PTSD may stem from guilt more than fear of death or injury

JGeropoulas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I was quite surprised to see this article on the front page of the Nov. 25 weekend edition of USA Today.. I wasn't at all surprised by the actual findings of the study--I've heard it from dozens of veterans with whom I work. I was surprised that soldiers' moral qualms about the mayhem of war were being validated by mainstream news and the American Psychiatric Association, which is a handmaiden of the pharmaceutical industry.

In other words, I was surprised that psychopathic power structures were affirming the power of a conscience--albeit not theirs, but those of the non-psychopathic victims of their schemes.

_http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/story/2011-11-23/study-of-marines-ptsd/51386488/1


A leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder is guilt that troops experience because of moral dilemmas faced in combat, according to preliminary findings of a study of active-duty Marines.

The conflicts that servicemembers feel may include "survivor's guilt," from living through an attack in which other servicemembers died, and witnessing or participating in the unintentional killing of women or children, researchers involved in the study say.

"How do they come to terms with that? They have to forgive themselves for pulling the trigger," says retired Navy captain Bill Nash, a psychiatrist and study co-author.

The idea of "moral injury" as a cause of PTSD is new to psychiatry. The American Psychiatric Association is only now considering new diagnostic criteria for the disorder that would include feelings of shame and guilt, says David Spiegel, a member of the working group rewriting the PTSD section.

Half of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs have been diagnosed with mental health issues and the most common is PTSD, which is experienced by nearly 200,000 of these veterans, according to the DVA.

Traditionally, PTSD symptoms such as nightmares or numbness to the world have been linked to combat violence, fear of being killed or loss of friends.

PTSD caused by moral injury can lead to more severe reactions
such as family violence or even suicide, says Jonathan Shay, a psychiatrist who has worked on military mental health policies.

The preliminary findings on moral injury were gleaned from 208 Marines involved in severe combat in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010. It showed that three months after coming home, 7% of the Marines likely had PTSD. Their condition was more closely linked to an inner conflict rather than threats to their lives, the sight of bodies or blood or family problems, the study said.

The posts of online readers were encouraging:

They feel guilt because deep down inside they know that the war is unjust. Nobody felt guilty about killing a Nazi.

Soldiers today are fighting wars without causes.They've been reduced to expendable tools of the 1%'s military industrial complex, who wage wars for profit...

Feeling guilt is normal and healthy. Not feeling guilt would indicate that the person is sick and needs help. Only the good would feel guilt.
 

Thomas Alan

The Living Force
JGeropoulas said:
The idea of "moral injury" as a cause of PTSD is new to psychiatry. The American Psychiatric Association is only now considering new diagnostic criteria for the disorder that would include feelings of shame and guilt, says David Spiegel, a member of the working group rewriting the PTSD section.

Well, "moral injury" may be new to psychiatry but it is as old as war itself. Those with a conscience or the seed of one will of course have deep inner conflicts over acts, intentional or not that their inner being knows is wrong.

It's fascinating how "experts" can be so surprised when they stumble across the obvious.

Mac
 

eternusphoenix

Padawan Learner
It would seem that PTSD like this can also come from an abusive personal relationship. As relationships that are abusive by one or both parties end up very much so being a war zone (with heavy guilt) where you may get out physically, but mentally your mind is still fighting the war until you heal.

Great article, thank you.
 

Ollie

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Mac said:
JGeropoulas said:
The idea of "moral injury" as a cause of PTSD is new to psychiatry. The American Psychiatric Association is only now considering new diagnostic criteria for the disorder that would include feelings of shame and guilt, says David Spiegel, a member of the working group rewriting the PTSD section.

Well, "moral injury" may be new to psychiatry but it is as old as war itself. Those with a conscience or the seed of one will of course have deep inner conflicts over acts, intentional or not that their inner being knows is wrong.

It's fascinating how "experts" can be so surprised when they stumble across the obvious.

Mac
I agree, Also, guilt and shame are the two emotions associated with 'normal' life traumas that I've discovered/confirmed recently from doing the Pennebaker writing exercises.
 

Soluna

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
eternusphoenix said:
It would seem that PTSD like this can also come from an abusive personal relationship. As relationships that are abusive by one or both parties end up very much so being a war zone (with heavy guilt) where you may get out physically, but mentally your mind is still fighting the war until you heal.

Great article, thank you.

This definitely rings true to me. My doctor tagged 'Post traumatic stress' onto me - and it has always been uncomfortable for me to accept because the abuse I suffered began around when I was 7, and ended when I was 16. I'm now 27 and am definitely still suffering negative psychological effects. I suppose I feel extra guilty for not being able to 'get over' my difficulties or 'move on' as so many of my family repeatedly tell me I should. Like me getting 'better' would make them feel better, one therapist asked me if it was a form of punishment I was inflicting on them, via myself. I don't fully understand any of it.

I've been told children use disassociation as a coping mechanism - and it's one I have never grown out of.

Disassociating yourself from guilt (whether the guilt you feel is rational or imposed by another) makes it difficult to 'accept' or re-associate with after the event. To accept feelings of guilt, might imply complicity whether the feeling is justified or not.

We are put in so many harmful situations, and the feelings we experience may be natural, but in unnatural circumstances - I know I at least can't reconcile them properly.


Any form of war or abuse, is putting us in situations a lot of people aren't able to emotionally cope with. Even the so-called professionals don't fully understand, nor do they truly know how to help.

Definitely a vicious cycle!
 

Nienna

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Soluna said:
eternusphoenix said:
It would seem that PTSD like this can also come from an abusive personal relationship. As relationships that are abusive by one or both parties end up very much so being a war zone (with heavy guilt) where you may get out physically, but mentally your mind is still fighting the war until you heal.

Great article, thank you.

This definitely rings true to me. My doctor tagged 'Post traumatic stress' onto me - and it has always been uncomfortable for me to accept because the abuse I suffered began around when I was 7, and ended when I was 16. I'm now 27 and am definitely still suffering negative psychological effects. I suppose I feel extra guilty for not being able to 'get over' my difficulties or 'move on' as so many of my family repeatedly tell me I should. Like me getting 'better' would make them feel better, one therapist asked me if it was a form of punishment I was inflicting on them, via myself. I don't fully understand any of it.

I've been told children use disassociation as a coping mechanism - and it's one I have never grown out of.

Disassociating yourself from guilt (whether the guilt you feel is rational or imposed by another) makes it difficult to 'accept' or re-associate with after the event. To accept feelings of guilt, might imply complicity whether the feeling is justified or not.

We are put in so many harmful situations, and the feelings we experience may be natural, but in unnatural circumstances - I know I at least can't reconcile them properly.


Any form of war or abuse, is putting us in situations a lot of people aren't able to emotionally cope with. Even the so-called professionals don't fully understand, nor do they truly know how to help.

Definitely a vicious cycle!

Soluna, have you read the Redirect thread? Reading this thread, and the book, and doing the writing exercises in it may help you a lot. Also, Levines book In An Unspoken Voice is really good and could help you a lot in dealing with your past traumas.
 

Ollie

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Nienna Eluch said:
...
Soluna, have you read the Redirect thread? Reading this thread, and the book, and doing the writing exercises in it may help you a lot. Also, Levines book In An Unspoken Voice is really good and could help you a lot in dealing with your past traumas.
It's working for me, using both of these resources. :rockon:
 
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