PTSD: Reality Versus Rhetoric

March 1, 2006

Published as “Reality vs. the Rhetoric:
Iraq Vets and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”
on Counterpunch Weekend Edition, March 18 / 19, 2006

I was flabbergasted to read Sally Satel’s March 1, 2006 New York Times Op-Ed, “For Some, the War Won’t End,” describing the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as creation of a suspicious “culture of trauma” providing veterans a “free ride” as they approach retirement age. A flag immediately went up for me because of my own history with PTSD, but also because Satel is a former VA psychiatrist who now is a resident scholar at the very biased, neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). AEI is a very wealthy think tank funded largely by old-line conservative family money such as the Scaife and Olin Foundations, and is closely associated and shares headquarters with the Project For A New American Century (PNAC), the latter offering a 1997 blueprint for an aggressive, unilateral U.S. global hegemony, including domination of Middle Eastern and Central Asian energy reserves.

The American Enterprise Institute

AEI, a more than 60-year-old think tank committed to preservation of private enterprise at the expense of The Commons, supports such policies as censorship of the arts, required prayer in schools, and privatizing Social Security. It has a list of current and past fellows, scholars and trustees which makes those interested in a just human community shudder in angst. Lynne and Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Ken Lay, Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, John Yoo, Charles Murray, and many, many others are affiliated with AEI. One might remember Korean-American John Yoo who, only a few years ago as a young lawyer in the Justice Department, wrote legal memos supporting torture while denying legal protections for “illegal combatants” and advocating the legal imperative of the Patriot Act. It is worth reminding ourselves that Charles Murray is the architect of the Bell Curve concluding existence of intelligence differences between the “races,” meaning in fact the superiority of the White “race,” just as Hitler’s vision motivated German Aryan efforts to conquer Europe.

AEI’s Board of Trustees includes present and past corporate insiders such as the Chair of Dow Chemical which exposed several million people like me and the Vietnamese to the most intense chemical warfare in human history, and more recently, with the acquisition of Union Carbide, continues to ignore responsibility for the Bhopal, India chemical leak disaster that killed and severely maimed thousands. Other trustees include the CEO of huge corporations such as ExxonMobil, State Farm Insurance, and Merck Pharmaceutical, the latter still reeling from misrepresentations about its painkiller, Vioxx, which, it turns out, increases risk of heart attacks.

George Bush II The Younger, in a February 2003 speech to the AEI lauded them as possessing some of the “finest minds in our nation” and noted that he had grabbed twenty of its thinkers for his administration. Along with Sally Satel, Lynne Cheney is also an AEI scholar, and they have worked together with the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) to counter efforts of the National Organization For Women (NOW) and to oppose feminist politics in general.

Dr. Satel & “Oppression-Based Therapy”

In Sally Satel’s book, PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine (Basic Books, 2001), she defines “politically correct” medicine as a dangerous orthodoxy intended to maintain victim status. She insists that the healing profession’s concern for “social justice” interferes with patient health because it downplays the role of personal responsibility. Satel condemns three popular “oppression-based therapies”: (1) those encouraging patients to be part of what she calls “victim groups”; (2) those suggesting that psychic stress results from racist or patriarchal society; and (3) those suggesting that healing is enhanced by activism that assumes a malignant political-socio environment that contributed to illness of the patient in the first place. She goes so far as to accuse these therapies of being malpractice. She opposes “consumer and psychiatric survivor” organizations and believes in the necessity of coerced drugging.

By subscribing to these “malpractice” techniques I was rescued from the scrapheap of war-induced traumas being part of veteran’s groups where we safely share experiences and help process our cognitive dissonance crises; recognizing that many of our decisions and harmful behaviors resulted from a cultural racist ideology and blind obedience to patriarchy that disempowered and dumbed us down; and becoming active in addressing the causes of war and working for a just society has assisted in our validation and redemption as human beings.

Satel stoops to the comforts of reductionist thinking, denying the holistic interplay among dispositional, situational and systemic factors. In so doing, she ignores the need for understanding the revolutionary role that historical, social, racial, economic, and political contexts have had in shaping our thinking, assumptions, and behavioral patterns. Thus, Satel advocates, in the name of therapy, perpetuation of the politics of massive obedience to the prevailing authority and power system, even as such obedience assures rapid deterioration of the necessary ingredients for a healthy society — empathy, equity, and mutual respect for all life. Of course, it is likely that her sense of mental health “requires” ideological adherence to the prevailing system. I prefer the emergence of homo humanus, replacing homo hostilus, and the terrifying possibility of homo extinctus.

I would like someone like Satel, and all those folks associated with AEI to have shared just one or two hours of my traumatic experiences. A dose of that reality likely would overwhelm their ad nauseum rhetoric in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

My PTSD

Coming from the “indentured servant” class, I was drafted out of law school in 1966 at 25 years of age. Unlike Vice-President Dick Cheney, I possessed no special connections or family money that enabled me to keep my deferment in order to pursue those other things that I would have preferred. So, I enlisted in the USAF in lieu of going into the Army to more likely avoid a combat experience. In 1969, however, I was ordered to Vietnam as head of a special ranger-trained AF combat security unit. While there, as fate would have it, I experienced sickening patterns of crimes that led to my opposition to the war. I was discharged in 1970 as a Captain at 29 years of age.

In 1981, twelve years after those traumatic experiences, I suffered, at age 40, a near psychotic flashback that revealed graphic details of what I had witnessed on a special assignment in April 1969 while documenting the aftermath of bombing missions that intentionally annihilated a number of inhabited villages. The flashback revealed that I had observed somewhere between 700-900 Vietnamese, mostly women and young children in five separate villages in a week’s time. In the very first village I initially heard, then observed a water buffalo screaming in pain from a 3-foot gash in its belly. Taking several additional steps I could walk no further. There were bodies lying everywhere; I estimated more than 125. I covered my face with a handkerchief as the stench from burning flesh and lingering napalm was overpowering and I began to weep, then vomit. This was just the beginning of the memory. The flashback shook me to my roots and it took me several months to recover from the sudden recall of what had been buried in my subconscious.

I attended a few VA rap sessions but didn’t feel safe, so sought my own therapy, both group and individual, and continued to pursue my life. I avoided alcohol or drug use and was considered quite functional. But I began to experience chronic insomnia; hyper-alertness to noises; sudden crying periods; distracting, intrusive memories during daytime hours; avoidance of public crowds; terrifying bodily sensations later termed “panic attacks,” etc. Nonetheless, for a while I even directed a state-funded veteran’s outreach center as I struggled to mask my symptoms the best I could.

In the early 1990s my symptoms were becoming more acute and I sought Jungian therapy. Several people suggested I was suffering from PTSD and advised me to consider help from the VA. In 1994, at age 53, I had my first scheduled assessment with a VA psychiatrist. I was so terrified at the thought of baring my soul to an employee of the government that I remained in my car outside the VA hospital and never made my appointment. Three years later, in 1997, with the emotional support of other veterans, I re-applied and within a year I was diagnosed with PTSD at age 57, twenty-nine years after the worst of the traumas. Now 64, I have discovered lessons about managing the symptoms, and am more mindful of taking care of myself. However, the trauma and memories of the events remain vivid, though I allow space for them in my psyche.

PTSD is nothing to make light of and Dr. Satel, I would submit, needs a dose of war to grasp a reality about her “theories.” War is insane, and those of us thrust into it for God, Country and Right of Passage pay a dear price for the remainder of our lives, even though we may have been politically awakened as a result. WWI German soldier Paul Baumer, in the epic film, “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930), had it right when he proclaimed, “I’m no good for back there anymore.” That was true then, and it is true now.

Don’t Blame the Victim

Instead of questioning motives of veterans who have been forced to endure wars, the vast majority of which are grotesquely illegal upon honest examination, it would behoove psychiatrist Satel and others who think similarly, to condemn the criminality of the political leaders who continually conspire, plan, prepare, initiate, and wage wars of aggression in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, and the Constitution itself. Blaming the victim, rather than the intellectual and political architects of this supreme international crime, practices the ad nauseum trick of “shadow” projection of fault onto others, perpetuating cultural denial and avoidance of accountability.

Satel wants only the lowly troopers to take responsibility for their healing, ignoring the responsibility of war policy makers and profiteers, who are committing the supreme international crime of aggressive wars deserving Nuremberg-style prosecutions. And I suspect also that it would not occur to her that these policy making men and women be subjected to forced therapy or coercive drugging to cure them of their dangerous psychopatholgical behavior. Thus, we witness the typical double standard imposed by those at the top in hierarchical power systems.

If Satel and her comrades were really concerned about saving taxpayer funds, they would cease their glib support for extraordinarily costly aggressive wars of hegemony. Then the psychiatric community could truly be proud that they are preventing hundreds of thousands of people from becoming PTSD patients. How about that for modern psychiatry? But then the shrinks would have to possess the courage to confront the inherent contradictions of a market-obsessed, capitalist economy that values private profit over public justice and caring. Hmm!


23 Comments

  1. Posted June 16, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    ačiū už šį straipsnį autoriui, tikrai įdomus man buvo kaip Kauno gyventojui.
    Daugiau informacijos manau galite rasti domėdamiesi apie plastinę chirurgiją, estetinės
    paskirties plastines operacijas Lietuvoje, t.y.
    Plastines operacijos issimoketinai, kas yra atliekama daugelyje plastinės chirurgijos klinikų.

  2. Posted June 18, 2017 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    牛乳のタンパク質は、入っている量が多い上に、エネルギーが高く良質であるという特性があります。

    美しい体形や美しい胸に整えてくれる力のあるアイテム、それが「補整下着」なのです。

    年が上がるほどたるみを気にする女性が多くなります。

    出産、せたの影響も受けやすく、元々は大きい方だったのに小さくなったという人も少なくありません。

    豊胸に効果的な部分の筋肉がつくことでバスト胸が持ち上がり、大きくなることが

    あります。

    強い運動をしてバストを揺らすのはNG!

    胸を支えている靭帯が伸びてしまい、垂れる原因になるので注意しましょう。

    自分にあった安全なバストアップサプリの選び方のコツや効果を高め方法についても

    お話していきます。

  3. Posted June 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so
    I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Posted June 29, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    First of all I would like to say superb blog!
    I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask
    if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out
    how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
    I’ve had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there.
    I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Kudos!

  5. Posted July 8, 2017 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    This excellent website truly has all the info I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  6. Posted July 9, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Evaluate the space you ought to allocate for meals, refreshments and a lot important, socials.
    Every day many people elect to get a tattoo, but can’t pick which design to use.
    In times like this, I really like to look to see a comedy movie
    to distract me for a few hours.

  7. Posted July 9, 2017 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    This post is really a nice one it assists new internet
    people, who are wishing in favor of blogging.

  8. Posted July 18, 2017 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    Loss préstamos inmediatos no boy beneficiosos solamente porque
    pueden obtenerse de manera rápida sino porque no se necesita ningún tiplo de requisitos. http://stolbcy.info/blog/3173.html

  9. Posted July 20, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Готовую домашку по домашние задание математика 4 класс петерсон для одиннадцатиклассников учебных заведений для
    решения школьных упражнений вы найдете на данном
    портале http://peterson4.ru и вместе с ними сумеете выполнить упражнение.

    На вот этом веб-сайте находится этот решебник:

    л г петерсон задачи по математике 4 класс;
    гдз от путина математика петерсон 4
    класс часть 2;
    петерсон контрольные работы по математике за 4 класс купить;
    математика 4 класс рабочая тетрадь петерсон скачать бесплатно;

    петерсон математика 4 класс контрольные работы фгос.

    ГДЗ (ответы) по ответы по русскому языку петерсон 4 класс обеспечат
    хорошую отметку и окажут помощь
    хорошо закончить школу.

  10. Posted July 20, 2017 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    November by March is unquestionably the most snug months
    for journey in Egypt.

  11. Posted July 23, 2017 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Al Fateh Grand Mosque is 6.three mi (10.1 km) away.

  12. Posted July 24, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Last year, the common in-state tuition was $eight,244, while the utmost Pell Grant was $5,550.

  13. Posted July 25, 2017 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    Советы на домашние задания по гдз.по английскому языку 4 класс биболетова тетрадь для шестиклассников средних
    школ для изготовления школьных задач
    вы отыщите на этом сайте http://biboletova4.ru и с их помощью
    сумеете сделать упражнение.

    На вот этом портале представлен следующий задачник:
    видео уроки английского языка 4 класс биболетова рабочая тетрадь;
    аудиоприложение биболетова 4 класс фгос скачать;
    решебник по англ языку 4 класс биболетова
    учебник;
    скачать учебник биболетова 4 класс пдф;
    английский язык 4 класс автор биболетова рабочая тетрадь.

    Решебник (ответы) по гдз лол по английскому 4 класс биболетова учебник ответы помогут получить хорошую отметку и окажут помощь отлично
    окончить четверть.

  14. Posted July 28, 2017 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Howdy very cool web site!! Man .. Excellent .. Superb ..
    I will bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally?
    I’m happy to seek out so many helpful information right here in the submit, we’d like develop more strategies in this regard, thanks for sharing.
    . . . . .

  15. Posted August 2, 2017 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Multimastery- Google ɑs i’ve said iis ѡhere I do geet
    most oof my funds, so tһere you gо, but οnce morе amazon has been okay foor mе, but
    sill trᥙly a matter оf luck and time.

  16. Posted August 3, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Kevin Kline & Tom Wilkinson are completely cast.

  17. Posted August 7, 2017 at 5:10 am | Permalink

    Insbesondere im Bereich der Haustiere ist die Reinzucht unter Tierzüchtern relevant, da hier Tiere derselben Rasse miteinander verpaart werden.

  18. Posted August 12, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Thankfulness to my father who stated to me regarding this
    website, this web site is truly remarkable.

  19. Posted August 17, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Season – when selecting your trees remember the
    growing season when your wedding will need place.
    Hartman also may serve as Delaware River Committee chairman for that Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, a
    fisheries organization. You will be able to hear the
    sounds that this different notes make as well.

  20. Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    First off I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing.
    I’ve had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out.
    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first
    10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints?
    Thank you!

  21. Posted September 3, 2017 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    If you are going for finest contents like I do, just pay
    a visit this web page everyday for the reason that
    it presents feature contents, thanks

  22. Posted September 5, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Thanks in favor of sharing such a nice opinion, article is
    fastidious, thats why i have read it entirely

  23. Posted September 16, 2017 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Sexy Livehotgirls gibt es immer mehr aber nicht alle sind freizügig wie diese hier, die sich unter allen Umständen nackt zeigen müssen.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Real Time Web Analytics