The Mt. Rainier Shooting and PTSD: How the Media Got It Wrong

Tez3

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One of the reasons I've seen put forward for the fact that more American soldiers having PTSD is that they have far longer tours than we do, our soldiers do six months tours with R&R in the middle. Americans regularly do over a year, that's a long time in a frontline situation as well as being away from family and loved ones. It was suggested that our tours should be longer but so far this has been vetoed. We send military psychiatrists and nurse out on deployment plus we have the padres, who while being ordained vicars and priests do an amazing job of supporting the troops in a non religious but very important role.
To say PTSD is associated with alcoholism, violence etc is to misunderstand the whole condition, if I think about it, it's probably fairly insulting to people with PTSD as well. This is an article about PTSD on a rape site but it's relative to the thread.
http://survive.org.uk/PTSD.html


"PTSD is a reaction to being exposed to an event which is outside the range of normal human experience. Sometimes it is referred to as post traumatic rape syndrome too. It is a normal human emotional reaction to an abnormal situation. Everyone reacts differently to different situations and it doesn't have to be a life threatening experience for someone to respond in this way. It just has to be perceived by the victim as a traumatic event. It is a psychological phenomenon. It is an emotional condition, from which it is possible to make a full and complete recovery. PTSD affects hundreds of thousands of people who have been exposed to violent events such as rape, domestic violence, child abuse, war, accidents, natural disasters and political torture. It is normal to be affected by trauma. There is help, and it is ok to ask for help. PTSD is not rare. It is not unusual. It is not weak to have PTSD."

If you look at the avoidance and hyperarousal symptoms it shows how much people with PTSD turn inwards rather than violent, drugs and alcohol taken to numb the pain rather than spread the pain they are feeling.


"Similarly shutting down feelings in order to do whatever it takes to survive, or do your job and help others survive, is a reality based survival skill. Numbness is the answer. It is effective. It will help you live. Unfortunately when survivors numb their fear, despair and anger, all their feelings, even good ones, are numbed. Numbness is comfortable. Thinking about what they have been through is so painful survivors wind up avoiding thinking about, feeling, or doing anything that reminds them of the trauma. For example, if they feel the trauma was their fault they may spend the rest of their life having to be right so they won't ever be at fault again. If they were happy when the trauma hit, they may avoid happiness forever."
 

Tez3

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PTSD isn't an excuse for bad behavior, its something that can help explain it. If society is creating situations where PTSD rates increase, that's a problem. The violence that results isn't just the fault of the individual, the society that created the situation is also at fault.

People who experience the symptoms of PTSD, depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, etc can act out violently. It doesn't happen all of the time, but it does happen. Denying that denies the reality of the disorder and the reality of war.

Acknowledging this doesn't denigrate veterans. It merely acknowledges the seriousness of the disorder and hopefully causes us to question the politics that caused it.

Blowing off what happened in this situation is not going to help veterans. When someone is on the edge, they need help immediately because violence could very possibly be a result.

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I think you are assuming that soldiers with PTSD are going to be violent because that's what soldiers are..violent. I don't find them so, I find that they are fighters and as such are disciplined about fighting even when it's fora hobby. I suspect actually because they are disciplined fighters that when they get PTSD they are more likely to turn inwards and kill themselves rather than others. I have no proof other than a long knowledge of the type of person who becomes a soldier, their training, their loyalties, ethos etc. To suggest that when ill either mentally or physically they are going to be more violent than civilians is incorrect.
 

Makalakumu

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I think you are assuming that soldiers with PTSD are going to be violent because that's what soldiers are..violent. I don't find them so, I find that they are fighters and as such are disciplined about fighting even when it's fora hobby. I suspect actually because they are disciplined fighters that when they get PTSD they are more likely to turn inwards and kill themselves rather than others. I have no proof other than a long knowledge of the type of person who becomes a soldier, their training, their loyalties, ethos etc. To suggest that when ill either mentally or physically they are going to be more violent than civilians is incorrect.

All I'm suggesting is that it is possible to turn the violence outward. Whilst it is true that it most often turns inward, it is also true that it can explode in very tragic ways. I get the feeling that a lot of posters here want to deny that this could ever happen.

I live about two miles away from a major Marine Corps Base. Most of my neighbors are part of one branch or another. I train with several soldiers in the dojo. Some of them have seen multiple long combat tours and have spent extensive time away from family as a result. My observation is that these guys are decent and disciplined people. It's hard to see any one of them exploding outward in violence, but that does happen and it always surprises everyone when it does.

Psychic injuries are serious and can lead to violence. The violence can turn inward, it can turn outward on the soldiers immediate family, and it might just turn outward onto complete strangers. That is a reality of war that people who support it need to grapple with.
 

Tez3

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All I'm suggesting is that it is possible to turn the violence outward. Whilst it is true that it most often turns inward, it is also true that it can explode in very tragic ways. I get the feeling that a lot of posters here want to deny that this could ever happen.

I live about two miles away from a major Marine Corps Base. Most of my neighbors are part of one branch or another. I train with several soldiers in the dojo. Some of them have seen multiple long combat tours and have spent extensive time away from family as a result. My observation is that these guys are decent and disciplined people. It's hard to see any one of them exploding outward in violence, but that does happen and it always surprises everyone when it does.

Psychic injuries are serious and can lead to violence. The violence can turn inward, it can turn outward on the soldiers immediate family, and it might just turn outward onto complete strangers. That is a reality of war that people who support it need to grapple with.

Do you honestly think people don't know? for one thing PTSD isn't confined to military personnel. Ask any police office for example, they see it from both sides, victims of crime and accidents, themselves. Rape victims, mugging victims etc et. No one is denying that people with PTSD could be violent but your agenda is an anti war one and when you preach it, which is a valid point of view, you think we are all stupid and don't understand what is going on, you assume that there are things that only you understand and we need to be educated about.

Speaking for myself, I live and work on the biggest Garrison in Europe, that's of anyones forces not just ours, I have been with the military in one capacity or another for all my life, my father was a soldier. I know soldiers that have been through many conflicts, who are still in conflicts, not just Afghan btw. The civilians understand PTSD due to war far more than you'd think after all the civilians here had gone through the Blitz in many of it's towns and cities, it had gone through the IRA bombing campaign and the racially motivated bombing campagns as well as the Muslim terrorists. We've had the Falklands, Sharjah, Sierra Leone, Balkans as well as the Gulf wars and Afghan, we really aren't thick and do understand far more about PTSD than you think. It doesn't actually take people by surprise when someone kicks off as you say it does. I think you are trying to set yourself up as seeming to be the only person who knows what is going on. there's many ex service people on here, there's many who also know or maybe have been Vietnam vets, I met one not that long ago, he told us of how drug taking was rife among the troops in Vietnam, not the recreational type but those handed out by the army medics, the uppers and downers, he said they cause many problems for a lot of them when they got back.

yes mental illness can drive people to violence as can other things but to use it as an excuse for criminality and then suggest we don't understand what it's doing to the troops is incorrect. We are well aware here of the physical and mental injuries our troops are suffering. There's a huge amount of publicity for both, the MOD is trying to do as much as it can, as are the charities.

From the MOD
http://www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support/23245.aspx
http://www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support/23239.aspx


I don't think anyone on here is denying that violence by a PTSD sufferer isn't likely, what people are saying is that you are taking this as part of your anti war stance and are saying that soldiers who suffer from PTSD are more likely to harm others. You want to dis-arm your country, that's a political view point that has little bearing on the case dscussed, that of someone who has killed someone then claimed it was PTSD that made him do it when everything points to the fact that he was a criminal and like most criminals his crimes escalate, if he's a violent personality it's more likely it's that which drove him to kill rather than PTSD. the balance of probablility is that this guy was an out and out bad un without the emotional intelligence to be affected by anything he may have experienced in a war zone. His previous background indivcates that is is a very unlikely candidate for PTSD, perhaps even the opposite, he may have actually revelled in war, certain types of people do.
 

Makalakumu

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Could PTSD push a person with a checkered past over the edge? Why does my anti-war political positions discount my opinions?

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Makalakumu

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No one is denying that people with PTSD could be violent but your agenda is an anti war one and when you preach it, which is a valid point of view, you think we are all stupid and don't understand what is going on, you assume that there are things that only you understand and we need to be educated about.

That's quite an assumption. All I've said is that PTSD might have been a factor and that its worth talking about on a broader level. Ivan accept that it might not have been a factor here, but can you and others accept that it very well could have been a factor?



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Makalakumu

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Ivan is a typo. I've even...it should read. Autocorrect fail.

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Makalakumu

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Lastly, Tez3, I don't want to disarm the country. I believe in self defense and would like to see policies in place that reflect my belief. Fighting aggressive wars across the world and maintaining 700+ military bases across the world is self defense. That's an empire.

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Big Don

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Lastly, Tez3, I don't want to disarm the country. I believe in self defense and would like to see policies in place that reflect my belief. Fighting aggressive wars across the world and maintaining 700+ military bases across the world is self defense. That's an empire.

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Words have specified meanings, Merriam Webster defines EMPIRE
:a (1) : a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority; especially : one having an emperor as chief of state.
What territories, aside from Guam, Puerto Rico, etc are you including?
 

Sukerkin

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A definite point, Don, tho' it is a word that is morphing in usage almost underfoot. The British Empire was the one that last fitted that description but what Maka is on about, with no argument from me I have to admit, is America's Corporate Empire - it's the same sort of 'deal', with foreign nations serving the economic needs of a central 'hub' but with no formal head of state to which nations are subject. Another big difference is that the economic 'benefits' are not really accruing to American citizens as a whole for the money enters the corporate 'sphere' and most of it stays there.

None of that is pertinent to what this thread is about of course (and I have to say that couching it in terms of an American empire might not be entirely accurate given who actually 'owns' a lot of the corporate fiscal structure).
 

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Isn't PTSD linked to domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse? Wouldn't this also explain why he was having major issues with both of these?
You keep ignoring the fact he had these same issues prior to ever joining the military. Is PTSD linked to domestic violence and drinking? I dont know. I do know Ive been diganosed with it since 2005 and Ive never it my wife and I dont drink.

Could PTSD push someone with a checkered past over the edge?
Could it? I learned long ago anyhing is possible. Its also possible to catch syphilis from a hooker overseas and go crazy, or fall down bump your head and go crazy or let your blood sugar get out of wack and go crazy. So Sure PTSD could cause people to do bad things. I still dont think Barnes falls into this catagory

One of the nastiest fights Ive ever been in was with a guy with diabeties that let his sugar get to low. I thought I was going to have to kill him. Took 2 of us before we were finally able to get hm cuffed. EMS showed up gave him the sugar gel and in 3 min he was fine and so sorry or his actions. So anything is possible.
 

Makalakumu

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Good post, Sukerkin. The connection between this incident and the global financial corporate empire is that psychic injuries are a price our society pays for it. Sometimes these psychic injuries explode into violence.

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Brian King

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To be honest I am having trouble keeping this thread and the other thread separate as the same people seem to be posting in both threads
http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?100511-Ex-Soldier-Stationed-At-Troubled-Base so I beg advanced forgiveness for mixing the two.


There are I think a couple of misconceptions or misunderstandings that I am reading, and these are causing people to become defensive and repetitive.


The rates of PTSD are increasing but this is do to better diagnostic tools and changed understandings of the criteria of what PTSD is, as well as increased awareness of the different levels of severity and numbers of occurrences/attacks. People see the headline of such and such a number of cases reported not understanding that the severity can be the difference between a paper cut and a sword slash yet all are reported the same and read by the public as the same.


PTSD is a diagnosable disorder. To be correctly diagnosed there are a number of criteria that have to be met. For the layperson I can recommend Col. Grossmans book On Combat, the Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace. His other text On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society is also a good read but I think for this conversation the On Combat book would give readers a more clear working definition and understanding of PTSD. Before folks level the charge/diagnosis of PTSD they should have also read and understood the relevant parts of the DSM-IV and ICD-9 (10 is out and becomes official next year I think, some use it today.) Although it is easy to do, do not skip over the criteria sections. They are specific and must be met, pay attention the ands and the ors. Reporters and family members as well as individuals themselves seem to relish throwing out the PTSD diagnosis even though it has not been officially diagnosed. This lazy ignorant habit along with the perceptions brought about by popular culture cloud the issues and often lead to misdiagnosis and worse failed treatment for physical and emotional issues that could otherwise have been properly diagnosed and treated if professional assistance had been sought. Someone having several of the various symptoms shows that they may have some issues to work through but it in no way means that they have PTSD. Then there is severity and coping issues that along with experiences and attitudes defines the various treatment models for those that in fact suffer from PTSD


Why are so many so quick to assume a diagnosis of PTSD? Why are so many even after not meeting the criteria hanging onto the misdiagnosis of PTSD? There are in my opinion many various reasons, most having to do with acceptance and ease. As trackers know, humans tend to travel the easier paths even while being hunted. It is the same when dealing with physical, mental, and emotional issues. So that means for some, involved with a legal case it might be easy to discredit someone by claiming that they suffer from PTSD. For others that have lost people that are/were close to them, claiming PTSD is a very real way of removing the blame form either party (suicide or early death for example). Those cases are what they are. For some a means of gaining a upper hand and for others a survival mechanism. There are many other reasons I am sure but It is this second above that I find most interesting, tragic and sometimes inspiring.


There used to be a mental disorder called survivors guilt. Commonly found amongst survivors of catastrophic events. It is also found amongst emergency personal who can blame themselves for not doing enough during emergencies. I believe that it is no longer classified as a disorder and is now classified as a symptom of PTSD but could be mistaken. People that are suffering from this symptom can display several symptoms such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc. These symptoms can lead to self-destructive behavior thru self-medication or if untreated can lead to chronic mental and physical breakdowns and illnesses. One method that people use to deal with the guilt is to find some kind of meaning in the loss and its circumstances. We can see this often in the anti-drunk driving campaigns for example. As well as child murder and kidnappings often lead survivors to campaign for reforms and changes to existing laws and ordinances. Suicides and/or the early death of a loved one can force people as a survival mechanism to assign blame to a disorder for causing the loss, to explain the lack of sufficient help and attention given to the sufferer. Easier to blame the disorder rather than the sufferer and those close to them. It is usually unhealthy but it is a common human reaction and is a temporary survival mechanism to aid in the coping of loss.


Why do so many refuse to admit to the correct diagnosis of PTSD? There is still a stigma attached for some individuals to the diagnosis. Part of the occurrence of PTSD has to do with a feeling of helplessness and for many that is difficult to admit. For some the event triggering the PTSD was abusive an/or sexual and this could also be difficult to admit. For others the incidents occurred during childhood and is long buried but still causing damage. For some people the correct treatment is to tough it out, yup, John Wayne it.


Summary:
Anytime a discussion of PTSD occurs, folks should bone up on what it is exactly, not what they think due to reading some article written on a blog or forum, or seeing some show on TV. It is heavy research but not impossible. When discussing PSTD understand that some will cling to misdiagnosis and assumptions, it might not be done out of ignorance but might be a very real and needed survival mechanism - either on the conscious or on the subconscious levels. When reading articles in newspapers or listening to news reports understand that the job of the reporters is to get people to listen. When this gunman story first hit the air the reports were sketchy, but right from the first reported as fact was that he was a war veteran, heavily armed with caches of weapons and ammo, had survivalist skills. They closed a huge park, forced people inside the park building and forced them to stay. They left the shot ranger where she fell for hours for fear of ambush, many decisions right or wrong were made based on the faulty sensationalized reporting. Instead of Rambo which was already being compared, the guy was a scared panicked kid in a t-shirt and single tennis shoe who in my opinion took the easy way out via suicide. Lots of lessons to be learned on responses of the LEOs, domestic violence lessons, violence at house parties, winter survival lessons, active shooter lessons. Lessons on how to prevent PTSD from occurring in the first place could be a useful discussion subject. Debating on whether someone has PTSD when it was never diagnosed, no treatment was sought out for it, is in my opinion falling into the trap of learning the wrong lessons, feeds fearful preconceptions, and encourages misconceptions. Let the reporters blurt out the facts before confirmed and ridicule them for the awful reporting. Awful reporting should not guide thinking on issues unless the issue is the awful reporting in my opinion. Wishing the facts true or false is silly, facts are a stubborn thing a wise man said. They do not need embellishing of or distortions to lead in a false direction.


Regards
Brian King
 

Tez3

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That's quite an assumption. All I've said is that PTSD might have been a factor and that its worth talking about on a broader level. Ivan accept that it might not have been a factor here, but can you and others accept that it very well could have been a factor?



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It's not actually an assumption, it's based on the many posts you've written on your military and your country. At one point I remember people getting furious with you because of the things you were accusing the military of. Yours is a political agenda when saying the guy has PTSD as you wish to prove that the military are the ones in the wrong here.
 

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To be honest, that's not what I thought Maka was saying. What I have gleaned over the past few years is that what he heavily disapproves of is the use that the American military is being put to, not the members of the military itself.
 

Tez3

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To be honest, that's not what I thought Maka was saying. What I have gleaned over the past few years is that what he heavily disapproves of is the use that the American military is being put to, not the members of the military itself.

However in the past he has caused outrage at his asumptions of how forces behave.
 
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Big Don

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To be honest, that's not what I thought Maka was saying. What I have gleaned over the past few years is that what he heavily disapproves of is the use that the American military is being put to, not the members of the military itself.
Gee, doesn't he show that well?

As soon as we acknowledge that PTSD might have been a factor, it becomes a political issue.

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We actually don't know if PTSD was a factor or not. We'll never know. We should be talking about this issue though, because its something that gets brushed under the rug and forgotten in the name of patriotism.

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Trying to make political points over the body of a Ranger is somewhat sickening.
 

Makalakumu

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To be honest, that's not what I thought Maka was saying. What I have gleaned over the past few years is that what he heavily disapproves of is the <b>use</b> that the American military is being put to, not the members of the military itself.
<br />
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However in the past he has caused outrage at his asumptions of how forces behave.

War Crimes exist, but that is a separate issue.

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Makalakumu

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To be honest, that's not what I thought Maka was saying. What I have gleaned over the past few years is that what he heavily disapproves of is the use that the American military is being put to, not the members of the military itself.

I heartily disapprove of the way society deployed our military. I think we needlessly put them in harms way and that psychic injuries like PTSD are an unfortunate result.

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Makalakumu

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Gee, doesn't he show that well?



Trying to make political points over the body of a Ranger is somewhat sickening.

How many posts have you been guilty of the exact same thing? Pot and kettle black. Why is it so hard to acknowledge the fact that psychic injuries lead to violence and then question the policies that cause these injuries? Even if its not the case here, which nobody can say for sure, incidents like these certainly bring up the topic for discussion.

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