In his book, Your Subconscious Bodyguards: The Good News about PTSD, Dion Jensen writes about PTSD from the position of a soldier to others in the defence force or police service.
This is an essential topic for people in such services, as PTSD has a higher level of occurrence in these professions compared to many others. In other words, for some (up to 12%), PTSD can become an occupational reality for those serving their country through combat. Written by a soldier for a soldier, Dion is able to reach those from within the military world, effectively applying the highly skilled training they already possess to master the complex issue of PTSD.
The straight and specific language of this book aims at reaching those that understand this world of emergency rendezvous (ERV), section commander, threat assessment, and contact drills to mention only a very few examples.
Dion refuses any victim position, and so applies a sense of mastery, so important for soldiers and police, and as we know, so central in working through PTSD. This is essentially empowering, and that is why in the mental health tradition, the ‘expert experiencer’ is so successful, and why they reach people in pain more effectively. They have been there, survived it, and found a way through it.
The ‘expert experiencer’ has been fully accepted in many areas of mental health, for example in the substance abuse area in the form of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or in the area of psychosis, as with intervoice for voice hearers. Dion rightly highlights that soldiers do not find access to mental health services simple or easy for many valid external and internal reasons. Therefore Dion speaks within a long and important tradition in mental health as an ‘expert experiencer’, in this case with the voice of the soldier and warrior 271 Dion Jensen in regards to PTSD.
People who have moved through their own struggles and support others in theirs is an essential part in the varied landscape of mental health interventions. For those that are struggling with PTSD both in the military and in the police service, this book gives you an opportunity to listen to somebody who knows your world, has been where you have been, and applies the very skills you already possess to achieve your goals. To have been in the military and in the police service is in itself worthy, to overcome PTSD will take all your soldiering skills.
It is the path of the warrior to master our own self.
For the professionals and organizations, here are some considerations: As an ‘expert experiencer’, Dion with the language of the soldier and warrior has made PTSD his own. However, more than that, he has also spoken to other experts, a couple of therapists for example, to responsibly access relevant information.
Having myself worked extensively with severe PTSD in many clinical settings, as well as worked with soldiers, this book both empowers and is thoughtful.
The book does not merely share his own story, but more than that, he applies the technique of soldier imagery and warrior archetypes to access more complex and richer emotional material in regards to PTSD. This approach is then enhanced with emotion regulation skills.
It is well documented that safety, mindful desensitization, affect regulation, a sense of mastery and meaning within a supportive environment are central in working through PTSD. All of that is to be found in this book, just translated so that it makes sense to soldiers or warriors.
Like all ‘expert experiencers’, Dion states very clearly that he is not a clinician, but there is no doubt that his story and his way of overcoming PTSD provides a means for others to find their warrior way to a new life.