PTSD relief without drugs

A recent American Thinker article by Larry Alton, "get serious about PTSD," is right on the mark.  Most V.A. and DoD programs have not produced significant results, and they use drugs.  Is it possible that the drug companies are part of the problem?

Four years ago, I became aware of work being done to treat the most significant PTSD problem: chronic nightmares.  Dr. Frank Bourke, a prominent psychologist and founder of Research and Recognition Project, had been using a neurolinguistic protocol called Reconsolidating of Traumatic Memories (RTM) to treat PTSD patients.  His method teaches the patients to distance themselves from the emotional part of the incident or incidents causing the chronic nightmares, lack of focus, and irrational behavior.  He told me he does this usually in three hour-and-a-half sessions, a day apart.  Sounds like snake oil, right?


Photo via Flickr.

Our Blue Angels Foundation supports the Warrior Foundation in San Diego.  This terrific group of volunteers provides assistance to the Naval Hospital and also facilities for those warriors needing a transition after receiving a medical discharge.  Many of these warriors have PTSD.  After talking with Dr. Bourke, we flew him out to San Diego to treat two of these warriors and see for ourselves.  

We put them all up in a hotel for three days.  Each one received an hour-and-a-half session with Dr. Bourke each day.  At the end of the last session, I had a video conference with each warrior.  Both had been having nightmares to the point where it was seriously affecting their lives, one to the point where he was considering suicide.  

I asked them how they had slept the night before.  One of them told me just fine.  The other said not too much.  I asked, "Why?"  He told me he had so much sleep after the first session the previous night that he didn't need much last night!

Both of them told me the treatment at the hospital had been a bag full of drugs, which they didn't want.  I chatted with each individually for about ten minutes and became convinced that there clearly was something there.

Dr. Bourke's group had completed a clinical replication study sponsored by New York State with a 96% success rate.  In order to get this "snake oil" treatment into mainstream medicine, it would be necessary to conduct a number of clinical trials.  Our Blue Angels Foundation took on the challenge of raising money to jump-start this process.  With the help of an old successful former Navy fighter pilot and a connection with the National Association of Surety Bond Producers, we quickly raised the quarter of a million dollars to fund the clinical trial of thirty warriors in the San Diego area.  The success rate was similar: well over 90% even after short term, six- and twelve-month follow-up. 

That clinical replication study was followed by thirty women with almost the same great results.  By the way, this RTM treatment also flushes out those who may be taking advantage of PTSD for monetary gain.  This was followed by another replication study of 75 patients with similar results.  In the last year, neurological studies have used EEG, pre- and post-treatment, at the Mind Research Network in New Mexico.  This method, conducted by Dr. Jeff Lewine, clearly shows, using EEG methodology, the presence of PTSD before treatment and the absence post-treatment.

The V.A. and Walter Reed Hospital are now beginning to embrace the RTM protocol, but there is still a long way to go.  As the AT article by Larry Alton pointed out, 7-8% of the general population will have PTSD at some time.  For combat veterans, the numbers are much higher.  Somewhere between 11 and 20 percent of veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 12 percent of Gulf War veterans, and 15 percent of Vietnam War veterans suffer from PTSD in a given year.

Government acceptance of the RTM protocol must be recognized and centers for training the trainers established.  Once this is done, the RTM protocol should be made available in most areas of the country.

H. Denny Wisely is a rear admiral of the United States Navy, retired.

A recent American Thinker article by Larry Alton, "get serious about PTSD," is right on the mark.  Most V.A. and DoD programs have not produced significant results, and they use drugs.  Is it possible that the drug companies are part of the problem?

Four years ago, I became aware of work being done to treat the most significant PTSD problem: chronic nightmares.  Dr. Frank Bourke, a prominent psychologist and founder of Research and Recognition Project, had been using a neurolinguistic protocol called Reconsolidating of Traumatic Memories (RTM) to treat PTSD patients.  His method teaches the patients to distance themselves from the emotional part of the incident or incidents causing the chronic nightmares, lack of focus, and irrational behavior.  He told me he does this usually in three hour-and-a-half sessions, a day apart.  Sounds like snake oil, right?


Photo via Flickr.

Our Blue Angels Foundation supports the Warrior Foundation in San Diego.  This terrific group of volunteers provides assistance to the Naval Hospital and also facilities for those warriors needing a transition after receiving a medical discharge.  Many of these warriors have PTSD.  After talking with Dr. Bourke, we flew him out to San Diego to treat two of these warriors and see for ourselves.  

We put them all up in a hotel for three days.  Each one received an hour-and-a-half session with Dr. Bourke each day.  At the end of the last session, I had a video conference with each warrior.  Both had been having nightmares to the point where it was seriously affecting their lives, one to the point where he was considering suicide.  

I asked them how they had slept the night before.  One of them told me just fine.  The other said not too much.  I asked, "Why?"  He told me he had so much sleep after the first session the previous night that he didn't need much last night!

Both of them told me the treatment at the hospital had been a bag full of drugs, which they didn't want.  I chatted with each individually for about ten minutes and became convinced that there clearly was something there.

Dr. Bourke's group had completed a clinical replication study sponsored by New York State with a 96% success rate.  In order to get this "snake oil" treatment into mainstream medicine, it would be necessary to conduct a number of clinical trials.  Our Blue Angels Foundation took on the challenge of raising money to jump-start this process.  With the help of an old successful former Navy fighter pilot and a connection with the National Association of Surety Bond Producers, we quickly raised the quarter of a million dollars to fund the clinical trial of thirty warriors in the San Diego area.  The success rate was similar: well over 90% even after short term, six- and twelve-month follow-up. 

That clinical replication study was followed by thirty women with almost the same great results.  By the way, this RTM treatment also flushes out those who may be taking advantage of PTSD for monetary gain.  This was followed by another replication study of 75 patients with similar results.  In the last year, neurological studies have used EEG, pre- and post-treatment, at the Mind Research Network in New Mexico.  This method, conducted by Dr. Jeff Lewine, clearly shows, using EEG methodology, the presence of PTSD before treatment and the absence post-treatment.

The V.A. and Walter Reed Hospital are now beginning to embrace the RTM protocol, but there is still a long way to go.  As the AT article by Larry Alton pointed out, 7-8% of the general population will have PTSD at some time.  For combat veterans, the numbers are much higher.  Somewhere between 11 and 20 percent of veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 12 percent of Gulf War veterans, and 15 percent of Vietnam War veterans suffer from PTSD in a given year.

Government acceptance of the RTM protocol must be recognized and centers for training the trainers established.  Once this is done, the RTM protocol should be made available in most areas of the country.

H. Denny Wisely is a rear admiral of the United States Navy, retired.