Symtoms of PTSD: Avoidance (Part 1)

Google the initialism “PTSD” and you will quickly find that the symptoms of this disorder are most commonly grouped into three categories: 1) re-experiencing, 2) avoidance, and 3) hyperarousal.

The second category has been on my mind a lot recently. Avoidance can be an effective coping strategy, but when taken to the extreme it is debilitating. Here is an analogy my therapist made today:

Let's say that someone eats something that has a raw egg in it and gets food poisoning. Because of that experience, this person decides that in order to keep himself safe he is never going to eat food again. End result: he dies.

This man did what he could to keep himself safe. His logic was flawed, obviously, because he overgeneralized. Food itself was not the problem. It was the improper preparation (or misuse) of the food. All he needed to do was avoid the improperly prepared food, not food altogether!

I have done the same thing with the word and concept “love.” I avoid saying and thinking that word; I can barely bring myself to type it in quote marks. I avoid people or discussions that use that word frequently. I avoid reading about God's only begotten son who embodies that word in its purest form because I overgeneralize. I am the food-poisoned man … except that I'm not a man and I don't have a problem with food.

More on this topic soon….