Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has received a lot of attention since the various military operations started including Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation New Dawn (OND) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The rates of post-traumatic stress disorder has increased significantly among members of the military that are returning from service. The condition has now been marked as one of the defining injuries of these military operations. The rates of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result have become a major issue for the Veterans Administration in trying to figure out how to treat the problem.
The rate of prevalence in the military is around about 15 percent among US military members as of 2013. This rate is troubling because PTSD individuals have a higher likelihood of becoming involved in situations that harm themselves or others. PTSD has often been a factor in creating situations that lead to domestic violence or family violence. In addition, PTSD sufferer are also at risk for becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol and the outcomes of being involved with these substances. Therefore researchers are looking into ways to get the military members some assistance with dealing with the symptoms of PTSD which include self-criticism and judgement. Alleviating at least some of the symptoms could mean less people at risk of having other problems.
Currently the idea has arisen that the notion of self-compassion which stems from Buddhist teachings could assist if taught to the veterans. The idea of self-compassion means tat the person should direct feelings of kindness to oneself in order to help them to deal with moments of pain and suffering. The idea also says that it is okay to experience suffering because it is something that all people go through at one point or another.
In addition, the researcher Neff says that self-compassion is made up of three different elements. These elements are kindness towards oneself, common humanity and mindfulness. The self-kindness means that the person should be able to comfort themselves. The common humanity component means that the person should realise that they are just a part of the human experience as a whole which suffering is a part of. The mindfulness component means tat the person should be aware of the present moment and that the suffering is necessary in order to have self-compassion.
These ideas could be useful according to Bradley as a part of a cognitive-behavioural treatment program for PTSD. Several researchers are currently looking into the implications. Only one study however has reviewed the levels of self-compassion that a person with PTSD has. The results of the research indicated that if the person has more self-compassion, the person will show less signs of avoidance, which is one of the main symptoms of PTSD.
Self-compassion is a way for individuals with PTSD to focus exclusively on the detached feelings that they may have as an outcome of having experienced significant trauma. At the Veterans Administration, they are currently incorporating self-compassion as part of the therapeutic interventions for treating PTSD.