Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Jim Gourley on spelunking through PTSD

with 2 comments

Interesting report posted by Tom Ricks:

I’m going to say quite a few things that I can’t immediately qualify, because the views build on each other. I wish I could give you a clear line of reasoning, but if I could then PTSD wouldn’t be a problem. So I’m going to do this the only way I know how — create the ball of twine and then unravel it. Bear with me.

I am an expert on PTSD. So is every other Soldier/Sailor/Marine/Airman (avoiding diatribes against the all-inclusive "warrior" here) who has felt and/or suffered (because feeling and suffering are distinct from each other) from PTSD. I know we are all experts because no one else does, or can, understand the condition without having gone through it. Army psychologists and counselors who have not felt it or suffered from it only scratch the surface of the problem.

PTSD is very difficult to deal with for two reasons. One reason is the misconception that it is a psychological condition. It’s not. It’s a spiritual condition. Yes, I know that you cannot anatomically identify the human spirit or sedate it with valium and that, for all its complexities and mysteries, we find the brain much easier to "treat", but I’m telling you right now that trying to understand PTSD under a psychological paradigm is like trying to conduct an ACL surgery at an auto-body shop. I’ve met David Grossman, and even he speaks about it in metaphysical terms on a frequent basis. If you don’t believe me, I’ll go dig up the quotes from all the shrinks-in-chief that declare the cause for spikes in suicides in 2008 and 2009 and 2010 was "due to the weather." I give all due respect to the shrinks and counselors. They’re doing their best. But with all due respect, their best is nothing but best guesses. Because this isn’t scientific. It’s spiritual.

The second reason it’s difficult is that, even when we acknowledge the spiritual nature of this condition, we are woefully inept at dealing with it. Blake Hall hits on all the things we do wrong — ridicule, ostracize, and ignore those with the disease. Treat the guy like a leper.

You want to know why we do that? Because deep down underneath all that type-A, testosterone-driven, state-of-the-badass-art Spartan warrior bravado that we exude, we are scared to f—ing death that we’ll catch it. PTSD in the Army is like cooties in a third-grade classroom.

If we want to treat PTSD, we’ve got to do exactly what Blake did. We’ve got to learn how to hug lepers. We’ve got to get past the condition and see the man or woman we’ve always known. We’ve got to embrace them and hold them tight, tell them that we’re here and we’re not leaving them. And we’ve got to mean it. We have to be there. At the office, on the steps of their house, on a swollen riverbank out back of a Chili’s on a Saturday night, on the floor of a living room where there used to be furniture at 2 o’clock in the morning. These people don’t need us 24/7, but when they do, we’ve got to answer the call. And we’ve got to be the kind of leaders and peers that instill enough confidence in them that they’ll pick up the phone and call us.

Hotlines and VA administrations can’t help. They weren’t there in the s–t with you when it was all going down. They don’t know. They didn’t see. And they don’t really care. Yes, I know that many of these people really DO care, but I only know that now. When you have PTSD, you DON’T know that. You certainly won’t believe it. Let me back up.

Here’s what PTSD is like, and why people kill themselves over it. Think of life like a cave…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

28 July 2010 at 11:43 am

2 Responses

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  1. Jim,

    Your powerful wisdom, pain, and illumination, was sent to me by someone at Ft. Knox in the medical field. We regularly follow the suffering of soldiers with PTSD, the problems of returning home, insufficient care by the bean counters, and the extraordinary care by many in the VA who are not.

    I am creating a short note on my blog, which is accessible from my general website’s front page, but you can go to at, to highlight what you are doing.

    Please consider me your ally should you have more materials to send me at the email address.

    Thank You, Jim,
    John W


    John D. Willis, PhD

    4 August 2010 at 4:17 pm

  2. Jim is much more likely to see your comment if you post it at the link in the post above.



    5 August 2010 at 5:37 am

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