Anger and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Excerpts from the Book
Personal Experiences in Overcoming PTSD
Law Enforcement Officer
Michael Ortiz retired with severe PTSD after more than twenty years as a New York State Trooper and Drug Enforcement Agent. His more complete account of his experience with the TM program is posted in a video that can be found at the website of the David Lynch Foundation. To summarize his story, at the time he retired he was having trouble sleeping and dealing with stressful situations; he had flashbacks of his years of trauma as a trooper; he exhibited signs of paranoia; his marriage was deteriorating, and he was getting drunk and taking drugs to avoid his problems. His wife Deborah was concerned about his behavior and after many other interventions failed, Deborah and Michael started TM. Michael said:
“I tried help from every other area and didn’t get it. I was having a slide projector [reliving past traumas]. I was still craving to go get drunk. I was still having the craving to use drugs, prescription and illegal drugs. And I will be honest with you as I sit here today, with the TM it has all gone away. And I only tried TM for her [his wife Deborah].“
“We did it together [started TM], and I was just blown away. I saw light coming from his eyes that I had not seen for I don’t know how long. And I was floating on air. Since TM we actually have a future. I knew he was going through some tough stuff, and I didn’t want to walk away since I didn’t want to leave him in a place that was so dark. TM has absolutely changed our lives. It is the greatest gift we have been given.
Jace Badia is a wounded combat veteran who was severely disabled and angry, and like Michael, above, Jace couldn’t sleep well and was having marital problems.
TM’s Effect on PTSD found to Exceed the Gold Standard PET Therapy
The effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation technique in small studies on PTSD led to a major $2.4 million study on TM and PTSD funded by the Department of Defense and published in 2018 in Lancet Psychiatry, a leading scientific journal. The study was conducted by the VA San Diego Healthcare System and the Maharishi International University Research Institute. The study surprised many of the long time PTSD researchers since it compared the TM technique to Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET), which had been considered the best therapy for PTSD, and TM produced better results.
The study involved 203 veterans, most with severe PTSD symptoms. The veterans were randomly assigned to either learn the TM technique, or participate in PET, or receive health education (a total of three groups). PTSD was measured using a clinician-administered questionnaire providing what are commonly known as Clinically Administered PTSD Scores (CAPS), considered the best measurement device for PTSD. The results were that 61 percent of the TM group compared to 42 percent of the PET group had significant reductions in their CAPS scores (significant reductions in their PTSD), compared to 32 percent in the health education group. The citation for the study is Nidich, S., et al., “Non-trauma-focused meditation versus exposure therapy in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial,” Lancet Psychiatry, Vol. 5, December (2018) pp. 975-986.Other studies on TM and PTSD have made similar findings, but these were not random control studies.
TM’s Effects on PTSD Compared to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Research shows the TM effect on PTSD also compares favorably to the effects of mindfulness. A 2018 report on mindfulness stress reduction programs for PTSD mentions four PTSD random control studies. Two of these studies found no results on PTSD from mindfulness and the third and fourth studies found only temporary results that didn’t last. In the third study, mindfulness significantly reduced PTSD symptoms from the beginning of the study until the completion of treatment, but the PTSD symptoms then increased significantly from the completion of the treatment to the final assessment at a 6-week follow-up. The last of the four mindfulness stress reduction studies involved 116 veterans who were taught mindfulness meditation and also received psychological education about PTSD and its symptoms. This group was compared to group therapy. Similar to the prior study, the researchers reported that in a two-month follow-up, those in the mindfulness group were no more likely than those in group therapy to have overcome their PTSD diagnosis. The citations for these studies are; Polusny, M.A., et al., “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Veterans,” JAMA, 314(5) (2012), pp. 456-465; Sloan, D.M., et al., “Review of Group Treatment for PTSD,” Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 49, No. 5 (2012), pp. 689-702.