Round window of the mind is the column about mental therapy written by doctors of Kokoronomori Shinjuku Clinic.
In March, as we are living in Tokyo, we cannot avoid remembering about traumatic events in the past, such as the Sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway (20th March 1995) and the Great East Japan Earthquake (11th March 2011). This time, I would like to write something about trauma and PTSD
PTSD; post-traumatic stress disorder was featured after the research of US Veterans from the Vietnam War. It occurs after a traumatic event that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others; such as war and terrorism, natural disaster, physical, psychological, or sexual assault, serious accidents and so on. PTSD patient presents symptoms that include hyper arousal, numbing, re-experiencing, and avoidance. Hyper arousal includes insomnia and hypersensitivity with sounds. Re-experiencing includes repeatedly having flash backs or seeing the traumatic scene in the dream. Avoidance is to avoid the places or situations that reminds, or may remind the trauma. Many researches showed evidence that medication therapy with SSRI or other anti-depressants, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), and REM (rapid eye movement) therapy are effective to PTSD.
However, there are a couple of conditions that should be distinguished from normal PTSD; complex trauma and developmental trauma. Complex trauma is a result from chronic repetitive trauma, such as captivity or entrapment in the traumatic experience. Developmental trauma reflects chronic and repetitive traumatization in childhood that has pervasive effects on the development of mind and brain.
Freud described trauma as piercing a protective shield around the mental apparatus. With this comes an emotional flooding, so that the usual discriminatory processes that protect the mind from being overwhelmed are lost. We can regard this is the first phase of the response to trauma. The patient has shock and disintegration of mental functioning. Then the second phase follows. Feeling powerful anxiety including dread, horror, persecution, and falling apart, the patient may feel desperate. Personally, I don’t think it is enough to give drugs or formalised therapy for these patients.