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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder And Vietnam Veterans.

3711 words - 15 pages

I am up all night. I will never be the same though, never, never, never. If I have to go into battle again, if I am not killed, I will come out insane. I cannot see and go through it again. I know I can't. The friends I lost and the many bodies I carried back to the helicopters to be lifted out, I will never forget. (1)The above excerpt was taken from a letter written by Kenneth Bagbey to his parents just after the battle at Ia-Dang Valley in 1965. Kenneth's feelings ring true for countless veterans of the Vietnam War. However, it was not until the 1980's that a significant effort was made to help Vietnam veterans with the numerous psychological problems that they faced after the war. It is not surprising that war veterans, exposed to the brutalities of battle, have difficulties dealing with their actions or what they have witnessed in war. Yet, some critics argue that Vietnam veterans are receiving too much attention for their psychological disorders. The studies conducted during the 1980's of the effects of war on veterans has led to a relatively new concept of post-war problems know as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, there is still an ongoing debate concerning the validity of the disorder. Why is there a debate over a disorder that seems to be an obvious possibility when exposed to trauma and war? What are the different views in the debate? And, finally what can we learn from the debate about the future of post-war related stress? In order to understand the debate we must understand what the disorder is defined as today as well as understand how this has come to be. First, we must place PTSD in the broader context of the relationship between psychology and other wars in the history of the United States.World War I marked the first appearance of scientific terminology for stress disorders associated with war. "Shell-shock" was originally thought to have been caused by exposing the brain to the intense vibrations associated with the discharge of artillery within close proximity. At the time the symptoms described ranged from feelings of vague anxiety, depression, to startle reactions, loss of concentration, insomnia, and hysteria. (2) The U.S. army utilized methods of forward treatment. That is, the afflicted soldier would be treated by medical personal very near the front lines of battle. This was largely done in an effort to help keep the soldier in combat, as he was less likely to return if he was removed from the scene. However, these early efforts in dealing with war related stress lacked a distinct set of diagnosis criteria as well as a consensus on proper treatment. It seems that the soldier was merely confronted and urged to go back to battle. (3)During World War II, the military sought to avoid the difficulties of psychological problems in the field of battle. The military tried to weed out "psychologically predisposed" draftees by testing potential soldiers for any psychological disorders before they were enlisted. This...

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