Monday, December 10, 2007

PTSD and Blinders

I linked a few weeks ago to a post by Grim at Blackfive, On PTSD, or More Properly, On Coming Home. I said at the time:
The idea that what we call PTSD is a normal response to an abnormal situation is not new. Blackfive takes it a step further, suggesting that it is the combat veterans who see a side of mankind as it is, and it is we at home who have the misperception. There is a great deal to that. Warfare, pain, danger, and evil have been the common lot of mankind, and we live in one of the few islands of time and place separated from them.
The milder version is that we tend to be happier when we don't read the news. Being less informed may cause us to slowly revise upward our estimations of life's events. I forwarded the article to a psychologist friend in Cambridge, MA, who had a similar take.
I enjoyed the link and discussion of War PTSD. Two threads of response from me. The more fun one (for me, at least): I've often embraced the half truth (probably more than 1/2), that normality requires being in a trance state. Some mental disorders involve breaking out of the trance when one is not prepared, or one is unable to generate a more helpful trance state. Some of the normative trance (a way of selecting, neglecting, and deflecting reality) involves developing a false view of human nature and human relationships. I often think that one strain of Borderline Personality Disorder involves a literal dis-illusion-ment with humans. They lose some very helpful blinders due to what they have been through in life. What this guy says about PTSD is similar. These warriors lose some very helpful blinders. At least helpful in the terms of making it easier to fit in and get along with mainstream society.

The less interesting line of thought is that true PTSD (meeting all the DSM criteria) is something more and beyond what he is talking about. I think its clear if you look at the DSM criteria or at individuals suffering from it.

But, back to what interests me more - most people who were subject to untoward nastiness in childhood also don't develop true PTSD either and the strain of BPD I referred to might be seen as being like the warrior syndrome this fellow called PTSD - a dis-illusion-ment, aka a breaking of the happy nice spell that makes life easy for us.

Maybe this should go in my book of lies - semi truths that relate all kinds of stuff in fun ways.

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