ANZAC Day 2013

ANZAC Day is always a significant time of reflection for me.

Our dear father went off in the Second World War to Tobruk as a "Rat of Tobruk" to Fight the amazing Erwin Rommell, (The Desert Fox) and after this successful campaign, was shipped of to the disastrous and ill planned last ditch fight with German paratroopers  and the incredible Luftwaffe air force.  He was captured in the mountains of Crete and interned as a prisoner of war in Germany for four years until he escaped and made his way to the American front lines where he survived the trigger happy cowboys and made his way back to England.

When he returned, he married my mother and started our family, as an optimistic, but deeply damaged man.

To the outside world, he was a happy and inspiring man. To his family, we were dealing with his damage every day.

In fact, it was my job from a very early age, to sit and listen to my dad tell his stories over and over again at the dinner table. And at age six, I realised he'd stopped telling me one of his stories.

I deduced, at that early age, that he'd told his story enough, and so he was healed and free of it.  My listening became focused and intentional.  I was out to heal my dad. This is how I stated doing what I do now.  I was practicing Gestalt techniques way before I ever came across this body of knowledge.

He had a condition which didn't really have a name at the time of my youth.  But there was a lot of ex-servicemen who had it pretty bad.

In our local shops, it was common to see two or three guys drop to the floor if a car backfired (doesn't happen much these days does it!) or a sudden loud noise triggered off what we all knew as "War Neurosis"

Nowadays they call it Post Traumatic Stress.  Big strides forward in it's treatment and Psychotherapists and Psychiatrists have some awesome techniques to treat it successfully.

We took it for granted that the mass of  men returning after the Second World War was an overwhelming task for the military or the government to process back into Civilian Life after the insanity of war.  The Military and the government were doing their best.

But when the damaged guys came back from Vietnam, I was about sixteen and our dad had been improving as far as I was concerned and I'd started reading about Gestalt and learning about some of the ways you could treat this condition in humans.  I was wondering why the Military and the Government weren't doing more to help these guys readjust.  Instead, they were being picked up by their families, or, if they fell through the cracks, they were ending up in the Psychiatric system or the Penal System, becoming institutionalized. 

I also noticed that the disenfranchised, disadvantaged and damaged civilian population also ended up on the same heap.

The Military and the Government, clearly hadn't got it right.

This ANZAC Day, I watched a "Lateline" report on how the Military are handling "Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome" with soldiers in the field and returning to their civilian life. Here's the transcript if they have archived it.

I was devastated to see that the Military and the Government had opted for a "Magic Bullet" approach with a magic pill to "solve" the problems that most of our soldiers are having now with sleeping and dealing with trauma.  They have taken an anti psychotic drug - that is, a drug that's used for schizophrenics and people having psychotic attacks, and are issuing that to our precious soldiers to help them sleep.

This is being proscribed, not just for returning troops, but also troops  who are in active service.

Our men are being exposed to some serious drug issues.

Even the Army Psychiatrists know that this situation is best treated by intense and long term psychotherapy.

They would know that what I did in listening to my Dad's stories, night after night, was giving him a cathartic ladder out of his trauma and stress.  In hospitals,  Dialogue Therapy is being used to treat a range of conditions - here's one paper on it.

The Magic Bullet approach is not even near working and is an insult to the soldiers, their partners, their children, their families, their friends and the Psychotherapudic community.

I'm steaming mad about this and I'm off to do something about it.  If you have any ideas or any contacts to help me with - let me know.

This is only the beginning. Get to know clarity. Email me, Mike Kennedy...

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