• A Spider Story and Why People with PTSD Make Sense

    Wolf Spider

    Today my friend Wanda killed a spider.

    A big, fat ugly one.

    Wanda splattered some Lysol on it, and the spider drowned a gasping chemical death. But here’s the cool thing.

    Wanda killed that nasty creature alone, without hollering for help or making a peep. Pretty amazing for somebody who just three short years ago most likely would have dissociated at the sight of Mr. Hairy Legs.

    You see, when Wanda was little, she was locked in a cage by a neighborhood bully who abused her. Multiple times–she doesn’t remember how many–he chased her until she collapsed from exhaustion, molested her, then locked her in a dog cage that was infested with spiders and left her there.

    For hours. Over and over again.

    The first time I met Wanda we drove to a lovely spot on the beach so I could help her fill out forms for admission for PTSD treatment. I knew her story. Over the course of several weeks, she’d confided it to me over the phone.

    As we walked back to the car from the beach that day, I wanted to walk through a field of wild flowers. But Wanda pulled back.

    “Let’s take the path. There might be monsters in there–you know–bugs or something.”

    For a moment I wondered why a woman would be afraid to walk through a field of flowers. Then the realization struck me, and I felt like an idiot. Her fear made sense. It was rooted in childhood trauma and torture.

    Just a few months later, Wanda completed 10 days of outpatient treatment at Intensive Trauma Therapy in Morgantown, West Virginia. When she left, her spider phobia was gone. Her flashbacks were gone.

    A lifetime of PTSD symptoms were gone.

    Obsessive-compulsive behaviors that had controlled Wanda’s life for decades had become manageable fears.

    Many people don’t understand that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is often rooted in trauma. And one of the most effective ways to deal with the symptoms (phobias, hoarding, fears, obsessive thoughts) is to process and reprogram the trauma that becomes “stuck” in the brain.

    If you or someone you know lives with OCD, consider the link between trauma and OCD. Find a traumatologist and discuss whether or not trauma therapy could help you.

    Today my friend Wanda lives free of her phobia of spiders and other obsessive-compulsive behaviors that held her captive for most of her life, thanks to a FEW HOURS of trauma treatment by pioneering professionals.

    PTSD can be treated. There is hope.


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