S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The explanation: PTSD

On 9/11/2001 the United States was attacked by terrorists within our own territory. It was shocking and for its victims and the rest of us, and it was mostly unexpected. In my opinion, as a result the nation has experienced -- and is still experiencing -- the symptoms of PTSD.
A disclaimer to begin this post -- First, I in no way, want to minimize the trauma done to the nation by the terrible terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Almost three thousand people died that day and thereafter, and every one of those lost lives was precious. Second, I in no way want to minimize the current national security threat posed by al Qaeda and its offshoot adherents. It is serious.
When an individual experiences an unexpected traumatic event, or repeatedly experiences trauma, Post Traumatic Stress can develop into a Disorder. The symptoms of PTSD include: reaction to a precipitating event; withdrawal; apathy (lack of interest in life); difficulty concentrating; anger; sleeping problems; fatigue; irritability; fear/hyper-vigilence; recurrent intrusive thoughts/recollections; recurrent distressing dreams; rage; intense fear, helplessness, horror; intrusions; flashbacks; intense psychological reaction at exposure; intense physiological reaction at exposure; restricted affect; or exaggerated startle response.

After our nation experienced an unexpected traumatic series of events on that September day six years ago, a significant percentage of the population is still experiencing these symptoms (with my examples): over-reaction to that precipitating event (administration subversion of civil-liberties protections), our apathy (low voter turnout at elections or boycotting the news), difficulty concentrating (mainstream media's failure to investigate wrong-doing), anger (Bush attacking Iraq), our fatigue (blogger burnout), irritability (partisanship in Congress), fear/hyper-vigilence (extended "Yellow" official threat level), our recurrent intrusive recollections (precipitated by 9/11 anniversary news coverage or administration code phrases), rage (Bush threats of attack towards Iran), helplessness (Congress capitulation to administration demands), horror (administration officials capitulation to "blood on your hands" threats), restricted affect (Vice President Dick Cheney), or exaggerated startle response (Blackwater).

Better treatments for PTSD are being researched by the military, as traumatized soldiers, sailors, etc. come home from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. One would wish that the benefits of that research could be applied to our nation's recovery after trauma. One would wish that our leaders, who are supposed to provide healing, do not re-traumatize citizens with inappropriate interventions. One would wish that the Fourth Estate (the media) on our behalf would rigorously question those in charge of treatment choices (government actions). One would wish that our elected representatives would advocate for us as they negotiate with Leaders exhibiting the most obvious PTSD symptoms. One would wish that voters would ascertain which of the candidates for U.S. President has the fewest symptoms of PTSD.
A third disclaimer ends this post. I have compassion for all of us who are victims of PTSD, including the members of the Bush administration whose decisions continue to reflect lack of healing, caving Democrats, cowed members of the media, fearful voters, and apathetic judges. I also have compassion for my own obsessive tendencies towards an over-focus on the issues of civil liberties (the PTSD symptom is recurrent intrusions/recollections).
The thing is this. This national trauma seems to be similar to the same way that rape and incest victims, members of the military who have experienced the horrors of war over and over, or someone just fresh from a bad car accident, cannot help what symptoms they are having. But just like individuals with PTSD, leading groups in the nation need to go about getting some healing, regaining some perspective, fighting the actual enemies, and getting on with the business of the country.
My links:
(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)
My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Making Good Mondays is about food.
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The Future Was Yesterday said...

That acid rain cloud seems to follow you every time you post! What is it with you?:)

Speaking briefly, as a Psychologist (I is one: eye's got a piece of paper all wrapped up purty 'an ever thang sayin' eye is:P) Until we got PTSD right, we used to call it "Shell Shocked."

Speaking as an American, while 9/11 had an impact across the nation, it did not physically affect 99% of the population. For them, it happened on TV. That sounds calloused, but think of this: the physical victims of 9/11 still need much help in many ways, but it's "over" now for many Americans, and it's almost impossible to get them to even think of them for more than two seconds. BUT: let Britney Spears get drunk (again), and America's glued to the TV for days on end - AND - the MSM knows that, so they ride the smallest story to death for days. I say that to say this: 9/11, as bad as it sounds, was "Just Another Great Diseaster free of charge, for the MSM. That sounds pretty cold too, so think of this: How often do you hear 9/11 mentioned on TV - and how often do you hear Hurricane Katrina mentioned? So there's two distinctive events. One, the horrible physical trama of 9/11 actually happening, and "9/11, the advertisement selling show." So why doesn't Katrina have it's own "show?" "Because all Katrina is, is a bunch of boring old poor, homeless black people." The story doesn't have "legs", and Americans have what has to be the worst memories in the world. Unless you beat them over the head with something every other day, they forget what day yesterday was.

Finally, 99% of America has no more PTSD from 9/11 than I do pregnancies from the last time I kissed my wife. What they DO have is Post Traumatic SYMPATHY disorder, better known as "Poor Me", and it's fed a steady diet of fear from all sides. A woman recently boarded a plane that had several "suspicious" looking M.E. gentlemen on board. She was so "traumatized", that she insisted they be taken off the plane. They were, and arrested. They turned out to have been born on this soil, and all held Ph.D's.

But that's the condition our government and MSM wants us to be in. A constant state of fear, because they know rationality goes out the window when fear arrives. One final thing: I see the clouds are finally lifting.:) Putting my shrink wrap hat back on for a moment, PTSD can be horrible. Lot's of suicides have resulted from it. But one other thing has resulted from it, that is not being addressed: Ordinary people turning into professional victims, using the facade of 9/11. And most of America fits that bill. "Oh My! Keep me safe!" Well, he is [sic].

The road back for PTSD victims is long, horrible beyond belief, and painful every step of the way. But none of it can start until they walk into a Doctor's office and say those three magic words: I need help. That 99% I've talked about? They don't need any help - The government is doing it for them.

I apologize profoundly for the rant. But I know people that have killed themselves because they couldn't get help fast enough, and the reason they couldn't, is because nobody gave a shit. I'm grateful to you beyond words for this post, and your efforts.
Sky's clear now.:) And that post is up.

Carol Gee said...

Hi Future. Thanks, by the way for linking "Granny" and I. I sense you see us as "birds of a feather." We may be.
Re PTSD. Thanks for your very thoughtful and informed comment. I never feel your "rain" as "acid," but as refreshing, BTW.
My thoughts: I think your concept of physical trauma is an important addition to the discussion. Television engages so many of the senses, however, that info coming via the MSM is at once forgettable AND memorable, depending on the attached emotional material.
Even though people "forget," when fear mongering happens it all gets brought up again, perhaps irrationally and unconsciously. The PTSD symptom is the difficulty we have of sorting out real threat from fear mongering. And, of course you can infer that I see the fear mongers as the most obvious victims, if I try to maintain my usual compassion.
I also like your addition of Katrina as part of the whole scene.
You always make me think, Future,thanks!