Monday, November 16, 2009

Department of Why How We Look at Things Matters

Once a year, in the weeks before Thanksgiving, I go to the local knife-sharpener to get my knives sharpened. The knife-sharpener is a vet with PTSD, and he knows I'm a therapist. He remembers my first name, every year. He remembers that I see children. Sometimes he remembers that I see both children and adults. He often doesn't remember that my clinical specialty is treating complex PTSD. He didn't remember that today.

In the course of today's conversation, I mentioned that one of the worst misconceptions that people in the military had/have about how to treat PTSD was and is the belief that no one can treat combat PTSD unless they have been in combat. Which is dead wrong. Brain surgeons treat brain problems without having to have those problems themselves. Clinicians don't need to have PTSD (or to have had) successfully to treat people who have PTSD.

My point here is not about PTSD, it's about the weight of thoughts.

How stubborn clinging to beliefs in itself is enough to alter our behavior. In this case, this thought, this single thought stuck inside this person's head, is enough to keep him -- and so many others like him -- from receiving the assistance toward healing they say they wish for.

Remarkable instance of cause and effect.

So, in honor of the knife-sharpener's lost-lasting pre-conceptions, and acknowledging the causal power of immaterial thought to successfully produce effects in the material world, I toast to increased awareness and flexibility of mind.

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