War and the Soul: Healing our Nation's Veterans from Post-traumatic Stress

Edward Tick

War and the Soul: Healing our Nation's Veterans from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Quest Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 2005


A warrior performs heroic deeds, is divinely mentored, and looks to elders for wisdom and inspiration. Growth comes through noble choices on the battleground, ultimately shaping the soul. The veteran warrior returns to the tribe transformed, the heroic journey is embraced, made public, and revered by the larger community. This warrior archetype, passed down through generations, stands in sharp contrasts with the reality of current warfare. In War in the Soul psychotherapist Dr. Edward Tick shows today's technological weaponry, with its massive death numbers and scorched earth policy, literally soul-ripping modern combatants. Today’s soldiers have no access to the warrior archetype. “Rather, they are miniscule globules of armed protoplasm hurled at enemies in uncountable numbers.” Veterans return home to be denied the authenticity of their horrifying experiences. Society tries to “fix” PTSD, offering stress reduction strategies and drugs so the war survivor can return to “normal” as soon as possible. According to Tick, this attempt to wipe out a soldier’s suffering sends the message that it’s not valuable, that it has nothing to teach us.

For over twenty-five years Tick has worked with veterans and communities traumatized by war. He says PTSD is much more than a stress and anxiety disorder. It is an actual identity disorder, a deep soul wound. The ancients understood this type of soul wounding. They knew the soul could actually leave the body during trauma. Mythological and spiritual records show shamanic, ancient Greek, Native American and other traditions using specific techniques to retrieve the soul and reintegrate it with the body. Tick successfully draws on these traditions using rituals, storytelling and other psycho-spiritual and cross-cultural practices in his pioneering clinical healing work with veterans and others. Tick’s formula for healing the war-wounded soul: “surround trauma with soul.” In practice, this can be the most challenging journey of a veteran’s life.