Acting helps soldier cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

I’m holed up here in my vacation pad (LOL) with only my Blackberry to link electronically to the blogging world. There is an interesting story in on the value of acting for overcoming PSTD. Schizophrenia is essentially post-traumatic stress disorder, except the trauma that precipitates the psychosis is the former case is usually less obvious in the latter case. There is a time and a place for acting as part of a person’s recovery. As the article states, recovery is individualistic. People have to go with what works for them. My son, Chris, was introduced to acting classes in his two year recovery program, and his psychiatrist observed that Chris really “came alive” in this class. But it was only four or five years later that Chris started to seek out activities that put him on the stage. Recovery is personal. A good approach to it is the holistic one. Try a little bit of everything.

Making a fool of the doctor and everyone else

Dr. ‘L’ had, on more than a few occasions, hinted that Chris was making a fool of him and everybody else. Was Dr ‘L’ going further by suggesting that Chris was acting? I had wondered the same thing. Yet it is difficult to reconcile that someone is acting with what seems to be a genuine inability to snap out of it. Could Chris “play” at being normal if he wanted to?

In his brilliant work The Divided Self, R. D. Laing recounts the thoughts of Joan, a recovered schizophrenic. Here, Joan addresses the word salad of supposedly meaningless things that schizophrenics say: “We schizophrenics say and do a lot of stuff that is unimportant, and then we mix important things in with all this to see if the doctor cares enough to see them and feel them.”

Laing observes, “A good deal of schizophrenia is simply nonsense, red-herring speech, prolonged filibustering to throw dangerous people off the scent, to create boredom and futility in others. The schizophrenic is often making a fool of himself and the doctor. He is playing at being mad to avoid at all costs the possibility of being held responsible for a single coherent idea or intention.”
R. D. Laing, The Divided Self (New York: Penguin, 1990), 164.