"The human mind is indeed a cave swarming with strange forms of life, most of them unconscious and unilluminated. Unless we can understand something as to how the motives that issue from this obscurity are generated, we can hardly hope to foresee or control them."
-- Horton Cooley
Upsetting events can cause traumatic stress, which may lead to a spectrum of effects ranging fromacute stress reaction (a normal response that fades after a few days) through acute stress disorder (a "stuck" crisis state that lasts up to a month), PTSD (a "stuck" crisis state lasting more than one month), to PDSD (a "stuck" crisis state involving repeated traumatic experiences over time). This spectrum of conditions is fundamentally a failure of processing that happens inside the brain. When the mind cannot file traumatic memories properly, then they don't integrate into experience, which disrupts the ability to recognize context. Some new therapies focus on the body as a way to "unstick" those memories and thus heal the mind. There are ways to cope with traumatic stress or live with someone who has it.
Acute stress reaction is a normal response to an abnormal event. Most people will freak out or freeze up for a few days, then gradually recover. Know the signs of it. Treatment typically consists of common sense comforts. The most important point is to listen if someone wants to talk about what happened, but don't pressure them to do so. Acute Stress Disorder is a mental injury, with distressing symptoms beyond the usual. It may or may not get better; acute stress can lead to chronic PTSD. People with acute stress may want help, but this is often difficult to get in local-America, which prefers to wait for emergencies to treat mental injury or illness. Terramagne-America sensibly offers help as soon as people experience distress beyond their ability to cope with it. Over time, that education teaches them how to handle harder things on their own, making them more resilient, and the availability of support makes them more assured.
Nightmares are among the common symptoms after a trauma. They don't mean you're going crazy or that you're weak; they're a normal (if uncomfortable) part of the healing process. Learn how to stop having nightmares.
Among tribal people, dreams (and nightmares) hold great importance. Native Americans routinely talk about their dreams, especially over breakfast when each family member shares what they dreamed last night. This encourages both intrapersonal awareness of the mind and interpersonal connections among the group. The attunement can even increase the chance of shared dreams. If a dream seems especially powerful or confusing, the dreamer may describe it to a medicine person for interpretation; dreamwork is part of the curriculum of shamanic training in most tribes. There are ceremonies for communal sharing of dreams, too. While sharing dreams is generally discouraged in mainstream America, some people still recommend it.
After an injury, the body progresses through stages of healing. Kenzie is at the stage where he can do light work and gentle stretching to regain his stamina and flexibility. It doesn't hurt all the time, only if he pushes himself too hard, but he still has shorter limits on what he can do now compared to before the assault. It's important to ease back into activity gradually. A good approach is to do something active, do something quiet, and alternate like that through the day.
Mental therapy can help people sort out what's bothering them. Good therapy addresses the main issues that people tend to have, with attention to personal details. Healthy people can also get mental wellness counseling to improve their mental health, coping skills, and self-care. Explore the different types of psychotherapy to figure out which is right for you, then follow the steps to choose a good therapist. Pretty Ears offers Kenzie a range of options so he can choose what feels best to him. They actually are a great match, although it'll take time to build up enough trust for the kind of deepwork that Kenzie wants to do.
Psychiatry is a field of medicine which specializes in mental health. Psychiatrists can diagnose problems and treat them with talk therapy, medication, or other methods. In local-America, the field has devolved from deep mental science to drug pushing, a change that leaves both psychiatrists and patients unhappy. Potentially life-wrecking issues can rarely be fixed with a 15-minute appointment and a bottle of pills. In Terramagne-America, psychiatrists remain the specialists who handle many new cases to figure out a treatment plan, treat the most serious or complicated problems, and provide the kind of deep psychoanalytical work that other types of counselors usually lack the training to do. Psychoanalysis has changed a lot over the years, but it remains valid. It offers many benefits, especially for treating problems that have deep roots. To understand whether psychoanalysis is right for you, try doing some self-analysis and see if you get stuck in a way that talking to an expert might help.
Psychoanalysis also refracts across different cultures, requiring psychiatrists to develop cultural awareness. Cultural therapies, such as Native American therapy, are much more available in T-America than here. They've made a lot more progress in treating and healing the communal trauma of invasion. So as a tribal therapist, Pretty Ears does a great deal of dreamwork to identify and resolve issues, and takes a communal approach to mental health with attention to how an individual interacts with their surrounding society. Best practices for treating tribal clients require an open-minded and flexible approach.
Peer counseling developed out of areas such as substance abuse, in which personal experience can outweigh book-learning in helpfulness. Over time, people developed guidebooks for peer counselors who want to provide group therapy sessions or other services.
Dual relationships are complicated, but sometimes the best or only choice. Therapists in any small group necessarily have multiple relationships with most or all of their clients. Tribal cultures often take this farther -- they expect professional relationships to have a personal component, feel isolated without that which is one reason they tend to shy away from most official resources, and share things that white people used to keep very quiet until the age of social media. Historically they would solve problems either by visiting a medicine person that everybody knew, in a council session, or some combination of both. It's a much more communal and holistic approach than the Western system. So when Pretty Ears talks about trustbuilding, it's not just about a personal connection, but about securing Kenzie's place in the community to create a foundation on which the two of them can then build a healing relationship.
Family support can make a tremendous difference to people struggling with adolescence or other challenges. It offers many benefits, and it plays a vital role in healing mental illness or injury. You can see that Kenzie's new family is helping him to recover from what happened just by loving him, supporting him, and encouraging him to take good care of himself. That's why he started having nightmares: he finally feels safe enough to deal with the hidden issues that he was pushing down for sake of survival. Understand how to talk about mental issues and support someone who needs help with them. Follow the steps to build a support network for yourself.
Pretty Ears uses this talking stick to indicate when a room is in use. The talking stick appears in many tribes. Here are some common guidelines for using one. Conventional therapists usually use a sliding sign.
Solitary confinement can be ruinous to human health. However, some people find solace in a private retreat, and many organizations offer such accommodations. T-America makes more use of this voluntary option because some superpowers make it uncomfortable and/or unsafe to be around other people, especially in the beginning. Cree culture is one of many tribal cultures where people can go crying for a vision in an isolated place. Such spiritual practices have their value, but they are not without risks. Kenzie hates the idea of isolation, even though he doesn't want to be a threat to other people, so they're working on different solutions.
Therapists often use introductory questions about therapy in general to get a feel for a client's current issues and needs. Brief questions may skim across a wide range of possible conditions, for which positive answers indicate a need to screen more closely for that condition. Note that T-America in general, and tribal medicine in particular, cares much more about identifying what bothers a person and how to fix that than about fitting the problem(s) into a specific clinical diagnosis. Since mental care is readily accessible, often for free or cheap, people don't have to worry about forcing insurance companies to pay for things they don't want to cover. They can simply get on with solving the issues. Once Pretty Ears confirms that Kenzie is on the same page with that, she can use what she already knows about him to pick and choose the most illuminating questions, instead of having to go through a bunch of individual diagnostic tests in detail even if half that stuff might not be relevant to his case. This is both more efficient and more personalized.
For example, here's a screen for generalized anxiety disorder. This one focuses on acute stress disorder. There are military and civilian checklists for PTSD.
Here is a resilience scale. These questions assess strengths. These promote a growth mindset. Compare negative and positive cognitions. Here are some resilience activities.
Terramagne-America encourages people to make their own plans, with help if wanted or needed. Variations of "How is that working for you?" are used to gauge progress. Here's an example from Brief Action Planning with a flow chart. This concept applies to most problem-solving situations, and it's something that anyone can learn to use.
Both physical and psychological wounds go through stages of healing. The process is not linear, but tends to loop back over itself in places. Some survivors even experience Post-Traumatic Growth, in which the trauma stimulates new skills or discoveries. Here's a questionnaire for measuring it. It's too early to score Kenzie on this one yet, but you can already see him showing some of the signs.
Hypervigilance is a common symptom of traumatic stress. A body and mind not used to constant alertness begin to break down. However, horses and other prey animals are designed for a higher level of alertness due to the ever-present threat of predation. That means what would be hypervigilance for a human is not for a horse, because the horse's threshold of damaging stress is considerably higher since their natural level of alertness is necessarily higher. Transpose that onto a human body with Shapeshifting and assorted totems, and you can understand why Kenzie has some work ahead of him to find the "right" level of alertness for himself. Some people work with this by aspecting totems or other means.
ᐸᐋᐧᑕᐢᑭᐤ pawâtaskiw [VAI]
s/he is a dreamer, s/he dreams often
ᒪᒋ ᐸᐋᐧᒥᐤ maci-pawâmiw [VAI]
s/he has an evil dream spirit; s/he has a bad dream, s/he has a nightmare
ᐅᐸᐢᐱᐤ opaspiw plural opaspiwak [NA]
A survivor; one who survives an accident.
Explore the Plains Cree Grammar Guide.
Nonsexual intimacies, especially combined with moments of imprint vulnerability, can increase the potential for human bonding. In L-America, few people are consciously aware of this, which means a lot of bonding happens by accident and vulnerable people are not always handled with care. In T-America, more people -- especially health workers -- get education in the principles of kindness and the proper care of vulnerable people. This makes life a lot nicer for everyone. In a tribal context, those ties are created quite mindfully in many rituals, hence the references that the Sun Dancers have made regarding their mentors. So the Iron Horses knew how to do that for Kenzie when they found him, it just went a lot faster in the field than it does under controlled circumstances.
Enjoy a recipe for Ella Bella's Healthy Summer Squash Bread.