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David Shapiro '93: ''How a Masters in Vedic Science prepared me to help 100 million Africans suffering Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD)''
by David Shapiro
Maharishi University of Management - Alumni Success Stories Translate This Article
17 May 2016
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is gaining national recognition and attention, and rightfully so, for the tens-of-thousands of American veterans suffering this mental health challenge as the after-effects of war. PTSD, caused by any overwhelmingly traumatic experience, leaves the victim indrawn, hyper-vigilant, with chronic, horrible flashbacks of the event, and often with problems sleeping. Often, one is filled with anger, and some victims resort to ''self-medication,'' excessive alcohol use, and may become violent.
Not only do US soldiers get PTSD, but first responders, refugees, and many other victims around the world are plagued by PTSD. In Africa, for example, up to 100 million Africans, mostly civilians, suffer from war, violence, sexual abuse and natural disaster and now are bound in this mental prison.
From our experience, massive attention is needed to start supporting this ocean of suffering humanity. We need to reduce the symptoms for this gigantic group as soon as possible, to help them start living happy and productive lives.
Who would have thought that a Masters in Vedic Science would prepare me to help 100 million Africans suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
My team and I worked at the Maharishi University of Management Ayurvedic clinic and we designed and ran a one-year Ayurveda Technician and Administer Training program from 1988-1992, but we never dealt with disease.
We just helped healthy staff and faculty become healthier and prevent disease.
However, in 2011 that would change.
In January of that year I spoke with my good friend Dr. Lucien Mansour, the International Administrator for the TM program in eight countries, including his two African countries, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. He asked me if I would please administer the TM program in those nations, since he was very busy with projects around the world and could use a hand. I agreed. With no TM teachers and almost no meditators in Congo and Gabon, I found that there were 100,000 Congolese refugees in Uganda. So, our plan was to teach the Congolese in Uganda and then train some to be TM teachers and send them home to Congo to begin teaching. And, indirectly, that is what happened.
Just before teaching, Ernie Robson, a Governor who has quietly worked to support many Movement projects including PTSD projects for US Vets, said that there was currently no money to research TM and PTSD in the US but it was very promising and asked if I could test the Congolese refugees. Rather than cost $1,000 or $2,000 per person as it does in the US, in Uganda the cost was $25 per person. I agreed to try and raise the money and conduct the study.
We raised the funds and then formed a team of Dr. Brian Rees, an MD who has five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq as a Colonel in the US army and who is an expert on PTSD, and Dr. Fred Travis, expert in research design and statistics and Chair of the Vedic Science Department of MUM/ Director for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition. We designed a study to randomly assign and test two groups with PTSD: one group would learn TM and the other would be wait-listed to learn TM after the study.
With the wonderful help of the TM teachers and meditators of Uganda, we began the study.
After 30 days of TM, the non-TM control group showed no improvement at all and over 90 percent of the TM group was now non-symptomatic. Our team of scientists and the TM teachers from Uganda were totally astonished!!
This was a massive breakthrough in PTSD relief!
This landmark study and a second associated study were soon published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, April 2013; February 2014.
In six months we taught 50 Congolese TM and published these two studies for $8,000 US.
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News from African PTSD Relief: Transcendental Meditation, a profound, cost-effective solution
∙ Psychology Today: Transcendental Meditation reduces Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms
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