Trauma, Healing, and Gaming Part One - Games as Lifelines

Liana Kerzner

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Trauma, Healing, and Gaming Part One - Games as Lifelines

When you hear of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, you probably don't often associate video games with it. But games as a therapeutic aspect to this serious problem are more common than we might think.

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Neurotic Void Melody

Bound to escape
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A truly powerful article to read. I hope this gets a lot more reads(views?) than the lack of comments imply, as there is great discussion to be had on this.
There is so much said here that resonates with me, I currently am seeking help for various troubles that quite regularly makes life very difficult to bear. Gaming has helped in many ways, though like the people mentioned, I avoid certain games that I feel would bring about unwanted mental states. What worries me is becoming too dependant on them. I feel I often rely on them too much of late, when times are tough.
Online interaction is best when more of a silent thing. Dark souls and bloodborne are great because you speak only in movement and the community are mostly really good to each other.
It is good to hear these people are experiencing such positive recovery from this unexpected source, though the suicide attempt is a moment of weakness I empathise with, it's wonderful that she is back on her feet. Keep up the brilliant work!
Maybe the title would be better being more direct with its content, as I would have personally clicked on this sooner, had I know the serious subject matter within.
(The other members had better not be missing this due to arguing over "ethics in journalism", female protagonists or beards, as seems to be the thing lately. That is a depressing thought.)
 

Silence

Living undeath to the fullest
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Psychology + video games? Fuck yes!

Straight to the point, without conflating some issues. Very nice article. The subject surprised me, but yes. I want more.
 

Hagi

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Very interesting article, well worth the read.

I'll be honest, I'm not quite sure what to think considering the sheer scope and complexity of the subject. So I'll definitely be reading the following ones and see where it leads me.
 

John Keefer

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Hagi said:
Very interesting article, well worth the read.

I'll be honest, I'm not quite sure what to think considering the sheer scope and complexity of the subject. So I'll definitely be reading the following ones and see where it leads me.
Having already read all four parts, I don't think you will be disappointed.
 

vallorn

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Nov 18, 2009
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John Keefer said:
Hagi said:
Very interesting article, well worth the read.

I'll be honest, I'm not quite sure what to think considering the sheer scope and complexity of the subject. So I'll definitely be reading the following ones and see where it leads me.
Having already read all four parts, I don't think you will be disappointed.
Stop teasing us! We can only take so much!

This was a wonderful article in general and I wish I had more time to elaborate on my thoughts about it but I am currently prepping for Finals so... thumbs up? like? plussie? reblog? retweet? Ecredit?

Good to have you on the website Liana!
 

Barbas

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Oct 28, 2013
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Thank you very much for this fascinating and informative article. It was interesting talking to Stacy and reading about her experiences. They were wildly different to anything I'd ever known in my life. A lot of personal stories like these are staggering and harrowing, but it really does open your eyes to the suffering of other people and how much you really have in common. When you begin to realize how alike you are, I think that's when you start to attach a good deal more meaning to people and your interactions with them. A stranger won't be a stranger again.

I remember that Morrowind was a great escape from a lot of the parts of life I despised for several years; it was a place that I could completely escape to and nothing could reach me to trouble me there. It was more or less where I lived most of my life at one point. Were it an online game, I doubt it would have provided me with any solace, which is a great shame. I still look at the things people say to each other so callously, at the pages of comments egging on a suicide or celebrating someone's murder and wonder how a human could do that to another human. Maybe they just feel like it's their turn to do it to someone else, but that's just passing it on.
 

JustMakingAComment

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Barbas said:
I still look at the things people say to each other so callously, at the pages of comments egging on a suicide or celebrating someone's murder and wonder how a human could do that to another human. Maybe they just feel like it's their turn to do it to someone else, but that's just passing it on.
Yes. But the tragedy of it is that passing along abuse in one form or another is a coping mechanism for many people. They are not callously inflicting harm on others for simple amusement, but as a means of establishing a sense of control. And people will escalate their abuse (or neglect or other harm) until they get a reaction that proves they've hurt someone. Some people make themselves available to be hurt; others have no control over the relationship with an abuser. But any sense of control derived from hurting other people comes with its own psychological cost; often a loss of self-esteem.
 

Blood Brain Barrier

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Wonderful article. I'd even like to see a little more focus on non-PTSD forms of mental hurt. I believe gaming has the potential to save lives in the same way books probably did before, by providing an outlet for anger and pain. It's no substitute for a cure but it's usefulness is truly underrecognized. Who knows how many more suicides and self-harm incidents would have occurred among the mentally ill without them?
 

Jake Martinez

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When the Escapist first hired Liana, I distinctly recall there being a mention that she was going to be doing cosplay coverage. At the time I was of mixed feelings about this, not that I hate cosplay or anything like that, but I have read several of Liana's articles and knew that she has a talent for long form editorials.

So, imagine my surprise when I click on this link and it was both not what I was expecting, but also what I expected from Liana - Long form, well written, well researched with actual interviews and opinions from real people. I'm quite glad to see that the Escapist is letting her run free like this.

Anyway, the one thing that I have to say about this subject is that gaming as escapism is probably most of why people play video games in the first place. The thing that's fantastic about it, as Liana mentions, is that it's a form of escapism that gives you varying degrees of control, which obviously is nice for people who are struggling with issues of not having control in their lives. So yes, I totally agree and see that there could be not only a therapeutic value for current gaming, but even potentially games MADE for therapy (I wonder what that would look like?)

However, and I think this is just a minor annoyance of mine, talks of trigger warnings and the such really seems a step too far for me. From a practical stand point, if someone wants to use them on their work or art, then so be it - I certainly am not going to tell anyone to not do that. The thing that annoys me is that quite simply put - the world doesn't come with a trigger warning on it and it likely never will. No amount of public or social awareness is going to completely wrap life in warnings where people can avoid everything and anything that might discomfort them, at least not without some Orwellian levels of societal monitoring from the government. So when I see people push for warnings on school rooms, or on text books, or before television shows I think to myself that this is a bit of nonsense due to the fact that it creates a very false sense of security for the people who want these warnings. To put it bluntly - If you have a problem with, I'll just pick something at random - rape imagery or stories, then don't watch crime procedurals without looking at what it's going to be about first (There is this little thing called the TV guide...).

I'm not saying this because I am a callous individual, I'm saying it because if people refuse to take charge of their own lives, even so far as not being responsible for using their noodle to avoid situations that they might find unpleasant, then they will never challenge themselves to grow beyond whatever mental state they are in. To put it bluntly - I believe that this type of coddling actually retards a persons attempt at recovery from these types of psychological wounds.

It seems that as a culture we are starting to lose the understanding that not all pain and discomfort is bad. Sometimes it is the price you pay in order to grow as a person. It really seems to me that this is just advocating a state where the person in question is to remain eternally powerless over their own state of affairs and I don't find that outcome particularly inspiring.
 

Encaen

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Jake Martinez said:
When the Escapist first hired Liana, I distinctly recall there being a mention that she was going to be doing cosplay coverage. At the time I was of mixed feelings about this, not that I hate cosplay or anything like that, but I have read several of Liana's articles and knew that she has a talent for long form editorials.

So, imagine my surprise when I click on this link and it was both not what I was expecting, but also what I expected from Liana - Long form, well written, well researched with actual interviews and opinions from real people. I'm quite glad to see that the Escapist is letting her run free like this.

Anyway, the one thing that I have to say about this subject is that gaming as escapism is probably most of why people play video games in the first place. The thing that's fantastic about it, as Liana mentions, is that it's a form of escapism that gives you varying degrees of control, which obviously is nice for people who are struggling with issues of not having control in their lives. So yes, I totally agree and see that there could be not only a therapeutic value for current gaming, but even potentially games MADE for therapy (I wonder what that would look like?)

However, and I think this is just a minor annoyance of mine, talks of trigger warnings and the such really seems a step too far for me. From a practical stand point, if someone wants to use them on their work or art, then so be it - I certainly am not going to tell anyone to not do that. The thing that annoys me is that quite simply put - the world doesn't come with a trigger warning on it and it likely never will. No amount of public or social awareness is going to completely wrap life in warnings where people can avoid everything and anything that might discomfort them, at least not without some Orwellian levels of societal monitoring from the government. So when I see people push for warnings on school rooms, or on text books, or before television shows I think to myself that this is a bit of nonsense due to the fact that it creates a very false sense of security for the people who want these warnings. To put it bluntly - If you have a problem with, I'll just pick something at random - rape imagery or stories, then don't watch crime procedurals without looking at what it's going to be about first (There is this little thing called the TV guide...).

I'm not saying this because I am a callous individual, I'm saying it because if people refuse to take charge of their own lives, even so far as not being responsible for using their noodle to avoid situations that they might find unpleasant, then they will never challenge themselves to grow beyond whatever mental state they are in. To put it bluntly - I believe that this type of coddling actually retards a persons attempt at recovery from these types of psychological wounds.

It seems that as a culture we are starting to lose the understanding that not all pain and discomfort is bad. Sometimes it is the price you pay in order to grow as a person. It really seems to me that this is just advocating a state where the person in question is to remain eternally powerless over their own state of affairs and I don't find that outcome particularly inspiring.
I have a feeling you'll really appreciate part two of this series. Just as powerful as the first, offering different perspectives on Triggers. Stay tuned!
 

hentropy

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When it comes to these kinds of societal problems, I don't think it has as much to do with people misunderstanding it (thought that is a problem), it's that people do understand it on some level. We all have insecurities and problems, our "cross to bear" so to speak. I know I've been bullied in high school, but some accounts it could even have been called severe, though it's not quite the PTS levels. Still, I find myself avoiding certain media or subjects. However, that's at least partially what religion, philosophy, cultural attitudes, etc. are for. Either you had demons, or you weren't disciplined or mentally strong enough, it was always your fault. And this knows no nationality. As poorly as the west deals with these things, it's probably the best at it.

I sometimes hear the argument that it's up to you to adjust to your surroundings, not the other way around. Don't throw your crap on my doorstep! It's a common argument with dietary restrictions. It's not up to a restaurant to cater to your every need. You need to know what you can and cannot eat, after all! Regardless of the validity of that argument (you might be able to guess my feelings on it), having various kinds of PTS is like someone with a food allergy getting food thrown at them around every corner, not being able to sit down and watch TV or a movie for a while without the threat of the television spitting peanut butter at you. Video games award people much more control, now you can safely penetrate deep into the Legume Empire and throw down the gauntlet in front of the tyrant Percival Peanut's feet, and crack him open... I may have run that analogy past its useful life and run the risk of making light of PTS, which is certainly not my intention.

People naturally don't want to change their routines or behaviors for others, it's an understandable enough instinct. This is where the debate over trigger warnings sorta meets the road. It's easy enough to type away on a keyboard about philosophical or esoteric problems, it takes much more effort to stop and think about whether what you're about to say or do might cause someone a significant amount of harm. Many people who rail against things like triggers are just tired of having to think too much about what they're saying, and it is a lot. The maturity comes when you're not just "self-censoring" because you're afraid of how it might be taken, but because you're genuinely concerned about the person or people you're talking to.
 

murrayb67

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Terrific article! I do not personally struggle with PTSD, but a loved one does so it all rings very true. That's why it pains me when I see it trivialized. I look forward to the rest of the series, you really are a welcome addition to The Escapist.
 

whatever55

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Encaen said:
I have a feeling you'll really appreciate part two of this series. Just as powerful as the first, offering different perspectives on Triggers. Stay tuned!
that's awesome, i've always liked her work and since her perspective is nearly always the opposite of mine i find her articles refreshing, as unlike other people she's very elegant and eloquent at making her case.
 

layne

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Jun 14, 2013
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Thank you very much for a well-written and researched article and for sharing your experience. I also have PTSD and this helped me understand why I find such solace and comfort in video games. I look forward to future articles.
 

Encaen

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the silence said:
vallorn said:
murrayb67 said:
whatever55 said:
Sorry for the quote spam, but you all seemed interested in the series, so I wanted to make sure you all saw the second entry, "Triggers and Trigger Warnings" which offers some varied and interesting perspectives. Facing triggers head on can be helpful to some, but to others, it's a recipe for disaster.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/13916-Triggers-and-Trigger-Warnings-For-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder

Stay tuned for part three next Wednesday at 3pm!

Cheers!
 

murrayb67

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Encaen said:
Sorry for the quote spam, but you all seemed interested in the series, so I wanted to make sure you all saw the second entry, "Triggers and Trigger Warnings" which offers some varied and interesting perspectives. Facing triggers head on can be helpful to some, but to others, it's a recipe for disaster.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/13916-Triggers-and-Trigger-Warnings-For-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder

Stay tuned for part three next Wednesday at 3pm!

Cheers!
Thanks for the reminder, I'm enjoying the series tremendously. I hope to see more long form articles on serious subjects like this alongside the entertainment content. Well done.