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Monday, May 21, 2007

'Until We Send Robots to Fight, We'll Always Have PTSD'

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Soldiers returning from World War I experienced shell shock, and veterans from World War II were said to suffer from combat fatigue. But a formal diagnosis for PTSD did not exist until the early 1980s.

According to the National Center for PTSD, people with the disorder have four major types of symptoms: They re-experience the event either while awake or asleep; they stay away from people, places and things that remind them of the trauma; they experience a loss of emotions; and they feel on guard, have trouble sleeping and are irritable.

To receive a formal diagnosis of PTSD, these symptoms must last for more than one month, cause significant distress and affect the person’s ability to function normally. The combat behaviors veterans learn in the military and the return to civilian life after being in a life and death situation can exacerbate some of these symptoms. But, [Bruce Purvis, a psychologist at the Asheville VA medical center] said these are normal responses to an abnormal situation. “It’s the way we’re put together,” Purvis said. “It’s the way we’re wired.”

Dr. Alan Krueger, a former psychiatrist at the Asheville VA Medical Center, said even if military personnel don’t develop PTSD or other mental health issues, war has some effect on everyone who is involved in it. “I don’t think anybody who goes into combat comes out unscathed,” Krueger said. ...

“Until we send our robots out to fight their robots, we’ll always have PTSD,” Purvis said.

Listen to an interview with Purvis, talking about the symptoms of PTSD and how a formal diagnosis for PTSD is made.

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