The Crux of PTSD under threat of terrorism

I’ve got a piece over at Discover Magazine’s new group blog, The Crux, which looks at whether post-traumatic stress disorder makes sense if it’s applied to people who remain at high risk of terrorist attack.

The Crux is a blog written by a crowd of science folks that aims to taker a deeper look at some of the ‘big ideas in science’ that are currently being thrown around and I’ll be writing some occasional pieces as mind and brain issues surface.

Researchers have noted that “PTSD is classified as an anxiety disorder. Within cognitive models, anxiety is a result of appraisals relating to impending threat. However, PTSD is a disorder in which the problem is a memory for an event that has already happened.” After all, if you feel threatened with good reason, almost by definition, this isn’t a mental illness.

So if someone remains in danger after a life-threatening incident, does the concept of “post-traumatic stress disorder” even make sense?

As the diagnosis relies largely on totalling up symptoms in a checklist-like fashion, it is possible to diagnose someone with the condition in almost any circumstance. But no one knew whether treating it in people who are still in grave danger would be any use.

Until now that is.

You can check out the full article at the link below and pieces by the other fine folks of The Crux here.

Link to ‘Life During Wartime: Can Mental Illness Be a Rational Response?’

One thought on “The Crux of PTSD under threat of terrorism”

  1. “It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.” Most of the PTSD behaviors are functional, *prosurvival* reactions to a high-threat environment, they only become dysfunctional when they’re expressed in a peaceful, civilian context.

    Anyone who was a SEAL a few months ago, and especially if they can be traced to Team 6, would probably be well-advised to stay paranoid for the rest of their lives. It may create severe psychological strain, but a shrink that “helped” them turn off their reflexive paranoia and instant-response violence would probably not be doing them any favors.


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