Saturday, April 21, 2012

PTSD and the reporter who made a fool of herself

I've never watched Dr. Phil a day in my life, either on his own show or on Oprah's, and considered an article iffy (for inclusion) here as a result.  But it's by Niki Cruz who really doesn't know how to read so we'll jump in.  At the Inquisitr, Niki rants and raves that Dr. Phil called veterans "monsters."  I haven't seen the segment, have no intention of viewing it, but based on what leaks through Cruz' rant, "monsters" was in the title of the program and, if used, referred to a small segment of veterans who may or may not suffer from PTSD and, returning home, abuse their spouses.

Cruz needs to learn to read and write.  Fundamentals for the profession she has chosen.  She also needs to grasp that victims of domestic abuse are not rendered invisible because, in her mind, they're married to 'heroes.'  We don't have heroes in this country.  Check your 1040 for the box you check for "hero" -- you won't find it.

America is made up of people.  All flawed, many deeply flawed.

Trying to hide behind the flag and the military because something crawled your ass, Niki Cruz, is something you should do in private.

Spouses who suffer abuse exist and they don't need to be hidden.

As Cruz rants and raves, what she appears to be describing is a Dr. Phil show that focused on such spouses.  Good.  They deserve a spotlight.  Their problems are real.  Whether or not their attackers suffer from PTSD, I have no idea.  But the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War are not the first wars to result in domestic abuse among returning veterans.  I don't believe this has ever been a dominant feature of the end of the war, but it has been a part of it.  Those who were abused don't need to suffer in silence.  What your attacker and abuser does for a living or did for a living provides no excuse for beating you.

Everyone has a right to expect safety and that includes safety in their own homes.

Cruz both concludes her article and flaunts her everlasting ignorance with these two paragraphs:

Of course, the only common link between all the stories featured in this “From Heroes To Monsters” special is the violent nature of these soldiers, putting a giant stereotype on people who deal with PTSD. A recent study uncovered by The Washington Post’s David Browne says that the link between PTSD and violence is weak,  "Post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury can increase a person’s anger and hostility and diminish his or her self-control. But the link between those disorders and outright violent behavior is weak and hard to pin down with certainty."
With that said, it’s easy to deduce that Dr. Phil may just be exploiting yet another popular hot topic to pull in viewers. What do you think?

What do I think?  I think you're an idiot, an enable of abuse and a fool who shouldn't link to articles claiming they back you up when, in fact, they bury you.  The David Brown article at the Washington Post and at Stars and Stripes (where Cruz  links) includes this:

Veterans with PTSD are two to three times as likely to be physically abusive of their wives and girlfriends as those without the diagnosis. They’re three times as likely to get into fistfights when they go to college. One study showed they are especially prone to“impulsive aggression,” but that “premeditated aggression”  -- the kind of act Bales is accused of  --  was far more common in veterans without PTSD than in those with it.

The link that Cruz wants to maintain isn't there and to argue doesn't exist based upon David Brown's article (and it is "Brown," not "Browne") is right there in the article.  Two to three time more likely to physically abuse.  It's right there.

Do you grasp what Cruz is too stupid too?  That the very article she cites for backing betrays the idiocy of her rant.

I have no problem advocating for veterans issues here.  But I don't mistake veterans for saints.  Meaning I realize that, like every segment of the US population, veterans are capable of domestic abuse.  Are they all domestic abusers?  No.  The majority aren't.  The majority of the general population doesn't practice domestic abuse either. No  military or veteran spouse (wife or husband) has to live through physical abuse and, on top of that, has  to do so in silence because some idiot like Niki Cruz is more interested in hero worship than reality.

As we have repeatedly stressed here, since the beginning of documented wars, the returning have included some who suffer from what we are classifying today as PTSD (it has had other names in other eras).  Of the group with that coping mechanism they struggle to turn off, most will not resort to violence.  Those who do resort to violence are far more likely to self-harm (whether through drinking, drugs, cutting, self-mutilation, etc.) than to hurt others.  It is a small percentage of the veteran population that will ever harm anyone else off the battlefield (which may provide little comfort when Barack has -- like Bully Boy Bush before him -- declared the whole world a battlefield).

I can write that without ever having the urge to cover up domestic abuse.  It's a shame that Niki Cruz feels that she has to distort reality on behalf of veterans.

No one should be forced to suffer in silence.  That includes those with PTSD.  Cord Jefferson (BET) shines a light:

The psychological problems these soldiers face might not be so bad if they were treated properly, like any illness or injury. But because you can’t see PTSD the way you can see a bullet hole, doctors have a problem recognizing it without soldiers self-diagnosing themselves and then asking for help. As it stands, less than half seek help.

Exacerbating all these problems is that African-American women, who make up nearly a quarter of the 150,000 female soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, are suffering PTSD at disproportionate rates. Women in general are more likely than men to suffer from PTSD, and the military environment enhances that, as female soldiers are likelier to face traumatic sexual assaults, many of which go unreported.

Frugivore reported:

"African-American women in combat zones continue to experience higher rates of PTSD due to assaults that are never reported. To make matters worse, only 15 Veteran Affairs centers in the United States provide residential mental-health treatment specifically for women with PTSD. Thus, it’s truly become a struggle for African-American women to reintegrate themselves back into their civilian lives and begin the process to heal from PTSD."

While Niki Cruz runs around trying to stop discussions, Cord Jefferson adds a valuable element to the public discourse.

Let's move to PTSD treatment.  Those who treat their PTSD are far less likely to have the problems that may result from untreated PTSD.  As we've noted before, what works for one person won't necessarily work for everyone.  PTSD is a coping mechanism, it kicks in as a survival instinct.  It should be applauded because it's the mind's response to a serious threat of danger.  PTSD becomes a problem when you're out of that situation where you needed that extra boost to survive.  You're in a calmer place but you're not able to switch off the mechanism.

There are people who can turn it off themselves with no help from anyone.  There are others who need assistance (most will) and the mechanism and the way it kicked and the why it kicked in will differ from person to person which is why there is no one treatment that will work for everyone.

Sadly, too many are being put on pills.  Sadly, the Pentagon attempts to promote pills as the sure path.  That's disturbing at any time.  It's especially disturbing when a number of service members and veterans are already over-medicated (indicating they are not receiving treatment, they're being handed pills to shut them up).  Even more upsetting when Kate Johnson (Medscape) reports on the science:

New brain imaging research showing increased cannabinoid receptors in the brains of patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suggests a potential treatment target for the disorder.
Using positron emission tomography (PET), investigators from New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City found that expression of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor was increased in both the amygdala and the anterior cingulate of patients with PTSD vs healthy control participants.
"Believe it or not, at least to my knowledge there has not been a single pharmacologic treatment developed [for PTSD] to this day that is really based on neuroscience evidence," principal investigator Alexander Neumeister, MD, from New York University Langone Medical Center, told delegates attending the Anxiety Disorders of America 32nd Annual Conference.

I do believe it.  Medical incompentence generally leads to throwing pills at a problem.  The current drug cocktail mix will work for some.  If that includes you, stay with it.  It won't work for everyone and it will be laughed at in a few years as the work of Neumeister and others reveals how flying-blind that approach was.  Some people can treat PTSD in counseling sessions -- solo and/or group.  Some can treat it peer-to-peer.  Some can treat it via creative outlet -- journaling, writing, etc.  Some can treat it with dogs trained to recognize when nerves are heightened. 

Nick Ortner (Huffington Post) notes another potential treatment:

In honor of Military Families Week, I wanted to share some of the incredible EFT work being done with veterans suffering from PTSD. The fact is, we've found an important tool that promotes recovery from PTSD in war veterans. It's the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), otherwise known as Tapping, which combines Western psychotherapy with the Eastern "acupressure points" used in acupuncture.
EFT Tapping offers numerous important benefits for veterans suffering from PTSD:
• EFT Tapping, or Tapping, is easy, requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere for any amount of time.
• Tapping is providing recovery from severe PTSD in some veterans in a matter of days, whereas years of conventional talk therapy and medication often lead to little or no improvement.
• Tapping is providing deep, lasting relief from a wide range of PTSD symptoms -- phobias, sleep issues, physical pain, mood and emotional issues, violent behavior, night terrors, substance abuse, and more.
• Tapping has no side effects, and can be practiced on your own at zero cost.
• You can do your own Tapping. (You can learn how in under 5 minutes.)

Use the link for more on that.  But the mind responds to a dangerous situation by turning on a mechanism that makes you hypervigilant when you need to be.  The survival mechanism becomes a problem only when you're removed from that physical situation but can't turn the mechanism off.  Different things will work for different people.  If you suffer from PTSD and one treatment, that you have given time to work, does not help you, explore another one. 

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