of strawberries, vanilla wafers, ginger snaps, a chocolate mint wafer. Preferably, the taste you choose should correlate to the smell you have associated with that friendly.
Exercise Three: Crocodile Tears: Fake it ‘til you make it.
If monitoring your own Battle Ego suggests that stress reduction is indicated, do non-violent (or minimally violent) things to induce ‘crocodile tears’. Regardless of their origins, releasing the chemicals in tears reduces stress at a biological level. Most Warriors have probably conditioned and trained themselves not-only, to not experience physical or emotional pain, or joy, but to not cry under any circumstances. Make yourself ‘tear’.
● Go for walks in very cold weather until your eyes weep.
● Eat spicy food.
● Keep your eyelids open for extended periods of time.
● [With your mouth open, hand-chop warm raw onions, garlic, or other
● [Spread capsaicin-based pain or muscle-relaxation creams all-over
your shoulders and back of your neck.]
● [If minor pain can still induce tear release, walk into hard, stationary
objects, at a brisk pace.]
If emotions and actual crying are triggered with the release of tears this way, this is probably, okay. This is because they are unlikely to be part of the word, language, complex verbal thought system. Do not, however, dwell on them, psychologically. Just let the chemicals release through the tears.
Relearning appropriate emotional responsiveness can be another activity. It may require practice, re-sensitizing your body to gentle touch, and having a role-model. Acting lessons may benefit some individuals.
You blocked out pain. Pain and emotions are closely connected. You can’t block one, without blocking the other. You became able only to feel, or experience, intense emotions, others were blocked. This is true, also, on the physical level.
Sensation blocking is most often noticed in women who have undergone trauma at an earlier age. Sometimes, to their amazement and surprize, they will regain sensation in their breasts which they did not even realize they had lost. They may report tingling, itching, or feeling as if their breasts have ‘fallen asleep’ and are now walking-up. Some women experiencing this will report that the feeling of cloth against their breasts is so intense now, they can barely stand wearing clothing.
The male equivalent can be in the new-found, euphoric feeling they experience in the ‘afterglow’ after intercourse.
ymenE ehT and THE ENVIRONMENT
Exercise one: The Environment – Geocaching
Step 1: Reading and writing are allowed for this exercise. Obtain small, extremely inexpensive, token items (non-military related) to exchange in Geocaching.
Step 2: Learn about Geocaching on the internet.
Step 3: Find and exchange Geocached items. Any time you locate a cache, reach down, obtain some vegetation or soil, and smell it.
Step 4: Learn how to ‘hide’ caches and leave clues for others.
Step 5: Leave caches and monitor them. Remember to smell the environment each time you visit the cache.
Exercise Two: The Environment – Soil Sampling
Step 1: Purchase an inexpensive soil testing kit, or improvise one from a swimming pool chemical test kit.
Step 2: Go to local, state, or national parks; rest areas; picnic spots; squat, or go to one knee, take soil in your hand, smell it, then go through the motions, as if, testing the soil. If you actually perform a test, you can record the results.
Step 3: If you observe a nearby ant mound, ant lion funnel, or trap door spider home, you must lie down and observe it for 3 minutes. You need not make yourself uncomfortable, unless [seriously] you feel a need for some minor level of discomfort.
Exercise Three: ymenE ehT – Animals and Birds
Note: This is not hunting. You are not to ‘shoot’ in any manner, nor photograph using any device. You may ‘sketch’ or audio record the scene, only.
Step 1: If you sight any of the following, out of doors, not in a zoo, while sitting (not in a vehicle) or standing, reward yourself with a scent, each time.
● 4 or more deer, at once. They may be ‘Scouts’.
● 2 elk or moose, at once. ‘Officers’.
● 2 coyotes, at once. ‘Infantry’.
● one live armadillo (2, at once, if you live in rural Texas). ‘A.P.C.’s’.
● A family of raccoons or opossums. ‘Special Forces’
● one condor in flight. ‘Air Surveillance’.
● 2 or more vultures, not in flight, and not eating carrion. ‘Air Cav.’.
● Any bat while not leaving its roost. ‘Ninjas’.
● A manatee. ‘Submarine or submersible’.
● [Two or more seals or dolphins. [need I say] SEALS.
Note: If you live in a city, or highly populated area, the following may be substituted for 3 of the ‘targets’ and a zoo may be included in your zone, but only one sighting can be claimed and rewarded per visit to the zoo.
● Mice and rats. ‘Ordnance Disposal’.
● Bees and hummingbirds. ‘Helicopters’.
● Any predatory bird. ‘Aone0’ [just because I like Aone0’s].
Step 2: If you sight any of the above while kneeling, squatting, or reclining you may give yourself a food reward to eat.
Step 3: Your ‘mission’ may continue indefinitely, or you may consider it complete when you have sighted and rewarded yourself for each and every ‘target’.
Exercise Four: Ordnance, I.E.D., Disposal
Step 1: Obtain and carry, waste disposal sacks.
Step 2: Whenever you are walking, keep an eye out for other people’s pets waste.
Step 3: When you spot waste, go to one knee to pick it up, using a waste disposal sack. Dispose of the sack appropriately.
Step 4: As soon as possible, reward yourself with some of your favorite food.
Personally, I don’t give a god-damned, mother-fucking, piece of shit, if you cuss.
Just be aware that, just a few decades ago, curse words used to be stored in a separate area of the human brain. It was thought that these words were stored there for a special reason: as a bulwark, or final defense, against taking rash, or hasty action. Since cussing has become such a common part of everyday American communication, it is unclear if curse words still warrant special status in the brain.
For the Warrior who has lost any prohibition against cussing, there is no-longer that particular last wall between thought, emotion, and action. It is as if the armed Warrior has returned to home-base, with a locked and loaded weapon, without a functioning ‘safety’.
Going along with one of the themes of this ebook, that it is futile to try to prove a negative: it is unlikely that ‘stopping cussing’ will be effective in re-establishing a hesitation-barrier between thought, emotion, and action. Rather, it would be more effective to learn new curse words.
The Warrior might best select a language with which he, or she, is unfamiliar, learn new curse words, and phrases, from that language; in addition to appropriate (or ‘inappropriate’) usage. Use these word and phrases when emotions are about to prematurely explode into action. This may help re-establish a working ‘safety’ on your emotions.
Remember, this is primarily for your benefit – ‘peace-ifying’ you. It may also benefit those around you, if you have better control of your actions.
Ghosts of Expanded Sense of Self, Part I
Battle-related PTSD hallucinations (including delusions)
Even many psychotherapists who work regularly with people who hallucinate, have not had the experience of having a client who hallucinates people or voices telling them to do ‘good’ or ‘positive’ things. It does happen! It especially happens among hardened criminals, who may have spent a lifetime doing ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ things.
If one has never had the experience of positive hallucinations, it is difficult to understand battle-related PTSD hallucinations as anything other than negative and possibly frightening. This is especially true for the PTSD survivor Warrior themselves. Very few of the stressful experiences of battle are likely to be ‘positive’ (‘eustress’), so very few of these hallucinations are likely to be experienced or seen in this light.
Don’t be afraid of your hallucinations. They are representations of your Expanded Sense of Self, only. To be afraid of them, is to imbue them with the fearful emotions of war. You can turn them into fearful representations of The Enemy portion of your Sense of Self. To do so, not only leads to self-perpetuation and amplification, but to Battle Ego ‘feeding’.
Here are some common hallucinations; what portion(s) of the Expanded Sense of Self they may represent; and, with what this ebook suggests they may be replaced.
● People ‘spying’ on you or following you. The Enemy, or, if you are ‘walking point’, your comrades. Your ymenE ehT’s and ‘grown-out’ regular people.
● Seeing something or someone other people cannot see. [ Interesting the word ‘cannot’ is often used, not ‘do not’. ] Any aspect of Expanded Sense of Self. All of the exercises described in this ebook.
● Unusual feelings inside your body, or on your skin. The actual ‘you’ or ‘working-memory self’ of your Expanded Sense of Self. The ‘grown-out’ self and yourself as a ‘regular person’.
● Believing you can hear what someone else is thinking. Usually the ‘comrades’/ ’teammates’ elements of your Expanded Sense of Self (rarely: The Enemy). All the actions and results of ‘growing-out’ your teammates and the environment.
● Smelling odors no one else smells. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, human beings essentially lost the ability to smell odors at a distance, which most other mammals retained. Smelling odors is closely associated with emotions. Smelling odors that aren’t there are your mind and brain’s way of trying to understand war/smell emotions, that exist in your Expanded Sense of Self. Use of largely self-selected alternative smells are suggested in this ebook, to replace smell-based elements of the Expanded Sense of Self.
● Believing your behaviors and thoughts are controlled by some outside force. Yours were: the Chain of Command/superiors. Commanding the Chain exercises, giving yourself your own, audible orders.
It may be important to note that individuals who suffer from non-battle-related PTSD may experience virtually identical hallucinations. Both non-battle-related PTSD and battle PTSD can include the involvement of the same personality makeup and structures. Both may benefit from appropriately prescribed, and monitored, psychotropic medication.
Battle PTSD may be unique in the involvement of Expanded Sense of Self and Battle Ego in hallucinations and delusions. Other than the understanding that these elements may exist largely outside of verbal, or word-based thought, and that they seem to constitute ‘that we are’, separate from ‘who we are’, it is not known how they differ. Non-traditional psychological theories which address ‘energy’ rather than ‘structures’ [e.g. Constructive Alternativism] may provide a firmer foundation for understanding.
“ This is not a recording. At the sound of the explosion, your time will be up . “
Exercise one: “ Everyone knows its…windy. “
On a windy day, explore your neighborhood/ community, listening for wind-chimes. Continue exploring until you locate chimes which are not made of metal, glass, or plastic. Listen to them for, at least, two full minutes, while stationary. Make periodic visits to the chime at intervals of your choosing.
Construct your own wind-chime out of natural materials, such as wood (including bamboo), clay, string, and leather. Try to determine sounds which are pleasing to you. Mount the chime out-of-doors and reconstruct, or ‘tune’ it, until the sound is pleasing to you. Make mental note of any visitors to your chime.
Exercise Two: [I’m a be…] Be Happy Beads
Certain, so-called “worry” beads make a pleasing sound when the large, usually wooden, beads, are worked around a leather band, and collide. Visit stores, specialty shops, or outdoor markets and purchase a ‘worry bead’ set, that sounds pleasing to you. If you cannot find a set, investigate which woods sound pleasing to you when struck together. Make your own set of beads, or have someone make them for you.
Use the beads whenever you do feel your Battle Ego needs feeding.
Exercise Three: Manbat
If your hearing is good-enough to detect them, at twilight, go to an area where bats are known to roost, and listen to their radar as they leave their roost. Return before dawn and listen for their return. If you hear the bats, reward yourself with a good breakfast – Count Chocula or better. Repeat this exercise until you believe you have heard one bat for every time you might have been subject to any kind of (friendly or unfriendly) radar.
If your hearing is not good enough to hear bats’ radar, find out about bats in your area and, if appropriate, build and mount a bat roost for the local species. ALSO, find out what species of insect have developed the ability to ‘jam’ bat radar, and attempt to raise that species in some area. Reward yourself with listening to bat-themed music: der Fluttermous, theme to the Batman television series, or Batman movies, etc.
Exercise Four: Owl Man
If there are owls in your area, go out at night and listen for their calls and the sound of their wings. If you discover where an owl regularly nests or roosts, and it is not a PTSD ‘trigger’ for you, reward yourself for being ‘night wise’ by watching a horror, or comedy movie, where a character’s head spins completely around. Eat popcorn or some other ‘comfort’ food, while you watch. Pay particular attention to the movie’s sound-effects as the head turns.
If spinning heads might be an issue for you, reward yourself by watching videos of the actual, scarlet-eyed owl, which might have been the inspiration for the ‘Mothman’ urban legend. Also, locate and eat candy in the shape of a mouse or owl.
Exercise Five: Feed your Battle Ego with Sounds
There is a human tendency to feel irritated by words spoken in a language we do not understand. This may be because it interferes with our own ‘echo-language’ in perpetual energy storage in our brain and minds. If you feel a need to irritate, or anger yourself, in order to feed your Battle Ego, through sound, do the following exercise.
Walk to some location where people who might be speaking a foreign language might be located. When you feel sufficiently irritated, you can leave, on foot. Please do not drive while angry. It can be dangerous beyond the benefits to self-esteem and ego.
[If your role in the military involved being indoors, enclosed, or encased, it is unclear if irritation should be deliberately invoked while indoors. It seems that irritating sounds should not be used in your home environment. Perhaps irritating foreign languages could be listened to outside of the home.]
THE INDOORS OR ENCASED WARRIOR
If much of your war experience was indoors, or inside some vehicle, vessel, or craft, undoing or reattaching your Expanded Sense of Self will probably include re-orienting yourself to inside spaces.
Your work may have involved having your eyes focus ‘close-up’ at actual objects or abstract concepts, which were, in reality, at a distance. Mental adjustments would best occur, to reconcile this ‘mis’ or ‘mal’ synchronization of sight distance, with Sense of Self, Battle Ego, and threat perception.
An individual is blindfolded, told that when the blindfold is removed, there will be an immediate threat to their safety or life. They are spun around and the blindfold removed. The immediate, universal, human response, is to scan the distance for a threat. This is true whether the individual is indoors, or outdoors.
Even if inside a tank, submarine, or aircraft, a Warrior who focuses on a ‘screen’ is unwittingly having their natural mind/ sense organ/ neurochemical response altered. Also, the Sense of Self and Battle Ego are being forged in relation to that screen.
In ‘regular life’ your natural brain and mind are telling you that the ‘threat environment’ should be at a distance, while experience and your eyes (and maybe your ears) have been telling you, the threat is close. The threat may feel “up-close and personal” in the form of your supposed ‘loved-ones’.
Exercise one: Get Animated
Purchase an animation set (such as Crayola, because of that name’s childhood associations) and an on-line ‘Application’.
As an indoors or encased Warrior, some of your war experience did not involve sensory input that reflected direct species-to-species contact.
Especially tactile/ kinesthetic/ whole body movement, ‘smell’, and ‘taste’ may have been limited.
For this reason, it is not as crucial that you not animate yourself (your Expanded Sense of Self) or your actions, as non-battle-like. You may be the ‘hero’ of your own animated story.
It might be best, however, to avoid animations of actual war. Action Heroes saving “damsels in distress” [‘damsel’ here actually being part of your expanded, but disowned, Sense of Self, typically projected onto whatever constituted your weapon against the enemy ] or cities, or the whole world, might be good plots. Be sure to include positive, friend and friendly characters.
If resolution of abstractions, or abstract concepts, (“The red thingie is coming towards the blue thingie. I think we’re the blue thingie”) is important for you, construct your animation to include representations of ideas. Then post your animation on the theoretic concept of ‘online’.
Exercise Two: Puzzle Room
Go to a Puzzle Room and participate in the activities. Preferably do this with someone you know, or think you might want to get to know. Do not , however, go to a room or activity where participants might feel ‘entrapped’ or as if they have to do something to escape. While a boost to Battle Ego, feeling trapped can be surprisingly, and unpredictably, overwhelming for even ‘regular people’.
Investigate thoroughly any Puzzle Room, and Puzzle Room activities, before attending.
EXERCISE THREE: “MOOSE AND SKVIRREL AND OTHER BULLWINKLE.”
Whenever watching a cartoon, anime, television show, or movie, try to identify whenever a ‘voice actor’ is speaking the part of the apparently opposite gender. Try, also, to identify when one actor is speaking multiple roles. Identify when a ‘live’ actor also has a speaking-only role. In each instance, identify the actors by the name of the character, or object, they are voicing.
Confirm your success by whatever means necessary. Reward yourself by shaking your own hand – described in the next exercise.
[See also: Touch, Contact Hunger, and “Killing Interruptus”.]
TOUCH AND KINESTHETICS
Touch, Contact Hunger, and “Killing Interruptus”
A defense football player slams into a quarterback, well-after the quarterback has thrown the ball, costing his own team a penalty.
A fight is disrupted between two individuals, right before they come to blows. Peace is negotiated between the pair. The experienced ‘intervener’ knows the fight is not truly over, until the two ‘shake hands’, or at least make some sort of physical contact.
Law Enforcement Officers chase a suspect. The suspect surrenders, but the Officers still feel compelled to tackle, ‘man-handle’, or strike the suspect in some manner.
Law Enforcement Officers chase and tackle a suspect. Maybe they even place the suspect in handcuffs. They then step away from the suspect and look at one another. The suspect struggles to his feet and, again, runs away.
A Warrior, many thousands of miles from a ‘war zone’, flies, and directs missiles, from drones or UAVs. The Warrior develops the same “symptoms” of Psychological Transition Subsequent to Demobilization. The civilian population in the ‘war zone’, somehow, is more distressed by this impersonal killing, than even ‘carpet-bombing’, which kills many more ‘innocents’. The remote Warrior, from the population’s point of view, being thrice-removed: once from the projectile, and twice from the weapon.
These are examples of Contact Hunger (the desire to physically obtain fleeing prey, and the ‘release’ only afterwards) and the powerful forces it invokes when it is thwarted, or even satisfied.
Like every, eyes focused forward, predatory animal, once the ‘prey-drive’ is evoked in humans, it continues until physical contact (or the psychologically-converted equivalent) is made with the prey/ target. If only visual and auditory confirmation is made, the action remains incomplete until successfully ‘translated’.
Once actual physical contact has been made, it is almost as if a switch has been thrown; the predator’s ‘job’ is complete.
Many have lamented and bemoaned the ease with which killing can be done, when done at a distance with bullet, missile, or bomb. Part of this lamentation should include lamentation that, as far as most modern Warriors’ instincts and senses are concerned, this is perpetual “killing interruptus”. Warriors may see and hear their ‘kill’ (noun and verb), but rarely touch, smell, or taste ‘it’, or the action. As far as instinct is concerned, the ‘kill’ never occurs.
Contact Hunger, now immeasurably amplified by combat neurochemistry, is fully triggered, yet unfulfilled.
Once “killing interruptus’ has been established, it can continue forever, unless actions are taken to combat it.
Since murder is frowned-upon, substitutions would best be found. Activities would probably best include those in which a prey/ target is selected of the non-human variety. Predatory, or ‘conquest’ sexuality is especially discouraged, despite ending in close physical contact.
‘Hunting’ of animals should occur on foot and can consist of catch and release only, if that satisfies one’s Contact Hunger drive. Steer-wrestling, or bulldogging, must only be done on foot, without the use of a horse, and only with fully-horned adult bulls. Steer-wrestling, of this type, might be especially helpful for those with over-blown Battle Egos, who could benefit from a challenge.
If actual killing is necessary, it still should occur on foot, and the ‘kill’ should only be made with hands, knives, or ‘thrusting’ (not ‘throwing’) spears. All hunting laws, rules, and regulations must be followed.
Online videos demonstrate techniques on how to stalk and capture, or kill, a wide variety and size of animals.
Strive for deep awareness: I did this thing, and obtained a sense of completion.
Exercise: Taking Care of “Number one”
Like murder, public ‘territory marking’ (urination) is discouraged. It, too, is illegal and will get you arrested. Carry a plastic container containing a scented liquid, of an appropriate color, and deposit a small amount wherever you feel a need to mark your, post-victory, territory. The liquid should only be sweetened if you are diabetic.
“ Touch-a, touch-a, touch me. I wanna be sturdy.”
Exercise one: Give Yourself a Hand
Step 1: Obtain the necessary materials and cast a mould of your dominant hand, up to a few inches above your wrist. While you are casting, hold your hand in the position, as if, you are shaking another person’s hand, of the same size. Follow all safely and damage hazard precautions, including not washing-off, or dumping, any materials where they will damage plumbing.
Step 2: Optional. If you are a shooter and you own your own ‘gun’, (not ‘weapon’ here), also make a cast of your non-dominant hand, in the position as if you were about to pull the trigger on your favorite gun. This Step may be undertaken simultaneously with the previous step.
Step 3: When the mould(s) are thoroughly dry, paint it (them) with an extremely thin coat of paint which matches the skin-tone of your hands. (It’s okay here to be “thin skinned”.) Do not disrupt your fingerprints!
If anything goes “wrong” with the casting or painting process, begin again. You may remain calm or become irritated with the ‘re-do’ depending on your psychological Battle Ego needs.
Any re-dos will amplify the efficacy of this ‘touch’ Expanded Sense of Self exercise.
Step 4: Whenever you believe you have completed any exercise in this ebook, shake your ‘own’ dominant hand – literally.
[_ Step 5: For Shooters. Learn how to safely shoot with your non-dominant hand. Whenever you shoot, shoot at least one0% of your rounds with your non-dominant hand. Continue to do this until you feel your non-dominant hand is proficient enough for a ‘regular person’. At this point, you may continue, or discontinue this exercise, as you choose. _]
Attempt, unsuccessfully, to shake your moulded, non-dominant hand, in its trigger-pulling position, also with your non-dominant hand. Do this until you have been successful at non-dominant-hand shooting.
Exercise Two: The Other Kind of Decorations
If your community, or a neighboring community, puts up decorations to commemorate holidays, festivities, or occasions, actively participate in installing, removing, and storing these decorations.
Remember, this is a self-interest exercise! No deed you think of as “good” will go unpunished, psychologically. This is, essentially, a selfish exercise, for your benefit, not for the benefit of the community. If you think otherwise, you are inviting resentment and other non-beneficial emotions. If it helps to maintain this thought, only “help” with festivities, which you do not support.
Exercises which incorporate the senses of ‘smell’ and ‘taste’ as redemptive elements are included throughout this ebook.
If feelings of guilt persist for you, it may have to do with interruption or incompletion of basic drives. Try one of the following to ameliorate the olfactory and gustatory centers of your brain. It may also provide a sense of completion of the predatory act.
Alternately, if you believe c ompletely in transubstantiation, confession, and the power of forgiveness, you might participate in the appropriate religious ceremonies.
Exercise: The Human Flesh You Didn’t Eat
Step 1: Prepare a food dish which replicates the texture, smell, and taste of un-cooked human flesh. The dish can be prepared out of alternative meats or vegetable matter such as homemade seitan. It must, however, be made at home, not store-purchased.
If real meat(s) are used, the animal should not have been hunted by you. Preferably, a time-consuming and extensive search should have been conducted to locate the meat, and conducted in-person. You must not use any type of meat which you ordinarily, or customarily, consume. Exotic, unusual, or specially prepared meats may be considered.
All meats must actually be cooked (heat, or chemically) until they are safe for human consumption.
Step 2: Dining alone, eat as much, or as little, of the dish as you desire, and dispose of the remainder.
Exercise Two: A Dish Best Served Charred
Step 1: Follow the instructions of Exercise one above, but do not eat the dish.
Step 2: Outdoors, or in a well-exhausted standard oven, cook the dish until it is completely reduced to carbon (at perhaps 400 degrees fahrenheit).
Step 3: Remove the dish and allow it to cool completely.
Step 4: Dispose of the carbon residue in a manner and location of your choosing – including encasement in carbonite, a’la Han Solo.
Command of the Chain, and Superiors
Your Orders to Yourself
Orders and instructions are one area of battle, warfare, and war where written and spoken words remain important. To a greater extent, they were “recorded” in your mind and brain, in that format. They also became part of your Sense of Self in that format. Strangely enough, as you re-adjust to being a civilian and then a ‘regular person’, giving yourself spoken-aloud, to yourself, commands, or directives.
These are different than self-affirmations. It may be best if you give yourself spoken aloud, over-arching goals and objectives. These should be things you want of, and for, yourself. You may feel as if your spoken commands or directives seem to carry the tone of some superior. This is okay.
Do not look at yourself in the mirror, another person, or any representation of another person. Your self-orders should be somewhat ‘disembodied’, however, if you wish, you may audio record and play them back to yourself.
If you feel more ‘microscopic’ orders are necessary, whether or not you have decided to do them, you may read aloud the instructions for the exercises in this ebook, and hear if that helps.
Ghosts of the Expanded Sense of Self:
Hallucinations (including delusions) Part Two
No one really knows, for sure, what hallucinations are . Most psychological theories suggest they are somehow connected to completely intrapsychic personality structures and functions. Some believe that, somehow or other, hallucinations are manifestations of experiences which have been inadequately incorporated into part of the personality.
Few psychological theories of hallucinations even consider two phenomena that even most mammals possess: a sense of self, and some collective sense – herd, pride, pod, flock, family, pack, the eusocial, etc. These things are treated as if they don’t exist, have disappeared in mankind, or are not pertinent in hallucinations.
In Battle PTSD, the highly developed connectedness to, and sense of self-identification with others, is neglected.
This ebook wants to emphasize the idea that post-battle PTSD hallucinations and delusions exist in the Expanded Sense of Self. Due to rapid demobilization, this Expanded Sense of Self is ripped from the individual combatant. This becomes a form of sensory deprivation. It almost inevitably leads to a sense of depersonalization and derealization.
Warriors are left, in effect, unknowingly searching for lost aspects of themselves. Elsewhere this ebook calls this ‘trying to prove a negative’. The Warrior’s Sense of Self and deep sensorium-based emotions tell him, or her, that something exists, but searching for it reveals nothing.
Hallucinations have been called ‘primary’ when the hallucinating individual experiences the hallucination as absolutely real and having its origins completely outside the psyche of that person.
With ‘secondary’ hallucinations, the individual has some awareness (however limited), that the hallucination has something to do with them. To some extent, the individual has an awareness that the hallucination ‘comes from’ themselves.
In battle-related PTSD hallucinations, the distinction between primary and secondary hallucinations borders-on meaninglessness.
Clinical experience has shown that analyzing the of hallucinations is a very bad idea. To do so, leads to an increase in suicides. A better understanding of the of hallucinating in Battle PTSD may, however, be helpful.
Even many experienced clinicians have never encountered clients who have, what might be called, ‘positive’ command hallucinations. These positive hallucinations are most-often experienced by career criminals. They will sometimes hear a voice, or see a figure, directing them to do some ‘pro-social’ thing; or to not do some anti-social thing. (Often the voice, or figure, is someone from their childhood – such as a Grandparent.)
Clinicians with the experience of having observed positive hallucinations may be better able to appreciate how, in a war environment the expressed content of hallucinations are not so negative and not so to be feared.
Many clinicians have also not experienced, nor used, the common hypnotic techniques of inducing a beneficial hallucination or delusion. A comforting hallucinatory ‘puppy’ may be induced in a child, for example, internalized, and ‘taken home’ with the child. A discomforting emotion may also be removed, indefinitely, from a subject.
Unfortunately, for understanding the usefulness of this second type of beneficial hallucination, they are commonly called ‘negative’ hallucinations. Perhaps they should be referred to exclusively as ‘absence’ hallucinations.
With absence hallucinations, a client or subject is induced n ot to see or hear an object which is actually present. As above, the client can also be induced to not experience an emotion which the person typically experiences, such as ‘performance anxiety’, or stage-fright.
The Warrior, over an extended period of time, was induced with a prolonged, absent emotion hallucination, in a ‘total environment’. The absent emotion, of course, was ‘fear’, of varying degrees. Returned to the ‘real’ world, the induction can ‘wear-off’. What emotion now does the returned Warrior experience? Was/is there an emotion vacuum? With what now is it filled? What emotion now does the returned Warrior experience? Danger? Fear? Unreality?
What if that inchoate emotion becomes misidentified, and mislabeled, as emotion such as ‘guilt’? What if a clinician nods acknowledgement and begins to help the client deal with a non-existent but intensely felt emotion; an emotion fired by, actually appropriately denied, repressed and suppressed fear of battlefield death?
Is it appropriate to uncover and return with full intensity that fear, which Battle Ego so effectively controlled? How is that helpful? Would it be helpful to return that fear to someone suffering with another source of PTSD: rape, a violent molestation, witness to torture and mass-killing?
Lost Expanded Sense of Self Aspects of Hallucinations
Hearing a psychologically transitioning Warrior talk about being followed, or spied upon, or hearing a voice that says it is going to kill them, or tells them to kill someone else, the clinician is understandably concerned.
The hallucination can be, and usually is, seen as a paranoid projection: an aspect of self, denied by the hallucinating individual and placed exterior to the self, projected out. It can be difficult for the clinician to understand the context of war, and the dislodged Expanded Sense of Self.
In war, being hypervigilant is a big plus. Voices speaking of the need to ‘kill or be killed’ is expected; killing is a virtue. Seeing others, who other people cannot see, can save lives.
Like a world-class athlete in a team sport, feeling that one can almost hear what teammates are thinking and planning to do, almost feel their touch, the Warrior in battle almost hallucinates (through Expanded Sense of Self), in order to survive, and protect teammates.
Similarly, having one’s behaviors and thoughts controlled by some power, or force, when it is called ‘Following Orders’, probably saved the Warrior’s life, more than once.
The paradigm-shift in thinking which must be undertaken in order to understand Battle-related PTSD hallucinations, is in recognizing the Expanded Sense of Self in their origins; a sense of self forged in war.
As a species, we are ‘identity’ and ‘individuality’ snobs. The ability to smell at a distance used to connect us intimately and directly to our environment, others of our own species, and other species. An actually poor substitute was found in complex language and thought. Our true heritage, true non-egocentric ‘humanity’, was lost.
“No, we are not an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a fragment of underdone potato. There is more of the grave than the gravy about us.”
Lost elements of the Expanded Sense of Self, which training helped to grow, and Battle Ego, forged in combat, trying to re-integrate and communicate, self-to-self, this is what we are.
The various exercises throughout this ebook, are all designed to re-form and reconnect the Sense of Self and self-esteem. Ultimately,‘grounding’ these elements are what will ground hallucinations. A disconnected Sense of Self is not a natural human state.
People, now, probably aren’t spying on you, or following you. A free-floating Sense of Self may feel as if it is spying on you, following you. Using all of your senses, in the real world, to actively reconnect ‘you to you’ will help rid you of ghosts.
This is one time when talking may help with Psychological Transition Subsequent to Demobilization and, so-called, hallucinations. You, speaking aloud, in private, with your selves. Not being afraid of hallucinations, not making them more real, but naming them as, and for, the displaced parts of yourself that they are.
Even intense fear of hallucinating, and the hallucinations themselves, are, most likely, the part of yourself which became The Enemy. Fear of death formed your Battle Ego and, whether you recognize it or not, made you a superior Warrior. It also helped spread your Expanded Sense of Self.
Now displaced, Battle Ego and even Expanded Sense of Self are, almost literally, ‘you’ being your own worst enemy.
It may be best if you develop your own script with which to address your imperceptible parts of yourself, in your own words. The ideas which would go into a script, might go something like this:
“We are the now intangible, invisible, inaudible, odorless, and tasteless parts of myself, which went missing. We strive now to reattach and return.
“We are part of ‘us’.
“Although fearing ‘us’ makes ‘me’ more powerful, more alert, stronger, and more effective (physically and mentally a better Warrior) it is insupportable and unsustainable over the long run. Fear keeps us apart.
I am Thomas S. Tighe
My personal email address is: [email protected]