Trump and PTSI

I’ve made it a practice in this blog to steer clear of politics. I don’t approve of president Trump, and I’m opposed to many of his policies. But that’s not what this blog is about.

Until now.

Trump’s speculation, beginning last Friday, that Ian David Long, the shooter at the country-music bar in Thousand Oaks, California, was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury and hinting that PTSI was the underlying cause of the crime is ignorant, insulting, and outrageous.

I speak as one who suffers from that malady. And I know many other veterans similarly affected. I’ve never met or even heard of a PTSI victim who is violent towards others. If we set out to hurt anyone, it’s ourselves. Suicide rate among veterans is far higher than among non-veterans. Every day, twenty veterans and service members kill themselves.

I agree with Dr. Frank Ochberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, that the condition should be called Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) rather than Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is the direct result of an externally inflicted wound to the soul. Combat is one cause. Rape is another. Any violent experience, such as an automobile accident or an earthquake can cause it. It can’t be healed. The victim’s only choice is to learn to cope.

But violence towards others is not among its symptoms. Such acts result from psychosis, a very different disorder. And I stand with other veterans in condemning Trump’s words.

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