The old glass half empty versus glass half full is an overused phrase but most overused phrases become so because they are both succinct and apt–as is this particular tome of truth.  So often we look at life, emotional distress, and healing from a glass half empty vantage point and in doing so we short change ourselves and our own capacity to find healing and wellness in our minds, hearts, and spirits.

I spoke in my 10 Words of Inspiration for 2010 post about the word “neuroplasticity” which is defined as the brain’s ability to CHANGE.  What a fascinating and optimistic truism of neurobiology that we, as humans, have been privileged to discover.  And what wonderful hope this truth can bring in life and healing if we choose to see it.

I was made privy on Sunday, via a facebook link, about a post from May 2009 by Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “Paging Dr. Gupta” blog, medical correspondent for CNN.  He was asked whether there is healing from PTSD and his opinion, I believe more personal than medical, dictated that there was no full healing from PTSD and that it was a constant, lifelong struggle just to manage.  I felt provoked, by the certitude of his assertion to leave the following comment on this post  that I think describes in full my vantage point on the matter (as old as the post was it was just too in my core to say something):


It is always a difficult thing as a survivor of trauma and sufferer from PTSD to tell your story. Thank you Dr. Gupta for doing that–it takes much bravery and internal strength. I think, also, that it is hard when you are in the immediate throes of traumatic experience and the aftermath of PTSD to see outside of it–very understandably so. I remember sitting on the side of traumatic experience where I thought there could be no relief or release and unable to find anyone that would insinuate otherwise. It is, again, so understandable to be so deep inside the pain of trauma and not yet in on a path of reprieve and healing that it is hard to imagine real healing or reprieve is possible.

I am a trauma therapist who has worked extensively with combat veterans, survivors of sexual trauma, sufferers of domestic violence, war torture and a variety of other traumatic issues to include chronic illness, eating disorders, and addictions. I have also integrated an extensive amount of mindfulness practices, mind/body techniques, yoga methods, animal-bond therapies and creative arts to facilitate healing in my own recovery as a trauma survivor over the years and in present-day in the lives of my clients. I have found that a multitude of approaches can facilitate a great amount of healing even to the point of being curative in most respects.

Can things be triggering to a person with traumatic history? Yes. But that does not PTSD make. PTSD is misunderstood so often and in that there are a lot of professionals and survivors alike giving themselves or their clients these, as I call them, “terminal PTSD diagnosis”. Telling people with PTSD that they have it forever, there is no way out, is beyond demoralizing it is minimizing a human’s ability to heal or (as we have learned from the study of neuroplasticity in the brain) the brain’s capacity, neurologically, to CHANGE ITSELF.

We learn survival response in overload during traumatic experience and when it gets “stuck” PTSD ensues. PTSD is a cluster of sever symptoms that equal up to a disorder by definition. We are all effected by the things that happen in our lives and painful experience leaves a mark. We cannot erase the existence of traumatic experience from our memories but there is possibility to heal the traumatic response and that stuckness of the survival mechanism so that one is not diagnostically, by definition, a sufferer of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Are there moments we are reminded of painful experience? Yes. Are there moments that might trigger that memory? Yes. But we also have a way to pull ourselves out–body, mind, and spirit–of the PTSD of trauma and live a healthful life. I have done this and I work to help others do the same daily as a trauma therapist. I believe in neuroplasticity, the brain’s capacity to change and essentially heal itself back to repair. I believe in all of our abilities to find our own resilience and wellness. These things are not easy and there is a process but I will not tell my clients that their PTSD is terminal–this was not true for me and I don’t believe it has to be true for others.

All my best wishes, prayers, and hopes for healing to all those suffering from PTSD and to yourself Dr. Gupta–I believe in your potential to heal and find wellness!

Teresa Bennett Pasquale, LCSW

I figured that my comment would go into the blogosphere oblivion and then today I received the following email from Emily Van Horn, a somatic and energy bodywork professional from Santa Monica, California:

SUBJECT: thank you!

FROM: Emily Van Horn

Hello Teresa,
I just wanted to say thank you so much for your comment to Dr. Gupta.  As a trauma healing practitioner myself, I was appalled when reading that post that someone in such a position of “authority” would promote the mis conception that people can only manage their symptoms but can’t ever heal from PTSD.  I see the opposite of that on a daily basis in my own healing practice.

I wrote a comment that was never posted so it’s a relief to see that your was.  Again, thank you for taking the time to share your truth and help dispel the misinformation that is being promoted about the human capacity to heal from traumatic experiences.

many blessings,

I had been discussing earlier that day with my friend and co-professional Michele Rosenthal over at Heal My the impact a survivor and trauma professional’s voice can have when leant to the prospects and hopes for a healing journey.  That is why I started all the work I have, am trying (slowly) to write the memoir of my trauma experience and healing journey and created my website to expand people’s vantage points of potential angles and paths to healing.  Then there are the days I wonder if I am shouting into an abyss with only my own echo.  I know we all have those days.  Yesterday, on all fronts was not one of those days.  From the wonderful comments I got from people on my Karma-Infuse Your Life post to the wonderful surprise of an email from Emily  (LOOK FOR UPCOMING INTERVIEW WITH EMILY) I really felt as though my dreams, hopes, and personal journey of healing had some purpose and place as I shout into the void with my voice and my story.

My hope for everyone is HOPE.  A hope for healing.  A hope for peace.  A hope for a CHANGE OF MIND–as neuroplasticity tells us is possible for all of us with the right amount of effort.  See what we can do when we just try.  I tell my clients that all the time and they surprise themselves with proving that truism for themselves.  I hope for the hope of healing for Dr. Sanjay Gupta and all of the readers of his writing about trauma and all those who have not found the own healing properties and resources in their own minds, hearts, and spirits.  IT is there.  I believe in that.