Advancing National Service

Can Being Naked Help Treat PTSD?

April 15, 2014
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Can Being Naked Help Treat PTSD?
Hey Skinny/Flickr
Cover your eyes. Max Sanchez is one of several veterans living peacefully at a clothing-optional condo complex in Florida.

A group of veterans in Florida says they’ve discovered an (ahem) interesting way to treat their PTSD: By taking off all their clothes.

Max Sanchez is one such Vietnam veteran who lives with other vets at the clothing-optional condo complex The Fountains at Paradise Lakes north of Tampa, Florida.

Sanchez told Jennifer Titus of WTSP that he served in the Army for “four years, six months, three days.” Ever since Vietnam, he’s suffered from PTSD. Despite seeing counselors for therapy on and off ever since, only one thing really helps him — living the nudist lifestyle. “I don’t want to be violent. I don’t want to be angry,” he said. When he’s naked among fellow nudists, he said, “I forget about the whole world, I forget the outside world especially…It’s not a cure-all for everybody. I’m happy it’s pretty helpful for me.”

Titus spoke to Dr. Kevin Kip at the University of South Florida’s College of Nursing to find out whether nudism could possibly be a valid PTSD therapy. Dr. Kip has treated hundreds of people suffering from PTSD, and he explained, “The images from a traumatic experience, all of the emotions, the sights, the sounds, the smells, everything, the images — they get stored incorrectly in the brain. And if you don’t have a therapy that helps, essentially, store it properly, it will be chronic, disabling, and you’ll have nightmares, flashbacks.”

Sometimes unconventional approaches such as a radical change in lifestyle can be just the thing people need to prevent those troubling images from returning. “I’m always open to new therapies,” Dr. Kipp said. “Anything that’s stress reducing is likely to be beneficial.” Of nudism, he mused, “Perhaps it lowers inhibition, perhaps it lowers stress.”

With five million sufferers from PTSD in the country, any therapy — regardless of how non-traditional it is — that can reduce the number of afflicted is a welcome one.

MORE: How One Veteran Discovered the Healing Power of Art and Made it His Mission to Share With Others

 

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