I would tell PTSD suffers to begin with these three things and keep them in mind if they want to make changes in their life. Thoughts, feelings and behavior. Today, the only thing you can change is your behavior, by changing your behavior over time you can change your thoughts and your feelings. The three basics incorporate values and emotion identification.
Further on the topic of the combat veteran’s value and principles, these systems have a connection to feelings and emotions or the lack thereof with one who dissociates as most PTSD sufferers do. Emotions and feelings are the arbiters of values, principles, and morality. Without emotive interaction the ethical dilemmas that keep most people in check, can get bypassed with a combat veteran’s lack of affect. The higher level processes of cognitive interaction delve into a consideration of choices and consequences, whereas the traumatized brain operates from the lower base of primitive survival systems and defensive mechanisms. A normal reaction with a non-traumatized brain would trigger an emotive response cascading into consideration of an appropriate response. Where the traumatized brain engages the primitive portion of the mind into a reflexive response forgoing the thought of repercussions.
Value identifications has importance to the combat veteran with PTSD, as their value system have been compromised by the acts of killing and war. The values and morality of war greatly conflict with society’s norms and principles. When the combat veteran brings this survival perspective home with them it alienates them from everyone who has not experienced combat, war and or trauma. Combat changes and alters the soldier’s sense of importance and trivializes niceties that lubricate society’s interactions and exchanges. Without identifying what values and what the veteran or soldier deems important they will continue to operate from the old combat values set and wonder why people do not understand them. While some will find them on the wrong side of the law.
Normal or average ways of dealing with stress before combat usually and generally was sufficient to interact in society and with family. Now that the veteran has an exaggerated anxiety and stress reflex they have become susceptible to stressors that before would not have set them off and the old coping skills have become less successful. Stress reduction is paramount to the combat veterans healing and moving beyond the fringes of insanity.
Without the combat veterans clarification of values and identification of emotions they do not take responsibility for either prior to consequences, leaving them baffled as to how they arrived in their current calamity. They cannot change the way they think or feel today, but by paying attention to their thoughts, feelings and emotions they can gage an appropriate reaction and behavior. By changing their actions today, they can change their thoughts and feelings over time.