Modern combat and PTSD?




 
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December 3rd, 2012  
mcteague
 

Topic: Modern combat and PTSD?


Greetings to all. First post here. I feel that I should state that I have no experience in the military. Also although there are some things about which I know more than most people, military history is not one of them. So please pardon any silly questions or comments.


My question is whether PTSD is a particular effect of “modern” warfare? Is the increase in PTSD not simply better reporting, but actually is the result of how combat has occurred in the last 100 years or so as opposed to before that.


A few months ago I was listening to this guy on TV from the Vietnam era talk about PTSD. He said that combat requires an actual change in brain chemistry. He said when you're in a combat zone if you hear a sound in the bushes you turn immediately and fire. He said it is a survival mechanism. Behaving that way increases your chance of staying alive. There is no, or very little, “higher thinking”. Some people have a hard time turning off or down this fight or flight response.
There is probably a lot more to PTSD. But I am just going to go with what this guy said for the time being.




I was listening to some female solders, also on TV, arguing that prohibitions against women in combat really did not make any sense anymore. They said there really is no back of the line. If you are in a combat zone: you are in a combat zone. I was thinking about the way we envision combat occurring in earlier days. Two sides line up on opposite sides of a big field and have at each other. Think “Braveheart” They were bloody, they were horrible, but they pretty much happened and ended.
Things like the 100 years war were not really 100 years of combat. Years even decades went by with nothing happening. And those Homeric 10 year struggles really were not either.


So I started to think about how many soldiers are in these intense combat situations for such a long time now. Some of the battles of WWI went on for a very long time. I think verdun, Somme, and Marne, were each over a year. And although they talked about “shell shock”, it might really be the prolonged exposure to combat conditions. And although the “battles” of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam may have been shorter, people were still in “combat zones” a long time. Clearly soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were or are in combat a very long time. This seems very different that what occurred in earlier days.


Getting back to my original question, I would like to know if there is a relationship between how modern conflicts occur and the rise of PTSD. It is hard to know if it occurred in ancient or just slightly premodern times. And also my knowledge of how conflict took place in history my be completely wrong. So is there a relationship between “modern” combat and PTSD that can be considered casual? Thanks for any replies
December 3rd, 2012  
BritinAfrica
 
 
One of my uncles was one of those evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940, he ended up in hospital with what was called in those days "Bomb Happy." Today its called PTSD, its the same thing
December 3rd, 2012  
Capt Frogman
 
 
The increase is due to two reasons.

Reason one is the length of recent operations. Afghanistan is 2001-present and Iraq was 2003-2009/10. There are many soldiers who have had 2-3 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. That can only have a negative effect on your health. I speak ad someone who went to both conflicts more than once.

Reason two is the recent increase in support and assistance for PTSD sufferers. From about 2009/2010 there was a big push to raise the awareness of the illness. Also the medical offered has vastly improved. I know of many soldiers suffering from PTSD who were wrongly diagnosed or simply ignored. While the care is a lot better these days, there is still room for improvement.

PTSD has always been around i.e. shell shock and gulf war syndrome etc.

I think every soldier suffers from some degree of PTSD. I myself have the odd sleepless night and occasional flashback but thankfully nothing as bad as the PTSD sufferers.

I can only see the number of sufferers getting bigger every year. The symptoms of PTSD can take years to appear. There will be people out there now who will suffer from it in the next 10-20 years.
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December 3rd, 2012  
Team Infidel
 
 
In Vietnam, they called it "Shell Shocked"... It goes by many different names.
December 3rd, 2012  
senojekips
 
 
Killing others and seeing one's own comrades killed and injured,... not to mention the stress of being constantly aware that you may die or be seriously maimed at any second, is not conducive to good mental health, and I can't imagine that it ever was. So I would hazard a guess that it has always been so, it's just that now it is no longer seen as a "weakness of character", to be ignored or even in some cases in the past, punished, but a serious debilitating and often devastating problem for those so affected and their families and friends.

People in all manner of professions suffer with it in varying degrees, some of the more notable being Ambulance officers and Paramedics.
December 4th, 2012  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by senojekips
Killing others and seeing one's own comrades killed and injured,... not to mention the stress of being constantly aware that you may die or be seriously maimed at any second, is not conducive to good mental health, and I can't imagine that it ever was. So I would hazard a guess that it has always been so, it's just that now it is no longer seen as a "weakness of character", to be ignored or even in some cases in the past, punished, but a serious debilitating and often devastating problem for those so affected and their families and friends.

People in all manner of professions suffer with it in varying degrees, some of the more notable being Ambulance officers and Paramedics.
During WW2 RAF aircrew who were suffering from PTSD were branded LMF, or Lack of Moral Fibre. The man concerned was stripped of his rank and busted down to AC2, his wings ripped off his uniform and given menial tasks.
December 4th, 2012  
LeEnfield
 
 
When you look at WW2 and the millions that served in the Forces and saw the horrible things and some very nasty fighting PSTD was quite a rare thing. The civilian population of the UK got bombed every day for months at a time and they not only lost there homes but there families as well and when the bombing slowed down there was a rain of V1 and V2 yet was there any PTSD disorders amongst them or is it only the military thing. I served in two combat zones and no one that I served with went down with PTSD. The Casualty rate in some Regiments like mine where always expected to be very high and still are but I have never heard of any one that has refused to fight or go on any mission. Now I am not saying that PSTD does not exist as I know it does, but it be down to the way that persons brain is wired that could cause such a thing.
December 4th, 2012  
Capt Frogman
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeEnfield
When you look at WW2 and the millions that served in the Forces and saw the horrible things and some very nasty fighting PSTD was quite a rare thing. The civilian population of the UK got bombed every day for months at a time and they not only lost there homes but there families as well and when the bombing slowed down there was a rain of V1 and V2 yet was there any PTSD disorders amongst them or is it only the military thing. I served in two combat zones and no one that I served with went down with PTSD. The Casualty rate in some Regiments like mine where always expected to be very high and still are but I have never heard of any one that has refused to fight or go on any mission. Now I am not saying that PSTD does not exist as I know it does, but it be down to the way that persons brain is wired that could cause such a thing.
Plenty of WW2 veterans with PTSD, but it is/was rarely talked about and/or diagnosed.

Many sufferers didn't show any signs of it because they felt it was a sign of weakness. Let's also not forget that the symptoms can take many years to appear.

I have heard of very many ex-para's (as many as 200) who served in The Falklands who have since committed suicide due to the trauma's they witnessed.

The way a persons brain is wired has very little to do with it. Have a read here:

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealt...sdisorder.aspx
December 4th, 2012  
senojekips
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BritinAfrica
During WW2 RAF aircrew who were suffering from PTSD were branded LMF, or Lack of Moral Fibre. The man concerned was stripped of his rank and busted down to AC2, his wings ripped off his uniform and given menial tasks.
Worse than that,... men have been shot for what today would have been diagnosed as PTSD.
December 4th, 2012  
LeEnfield
 
 
There is never any mention of civilians suffering from PTSD during WW2 and many of those saw death and destruction.
 


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