Monday, October 3, 2011

'PTSD may be a learned response; key to survival'

I'm working on my book tentatively titled Beyond Fight-or-Flight.

The basic premise of this book is that those in activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter who refer to fight-or-flight are referring to the theories and concepts of the stress discipline. This is evidenced in combat training methods described as stress training, stress inoculation training, and stress exposure training.

When stress is defined as a process, the stress discipline is interested in our evolved survival process. However, they are only interested in a biased form of it and only in certain parts. Another discipline, the emotion discipline also studies the same process but with a more complete understanding of this process and without the same bias. I'm integrating the theories and concepts of the two disciplines to obtain a more complete understanding of our evolved survival mechanism which is embedded in a survival process. One of the benefits of this approach is that it offers hitherto possibilities of managing the survival reactions when involved, and after involvement, in a violent encounter.

'PTSD may be a learned response: key to survival' is the title of an article included on the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health website.
But is [PTSD] a disorder? Maybe not. Perhaps it is a a normal adaptation to the battlefield and a key to their survival.

First, remember that a psychiatric diagnosis is usually a syndrome, not a disease. Strep throat is a disease. We know a specific cause, test, treatment and cure. Psychiatric diagnoses, however, are made based upon a group of behaviors, characteristics and personal experiences.
Very interesting idea.

Post traumatic stress disorder, OR, post traumatic stress response? Maybe, post traumatic survival response. The comments to the article thank the author for explaining to the general public that they are not 'insane' or have a mental defect. The words we use to describe things have meaning which effects behaviour. Combat Stress Injuries: Theories and Research by Figley and Nash suggest that using the term combat stress injuries will lead to warfighters being more likely to seek help. An injury is something sustained and has no stigma. A mental disorder is stigmatised and is a sign of weakness.

Referring to post traumatic survival response is not just about spin, it is also a more accurate reflection of what is going on. The survival mechanism was switched on for combat. It helped in survival, which is what it is evolutionarily designed to do (despite the reservations of those involved in activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter who, unknowingly, refer to the theories and concepts of the stress discipline). After the violent encounter, the survival mechanism is not switched off in the case of PTSD/PTSR. This is a learned response. Much the same as learned helplessness which was the subject of the past two blogs. Understanding the true nature of the condition provides a better means of managing it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments make my work all the more relevant as I use them to direct my research and theorising. Thank you.