Some Never Come Home; Some Never Move Past

Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, Chapel Library

25150 N Pima Rd

Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Tel. 480-585-9448 x 1

Some Never Come Home; Some Never Move Past

Trapped in horrific memories that refuse to fade. Closed off. Fearful in an endless war with themselves. Unless you’ve been there yourself it’s almost impossible to comprehend the debilitating curse of Post-Traumatic-Stress.

These are the people who fought and sacrificed for us. They were our shield against adversity and the defenders of our beliefs and values. This will be powerful and it will touch you emotionally. Ultimately it is about us all and the way we deal with the world around us. Be prepared …

The program:

September 7  |  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm   |  Chapel Library    

Post-Traumatic-Stress from Perspectives of Science and Faith

Panel Discussion: Dr. Barry Goodfield, Mr. Joe Brett, Rev. Dr. Wesley Avram

September 14  |  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm  |  Chapel Library  

PTSD – The Roots of Despair 

Lecture, video demonstration with group discussion

September 21  |  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm  |  Chapel Library  

PTSD and Our Unconscious Mind

Lecture, video demonstration with group discussion

September 28  |  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm  Chapel Library  

PTSD The Tools to Find The Long Road Home  

Lecture, video demonstration with group discussion http://

Professional tips: How to Save More Vets from Suicide

The following presents a review of an article written by Dr. Peter Gutierrez and Dr. Natalie Riblet, written by Dr. Barry Austin Goodfield, DABFM, founder of Operation New Outlook.

The reviewed article appeared in VA Research Currents; Research news from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (May 2017 issue). The article’s title: “Studies Probe Pre-Suicide Contact with Mental Health Care Among Vets, Soldiers”

Dr. Natalie Riblet, a psychiatrist at the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont, led the study relating to Veteran suicides. She spoke about why a recent psychiatric hospitalization may be a risk factor for suicide.

Dr. Peter Gutierrez, a clinical research psychologist at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, co-authored the other study, which relies on data from Army STARRS, the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members.

The study, published in April 2017 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, looks at 569 Army soldiers who died by suicide from 2004 to 2009. It says about 50 percent of the soldiers accessed health care in the month before their death and about 25 percent in the week prior. Most of those visits were in a mental health unit.

“This suggests that opportunities exist to intervene with a substantial proportion of suicide decedents in the months before death by focusing on patients in [mental health] treatment,”

Gutierrez explains that health providers carry a burden to be aware of which of their patients are at risk based on factors that typically don’t change much: age, gender, and prior history of suicide-related behaviors. When providers sense an elevated risk of suicide, he says, they should routinely ask their patients about thoughts of suicide, preparation for a suicide attempt, and level of intent to engage in self-harm.

Gutierrez says there are other warning signs health providers should monitor:

  • Significant agitation. “That often manifests as a dramatic change in quality of sleep, and it’s something that’s pretty easy to ask about. How have you been sleeping this week? Have you been having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep? Are you waking up too early? Does this represent a dramatic change in how you were sleeping in the last month?”
  • A dramatic increase or decrease in alcohol and substance abuse. “At an international meeting I attended,” says Gutierrez, “data were presented that suggests a huge percentage of chronic problem drinkers who die by suicide quit drinking entirely or dramatically decrease how much they drink about 48 hours before their suicide. That’s a pretty narrow window, but it suggests that assessing for major changes in substance abuse is important.”
  • Social withdrawal. “Asking about social withdrawal, which is a dramatic change to the extent in which people are socializing over the past month, may well be a warning sign. Seriously pondering the probability of ending one’s own life is incredibly daunting, and in order to sort of focus the necessary attention to make it possible, many people withdraw.”
  • Eye blinking. “It appears that when suicide is imminent, the rate at which people blink their eyes lengthens dramatically. Most people blink every three seconds or so. That may extend to every 25 or 30 seconds for a person considering suicide. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a warning sign at this point. But we definitely need to study this more.”

Doctor Goodfield’s observations:

We know that elevated flutter rate or eye blinking quickly is an indicator of anxiety. The faster the flutter rate the greater the anxiety. Conversely, It can be said the slower the flutter rate or eye blinking the more the individual is in an altered state of consciousness. They are physically present but psychologically absent. This person is in a trance state, That is, they may appear to be lost in thought or simply not paying attention to what is being said and what is happening around them. They are lost in the thought of life versus death when deliberating the issue of suicide, period.

This is not to say that people who are ”away,” or daydreaming, or lost in thought are suicidal.  What is suggested, however, is that people seriously considering suicide are more involved with thoughts from the past and considerations of their bleak future.

Their fears from the past get projected into the future and wipe out involvement and commitment to the needs and the demands of the environment here and now. They’re simply not home.

What would we expect to see nonverbally with individuals in this state?

  • Eyes with white showing below the iris. This look strongly reflects an individual absent from being present. This is one of the indicators used by clinicians doing hypnosis to evaluate the subject’s susceptibility to trance induction. The more white showing under the eyes, the more likely one can infer that this is a subject who is not only hypnotizable, but is in an altered state much of the time. This is an important variable for the clinician concerned about suicidal ideations.
  • Eyes with a glazed look about them. Once again, the clinician should be looking for the degree to which the veteran appears to be present and responsive to the questions and activities going on around him or her. It is safe to say, with regard to suicide, the more absent the patient, the greater the risk.
  • Eyes that are moist as if they have or are about to cry. Moist eyes or eyes that appear shiny may reflect recent crying and or sadness where the patient tried to hold back his or her tears. A “stiff upper lip” attitude does not guarantee that that which is held back is not observable. This is particularly true when looking at the eyes of a patient on the edge of life or death.

Gutierrez’s study doesn’t specifically look at what would drive a soldier to die by suicide. But he notes that other articles using Army STARRS data found that service members with relationship problems, such as a divorce or child custody battle, as well as those with legal troubles, could be at higher risk.

Many suicides after unplanned discharges

For their study, Riblet and her team reviewed VA clinical reports of death by suicide within seven days of discharge from all VA inpatient mental health units from 2002 to 2015. The reports looked, in part, at the root causes of the suicide. The study, which is expected to be published soon in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, cites 141 reports of suicide during that period, 43 percent of which (61) followed an unplanned discharge. That means the discharge occurred against medical advice or the patient unexpectedly requested to move up the discharge after it was scheduled for a later time.

The study says inpatient teams should be aware of the “potentially heightened risk” for suicide in patients taking an unplanned discharge.

“Our findings suggest that even when—and especially when—patients leave inpatient psychiatric care precipitously or against our advice, we still need to do everything we can to arrange a solid follow-up plan,” she says. “This may require some continued work around follow-up planning and communication with patients in the hours and days following an unplanned discharge.”

Doctor Goodfield’s comment:

Whenever a patient, whether in a hospitalized setting or in an outpatient circumstance, makes the decision to unilaterally terminate the treatment process, it should be of major concern to the clinician. This is especially true when suicide is a topic in the treatment process. When suicide is being discussed as an alternative to an unsuccessful life experience, the clinician should give the patient additional attention and perhaps even additional sessions to address this thought process. This includes refocusing the treatment that they are getting and the reaction that they have to it.

When a veteran feels abandoned or on some level that his/her needs are not being met in the treatment they are receiving, they may simply choose to walk away in frustration and anger. Hopelessness or impotence may also lead to inappropriate solutions including giving up on life itself.

When the veteran feels they are overmedicated and perceive their therapist as uninvolved with their issues it is not hard to understand why the veteran might give up on the therapeutic process designed to give insight and alternatives to the problems that brought them to the VA in the first place.

It is not appropriate to chase the patient who appears suicidal. It is however, essential to express genuine concern. This must be followed by specific action to re-address the issue leading to the thought of terminating the treatment process before both agree that the process is over.

Suicidal patients are difficult to deal with and are often seen to be a heavy burden on the therapist. This is no excuse for not following a potentially suicidal patient who terminates therapy before it is officially over. But it certainly can explain why the therapist could become reluctant to reengage in a frustrating experience with someone who is as ambivalent and perhaps even passive aggressive as the one who left treatment.

The study says the risk for suicide may be the greatest in the first few days after discharge. VA/DoD clinical practice guidelines recommend a follow-up within seven days of discharge from hospitals and emergency rooms for patients who remain at high risk of suicide. The guidelines say the patients and family members should receive suicide-prevention information, such as a crisis hotline, as well as treatment plans for psychiatric conditions and for suicide-specific therapies.

But precautionary measures can only do so much. Riblet says in some cases a patient who dies by suicide may exhibit no warning signs prior to the incident. “Available instruments to help in the suicide risk assessment process are also not perfect, and no instrument can predict with absolute certainty who will die by suicide,”

In The Goodfield Method the client or patient is always given regular feedback with video analysis of their nonverbal behavior. This approach highlights deeper unconscious feelings of and to the client. In nearly all cases, strong indications of dissatisfaction in the treatment process are very apparent.

Moreover, this emotional exposure forms the basis for redirecting the therapeutic process to the causality and the need for redirection within the treatment process. When you’re observant and involved, the patient can always feel it. It is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. This may lie at the heart of the veteran leaving therapy before the clinical work is complete.

The Goodfield Method’s Use of The Non-Verbal Leak (NVL) could provide an important opportunity for the clinician treating individuals who are seriously considering suicide. By definition, two emotions exist side by side: anxiety and ambivalence. Given these two variables, a clinician concerned about a high-risk of suicide with a  particular patient could ask that individual on video a few pointed questions that might elicit their true unconscious feelings about life and death. 

Suicide Prevention Using the Nonverbal Leak of The Goodfield Method™  The following are ten questions that could be used to determine risk factors with a potentially suicidal patient:

Question 1: How committed are you to your treatment?

Question 2: How effective do you feel the treatment that you’re currently receiving is in helping or hindering your recovery to fully functioning? 

Question 3: On a scale of one to 10, what number would you give to your level of progress in the treatment of your current condition, ten being best?

Question 4: What specifically do you need now to improve the possibility of a successful treatment program?

Question 5: How committed are you to continuing your life on the path it is currently on?

Question 6: What impact do you feel the medication that you are taking is having on your outlook on life; specifically, do you feel it is helping or hindering you? 

Question 7: State one thing that you feel would change your life for the better now, for example a change in your relationship with a person or an event? 

Question 8: Say your name.

Question 9: What do you see when you look at yourself saying your name? What do you see in your facial expression when you say your name? How does that feel? 

Question 10:  Say the name of someone important to you. What do you see when you say that persons name? How does that feel? 

Her research speculates that poor communication between providers may contribute to insufficient knowledge of a patient’s risk for suicide after discharge. “However, we do not know whether better risk assessment or provider communication would actually decrease post-discharge suicide risk,” she says. “This is an area where we need more research.”

They simply don’t see the value or the point of continuing. Sometimes this is a fatal conclusion as the statistics of twenty lost veterans a day indicates. Let me be clear: in no way do I cast aspersions on the men and women who dedicate their lives to helping our veterans. They are doing a difficult job with limited resources in an overwhelming circumstance. Day after day they bring help and hope to our veterans.

Three R’s for a Happier Memorial Day

The warm Arizona sky felt fresh on my skin as Dori and I sped down the empty freeway heading towards the 8 o’clock service at Pinnacle Peak Presbyterian Church. Top down and a seventy mile an hour breeze and the roar of the Morgan’s engine hearkened another beautiful day. By noon the temperature would be in the hundreds (+ 32 Celsius).

Dr. Wes Avram, the Minister gave a brilliant sermon about what we abstract from our life experience, what we remember and how it shapes our lives. He spoke of our veterans and the tormenting memories associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

It is a painful memory, a “gift” that keeps on taking, popping up out of nowhere when least expected. It is a landmine waiting to be triggered and exploded by a smell, sound, or quick movement. Always there — a matter of time waiting to destabilize, waiting to overwhelm a life that had been dedicated to service and to love of country.

Some suggest that such shocks can never be removed. After all, pain and trauma are part of life. Some of us had difficult childhood’s that impacted us in our adult life. We never forget some of those difficulties and obstacles.

For most of us early childhood traumas tint and taint the hues of our daily existence. For most of us they do not control our life they simply impacted our perception of life. When it becomes too much for us we try to talk it out with friends and family. If that is not successful we reach out to trained professionals and religious figures who can help us to understand our past and let it go.

In that sense on Memorial Day, when we say don’t forget to remember, we are ultimately suggesting that we keep in mind the acts and actions we deem as important from times past.

This Memorial Day weekend we focus our attention on those who have served our country and have made sacrifices for our freedom. What we must remember is that those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress are trapped in that perpetual “Groundhog Day” film where events reoccur and then repeat and repeat it again.

There is a way out and there are thousands of professional men and women dedicated to defeating the cycle of sadness and despair. With years of training and experience this army of helpers strives to make the lives of our veterans better. Of this there is no doubt.

The question is what is the key to just stopping the “Post Traumatic Stress movie” that runs and ruins the lives of our veterans and their families? Here is my answer.

It is the 3Rs Reflection, Reasoning and Re-symbolization.

Reflection: To look back at difficulties and passed dangers provides us with opportunity to gain perspective and a greater understanding of past conflicts.

Reasoning: It’s one thing to look back and quite another to figure out how, why, where and when a trauma occurred. That becomes the basis for deeper understanding on both conscious and unconscious levels

Re-symbolization: Here’s where the magic comes in to play. Any healing process whether it be on a psychological, philosophical, theological or even a psycho­-physiological level must involve re-symbolization. On a psychological level it may be thought of as new insights. On a philosophical level it may mean embracing a more encompassing perspective. On a theological level it is generally thought of as forgiveness.

If you consider this notion of re-symbolization in general it is nothing more than letting go of something that disturbs our human balance. If it is as simple as that why don’t we just let go of those things that disturb us and quickly re-establish homeostasis or balance within our system whenever we need to?

It’s one thing to know that cigarettes aren’t good for you, it’s quite another to quit smoking. It’s one thing to know that a balanced diet is best for us it’s quite another to walk by a bakery or a candy store as if it were not there.

What makes re-symbolization so difficult? The answer is simple — it is our unconscious process. Things that are in our unconscious mind have two qualities.

  • They have a profound impact on the way we perceive events around us. The unconscious colors our perception and often determines our reality.
  • The unconscious is below our level of awareness. It is like the keel on a ship we do not see it but it has a profound impact on the stability of our ship of state — our lives.

If re-symbolization is an essential aspect of rebalancing our system how can we make it work? The answer is simple it is access. We can access the unconscious process through an altered state of consciousness. In other words, find the unique key for that particular trauma for that particular individual. It is as simple as decoding the messages that we send when the right questions are asked. These correct questions elicit responses from the unconscious that reflect the deep feelings that we have around critical issues. This is particularly true when trauma is associated with an issue.

We go to the dentist when we have a toothache to have it fixed. The first question usually relates to the reason for our visit. The answer is simple I feel pain. At that point we simply point our finger to the troubling area. The dentist looks and after explaining his diagnosis offers a treatment plan. It usually boils down to “I will fill or pull it”

The therapeutic process should be just the same. You find somebody qualified whom you can trust. Discuss the psychological pain you feel and what it is doing to you. The therapist like a psychological “safecracker” will access the content of your unconscious and help you to re-symbolize the meaning that you gave it at the first time and place when you experienced the trauma.

It is as complicated and simple as all that — access, insight and a new and more appropriate decision or simply re-symbolization. The message is shown by nonverbal behavior, what we call the NVL or Non-Verbal Leak. The Goodfield Method™ is the key to that precise access.

On Memorial Day we look to those who have made sacrifice and consider those still suffering from the traumas suffered that resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We must remember to remember and employ the new tools available to help our veterans to find a perspective that operationally lets them forget that which has controlled their lives in so many painful and destructive ways. There is an answer to PTSD and that is a deep insight and clear action.

After the service was over we went to the National Memorial Cemetery of Phoenix and walked among our military looking at the field of flags that flew honoring the lives they lived. The sun was getting hotter as we drove back in a self reflective silence.

Memorial Day was here as it is, every day for veterans. May God bless them all.

Prof. Barry Austin Goodfield, Ph.D., DABFM

This Vet Uses Poetry to Combat PTSD

In a previous post, we mentioned one combat veteran we’ve met who spent several years trying to overcome the emotional wounds that she suffered due to post-traumatic stress. This woman, Cleo DeLoner, has fought back against these wounds by turning them into her art, in the form of free verse. A collection of her works has been published as a book named “Triggerpieces.” Copies are available for sale on Here’s a sample of her work:


I have many aliases
Soldier’s Heart
Battle Fatigue
Shell Shock
I am like no enemy you have ever fought
I control you
I own you
I insert horrific memories in your head at my beck and call
I watch you from a distance
As your eyes stare at nothing
I startle you back to reality
I freeze the most graphic images in your mind
Forcing you to witness the horror over and over again
I fuel your rage
I fuel your hatred
I take you close in my arms
Away from everyone who cares about you
Because I am jealous
When I have you isolated, all to myself
My relentless assault intensifies
My voice is all that you will hear
I will convince you that you are
A burden
Unloved and
I will bring you to your knees
You will try to crawl your way out of the maze of confusion
Until you collapse face down
All the while I scream at you to end it
I will drive you to a depth of darkness so deep
No amount of light will penetrate
I will envelope you in total and utter unimaginable despair
The emptiness you feel carries a thousand echoes of the suffering that I inflict
You will make futile attempts to silence me
With your pathetic pills
Your bottles of booze
You will believe that I have retreated
But I am still with you
Waiting, watching, patiently
Your staggering drunkenness
Brings you to a state of unconsciousness
You are right where I want you
I now bring you the images in full color
I add the sounds of screams
Hovering over you
I watch as you twitch
Toss, turn
Punch the air
Cling to your blankets
And scream, “No!”
I drench you in cold sweat
Forcing you to awaken sitting straight up
As you gasp for air
You don’t like to talk about me to your loved ones
Why would you want to?
How would you describe me?
Am I just a voice in your head?
Am I the monster who has taken up residence in your mind?
Better to just stay quiet
Keep this affair between us
I have convinced you that they don’t care
That I’m the only one who cares
I’ll never leave you alone
This road that we stumble down together
Is a road I walk with many
I sabotage every relationship they have
Their loved ones retreat
Leaving them lonely
They fought me
They fought hard
In the end they all succumb to me
You will to
You have embraced me without even knowing it
I have you in the corner of darkness
Providing you with an instrument of death
I have encouraged you
Guided you
Defeated you
Now I can sit back
And watch your sad finale

Released to ONO for republication on September 9, 2016

PTSD’s Prohibitive Price

Meet Ms. Cleo DeLoner, a United States Army veteran who has suffered from a combat-induced post traumatic stress injury. Her wounds were incurred when she served as a military policewoman in Somalia.

After a long and varied course of treatments for her emotional wounds, she has finally recovered to a fully functional emotional state. In the course of her recovery, Cleo sublimated her wounds by expressing them as free verse poetry. These have now been published in book form as a collection entitled “TRIGGERPIECES: Thoughts That War Stirred Up in One Female Combat Veteran.” The Kindle edtion of her work can be purchased at amazon, here.

Cleo actively supports efforts to serve the needs of her fellow war fighters who have suffered emotional and TBI injuries similar to her own. For that reason, she has consented to help us mount a crowdfunding effort on behalf of Operation New Outlook (“ONO”). ONO is a non-profit corporation dedicated to finding a better means of treating what is commonly referred to as PTSD.