Ecstasy And War Resistant PTSDby Michael Patrick Brewer on Aug. 16, 2010, under Life, Veteran Legislative Update, Veterans Benefits, Veterans Events, Veterans Global, Veterans' Spouses, Partners & Families
Combat veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters of war are set for some new excitement–Ecstasy! Retro man!
Recently the FDA has approved the use of Ecstasy, on a trial basis coupled with ongoing psychotherapy, for the treatment of resistant forms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Some say this experiment is a step forward in the treatment of PTSD. Au contraire, says me and a handful of my combat veteran pals; all of whom experience chronic PTSD and have been beneficiaries of alternative treatment programs sans the pharmaceutical cafeteria.
The Denver VA appears to be the premiere location for the administration of this new zapping treatment. The premise is that the conventional treatment regimens of anti-depressants, psychotherapy and support groups have expired their usefulness. I am not a scientist, but I had plenty of science course work in Nursing School to question both the leaps of logic and the lack of scrutiny with the variables involved with pills, psychologists and the people involved in the support groups. For brevity, lets call this the PPP approach to treatment.
I have something to say about the spiritual dimension of the wounded warrior, which is outside the parameters of drugs and Doc’s, but I will reserve that for last.
As for the variables, pills are intended to ameliorate the symptoms of a condition so as to peel back the behavioral and bio-chemical roadblocks to our insight into the core causes of the initial imbalance. The pills are a means to an end, not the cure.
The current claim in the use of Ecstasy is that the initial results are excellent. So how long is “initial?” And do the families of the veterans report the same results?
Timothy Leary, Dr. Richard Alpert and Dr. Albert Hofman reported some dramatic results with the use of LSD in the early 60′s. The theory that you can re-boot the brain and create a clean slate with Ecstasy is identical to the hypothesis of the early apostles of LSD. Its proponents included the former OSS officer turned spy; Captain Afred Hubbard, the Johnny Appleseed of LSD, Richard Helms, CIA Director, Major General William Creasy, chief officer of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps,Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, chief of CIA Technical Service Staff who ran the ran the super secret MK-Ultra program in the 1950′s. Much of the testing was conducted and financed by millionaire William Mellon Hithcock at the Millbrook Estate in New York. These men were of the ilk that you had to “blow your mind to know your mind.” Essentially clearing the slate,(temporary amnesia), so that new programing could occur. Ergo, the reason for its potential use in International espionage work. These men also spoke of the use of LSD for the cure of a myriad of brands of mental conditions. The revolution and abuse of this drug that followed was not their intent. Can history repeat itself with the use of Ecstasy?
There are tomes of documents to read about the use of mind altering chemicals by the Department of the Army and the CIA. My observations are of a different order as they relate they relate to the use of powerful chemicals in treatment programs for our returning combatants. However there is clearly an uncanny and alarming similarity to the experiments with LSD with our soldiers at the Presidio in the early 1970′s.
Back to the variables and the experimentation that is required to determine the efficacy of any treatment program. Keep in mind that experimentation and diligent examination of variables takes time. Time is money to the Veterans Administration. And drugs cost a ton of money,(except the ones from Canada). PTSD is diagnosed as a chronic condition, meaning the time line for the medications for a veteran could be decades. The motivation for a “zapper” drug is quite high. Just when some of the variables are being worked out for other drugs.
By example, the use of Prazosin, which once went by the name of Mini-Press and was marketed for high blood pressure, has now become one the vogue drugs of choice for the treatment of PTSD. It has been discovered to remedy many of the hyper-vigilant symptoms of PTSD and somehow abates the bizzaro dreams and nightmares embedded in the brain of the combat soldier. That took time–easily decades to come to that scientific conclusion, inclusive of longitudinal studies and reports back from the veteran community. The VA does not have that kind of time in the budget, particularly when we remain to be the Star Wars protectorate of the galaxy.
We are an instant gratification nation, with low tolerance for pain, both psychological and financial. The drive to find a “Lourdes” like cure for the ravages of war is at the genesis of the use of Ecstasy. Its efficacy and value will soon be known, yet I suggest that we remain vigilant with a prejudice, as there is a truckload of social engineering occurring as we sleep. To many, a medicated America is a safe America. Look out Second Ammendmenter’s, your bullet casings may have an aerosol!
Note, that I said nothing about the potency of Ecstasy. It may well be the elixir of day. I am just making a siren caveat emptor call to be reminded of the widespread availability of alternative treatment programs for PTSD that do not fall in the zapper column and whose efficacy is known. They are not driven or guided by the Pharmaceutical industry. Watch closely the stock in the manufacturer of Ecstasy. With our luck the Chinese will buy the company! Headline; China has cure for American Soldiers.
But my final musing is about the true nature of PTSD. It is first and foremost a violation of the soul. The bio-chemical stuff is secondary.
“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are” Talmud
War at its root is an agent of negation. Our bodies and minds as warriors are the primary weapons of mass destruction. They need to be to survive. I was once one of those lean, mean, killing machines perfectly honed to warrior perfection by the Marine Corps. There is some conflicting Catholic guilt in the admission that I liked it, as I was always in the service of God, Country and Corps. However, when the show is over, the reconciling of love and death is a daily chore and a balancing act that takes decades of practice.
War remains encased in the barbed wire heart for many a moon. War enslaves your imagination,(the Soul), in a bunker that no pill can penetrate. It is our soul that seeks love and intimacy. It is my body that was trained to kill. They need to re-unite. No pill can accomplish this. No pill can touch the heartstrings like some of the Native American rituals that know well the travels of the soul. Curiously, the VA uses many of the ceremonies of the Lakota Sioux in their treatment programs.
The Natives knew well that the terror of war makes the soul flee from the body. It is too dangerous to stay, so the soul leaves and gets stuck somewhere. I am not so sure that Ecstasy is the agent of the reunification of the soul and the body.
So, before trying the snap, crackle, pop of Ecstasy, I would suggest reversing the order of your existential triage. Try some of the Retreat programs first. Many are free.
Plato spoke of soul as the seat of imagination. Attend a Retreat tailored for combat veterans and let your imagination run wild with fellow veterans. There is a high probability that you will experience your soul hopping back in your body, in the safe and secure environment of combat weary veterans. The validation of this collective experience exceeds any session with a non-combat psychologist or intern; (one of the variables).
To me, ecstasy, is the gut level laughing, crying and pain releasing roaring of battle buddies gathered together for the “soul” purpose of transcending our war.
I am not so sure that God wants us to forget war. What would that soul look like?
Resource: Merritt Center Veteran Program/ Basic Training For Life
Merritt Retreat Center. Payson, Az. 800-414-9880– 928-474-4268