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Beyond Pathologizing Harm: Understanding PTSD in the Context of War Experience.

Beyond Pathologizing Harm: Understanding PTSD in the Context of War Experience.
Author Information (click to view)

Benner P, Halpern J, Gordon DR, Popell CL, Kelley PW,


Benner P, Halpern J, Gordon DR, Popell CL, Kelley PW, (click to view)

Benner P, Halpern J, Gordon DR, Popell CL, Kelley PW,

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The Journal of medical humanities 2017 11 16() doi 10.1007/s10912-017-9484-y
Abstract

An alternative to objectifying approaches to understanding Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) grounded in hermeneutic phenomenology is presented. Nurses who provided care for soldiers injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and sixty-seven wounded male servicemen in the rehabilitation phase of their recovery were interviewed. PTSD is the one major psychiatric diagnosis where social causation is established, yet PTSD is predominantly viewed in terms of the usual neuro-physiological causal models with traumatic social events viewed as pathogens with dose related effects. Biologic models of causation are applied reductively to both predisposing personal vulnerabilities and strengths that prevent PTSD, such as resiliency. However, framing PTSD as an objective disease state separates it from narrative historical details of the trauma. Personal stories and cultural meanings of the traumatic events are seen as epiphenomenal, unrelated to the understanding of, and ultimately, the therapeutic treatment of PTSD. Most wounded service members described classic symptoms of PTSD: flashbacks, insomnia, anxiety etc. All experienced disturbance in their sense of time and place. Rather than see the occurrence of these symptoms as decontextualized mechanistic reverberations of war, we consider how these symptoms meaningfully reflect actual war experiences and sense of displacement experienced by service members.

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