Ted Talks: We Train Soldiers For War Let’s Train Them To Come Home Too, Hector Gracia
Hector Gracia is a psychologist who has been focusing on the sufferings caused by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition common in US veterans, for the last 10-years. In his recent address, at a TED Talk event, he outlined that the science behind PTSD has only recently become clear. Conventionally, psychologists had been placing several veterans on heavy drugs, hospitalizing them or giving them generic group therapy. At some cases, patients were just told to go home and forget about their experiences. However, Mr. Gracia pointed out that the condition can be cured, as research has showed that the symptoms can be eliminated.
Mr. Gracia went on to claim that the training required for this treatment, is much like the training given to military personnel, in times of war. He further pointed out that as humans, we are good at making war, preparing for war and being well equipped to fight a war. Unfortunately, we do not prepare our personnel to return home. Mr. Gracia also pointed out that the need to learn how to come back from a war, was not necessary until the recent past. He claimed that veterans often find it difficult to quickly transition between facing life threatening situations and relaxing at home, which is often the case.
The psychologist pointed out cognitive therapy as the first solution, which is a kind of mental re-calibration. He pointed out that when veterans return from war, they are framing the world around them as a very dangerous environment, which is quite often not so. This tends to make veterans worry about the dangers that are not there. The other treatment is exposure therapy, which works by placing the patients in uncomfortable positions. The exercises tend to make the patient anxious and feel less secure, but given the military background of most PTSD sufferers, they do not tend to quit easily. Moreover, the therapy can be also used to expose sufferers to memories of hostile situations, from their time away. This tends to make their mind used to the memories, significantly lowering the frequency of nightmares.