March 5, 2009

Who Develops PTSD from Combat

I received this comment at A Soldiers Perspective yesterday. My first reaction was to say, "What are you kidding me? Have you even read any of my posts?", along with a bunch of other really negative explicatives. But I had to back up and think about where this person was coming from, and some things my girlfriend has said to me. She told me that sometimes my writing is a bit obtuse (my words--yes a dense thick and hard to understand word to address exactly what she said about my writing, lol--I just love irony). I can get off into jargon and wordy wording of worldly...whatever.

So, anyway. I had to take a step back and realize that,
  • one, my obtuseness can tend to be intolerable at times
  • two the fact that I think from a practitioners perspective can further lead to speculation
  • and finally, I have magical mystical thinking
which all could and maybe would be evidence that this guy might be on to something as far as someone making sense of what I write. Sooo, I had think about my message; to address the public and speak out about my life with PTSD and how that relates to my everything else.

His comment,
I really appreciate what you are trying to do for our fellow veterans. That said, I am not quite sure that I understand all of your writings. Are you saying that virtually all combat veterans will eventually get PTSD? There is no prevention. There is no cure. Furthermore, we need to hire someone to monitor all veterans for the rest of their lives to make sure that they don't commit criminal acts upon themselves or others in society?
My response,
I do not think that I said or implied any of what you suggest. An individuals reaction to any given trauma has a direct and indirect relation to their development, genetics, upbringing, environment, level of support, culture, level and number of traumatizations and a multitude of other considerations. Most trauma reactions will not lead to a pathological reaction. The implications of reactions to extreme stress have considerable ramifications to those of us who manage day to day with PTSD.

Structural Dissociation of the Personality

Relationship Between Dissociation and IdentityPersonal Attachments, Before and After Combat

Combat Attachments Born of Blood

Dissociative Spectrum

Do I think prevention is a viable cause? Yes, we can do much more to prevent PTSD than we do. Will this prevent everyone from getting PTSD? No, we train to drive a car. Does it prevent all accidents? No.

Fully Train Our Soldiers For the Rigors of War

As to whether a cure is to be had or found, that depends on the severity of the traumatization and the individuals response to it. Most with PTSD (simple PTSD) will become symptom free, others more chronically affected in all probability will not. Every person afflicted with PTSD can find considerable relief from major symptoms. Do I think that chronic, complex or combat PTSD can be cured? For most, no I do not. Do I think that we can find relief from major symptomology? Yes. I have had three years of extensive therapy (20 months in an in-treatment facility) and have resumed therapy again, with probably at least two to three more years to go.

None of the questions you pose brings an easy answer, if it did then we would not see the problems we see today. An attempt to fully answer your questions could be a dissertation topic, to say the least extremely time consuming and cumbersome. If you truly want to understand more, then read these articles. They address your questions,

Statistics, Effects and the Realities of Multiple Deployments

Combat Saturation

Experiencing PTSD

These articles tie together all the above,

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: From A Combat Veterans Perspective

Dissociative Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Influences on Criminality

Combat Veterans and Institutions: A Systems Analysis

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