Monday, December 3, 2012

New Theory of PTSD and Veterans? Not new and not theory

New Theory of PTSD and Veterans? Not new and not theory
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
December 3, 2012

The biggest problem with PTSD is reporters don't have a clue what was known before they discovered something.

Tony Dokoupil wrote a piece in the Daily Beast and said the Moral Injury connection to PTSD was "new" and used "theory" as if was the truth. It is not new and is not a theory. He picked the title that made my jaw hurt from clinching my teeth. Had Dokoupil used what he later wrote "Moral injury is as old as war." as the title then I would not have taken issue with this otherwise great article.

A New Theory of PTSD and Veterans: Moral Injury
The Daily Beast
Author Tony Dokoupil
Dec 3, 2012

Soldiers are supposed to be tough, cool, and ethically confident. But what happens when they have seen and done things that haunt their consciences? New studies suggest that the pain of guilt may be a key factor in the rise of PTSD.

They called themselves the Saints and the Sinners, a company of Marine reservists from the Mormon land of Salt Lake City and the casino shadows of Las Vegas. They arrived in Baghdad a day before Iraqis danced on a fallen statue of Saddam Hussein, and as they walked deeper into the city, they accepted flowers from women and patted children on the crown. Then their radio operator fell backward, shot in the head.

Last month Lu Lobello, a machine gunner with the Saints and the Sinners in 2003, traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak to a panel at the Newsweek and The Daily Beast Hero Summit. To an audience of mostly civilians in business casual, he revived his memories of that battle in Baghdad. By way of introduction, the moderator, Wolf Blitzer, said that Fox Company had killed three civilians in the crossfire. “Well,” said Lobello, “first off, there were about 20 innocent civilians, not three.” He then limned the rest of the raw story: many of the cars in the intersection held families, not fighters. When the Marines realized this, they tried to help, but often it was too late. Another car would come, and they would shoot it, because what if this one was the enemy. “We were shooting at civilians,” his superior officer explained to a reporter in 2008. “We were taking out women and children because it was us or them.” The image that stays with Lobello is one of the first from that day, of a fellow Marine walking in tight circles, talking to himself. “We shot a baby!” he screamed, turning to Lobello. “Lobello, we shot a baby!”

Moral injury is as old as war. It is recognizable in the Iliad and the Odyssey, and in the oldest surviving play of Sophocles. It’s hidden in the private thoughts of soldiers from every prior American war. It was perhaps first used in the journals of Mac Bica, a Vietnam vet turned philosophy professor. In the 1990s two more Ph.D.s popularized the idea, describing the “the psychological burden of killing” and the Homeric betrayal by leaders. The common thread is a violation of what is right, a tear in what some people freely call the soul.
read more here

I left this comment.
While you have done some research, this points to how little research you did. You mentioned "It is recognizable in the Iliad and the Odyssey, and in the oldest surviving play of Sophocles" but did not manage to discover that Jonathan Shay wrote a book about PTSD and the moral wound in Achilles in Vietnam in 1994 and then followed it up 2002 with Odysseus in America. Had you researched this enough you would have never used the term to say it is "new research" and that is the biggest problem when reporters take the easy way out. All the research done after Vietnam veterans came home and fought for it to be done has been forgotten about. If they used what we already knew we wouldn't see so much suffering and a lot more healing going on.

Was it a matter of getting an attention grabbing headline? If it was too many people will walk away with that thought and not allow the number of years research in PTSD has been done preventing the possibility of them walking away furious with the fact that all of this was known so long ago.

When I got into all of this the web was not available for home use. I had to use the library and could only find clinical books on what Vietnam veterans came home with. Not much fun to read and even less support for me as a wife trying to learn what I could do for my husband and myself. Later on self help books didn't provide me with much until I read Achilles in Vietnam. It was then obvious that to heal the warrior, their soul had to be treated above all else that was done.

Medications can only numb. Physical endeavors only work for so long. If we do not tend to the place where the wound lives, we do not heal them.

The story he wrote about the Marines is not new either. I've written numerous times about the same type of event only with a National Guardsman being the one pulling the trigger.

They were on patrol in Iraq one night when a car was approaching them too fast. He tired to get the car to stop at a safe distance. He opened fire, a family was dead and he blamed himself. The image of the family in the car with children became frozen in his mind and he thought he was evil. What he had forgotten about was what he tried to do to prevent it from happening. He fired warning shots in the air, threw rocks, screamed, prayed and then screamed some more. All he could think about was too many were blown up by suicide car bombers and this car just could be one more on a suicide mission to kill his brothers.

Once he was able to see the whole event, he was able to forgive himself for what he had to do.

The help I was able to give him came after a tremendous price he had to pay. By the time he came to me after his Mom contacted me, he had tried to commit suicide twice, lost his family, his job, his home and was sleeping on whatever sofa his friends were willing to let him sleep on. Years of suffering when all it took from me was about 5 phone calls.

What if he had gotten what he needed as soon as he came home from Iraq? How many lives do you think could have been saved if they had the proper help to heal?

New theory? In 1984 Point Man International Ministries started addressing the spiritual aspect of combat. It works to heal them from where they hurt the most. Maybe if reporters would start to take this more seriously, the general public would no longer have the false impression that all of this is somehow new to OEF and OIF veterans. Had they been paying attention all along then I wouldn't have to be writing a book about military suicides so families can stop blaming themselves.

PTSD Is Not God's Judgment

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