Can the Wrongfully Imprisoned Be Healed of Their Trauma?

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Playing Trauma’s Lasting Impact on the Body

Ricky, Nancy, and Clarence have all been imprisoned for terrible crimes – crimes they never committed. Now the three of them join The Doctors to discuss the lingering trauma of these experiences, and how they are able to move forward.

Ricky says that the company of the other wrongfully imprisoned means everything to him. “We never pass up an opportunity to meet and be together, because we know there’s that level of understanding amongst us. We have our family and our friends, but they can never really understand the depths of our emotional trauma.” He adds, “When I see these guys, I just automatically light up!”

Watch: Life After a Wrongful Conviction

All three suffer from anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Psychotherapist Dr. Mike Dow tells them, “I don’t think there’s any amount of therapy that can erase what happened to you.”

PTSD Specialist Dr. Eugene Lipov explains, “I look at PTSD as a biological phenomenon. When the body is put through an extreme circumstance of any form, the fight-or-flight response is kicked into gear. You know exactly what I’m talking about!” he says to Clarence, who is nodding. “A mild sound can set it off.”

He says the same is true for Jennifer, who was raped and then, decades later, suffered the additional trauma of learning she had helped convict the wrong man of the crime. “I can’t even imagine how horrible that would feel,” Dr. Lipov tells her.

Watch: Healing the Pain of Wrongful Imprisonment

Their brains have adapted to help them survive in horrible circumstances, he explains, but now those adaptations are causing them continual stress. But Dr. Lipov has a treatment – an injection to turn off nerve fibers created during the trauma, and return the brain to its original state. The procedure has been used to help returning veteran Special Operations officers.

Now Dr. Lipov offers this treatment to Jennifer, Clarence, Nancy, and Ricky. “You don’t have to live in misery forever.”

ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork reassures them that The Doctors will take care of any travel and logistics to help them get treated. “I truly hope and pray that the three of you can find some hope and peace in all this, because your stories are compelling as any I’ve ever heard.”