The Meadows Blog

By: Jerry Boriskin, PhD - Senior Fellow for The Meadows

I usually track major media articles on PTSD but I was surprised this past week when two concerned members of my weekly Viet Nam Veterans PTSD group brought the Time Magazine article: http://nation.time.com/2013/01/11/dr-peter-j-n-linnerooth-1970-2013/ . I was flattered by their concern for me and others doing the sort of work I refer to as the "Special Forces" of mental health. The late Dr. Linnerooth was not only a member of this club but a front line leader directly deployed (for five years) and in harm's way. He may have not had the proper state license, but he had a Bronze Star. I suspect the number of mental health professionals with that credential is less than .0001%.

Dr. Linnerooth followed a path that hundreds of soldiers each year seem to track. He returned from deployment, lost his marriage, lost his job and then with a bit of Jack Daniels on January 2nd, lost his life. One article depicted his death as "losing the battle". I take offense to this depiction in the same way I look at obituaries characterizing death from cancer as "losing the war against cancer". I am a cancer survivor and I can tell you survival is a function of luck in concert with great medicine and support, not willful determination, tenacity or attitude. Sure, attitude and support matters, but when the odds are overwhelming sometimes acceptance is the only productive path. The warrior metaphor is part of the problem. It is war that creates a contradiction between helplessness and illusions of complete control and expectations of responsibility.

Those who have active PTSD are what I often refer to as "control and responsibility junkies". We do not need win-lose metaphors in describing such titanic struggles. Dr. Linnerooth did not "lose"; he succumbed to a process he worked so hard to treat. He became "infected" with the direct pain of others. More poignantly, he also apparently was recruited as a makeshift medic. According to several news stories he was tortured by images and recollections of children dying slowly. Those sights, smells and sounds do not simply go into ordinary memory. They change your world view and make you less tolerant of institutions and processes that work in a more ordinary fashion. Those who develop PTSD become more adept at handling life and death crisis, but far less skilled in handling ordinary challenges, like requests or demands from employers, wives, friends or even your own children. Dr. Linnerooth apparently lost his footing, his job, his mission and his family. Whether he was genetically vulnerable to alcoholism is something we may never know, but alcohol, along with a pill bottle, a gun and PTSD make an all too lethal combination. Dr. Linnerooth did more than was expected of him; he was part of a team attempting to help far too many soldiers in combat. He did not fail in his mission. The Army, VA, the mental health community and all of us failed him- not purposely, but due to our limited vision. Our institutions are working very hard to prevent deaths like those of Dr. Linnerooth. However, we are trying to do so with bureaucratic solutions, some of which are helpful but we may be missing the mark. Soldiers and professionals carrying "invisible wounds of war" need to be understood, heard and validated. Dr. Linnerooth was trying to get us to listen. Somehow we did not hear him.

Additional articles on Dr. Linnerooth:
http://nation.time.com/2013/01/17/losing-one-of-our-own/
http://nation.time.com/2013/01/16/the-va-on-dr-peter-linnerooth/
http://mankatofreepress.com/local/x964878699/Mental-health-expert-who-helped-suicidal-soldiers-took-own-life

For more about The Meadows' innovative treatment program for PTSD and other disorders, see http://www.themeadows.com or call The Meadows at 800-244-4949.

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The Meadows Senior Fellow, John Bradshaw, presented at the Ben Franklin Institute's Brain Matters: Mindfulness, Trauma and Process Addictions Conference that was held on Sept. 27 - 29 in Atlanta, GA at The Marriot Marquis Hotel. Bradshaw conducted two workshops on "Effective Therapy: A Major Force in Enhancing Moral Development" and "How to Reduce the Reactivity and PTSD Symptoms of Childhood Trauma" on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Bradshaw is a world-famous educator, counselor, motivational speaker, television personality, author, and one of the leading figures in the fields of addiction, recovery, family systems and the concept of toxic shame. He pioneered the concept of the Inner Child, and brought the term "dysfunctional family" into the mainstream. Bradshaw has had a long association with The Meadows giving insights to staff, patients, speaking at alumni retreats and lecturing to mental health professionals at The Meadows" workshops and seminars.

The following are photos of John Bradshaw taken at the conference.

Published in Blog
Thursday, 09 August 2012 20:00

Transcending the Warrior's Silence

Several weeks ago, one of the members of my weekly Vietnam Veterans group announced that after decades of silence he initiated a discussion with his adult children about his experiences as a combat veteran. He stated that now that he better understood his PTSD, he owed it to his children to explain his emotional absence, workaholic lifestyle and his surges of anxiety and anger. His announcement had surprising power; it unleashed a strong desire for others in the group to do the same. Many had not really connected with their children for decades; some were estranged and had not spoken with them for twenty-plus years. Several members who I also work with individually were inspired and overwhelmed with how to go about speaking the unspeakable - what it's like to go to war.

With almost inspirational serendipity, a broadcast took place soon after that can assist veterans with this most challenging and powerful conversation. Bill Moyers' interview with Karl Marlantes is extremely compelling, integrative and ambitious in scope. (http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-what-its-like-to-go-to-war/)  While Marlantes has earned recognition for his first novel, Matterhorn (considered by many to be the most eloquent description of what it was like to serve as a Marine in Vietnam) - Marlantes' second book, which is the focus of the interview, goes several steps further.

Moyers asked some provocative questions, such as, "If you have killed for the rest of us, will you ever feel like one of us again?" Marlantes responded with absolute clarity and amazing honesty; he paused on one occasion and gave painful personal examples. He spoke about the transformation a soldier needs to make in order to kill others as well as how challenging the reverse road back to home life is. He speaks to his peers as well as to younger veterans. He did not hesitate to speak about mutilation, dehumanization, releasing the instincts and power of killing, the immediacy of rage, as well as the profound sadness he carries. His incredible disclosures give veterans and non-veterans an insight into the burden of being a warrior. He speaks about the spiritual shifts and he does not flinch with questions about evil.

Moyers manages to bring out a more complex and vulnerable Marlantes whose honesty is truly remarkable. Marlantes sets a high standard and provides a role model for those struggling to put words to things that have been unspeakable for too many generations. I encourage readers to watch this interview when you are feeling strong and supported, perhaps with another veteran or a trusted loved one. Whereas the interview has the power to flood you with feelings, it is also an amazing summary of one man's intense journey to break the silence. Marlantes is a highly decorated combat Marine but I think his interview and writings reflect an even higher caliber of heroism.

Jerry Boriskin, Ph.D, a Senior Fellow at The Meadows, has been at the forefront of the treatment of PTSD, addiction, and co-occurring disorders for more than 30 years. He is the author of several books, including PTSD and Addiction: A Practical Guide for Clinicians and Counselors and At Wit's End: What Families Need to Know When a Loved One is Diagnosed With Addiction and Mental Illness. For more information about Dr. Boriskin, please visit his website at http://www.jerryboriskin.com/.

For more about The Meadows' innovative treatment program for PTSD and other disorders, see http://www.themeadows.com or call The Meadows at 800-244-4949.

Published in Blog

In recognition of June as PTSD Awareness Month, The Meadows trauma and addiction treatment center in Wickenburg, Arizona, is offering discounted in-patient services through June 30, 2012.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often is associated with soldiers or police officers involved in life-threatening situations, but the disorder can be triggered by any overwhelming experience. Chances for developing it are greatest if the incident is extreme, long-lasting, or repeated over time.

Jerry Boriskin, Ph.D., a Meadows' Senior Fellow and a Senior Psychologist for the Northern California Veterans Health Care System, recently visited The Meadows Wickenburg campus to conduct a PTSD workshop for patients. According to Dr. Boriskin, PTSD never fully goes away but there are many tools to learn to live with it "and once you understand how it operates, the mystification and its almost demonic power can be tamed."

Dr. Boriskin, who has been at the forefront of the treatment of PTSD, addiction, and co-occurring disorders for more than 30 years, explained that in order to heal from PTSD, the individual needs to deal with the three S's - sleep, safety, and sobriety. What is needed, he said, is an environment that contains the addictive disorder while at the same time begins work on the post-traumatic stress disorder. He said that some systems, such as private sector, outpatient, residential, VA and non-VA, treat PTSD in a bifurcated process, which can delay healing.

"What is unique about The Meadows" program is the intent to do both at the same time; emphasizing first the sobriety and the detox, working on a recovery model that fits the individual's needs, yet at the same time beginning to look at what PTSD is about," said Dr. Boriskin. "That is an invaluable duality and simultaneity that permits more rapid progress."

To learn more about how The Meadows can help you or your loved one with PTSD or to take advantage of our limited time inpatient discount offer, contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit http://www.themeadows.com.

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Published in Blog
Thursday, 10 May 2012 20:00

Dr. Shelley Uram on Different Trauma

Dr. Shelley Uram on Different Trauma

One of America's most respected centers for treating trauma and addiction, The Meadows presents a 16-part video series, viewable on YouTube, in which Dr. Shelley Uram addresses topics ranging from family dysfunction to the benefits of Somatic Experiencing. In the installment titled "Different Trauma," the psychologist and Meadows senior fellow discusses the different types of trauma individuals can experience.

Dr. Uram first distinguishes overt trauma (which she refers to as "the big T") from covert trauma ("the little T"). While overt trauma results from large, perceivable events such as combat or natural disasters, the most extreme cases of trauma generally stem from subtler, or covert, situations that don't appear dangerous to the casual observer. To illustrate covert trauma, Dr. Uram speaks of a toddler whose mother becomes mildly depressed for a month or two. The child's survival instinct interprets his caretaker's depressed state as a significant threat to his well-being, and his developing brain locks this trauma into place. Because covert trauma forms an unconscious framework in the brain, trauma symptoms can emerge without the sufferer knowing why. Dr. Uram notes that this phenomenon makes treatment particularly challenging.


In other videos in the series, Dr. Uram shares her expertise on trauma triggers and the effects of emotional trauma on brain development, among other topics.
Shelley Uram, M.D., is a Harvard-trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist who speaks nationally and internationally on the brain's survival wiring - and how it can interfere with modern life. As a senior fellow at The Meadows, Dr. Uram conducts patient lectures and trains staff members. She also serves as a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at The University of Arizona College of Medicine, and she treats patients in her Phoenix office.

The Meadows' video series also includes interviews with other prominent figures in the mental health field, including John Bradshaw and Maureen Canning; see www.youtube.com/themeadowswickenburg.  To learn more about The Meadows' innovative treatment program for trauma and other disorders, visit wwww.themeadows.org or call 800-244-4949.
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