Military Personnel Returning to Civilian Life within the Spectrum of Connection / Disconnection

Living Life Within the Continuum of Connection / Disconnection: How Do We Help Military Personnel Return to Civilian Life More Effectively?

Humans long for connection. Part of the human condition, however, seems to involve periods of feeling “disconnected,” or, less than ideally connected to that which is beyond ourselves and our singular experience. Whether these periods of feeling “disconnected” are momentary or lengthy, they are most commonly experienced as disconcerting, disturbing, unnerving. Many, who recognize that they are indeed feeling less than ideally connected to life beyond themselves in any given moment, will make comments amidst their experience such as: “Something feels off. I don’t feel good. I don’t feel very grounded. I feel depressed. I can’t do this or it [whatever “it” is] alone. I have no energy. I have so much to do but all I want to do is lay down and take a nap. I don’t know what’s wrong.” People rarely say with clarity, recognition and self awareness : “I feel disconnected right now. I need more connection to help me get done all I need to get done.”

In their most extreme manifestations, periods of “disconnection” are experienced
as profound forms of trauma and/or psychosis. In both cases, individuals literally are disconnected from themselves, from contact with and/or awareness of their own body, their own mind, their own experience, whatever it be. As a therapist who has worked for 12 years with individuals with a history of both extreme trauma and psychosis, I mainly helped people re-connect with themselves, with the direct experience of their own mind, body, speech, external relationships and larger environment/world, hopefully with the “safety” of my support.

The fact is, that all beings experience periods of what feels like “disconnection” to varying degrees, in varying circumstances. Folks who have experienced intense trauma can and commonly do function and exist in “disassociated” states, states of being disassociated from awareness of their own embodied experience, sometimes at length. Individuals diagnosed as “psychotic,” existing in states of psychosis, are also commonly known to be “out of touch with reality” and commonly unaware of their own experience, at times to life threatening extremes.

From a Buddhist point of view, we are always “connected,” Continue reading

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