Geeking Science: PTSD

Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash; Cropped and color adjusted by Erin Penn

The human mind has been created to be reprogrammed, to adjust to life changes, community changes, environmental changes. Both the brain (hardware) and mind (software) customize their functions to situations humans face. It is one of our most amazing traits; and it creates some of our greatest tragedies.

Myke Cole tackles the topic of “What PTSD is” with grace. He focuses on the solider, but recognizes that PTSD is a trained response to an ongoing environmental stress – whether governments deciding policy through the lives of teenagers (the most responsive time to brain restructuring) or abuse from loved ones.

Once the rewiring happens, paths are permanently cut off.

That doesn’t mean new ones cannot be created.

Don’t give up.


Neuroplasticity allows the brain to recover from traumatic events, like a stroke (a physical stress) or moving to a completely new country (a mental stress). Humans can learn how entirely new languages, skill sets, and communities. But stress affects thinking and memory. In dangerous situations, the amygdala (the survival section) takes over, moving resources from high-level memory creation and decision making. And “dangerous situations” are interpreted by the brain from physical stress response, such as elevated heart rate, not cold logic.

Chronic and persistence stress rewires our brain. It is how we are built. And just like any learning situation, repetition gets it in the brain good. 

What I am trying to say PTSD is a normal, natural product of how humans function. Whether created by a significant other threatening one emotionally or by being an employee in a position with dangerously irate clients (like a police officer serving warrants), the rewiring will occur and it is okay.

Overcoming this rewriting can be difficult. But the first step is realizing you are not alone. You aren’t the only one. And you aren’t broken beyond repair. It’s fixable, with help. Help, because we are human and humans heal best in social situations. Brain rewiring is learning related, that takes teachers and practice. If you need it, get it. If you recognize the need in others, help them.

To start, maybe read Myke Cole’s article: (link no longer working as of 2/24/2023).


About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to and join us on Facebook