Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD has become a popular topic in the news recently, now that the PTSD problem among veterans is becoming impossible to ignore. PTSD seems to be a rational human response to extremely violent situations.
Unfortunately, while humanity may be less violent than our ancestors of past centuries, the majority of the human population is still forced to cope with overwhelming amounts of violence. This exposure to violence results in varying degrees of PTSD, some cases are unnoticeable and some are very pronounced.
The most interesting thing about how this issue is portrayed in the mainstream media is the fact that police officers and the military always seem to be the focus of discussion. It is true that police officers and military agents are exposed to a lot of violence, but more often than not they are the ones on the delivering end of that violence. What about those on the receiving end? Surely those who are on an even more unpleasant side of that violence suffer from many of those same symptoms.
This is an idea that would never even be considered in the mainstream media, they would do studies to see if military or police dogs have PTSD, before they would consider for one minute that a victim of state violence may experience it…. And they actually have done those studies on dogs.
The people of Iraq, Afghanistan and all of the other Middle Eastern and African countries that the US government has attacked must be completely traumatized after having their lives and their communities torn apart with violence. The unfortunate souls who get caught up in no knock raids on the wrong house probably have a difficult time coping with the situation afterwards. Peaceful activists who get cracked in the head with batons or shot in the face with pepper spray are also likely candidates for PTSD. As are victims of the drug war, victims of unwarranted car searches and victims of TSA molestation.
Sadly, the violence that now causes these people to loose sleep at night is taboo, but even more than that no one even wants to admit that this violence exists. To do so would fracture the myth of the fair and benevolent state that people use to justify the aggression that surrounds them.
Since this worldview is so prevalent in today’s society, PTSD among victims of state violence is completely unrecognized, ignored and many of these people are left in a state comparable to Stockholm Syndrome, blaming themselves and thinking that their feelings are somehow unreasonable. The feelings that they have are legitimate though, the violence that agents of the state engage in effects people other than themselves, this fact should be obvious.
Of course, the aggressors are human too and i am not writing off the psychological impact that this violence has on them, especially if they feel forced or intimidated into carrying it out. However, it is dehumanizing to only consider the impact that a conflict has on one party involved. This sort of approach and rhetoric is exactly what makes foreign wars and home town police states palatable to the average people who just watch the mainstream media and believe what the politicians tell them.