The Transcendental Meditation Technique as a Proposed Treatment for Vietnam Veterans Suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
By Ronald Khare, M.S., M.A.
Center for Advanced Military Science
United States Marine Corps Veteran and Vietnam War Veteran
Education Masters Thesis
Maharishi International University
In 1980, The American Psychological Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, listed for the first time the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Post-traumatic Stress Disorder recognizes that an individual exposed to a "stressor", defined as an event "outside" the normal range of human experience ... that would evoke symptoms of distress in most people," can lead to a syndrome characterized by the re-experiencing of the original event, reduced involvement with the external world and a variety of dysphoric, autonomic and cognitive symptoms.
The range of stressors recognized as most frequently producing PTSD; the "deliberate man-made" disasters of torture, rape and combat, etc., also cause a more severe and longer lasting disorder than that caused by other stressors.
The battleground has long generated what are known as "psychological casualties." It is shown in a brief historical review on this subject that these men were suffering from, essentially, what we call today Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
The Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique was introduced to the world by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1957. Over 2 million people [Editor's Note: over 5 million have learned the TM technique since this Thesis was published] around the world have since learned the technique. Extensive scientific research has been carried out on the technique since 1970 and studies are continuing.
Maharishi has generated a theory on human stress. He defines stress as the resultant physical damage caused by a stressor. He explains that both physical and mental disorders are caused by stress. He explains that the practice of the TM technique can "normalize" both physical and mental disorders. Studies done by medical practitioners and psychiatrists are reviewed in this light. Maharishi states that, when this normalization is fully accomplished, a permanent and unique state of arise in the individual. This state Maharishi calls "Enlightenment."
It is hypothesized that the regular practice of the TM technique by Vietnam veterans suffering for PTSD will result in reduced severity of symptoms they suffer from. It is further hypothesized that long-term-practice (over six months) will show improvement in mental, physical and affective aspects of these veterans' live as compared to a matched control group.
A proposal for a study to test these hypotheses is included in the Appendix.
Three years after Ron Khare published his pioneering 1982 Masters Thesis, Brooks and Scarano published a study on Vietnam veterans, randomly assigning those diagnosed with PTSD to either meditation or psychotherapy (Journal of Counseling and Development, Volume 64, Pages 212-215, 1985). [For short summary please read the NCP Clinical Newsletter 3(2): Spring 1993, published by the National Center for PTSD at the Department of Veterans Affairs. (The link leads to an archived version of NCP Clinical Newsletter)]
The results were clear. Compared to psychotherapy, three months practice of the Transcendental Mediation program for two short periods a day brought significantly greater reductions in eight of nine measures, including emotional numbness, anxiety, depression, alcohol consumption, insomnia, family problems, unemployment and a scale for PTSD.
Dr. David Leffler published an Op-Ed in Military.com on 2 July 2007 discussing how stress-related problems like PTSD could be greatly reduced by implementing the TM program at military and Veterans Administration (VA) facilities in the United States. See also his letter published by American ContractorsInIraq.com entitled Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) discussing this scientifically-validated solution to the problem of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Promise for PTSD -- Article in Military Officer Magazine, a publication of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) covering alternative therapies for PTSD including the Transcendental Meditation technique.
Stress reduction Using the Transcendental Meditation Program: Solution to problems Arising from Combat Stress -- Abstract from a presentation by Col. Brian M. Rees and Dr. David R. Leffler at the International Sociological Association Research Committee 01 Seoul National University and Korea Military Academy International Conference on Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution in a Globalized World" given on 14 July 2008 in Seoul, Korea. The presentation described the potential of the Transcendental Meditation Program to combat stress-related problems like PTSD.
Brain researcher Kenneth G. Walton, Ph.D., and psychiatrist James L. Fleming, M.D. published a letter entitled "Finding Ways to Heal" in the 4 April 2005 issue of the Navy Times. Similar letters also appeared in the Army Times and Navy Times. These scientists at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) said:
It's high time we acknowledge that virtually all drugs have negative side effects and look more closely at the human potential for healing ourselves. Research now shows that stress-reduction approaches can be effective for treating hypertension and heart disease as well as anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Among these approaches, meditation has emerged as most effective for many outcomes. Within the different types of meditation, the transcendental meditation program has been researched most and has shown the largest effects in comparative studies [see for review, Behavioral Medicine, Volume 28, Pages 106-123, 2002].
Other web pages of interest to military readers:
Brazilian Scientific Research On Invincible Defense Technology -- These charts show improvements in the discipline and health of cadets and military police officers in Bahia, Brazil and the Military Police Academy of Piaui, Brazil.
Research on the Royal Swedish Air Force (RSAF) -- Lt. Col. Sandahl of the National Defense Research Institute, Karlstad, Sweden, conducted a study on Invincible Defense Technology on individual mental health improvements for pilots (as measured by the Defence Mechanism Test (DMT)).
Maharishi's Supreme Military Science--A Revolutionary Change In The Character Of Military Intervention. -- This academic paper was published by India Defence Consultants (IDC). Dr. David Leffler, Wing Commander Ravi Badhwar (Ret.), and Dr. Kenneth Walton advocate that the Indian military deploy of a Prevention Wing of the Military using Invincible Defence Technology. The first section of this paper summarizes research on how the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique could enhance the performance of the warrior.