Disorder or Injury?

A reader of my recent blog posts asks why I refer to the malady that results from witnessing or participating in the wounding and death of soldiers as Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) and not Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I didn’t invent the PTSI version of the term. I don’t know who did, but it’s been around for a good many years. I prefer “injury” to “disorder” because I experience the malady as a wound to the soul inflicted by seeing violent death close at hand. That is to say, PTSI is not a disease resulting from the internal problem of the mind going awry; it is an externally inflicted wound.

I have written extensively about the disorder in this blog. Below I quote from a 2018 post on the subject:

“PTSI has a long and inglorious history. The ancient Greeks called it ‘divine madness.’ During and after the U.S. Civil War, the term was ‘Solder’s heart.’ In World War I, it was called ‘shell shock;’ in World War II, ‘combat fatigue;’ and these days the usage favored is ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).’ I call it an injury rather than a disorder because it is the result of an externally inflicted wound to the soul.

“Those who suffer from PTSI are sometime accused of cowardice and weakness. That adds insult to ignorance. Only the brave weather combat, and only the healthy respond with horror to the devastation of the battlefield. The unenlightened about the malady believe that those affected by their combat experience are a danger to others—they are prone to violence. That’s foolishness. The only danger PTSI sufferers pose is to themselves. Sometimes the unbearable memories are so bad that death is preferable to continuous suffering.

More next time.

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