This method has been effective in dealing with many areas of trauma, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), in such diverse groups as veterans, children, 9/11 survivors, motor vehicle accident and sexual abuse survivors. TIR is a brief, one-on-one, non-hypnotic, person-centered, simple, and highly structured method for permanently eliminating the negative effects of past traumas. You will learn about TIR from world-renowned experts in traumatology including its developer Frank Gerbode, M.D. Beyond Trauma highlights stories of TIR helping survivors regain control of their lives.
“Not in 30+ years of practice have I used a more remarkably effective clinical procedure.” —Robert H. Moore, Ph.D.
This is the first publication of its type that addresses both people with traumatic stress and the mental health community which helps them. TIR is a brief, one -on-one, non-hypnotic, person-centered, simple and highly structured method for permanently eliminating the negative effects of past traumas. It has been effective on many areas of trauma including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in such diverse groups as Vietnam veterans, 9/11 survivors, children, motor-vehicle accident and sexual abuse victims. Beyond Trauma contains many stories about how TIR has given trauma survivors new hope and practitioners a valuable tool to help them reclaim their lives. In the book, you'll hear from world-renowned experts in psychotherapy and traumatology including Joyce Carbonell, Ph.D, Windy Dryden, Ph.D, Charles Figley, Ph.D, and Frank A. Gerbode, M.D.
It has been my very great pleasure to collect and edit stories of how Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) has made a difference in people’s lives. In the 20 years since Frank A. Gerbode began developing the technique known as TIR, it has spread as far as Australia and Russia and from Alaska to Brazil. TIR has been successfully applied by not only psychologists and social workers but also by ministers and even lay trauma survivors, such as Vietnam veterans. Furthermore, it has proven its usefulness in the full spectrum of human woes: from birth to bereavement, war veterans to widows, children to car crash victims. TIR is used every day in a variety of locales beyond the therapist’s couch including domestic violence centers, jails, and even the frontlines of disasters.
I believe the multiplicity of voices and experiences that you find in this book makes the case for the broad workability of TIR. At the time of this writing, this is the first book to embrace the experiences of dozens of practitioners and clients in varied milieu and weave them into an argument for efficacy. If this book had been merely the work or experience of a single author, its voice would have been considerably weaker.
TIR allows practitioners to address trauma more deeply while simultaneously resolving trauma quickly. This allows practitioners to be more effective and able to handle more clients. Anecdotally speaking, compassion fatigue is virtually unknown among TIR practitioners. The following quote from Alex Frater, Ph.D will testify the power of this:
"The results I have obtained since returning to Australia with this innovative therapy are nothing short of miraculous. TIR has done nothing to reduce my workload, but it has increased my efficiency enormously. My trauma-related patients now number something like 45/week, up from the 20 or so that I was seeing at the time I went to California, and at the same time TIR has, in fact, enabled me to produce better, faster, and much more thorough results in dealing with trauma and related matters than have any other techniques at my disposal. Quite fantastic, really. More than worth every bit of time and expense of traveling to America for the training."
If TIR existed whole and independent of everything else, it would still be the marvelous tool that you’ll learn about in this book. In fact, TIR is part of Applied Metapsychology, a larger area of study developed simultaneously by Dr. Gerbode. Along the way, I’ll be introducing a few other of the key procedures available in Metapsychology (most often, that of Unblocking). The philosophy of Metapsychology is developed further in the final chapter of this book as well as Dr. Gerbode’s own book Beyond Psychology: Introduction to Metapsychology.
One of the challenges of editing lies in the classification and categorization of the stories presented herein. Keep in mind that these divisions are arbitrary, and though a practitioner may be highlighted in a particular area of trauma, it doesn’t imply that such a practitioner is limited to that area, in general practice or specifically with using TIR. For example, John Nielsen has had great success in working with jail inmates, but their traumas are not unique to prisoners. In one case, the root trauma of an inmate related back to experiences as a civilian in the Bosnian conflicts.
It’s also important for you to understand what this book is not about. Specifically, it’s not a "how to" manual or instructional guide of any sort. Although you can learn the complete theory from the textbooks of Frank A. Gerbode, M.D., Gerald French, and Bisbey and Bisbey, the only way to fully achieve the potential results of TIR is to attend a TIR Workshop.
At this point, you may be wondering why I personally decided to write this book given that a perfectly fine technical and training environment already exists. In the past 20 years the good word about TIR has not spread outside certain small circles of Traumatology and into widespread public knowledge.In early 2003, I heard a call-in program on National Public Radio about Vietnam veterans and their families suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They discussed the full gamut of flashbacks, panic attacks, unaccountable rage, depression, substance abuse, and other aspects of PTSD. The expert’s consensus was basically "Well, you just try to be patient and understand what they’re going through and maybe over time they’ll get better."
This sort of scarred-for-life mentality is promulgated on the six o’clock news after each and every disaster. As such, the public at large is left with the impression that really nothing can be done about the effects of trauma. I believe what’s missing, the presence of which would make a difference, is a book presenting the possibility for healing that TIR offers.
It was endless nights, trying to stay awake, stay alive, counting the hours until dawn, the days, the months, utterly alone, trusting nobody. It was waiting in rain-soaked, mud-caked fatigues for Victor Charlie, an enemy who seldom showed his face and killed mercilessly when he did, who used his school children as lethal weapons, and brutally tortured his prisoners. It was a litany of unspeakable atrocities: the grunt watching his buddy’s legs blown off by a land mine, the nose gunner smoking black tar to numb the mental imagery of his gruesome handiwork on a village, the FNG [f---ing new guy] fumbling a grenade and dismembering one of his own platoon, the short-timer fragging his field commander for ordering a suicidal assault on a worthless patch of jungle. It was the freckle-faced kid so transformed by fear and rage and frustration that the sight of hacking an old woman’s ears off, smashing a baby’s head against a tree trunk, and castrating a prisoner during interrogation were all met with indifference. It was laughing at a joke called the Geneva Convention, and wondering in suppressed horror just how far you could push that envelope of sanity before shit got out of hand.
It was walking point and dodging sniper fire along the DMZ one morning, then stepping off an airplane at SFO (San Francisco Airport) forty-eight hours later, dumped back into America’s lap, expected to act civilized. It was literally being spat upon by other Americans who could no longer distinguish between vandals and victims. It was never knowing if your friends made it back alive and living with the slow-burning fuse of survivor’s guilt, muted by the magnitude of your experience, the onslaught of ineffable emotion, the dumbfounded expressions of those who hadn’t been there and couldn’t possibly understand what you’d seen—what you’d found it necessary to do. It was separation, and divorce, and dulling the anguish with drugs and alcohol, subsequent years of sleepless nights, embarrassing startle reactions, unrelenting Technicolor memories, and uncontrollable tears.
It was a war without glory, a peace without honor, an epic with no heroes.
Vietnam: A Different Kind of War
My companion—call him Pete—lights another Marlboro and continues his measured account of watching his entire platoon wiped out by an NVA [North Vietnamese Army] ambush during the first frantic days of the Tet Offensive, in January 1968. It is a graphic description of sodden fear, bleeding men, and a single, scared boy left alone too long, pushed over the edge by taunts and sniper fire from an enemy hidden in a green hell. For thirty-six hours following the ambush, Pete lived through an inferno of napalm, artillery shelling and friends dying in pieces a few yards beyond his ability to reach them, before being medevaced out of the bush with malaria. Pete was eighteen years old at the time.
His story is visceral, so much so I can feel the knot tightening in my own gut. As he speaks, the September wind outside causes the louvered glass windows in the room to slip shut with a loud crack. Pete’s creased face contorts instantaneously; his arms snap out in automatic defense; his lean body tenses like a steel spring. When he notices my alarmed expression, Pete relaxes and laughs in embarrassment. “There was a time,” he says, “when a noise like that would have ruined my whole f--ing day.”
And he’s not the only one.
Nearly a million individuals serving in the United States Armed Forces engaged in combat or were exposed to life-threatening situations in Vietnam during the years between 1964 and 1973. According to a four-year study conducted by the Research Triangle Institute for the Veterans’ Administration, an estimated 480,000 of those suffer from a phenomenon known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Formerly accorded less clinical terms like “shell shock” and “battle fatigue,” PTSD is hardly peculiar to the Vietnam War, but the circumstances of those who lived through combat in that particular cataclysm are unique in American history.
During World War II, even though the pre-induction psychiatric rejection rate was nearly four times higher than that of World War I, psychiatric casualties were three hundred percent higher. At one point in the early 1940s, more men were being discharged for “war neurosis” than were being drafted. Twenty-three percent of the men who suffered from battlefield psychological breakdowns never returned to combat. Owing to immediate on-site treatment provided during the Korean War, psychiatric evacuations dropped to six percent of total casualties. But in Vietnam, psychological breakdowns were at an all-time low—twelve per one thousand.
Several factors contributed to this apparent improvement. The DEROS [Date of Expected Return from Over Seas] system was employed for the first time in Vietnam. A soldier’s tour of duty lasted twelve months—thirteen if he was a Marine. They served their time, tried to stay in one piece, and rotated back to the States. In the meantime, the “Fertile Triangle” along the borders of Laos, Burma and Cambodia supplied some of the finest substances in the world for numbing trauma. Soldiers caught “self-medicating” or manifesting other character disorders, by any superior who gave a damn, were given administrative discharges. And thus the whole question of psychological trauma was neatly—and deceptively—avoided. As a consequence of DEROS, drugs, and discharges, the “official” neuropsychiatric casualty rate in Vietnam was significantly lower than in either Korea or World War II. It looked like the Pentagon finally had a handle on the embarrassing problem of battle fatigue.
Quite apart from the debilitating effects of drug and alcohol addiction, DEROS, like every apparent solution, created a new generation of problems. After the first few years of the war, soldiers who had trained together were rarely sent to Vietnam as a whole unit. Consequently, esprit de corps was almost nonexistent. A regular soldier would arrive in isolation as an FNG, ignorant of combat’s horrifying reality. Considered a liability by the hardened short timer—who knew the best way to stay alive was to stay aloof—the new guy learned quickly to trust no one but himself, and to hell with the rest. His private war began the day he set foot in country, and ended the moment he was airlifted out.