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The Value of Mental Pictures

How One Woman Fights PTSD With Guided Imagery

Illustration Credit: Creatress by Janine Jackson

Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) turn me into an involuntary time traveler. I look like a middle-aged woman but I feel like a terrified child. I will myself to make coffee, drive carpool, and finish work while under siege. It’s my own mind I’m battling, amped up on adrenalin or flattened by excruciating numbness. I’ve tried sitting meditation to regain control, but it is as effective as hitting the brakes when the car hydroplanes. My tires need traction. I don’t want to be one with crashing.“No one has to override fear the way a trauma survivor does,” explains Belleruth Naparstek, author of Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal. In sitting meditation, the “mind can suddenly release intensely distressing images and memory fragments.” That’s certainly what happens for me.Naparstek, the godmother of guided imagery, is a therapist and now an advocate for people with PTSD. She has become my go-to resource because her audios are customized with words, music, and content sensitive to trauma. She believes not only that trauma is manageable, but that it can be healed.“You just h …

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