Dr Z. Interviews

From time to time people wonder how I got involved with PTSD Spirituality work.  To that end I have listed three interviews I gave about my work on the spiritual dimensions of PTSD.  One is a newspaper article, one is from a magazine, and one is from Wisconsin Public Radio (it requires the Real Player to listen to).  I am staring this as a blog post but am also creating it as a permanent page.

1. Wisconsin Public Radio Interview on PTSD with  Kathleen Dunn, September 12, 2007

I gave this interview just before leaving for a PTSD Healing Retreat sponsored by Soldiers Heart.  Kathleen Dunn is an excellent interviewer.  She allows the interviewee to answer the questions with sentences and paragraphs.

2. Congregationalist Magazine issue devoted to PTSD and Military Issues,  2008/ No. 1

(Feb 3, 2011: I updated the link to this page as the address had changed…Yikes!)

“Healing the Wounded Soul” by Samuel Schaal

This is a pdf file and the article about Dr. Zemler starts on page 9.I appreciated that the interviewer observed that I was “healed, not cured.”  We are never 100% cured, but we can regain our identities, relationships and purpose in life.

3. Deacon’s Bench Blog reported on my PTSD Interview   (This is a new updated link as of 15 July 2011) from the January 4, 2008, issue of the Catholic Herald of the Milwaukee Arch-Diocese.  Another link to this story is here.  I think one of these links has a photo and the other not.

The original article mistakenly implied I am an Iraq veteran and completely healed of PTSD.  I am not an Iraq veteran and I still have PTSD, but my worse symptoms have fled me.  PTSD is a hydra of many heads, multiple symptoms and manifestations.  I am blessed that some of those symptoms are gone.  That said, the article does convey the hope I try to teach about PTSD healing.

I hope that listing these interviews is not too hubristic on my part.  But, as people ask me from time time, it perhaps easier to check out his page.  Thank you for all of the people who have encouraged me to be active in PTSD Spirituality issues.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z


  1. Dr Z.
    Is there anyway we can speak via email?
    Niko G.

  2. Dr. Z, My wife has been diagnosed with a mild form of PTSD from being raped almost 22 years ago. Today her main problem is way she “protected ” herself. She protecteted herself by placing her thoughts and emotions in the back of her mind. She never confronted her emotions or feelings. Today it seams like she is just now learning to care and have feelings. This is so wierd to me. Does this sound right? Does PTSD really have this kind of effect on a person.

    • Hi Joe, What you describe is certainly within my observed experience of people with PTSD. Does it happen to everyone? No, it does not. Does it happen to a lot of us? Yes, it does. We will often end up living out – usually not by personal choice – extremes. For example, a person may become emotionally over-sensitive to the slightest stimulus (for example, there was a time I broke down and cried in a book store when I saw a book cover that had a picture of soldiers. I was hyper-sensitive). There are also times when one will seem to not feel anything at all, even when by societal norms we should feel something). If one has experienced extreme sensitivity, they may compensate by withdrawing thoughts and emotions into a mental box, protected from outside stimuli. Years, decades later, we might try to peek out of our protective mental/emotional behaviors and start to taste life again. This can be confusing for spouses, partners, friends, and can even seem confusing to the person in question. We don’t choose to live the extremes, we are compelled there by PTSD and by trying to survive in a world which is largely without compassion. If we start to try and test out the the “middle ground” then we are starting to heal. Like a lot of healing, it can be a bit painful and confusing. It is also a time of vulnerability where a non-compassionate reception can compel the person back into a shell. I’ve run off at the mouth (fingers?) here, but the short answer to your questions: Yes, the situation you describe does sound right. It sounds like some immense risk-taking by the person in question as they learn to heal and trust again. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  3. I was just dignoised with PTSD/ depression and I do not understand the whole ordeal of it and I have a wonderful man thats willing to stand by my side but I am needing to understand more about it cause I have not found out yet what triggers it and when i do have the blow ups i dont know how to stop it when it happens and after i come down all i do is cry and have a real bad headache for days please help me

    • I am glad that you have a good partner who is willing to be on the journey with you. That can make this all a lot easier. The more knowledge you acquire about PTSD, the more you will be abler to manage triggers. You may want to investigate the Triggers category on this website. I also recommend the web site of Dr. Diane England (Just Google her name) as she has done good work on PTSD and relationships. Start keeping a list of what triggers you, that is often helpful. In the process you will also learn a lot about yourself, which is always helpful. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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