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Game Therapy – PTSD

How do you use games to cope in life?
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

Game Therapy is a video series I’ve created to foster discussion about how we all use games to cope with the ups and downs we experience in life. 

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The theme for this edition of Game Therapy is PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I’ll admit this is a very heavy topic, so I want to be very respectful in how I handle this segment.

Keep in mind that I’m in no way suggesting that gaming is a proper way for people to deal with PTSD.

I’m just giving you a glimpse of one of the many ways I’ve coped with the symptoms I deal with. I think it’s also worth mentioning that I have never been official diagnosed with PTSD. However, as you’ll see later in this piece, I have dealt with some of the identified PTSD symptoms following my experience fighting in combat.

I think with a topic this serious, it make sense to define the issue. For this segment, I’m going to post the definition I found on Wikipedia. However, if anyone out there more educated on this subject than I has more or better info, feel free to chime in.

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined as – severe anxiety disorder with characteristic symptoms that can develop after the direct experience of an extremely traumatic stressor such as the threat of a violent death or serious injury.[note 2] To fit the criteria of PTSD, the individual must react with “intense fear, helplessness or horror”.[note 3] The characteristic symptoms include a “persistent reexperiencing of the traumatic event”, and a continuing avoidance of reminders of the precipitating stressor accompanied by a “numbing of general responsiveness” (Criterion C)

I can relate to reliving the event, avoidance of reminders and definitely a numbing of general responsiveness. To this day, I’ll occasionally have dreams about the war; however, I no longer attempt to avoid reminders. Unfortunately, in the past, that avoidance went as far as to cause me to lose touch with other fellow soldiers that I was really close to. I’ve since reconnected with these guys for the most part.

With all this in mind, you may find it strange that my Game Therapy for PTSD is a game like Battlefield 3. You may have heard the quote, “War is a drug.” I believe that’s true. And while, a video game could never really come close to the intensity of combat, it does give the player a taste of adrenaline.

But for me, my using Battlefield 3 to cope is really more about forming friendships and camaraderie.  When you eat, sleep, live and bleed with a group of guys over the years, you become very close. I’ve had some really great experiences playing Battlefield 3 with some of the more organized teams out there. I also made a really good friend playing the co-op missions–especially the sniper mission at the end. Completing that mission flawlessly requires extremely precise teamwork, to the point of counting down shots over the radio. He and I still stay in touch to this day asking about what games we can play together in the future. 

So that’s how I cope. How about you?

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B. Chambers
Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. Co-Founder - Writer - Gamer - Gym Rat - Musician - WebDeveloper -- @TheSecondLetter