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Buddhist Approach to PTSD - Diversity Practice Approach

Buddhist Approach to PTSD - Diversity Practice Approach

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Published by iceman
Glenda Ruder currently working to obtain her master's degree in Clinical Social Work at Highland's University in Albuquerque, NM has chosen to look at the theoretic approach of Buddhism; which is considered not only a religion but a philosophical approach as well. Throughout the paper she explores how the Buddhist approach views mental illness particularly with the population of people
affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Glenda Ruder currently working to obtain her master's degree in Clinical Social Work at Highland's University in Albuquerque, NM has chosen to look at the theoretic approach of Buddhism; which is considered not only a religion but a philosophical approach as well. Throughout the paper she explores how the Buddhist approach views mental illness particularly with the population of people
affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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Published by: iceman on Nov 09, 2009
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Diversity Practice ApproachBuddhist Approach to PTSD
 November 2009
 By Glenda Ruder currently working to obtain her master's degree in Clinical Social Work at  Highland's University in Albuquerque, NM. This paper was written in response to a Diversity Practice Approach assignment in a course entitled Advanced Multicultural Practice.
 I have chosen to look at the theoretic approach of Buddhism; which is considered notonly a religion but a philosophical approach as well. Throughout the paper I will be exploringhow the Buddhist approach views mental illness particularly with the population of peopleaffected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.Buddhism is a religion that was started by Siddhartha Gautama approximately 26centuries ago in nowadays Nepal and northeastern India (O’Brien, 2009). Siddhartha Gautamawas born a prince and was married at the age of 16. At this time he began to grow restless of the palace life and soon traveled outside of the palace walls. Every trip outside palace walls herecognized human suffering; such as: sickness, old age and death (A View on Buddhism, 2009).On his fourth trip, he saw a wandering monk who had given up everything he owned to seek anend to suffering. "I shall be like him." Siddhartha thought (Instilling Goodness School). Fromhere Siddhartha studied with many different teachers. He mastered the art of meditation (the artof no-thingness), and meditative absorption (focusing on“the state of neither perception nor non- perception”) (A View on Buddhism, 2009). After mastering these two techniques he still did notfeel that he was any closer to finding an end to suffering. Continuing on; Siddhartha came to a place called Bodhgaya in Northern India; while sitting under a Bodhi-tree he decided not to getup until he discovered the truth. A short time later, he became a fully enlightened Buddha (A
 
View on Buddhism, 2009). Siddhartha Gautama came to be known as “the Buddha” meaningthe “awakened one” after experiencing a profound realization of the nature of life, death andexistence (O’Brien, 2009). After this realization Buddha began sharing his teachings. TheBuddha once summarized his entire teachings in one sentence: “I teach about suffering and theway to end it” (A View on Buddhism, 2009). His teachings were called the dharma, which heand his followers set out to spread throughout India.During his enlightenment; Buddha came to three truths in which his teachings were basedoff of. The first truth is that nothing is lost in the universe. This is a theory of all things beinginter- connected; everything has purpose. A dead leaf turns into soil (Instilling GoodnessSchool). The second universal truth of the Buddha is that everything is continuously changing.Life is like a river flowing on and on, ever-changing. It is smooth and gentle in some places, butlater on snags and rocks crop up out of nowhere (Instilling Goodness School). Unexpectedthings continually happen and you cannot predict what will happen in life. The third universaltruth explained by the Buddha is that there are continuous changes due to the law of cause andeffect. This is the same law of cause and effect found in every modern science textbook (Instilling Goodness School). The idea of Karma is derived from this universal truth. Energyand things that you put into the universe are the origins for what comes to you in life.The Buddhist perspective perceives the mentally ill as those who become disconnected totheir environment and the world around them. In order to heal mentally ill through the Buddhist perspective the issue needs to be looked at as a societal issue rather than an individual one.Emotional suffering and mental distress may be a universal experience, but the ways theymanifest are unique from place to place (Duerr, 2009). A socially engaged Buddhist perspective
 
will lead us to inquire about our obligation to treat not only the person but also the environmentthat has contributed to the conditions that create suffering (Duerr, 2009). Healing mentally illwithin the Buddhist perspective focuses on attention to the mind, body, and environment asopposed to medicinal based interventions. Thich Nhat Hanh writes in
The Path of Compassion
 (1995): 
Restoring mental health does not mean simply adjusting individuals tothe modern world of rapid economic growth. The world is ill, and ada-ting to an ill environment cannot bring real mental health….Psychiatrictreatment requires environmental change and psychiatrists must partic-ipate in efforts to change the environment, but that is only half the task.The other half is help individuals be themselves, not by helping themadapt to an ill environment, but by providing them the strength to changeit. To tranquilize them is not the Way. The explosion of bombs, the burn-ing of napalm, the violent death of our neighbors and relatives, the pres-sure of time, noise, and pollution, the lonely crowds-these have all beencreated by the disruptive course of our economic growth. They are allsources of mental illness, and they must be ended.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as severe recurrent emotional anxietyreactions that originate from an intense and traumatic experience. A trauma occurs when there isa combination of sensory and emotional overload that cannot be processed and integrated intothe psyche. A war scenario provides many intense visual, auditory and contextual stimuli that arecompletely foreign to the average person, as does sexual abuse, rape or witnessing a car accident(Strong, 2009). PTSD is a significant health risk for many that are afflicted by it in the UnitedStates. Because the symptoms of anxiety and PTSD are a result of internal thoughts that bringabout physiological change, it is important to seek out the type of therapy that will foster animprovement in health. Using Buddhist-styled therapy, one, can learn to approach and embracethe challenges in life and manage the thoughts while understanding that challenges and sufferingare normal and that life’s circumstances will only improve (Cadena, 2008).

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