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Episode 220 - Dr. Clyde Angel, John Sullivan, and Dr. Vincent Starnino: At My Core, I'm Not the Same: Spiritual Injury and Military Trauma (part 1 of 2)

Monday, July 31, 2017, 8:14:58 AM

Image of Clyde Angel, John Sullivan, and Vincent R. Starnino

In the first of two episodes, our guests Dr. Clyde Angel, John Sullivan, and Dr. Vincent Starnino differentiate between religion and spirituality, and their role in meaning making. They use the images of shattered spirituality and wounding to emphasize the depth of traumatic experiences by service veterans. Our guests discuss their research and what they are learning about the impact of spiritual risk and protective factors on healing spiritual injury and wounding.

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Average Rating: 4.3 stars (3 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  episode 220 podcast review: spirituality and military trauma, Saturday, February 10, 2018

By Sonya S. :

As someone who has a spiritual practice, and is interested in the effects and treatment of PTSD, I found the topic of this podcast extremely interesting, and I feel that the presenter's work is of great value to the social work field. Moving beyond the biopsychosocial model, the presenters discuss the importance of a biopsychosocial-spiritual model, which incorporates an individual’s existential concerns. These existential concerns include religion and spirituality, which the presenters have found to be relevant in understanding military trauma. According to the presenters, both religion and spirituality provide individuals with meaning and purpose, but differ in that religion is communal, whereas spirituality is a personal process. The presenter’s research has shown that the connection between the spiritual injury and military trauma occurs when an individual experiences a traumatic event and thereafter is unable to make meaning of life. The presenters refer to this as spiritual wounding. Their research further suggests that there is an identifiable moment when individuals with PTSD experience spiritual dissonance. Spiritual wounds that are evident due to spiritual dissonance include “internal wounds” expressed as negative emotions about self, “compromise of faith” and “external wounds”, which include difficulty with interpersonal relationships. I have found that the aforementioned are all issues I have recognized in clients with PTSD. Therefore, I am interested to hear part two of this installment to learn more about the key components they have created to addresses existential concerns. It is my personal experience that existential concerns are just as important in health and healing as biopsychosocial concerns and I am interested to learn how to incorporate that into my professional practice.

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Average Rating: 4stars  podcast review, Friday, February 09, 2018

By Elizabeth A Roosa :

It was interesting to hear how they are attempting to gain more of a holistic view of the client and their presenting problems. In doing so, they stressed the importance of not only emotional, physical, mental, and social health, but also the importance of spiritual health. They expanded on the meaning of spirituality and how it differs from religion. Spirituality is more of a personal experience and it is how an individual expresses themselves. On the contrary, religion is a communal experience related to one’s culture, world views, and morals. Understanding this difference is critical to understanding the terms and content that was discussed in the pod cast.
They talked about the four levels of wounding that can affect ones spirituality. First, a traumatic event occurs such as being in the military and witnessing death. Second, they share what happened and they receive negative feedback. Third, they internalize the negative feedback and say things like, “I feel immoral for having witnessed that.” Lastly, they fully believe they are immoral and say, “I am immoral.” To me, this all starts with the clinician. We cannot be giving negative feedback that is hurtful to the patient.

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Average Rating: 4stars  spirituality and trauma, Saturday, February 03, 2018

By Jeremiah :

First I would like to mention that I am a veteran; though I was deployed to a combat zone, Afghanistan, I did not experience any sort of violent engagements. One of the things mentioned during the podcast is that just being deployed to a combat zone could be a trauma in itself. From my experience, the spiritual connectedness just being in a combat zone is strained. For those veterans that experienced a traumatic event that strain turns into a collapse. The hyper-masculine culture of "suck it up and deal with it" is so strongly prevalent in the military that it becomes harmful to those who are experiencing PTSD. I think one-way veterans combat this is with dark humor. Research into humor among emergency service workers by Rowe and Regehr (2010) point to dark humor as a coping strategy and a way to build social support. I think the spirituality and reintegration of a veteran can be negatively impacted by this dark humor when they fail to recognize the social limitations. I have seen veterans who struggle with reintegration partially because they cannot seem to stop using their dark humor, which can be off-putting to those who did not have similar experiences. I have heard other veterans say that only veterans understand them. I wonder if the continued use of dark humor is a continuation of a coping mechanism for unresolved issues with trauma. Could this dark humor also contribute to the feedback level of the four levels of spiritual wounding as stated in the podcast?
Overall, I really enjoyed this podcast and I look forward to listening to the second installment.

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DISCLAIMER: The content shared by the presenter(s) and/or interviewer(s) of each podcast is their own and not necessarily representative of any views, research, or practice from the UB School of Social Work or the inSocialWork® podcast series.