Hypervigilance. Exaggerated startle response. Easily irritated or on edge. Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma. Increased arousal making it difficult to sleep, concentrate, relax, or find stillness. These are all symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder typically associated with directly experiencing or witnessing death, near death, severe injury, or the threat of a traumatic event that could result in death, near death, or severe injury to oneself or others. Are we now living in an age of total transparency through the social mirror of technology with non-stop streaming of videos and exposure to social media and news stories of violence or the threat of violence? If the nation in the 1980’s was marked by narcissism, the 1990’s by borderline personality disorder, the 2000’s by Bipolar Disorder, we may very well be in the age of PTSD Nation. #ptsdnation
PTSD is typically reserved for those who literally witnessed first-hand severely traumatic experiences where death or serious injury and the emotions and images of such events are seared into one’s conscious and subconscious causing significant impairment in major areas of life functioning. However, it is common to see videos go viral where rape, murder, executions, and suicide are disseminated in an instant to the masses into the palm of their hands, onto their laps, and into our living rooms – woven into the fabric of our every day life. It is no surprise that, coinciding with the rise in exposure to traumatic images and stories on a daily basis, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey and Trauma-Informed Care are being routinely incorporated into our healthcare system from community centers, to clinics, to primary care settings, and in our hospitals.
It was a few years ago that I read the classic book by the exquisite spiritual entertainer Alan Watts called “The Wisdom of Insecurity“. The subtitle of the book is “A Message for an Age of Anxiety” and the 30 year anniversary edition has a forward by Deepak Chopra, MD which clearly states that the book’s message is even more relevant today than in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It may come as no surprise, or great surprise, that if we are indeed living in PTSD Nation, then the hope of recovery and collective growth or potential awakening may be at hand. The power of presence may spring forth from the overload of modern life. I’ll keep doing my part for myself and for others. Thank you for reading.