Good Men Project commenter MediaHound tells a surprising story of how PTSD came to be recognized as such.
I would like to tell you a story. It happened in London on the streets. Because Christmas was coming, a journalist decided to spend a few nights on the streets with the homeless. He thought it would be a great way to promote some seasonal charity. It was rough and cold–they queued up for soup–and he actually talked to people he had walked past and ignored time and time again for so many years.
The journalist believed he knew homeless people. Drinkers, mental health cases, people who just lacked the ability to hack it in life. He was shocked. Time and time again when he asked what these homeless people used to do in the past, the answer was “Soldier”. They had all seen active duty from the Falklands War 1982. The journalist found that 90% of the rough sleepers were ex-soldiers.
The Journalist was surprised by the figure, but did not let it get in the way of a good story. He mentioned it in their newspaper article whilst encouraging others to be a bit charitable–it’s Christmas. Be nice to the Homeless.
That newspaper article was read by one person. That person was intrigued by the figures–they were either right or wrong–if right they were such an anomaly there had to be a reason. The reader worked in a research institution, so they put together a modest proposal to check the figures. The figures were right.
More research was done. The homeless soldiers were interviewed profiled and they willingly took part. They knew there was a problem, but they didn’t know what it was. The research grew and more people were brought in –and an interesting opportunity arose. The research institution had access to something called a Functional MRI –one of the first in the world. That was how hyper arousal and amygdala activation was discovered and linked to PTSD–and it opened up a whole world for people with PTSD.
They were not mad–there is a specific change in brain function that they could not control.
Throughout the work some claimed that PTSD did not exist (in fact those flat earthers are still about today) and others claimed that it was not possible that a cluster of homeless soldiers were statistically significant. Some called the research a waste of money and it was shocking to see all the excuses raised by so many to decry and debunk the facts that were uncovered.
People who promoted the research and findings were attacked and called names–I remember one person being called a fraudster and even money grabbing–supposedly inventing whole sets of false data to get a higher paid position in research. It was fascinating to watch just how so many framed the world in their own image.
It was the people who denied that there was an issue who had the biggest problems when their world view was shaken and overturned. Deniers are like that! It’s been shown time and time again across history.
Photo: C. G. P. Grey / Flickr