Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as:
an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.
Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events.
Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.
The symptoms of PTSD as listed by NIMH are as follows:
1. Re-experiencing symptoms:
* Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
* Bad dreams
* Frightening thoughts.
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.
2. Avoidance symptoms:
* Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
* Feeling emotionally numb
* Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
* Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
* Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.
3. Hyperarousal symptoms:
* Being easily startled
* Feeling tense or “on edge”
* Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.
More than a few of these symptoms are familiar to me from my childhood, which has always had a lot of blank spots in it. I have also heard from many psychic people and met a few who have described some of these symptoms to me or displayed them. This got me to thinking that perhaps there is a connection here.
Perhaps not all of the characteristics that psychic people display can be attributed solely to the factors that makes us psychic. Perhaps we are experiencing sufficient trauma during childhood to trigger lifelong patterns associated with PTSD and this is so common in psychic people that it appears to be the norm.
My theory is that it is actually quite difficult to prevent PTSD in psychic children. The extremely high sensitivity to emotions, the inability to shut out the noise of the world and utter ignorance of the rest of the world with regards to this sensitivity virtually guarantees that the psychic child will be subjected to stresses way beyond the child’s ability to cope. A psychic child may get PTSD simply by being shouted at or being in the presence of a lot of anger or any number of other ways. Things that an ordinary child would be able to cope with, the psychic child would struggle with.
For example: A child who could hear twice or three times as well as normal and perceived sounds to be at least twice as loud as normal would find him/herself overwhelmed at the sheer volume and amount of noise he/she had no choice but to endure and because no one else experiences this, the cause of the child’s problems would go undetected. The anti social behavior, the powerful need to be alone and the quietness would all be attributed to other factors. The child would have no way of knowing that other people simply couldn’t hear as well. He/she would find that some tasks that should be routine and ordinary were in fact, extraordinarily difficult. The child would likely come to the conclusion that they were somehow at fault and were a failure and feel guilt at not being able to perform as expected. Classic PTSD stuff.
For years growing up I had the sense that I had experienced a very traumatic event that I was blocking and spent years trying to find out what that was. Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that such an event does not actually exist in my past. My childhood was certainly chaotic with a lot of moving and my parents divorcing when I was five or six, and I was routinely tortured by my older brother, but I didn’t feel like these things totally accounted for the paralyzing fear that I experienced. Not surprisingly, my parents were sensitive people themselves, quickly dropping corporal punishment as a bad idea even though they had both grown up with it. My father was not in denial about his own sensitivity and recognized it in me early on. My mother was open about psychic stuff as well. They have always been clear about the fact that they love me. No alcoholism, no drugs, no mental diseases either.
So why would I feel like I had experienced so much trauma? Ordinarily, I would chalk it up to a personal experience, but it is the fact that other psychic people exhibit similar problems, problems that also look a lot like PTSD, that I wonder if the high sensitivity has something to do with it. Perhaps the normal events of life are simply so traumatic to the highly sensitive child, along with finding some ordinary tasks, such as trying to fit in with large groups of children at school that feelings of guilt and failure are almost inevitable.
Perhaps as psychic people we are not necessarily prone to depression and unhappiness as a result of being psychic, but rather undiagnosed and untreated PTSD. I can say from personal experience that having worked through a lot of my fears over the years with the help of my wife, I don’t experience depression anymore. I do not carry the fear and guilt like I used to because I’ve come to understand who I am and what my limitations are.
I think it is important to not only understand the differences of psychic people, but also to understand the ramifications of those differences. Mental health is a big deal to people who live in their heads. If we can begin to understand what is happening, we can begin to unravel the knots and find out what a happy and healthy psychic person acts like.
Right now, I don’t think anyone knows.