View Full Version : PTSD

3rd Nov 2018, 14:06
I have had growing unease over some years regarding the comparatively recent diagnoses of so many apparent cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
It seems to be a "catch all" for the manifestation of broad range of symptoms allegedly arising from an equally diverse range of triggering events. Thus the display by some numbers of ex-Service personnel of personality or other psychological problems is claimed to be resultant from any number of events witnessed during their military service .
Certainly there was a brief rise in violent crime in the U.K. immediately post WW2 which was often drink related and involved ex-servicemen. That, I would suggest, is understandable. However in later times with far fewer individuals directly involved in first hand combat or seeing its results ,I do have some reservations.
I would welcome some informed opinion.

3rd Nov 2018, 14:26
Post the above over at ARRSE and I am sure they will give your post the attention it merits.

3rd Nov 2018, 14:45
If you look at AARSE under "PTSD" (and I often have) you will see as much confusion there as anywhere else.
Hence my request for informed opinion.

Bob Viking
3rd Nov 2018, 14:52
I hope this thread can remain civil. I expect you will be flooded with a barrage of abuse for daring to question the proliferation of PTSD diagnoses.

This shouldnít be the case since discussion is a good thing but it appears, increasingly, to be the way of the world. And Pprune.

My take is this. I have had cause to make use of the services of a mental health professional for what, I deem to be, a much less significant issue than PTSD.

Having experienced it I would say that mental health issues are discussed far more openly nowadays and, hence, you see far more cases diagnosed.

I think anyone in a combat situation could probably find themselves at future risk of PTSD. WW2 could have produced tens or even hundreds of thousands of cases but there was not the provision or appetite to treat them.

It is hard to understand unless you have been there but my experience is that the brain can play tricks on you quite easily. Seeking treatment is the best thing to do. If a Doctor says itís PTSD then I would be inclined to believe them. Itís not a fad. Itís probably just reality.


3rd Nov 2018, 14:57
It is real and will manifest itself in people's lives many years after the event. It can be something small or big that changes the way a person's life happens.

The mind is great for comparmentalising and blocking events that are distressing and only later will they start to seep into conciousness.

It can be from a child who was locked into a dark cupboard as a punishment for something minor, the terror of that still rings through to them such that going to sleep at night has to be accompanied by a light on somewhere in the house to something that happened in wartime.

Pretending it doesn't exist doesn't help the many people who have suffered from it.

3rd Nov 2018, 15:26
I'm not saying it doesn't exist, far from it .
"Combat stress" was well known even in the first World War, indeed Albert Ball came down with it mid-term.
I went to an SMO in the 80's with persistent flu like symptoms and was diagnosed before I had even sat down. , In my case I was given a "scorecard stress booklet " which advised you to seek help if you totted up more than 100, My score was several times that (before finishing the questionnaire) and included many factors well beyond those directly attributable to my military service, which is basically the point that I am seeking qualified opinion to expand upon.
Soldiers are now routinely "decompressed " coming out of combat zones as a short term palliative. This is all well and good. However how much of "PTSD" in ex servicemen is actually attributable to sudden confrontation with the stresses of civilian life, as distinct from their Service experience, is a moot point, I would suggest,

3rd Nov 2018, 15:46
I stand to be corrected but I believe the term PTSD became prevalent during and after Vietnam when the military started searching for something more medical than 'Shell Shock' or the acronym 'LMF' that Bomber Command used [1]
As a consequence a link was generated where PTSD was seen as a combat condition.

As the use of PTSD as a diagnosis is now being used much more in civilian life as well as those in the military who have not served in a combat area, we are hearing it diagnosed more often.[2]

Personally I think this to be a good thing with the caveat that it is diagnosed by a medical professional and not, for example, by a social worker or therapist.

Haraka - I now see how thoughtless and rude my reply was. Please accept my apologies.

[1] There are plenty of other acronyms out there, I just picked these 2 as particularly horrendous examples. LMF - Lack of Moral Fibre
[2] Post-traumatic stress disorder in civilians (https://www.anxiety.org/ptsd-non-veteran-ptsd-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-civilians)

3rd Nov 2018, 16:00
PTSD existed long, long before it was ever given a name. My grandfather was shot down in WWI, was severely burned (had to have his nose and face reconstructed, which is how he met my grandmother, who was a VAD nurse) and lived a troubled life until he died aged 59. He never spoke of the war, and we only found out about what he'd been through years after his death.

My uncle was a bomb aimer in WWII, and was on one of the last waves over Dresden, so saw first hand the worst of the firestorm. He was invalided out of the RAF, unable to write or speak coherently. He recovered the ability to speak, but never managed to write without his hands shaking. He spent the last 20 years of his life shut away in his bedroom, refusing to see anyone except his wife - he wouldn't even see his own children or brothers.

I have no doubt whatsoever that both these men suffered severe PTSD, as we would label it now, and equally I'm in no doubt that traumatic events have always had a lasting psychological impact on people, and not just in warfare, either. The only difference today is that we have a convenient label to put on the wide range of real symptoms that exposure to trauma can induce.

3rd Nov 2018, 16:10
Undoubtedly the trauma and post-trauma associated with combat situations is real enough, but I wonder if cases of PTSD were so prevalent after WW1 and WW2 compared to more modern conflicts ? Back then, people seemed for the most part to just get on with their lives just as they had stoiicly completed their military duty, perhaps this expected behaviour acted as a buffer or firewall against the traumatic psychosis from rearing it's head. Since then, we are 'allowed' by society to navel gaze and be self indulgent, which in general is no bad thing. However, for those who have experienced brutal scenes and don't have the tools to process the aftermath it can be a road to misery, both for themselves and for those in their orbit.

3rd Nov 2018, 16:51
how much of "PTSD" in ex servicemen is actually attributable to sudden confrontation with the stresses of civilian life, as distinct from their Service experience, is a moot point, I would suggest,
Agreed (sympathetic, not critical).

4th Nov 2018, 14:35
Trauma by Professor Gordon Turnbull.
That book is an education.

4th Nov 2018, 15:55
Over the years, I have become increasingly "sniffy" over claims of PTSD. Next Sunday, I shall be with 10,000 others on Whitehall. We have all one thing in common, we have been through some tough times and yet I can guarantee that to a man there will be no claims of PTSD. At Remembrance Day parades I have, at times, found myself formed up alongside ex WW2 RAF officers and I was always in awe of the number of DFCs I saw there. And the dead time between forming up and the start of the service has been a lot of laughing and joking, different branches of the services ribbing each other etc the whole time.

4th Nov 2018, 16:36
yet I can guarantee that to a man there will be no claims of PTSD.I know several UK servicemen who will be at Whitehall next weekend and have been diagnosed with PTSD. Perhaps you'd like to keep your uninformed opinions to yourself in future, or at least gain some knowledge of the subject before spouting nonsense.

4th Nov 2018, 17:16
Thanks to many advances in neuroscience there are a number of new, credible technigues for dealing with PTSD such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Without the support given by scientific experimental work some of these techniques would have been written off under the heading of "snake oil". My daughter is a stress and anxiety therapist and all of her clients come by word of mouth. Over the last couple of years she has helped a growing number of ex servicemen with PTSD and, in her research for a new book, she has discovered that some of these techniques are being used within services such as the SAS. I haven't seen her book yet but I gather that it contains testimonies from SAS members and the encouraging thing is that some of these techniques can come under the heading of "self help". The really good news is that you do not have to suffer from PTSD to benefit from them.

4th Nov 2018, 17:44
Can I throw diagnosis of ADHD in children into the debate too?

Pontius Navigator
4th Nov 2018, 17:49
Kelvin, no claims for PTSD simply because it did not exist as a recognised disease. Without doubt they had experienced stress. Stress may recur sometime and regularly after the original trauma, but as they did not know of PTSD they would not associate the name with their condition. A condition that they did not consider a disease. A disease was something you caught, like VD or Malaria.

My father in law suffered PTSD. He had had the bows of his cruiser blown off, he had had the bows of his destroyer blown off. He had rescued his oppo who had been trapped; worse though was listening to others in the bow that was blown off as it sank before the intercom lines broke. He had recurrent nightmares but did not associate these with PTS or a need for counselling.

To the OP, it exists, its causes are myriad, it can affect anyone. You don't always recognise it.

4th Nov 2018, 18:10
To the OP, it exists, its causes are myriad, it can affect anyone. You don't always recognise it.

P.N. . I refer you to the the first line of my #6

Pontius Navigator
4th Nov 2018, 20:38
P.N. . I refer you to the the first line of my #6
Yes, but I was reinforcing #1 and the point that it had not previously 'existed' as it hadn't been invented.

I had forgotten to mention that my father in law was prone to nightmares about the second event. It never occurred to him to get counseling.

4th Nov 2018, 22:21
Growing up, there was an ex-airman (WWII) from a well-connected local family who lived out his life under a river bridge in the centre of town, together with his worldly possessions (his inheritance, including silverware) packed in kitbags. His sister had evicted him from the family home due to his unreasonable behaviour.
He was no threat to the public, but it seemed that no help was available (or he wanted no help).
He became well-known around town (obviously).

4th Nov 2018, 23:02
Mental Health and lack of support thereof has been a significant issue for decades.................. Rough Sleepers in London have always had a significant proportion of ex Military people and continues to do so.

PTSD just doesn't affect members of the military it affects everybody.

Decade after decade the refusal of Governments to provide any investment into Mental Health has shown up again and again.

Sometimes a PTSD issue can be dealt with quickly and helpfully if acted on early or 15 years on we can worry about it when we have someone unable to cope and killing people.

Many years ago in a conversation with a then soon to be retired Senior Military bod suggested that a network of "Farms" be set up around the country where ex Military could joining, work in and on while intergrating back into normality. His view was that these would be real productive units that people would stay and build up comradeship but also teach, train and coach people for life after.
Many would not need but he viewed it as a great opportunity to help where people could live for a long time or come and go for couple of weeks at a time.
Using this as a release valve where support is there rather than after 0 years services saying "thanks for your service and under what bridge in London can we find you in 5 years time"................

5th Nov 2018, 02:05
Mental Health and lack of support thereof has been a significant issue for decades..........................

Agree completely.
I also cannot help but suspect that the over-optimistic views of that branch of the medical profession play a large part in the less-then-satisfactory outcomes.

It's just so much easier for governments to cast these people onto the street and let the charitable organisations look after them, if they can
Especially easy if you are completely bereft of any semblance of moral values.

The farms sounds like a great idea but, without trivialising a very serious matter, I wonder if it hasn't been tried before.
I'm thinking of the possible origins of the expression "funny farm". Where did that come from?

Pinky the pilot
5th Nov 2018, 09:40
"...And can you tell me Doctor
Why I still can't get to sleep?
And why the Channel seven chopper chills me to my feet?
And what's this rash that comes and goes; can you tell me what it means?
God help me. I was only nineteen."

Aussie group Redgum. I was only 19.

5th Nov 2018, 15:41
IMHO, there are several trends over time.

1. "Acceptable level of trouble".
Comparing with the WW2, the US losses in Vietnam amounted to 50+k were not that high but led to massive social protests. 30 years later, 2500 killed in Afghanistan (during 15 years) are considered unacceptable. Even on the Russian side: the Soviet Union lost 25 mln in WW2 but 40 years later 15K losses in Afghanistan were found too high even for the communist regime who cared less for human lives than the West.

2. "Resistance to stress".
With increasing level of comfort of life over time, every next generation is getting less and less strong in spirit on average. Accordingly, the average bar, over which personnel might get PTSD after military operations (or even just a threat of being killed) is sliding down and more percentage is considered affected.

3. The opposite trend is related to numbers. The absolute number of servicemen directly engaged in close combat and direct killing of enemies (like AF) is nowadays decreasing more steep than the above "stress bar".

Thus, I assume that the PTSD issue is now given much more attention by media and social activists than it was during our dads' and granddads' times.

Pontius Navigator
5th Nov 2018, 16:13
A Van, at para 2_you make a valid point. Some US POW in Korea broke under pressure. The Turks did not as the prison conditions were not different from home.

5th Nov 2018, 18:34
A Van, at para 2_you make a valid point. Some US POW in Korea broke under pressure. The Turks did not as the prison conditions were not different from home.

There are also to be rumoured to have killed their own men who were in danger of been broken and cooperating with their captors.

6th Nov 2018, 09:03
The Turkish POW system in Korea was apparently a bit more sophisticated than is generally realised. They had a buddy system where each P.O.W. was responsible for the well-being of two identified others, this being rank independent. It was a covert arrangement known only among the prisoner hierarchy, which itself did not reflect the formal rank structure.
The repercussions of a man going down were,in typical Turkish fashion , severe to his nominated watch-keepers
It is a matter of record that Turkish P.O.W.s had, by far, the highest survival rate in North Korean Camps.
One detailed American report on this some years ago was entitled "Why they Talked" (IIRC) ,
Unfortunately I have long since lost the references.