PTSD Spirituality: Brian Turner’s Bedlam Essay and Poetry is Life

The New York Times ran “To Bedlam and Back” by Brian Turner. It is a terrific essay on how should we welcome back our veterans. Brian Turner is a veteran and also a poet. His essay also includes one of his poems. You might like to read it.  While I cannot speak for Brian Turner, I know that poetry and the arts are an excellent way to help heal from the soul wounds of PTSD.  Some of my poetry speaks to my military experiences, some to the PTSD life that has dogged me for over 25 years, and some has nothing to do with PTSD at all.

Nourishing the Soul One Poem at a Time
Yet, by crafting a poem I am involved in the creative process. By crafting a poem, I say that life matters and I will not give in to the PTSD death wish. I won’t let the PTSD-Identity control me and destroy my relationships. Even if my poem is dark or disturbing, and most are not, it is still an act of life. It is an act of feeling alive again that diminishes the hold PTSDS has on my soul.

If you suffer from trauma to your soul, no matter how it happened, writing and poetry can help you heal. Writing, like prayer, is a muscle. It develops and get stronger the more we use it. By crafting art and poetry we instill further life and hope into our lives.

PTSD is Allergic to Life and Hope
PTSD is allergic to both life and hope, it will try to prevent you from engaging with your artistic talents. The PTSD-Identity will try to make you stop going to the gym to work out, it will try to stop you from writing a poem or story, it will try to make you stay home and stare at the wall or pornography.

Craft and art and physical exercise – and let us not forget prayer and spiritual ritual – nourish the soul and diminish the grip of PTSD on our throats.  Without life, PTSD seeks to lead us to despair and suicide.  Poetry and prayer can help prevent that.

Give it a Whirl!
Maybe this is a good time for you to sit down and write something. You don’t have to show it to anyone. Just write it down. You can get rid of it later. But try expressing something in writing or art and don’t let that inner voice say you are no good or this is stupid. You have value. When you do something like a poem, you create life…and PTSD hates that.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z


  1. […] that.  As a veteran with PTSD, it is nice to be heard by a major news organization.  The previous PTSD Spirituality Blog post was an endorsement of Turner’s “Bedlam and Beyond” ess…, his poetry, and the value of poetry to healing the PTSD wounded soul.  My comments included how […]

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