I want to ask a very serious question about a very serious topic--PTSD. I am of no illusion that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is a very real mental illness for some people. But for some people, has it become just a crutch for their bad behavior?
Recently, Corpus Christi judge Guy Williams welcomed local media into his office to deliver a statement following in patient treatment at a facility in Bandera. The statement was tearful and obviously heartfelt from Judge Williams and perhaps it is very sincere, but is it true?
I want to preface this by saying that I do not know Judge Williams and nor do I have any ill feelings towards him. I do have questions about his obvious bad behavior and his newly found dishonor in it. I wish him the best in his treatment, but what if it isn't truly what is wrong with him? What if it is just a pattern of bad behavior?
A few years ago I spent several weeks studying PTSD at a treatment facility in Dallas, Texas. While studying this mental illness, I learned that most of the victims were there to simply learn excuses for bad behavior. It was true.
"Why are you here", I asked.
"I came home from Operation Iraqi Freedom and I just wasn't the same. I beat my wife to a pulp", one man said.
Another said that he was there because he had a drinking problem and had been to rehab several times to no avail. He told a story of living on the streets, working odd and end jobs, a mother who didn't love him and so on and so forth. He was learning that his bad choices were part of his PTSD.
Later on, we followed up with each of these men that we were studying. The truth was, they still had bad behavior, but they had just learned a new excuse to justify their bad behavior. Every last one of them ended up using that excuse.
Let's face it, some people are victims of themselves and making bad behavior choices. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is to this generation of people what “back pain” is to a pill addict. Both back pain and PTSD are real conditions with real victims, but the symptoms are so common and so easily acted out that anyone can claim they have the condition, and no one can prove that they don’t.
I am worried that PTSD has become a “get out of jail free” card, or at least a “feel sorry for me and excuse my behavior card,” a very powerful one with no expiration date.
Do you like to get drunk and pick fights with women? PTSD! Murdered a police officer? PTSD! Drug smuggling, kidnapping, spousal abuse, sexual assault? PTSD! Made some really, really bad life choices? PTSD! Want to get paid, get attention, or get sympathy? PTSD, PTSD, PTSD!!!
It has become all too common and we need to address it.
Misattributed PTSD Symptoms that are consistent with PTSD but are actually more attributable to a other psychiatric disorders such as anxiety. Misattributed PTSD is fairly common, since 92% of patients with a primary PTSD diagnosis have at least one other psychiatric diagnosis, according to experts.
During the study that I was documenting, we noticed there was a problem. PTSD was becoming an excuse and that was bad for everybody. The psychologist on the team identified that a wrong diagnosis was shedding a bad light on the actual illness. It was also having people take medications that they actually did not need to take. It was creating a society of blame, not accepting responsibility for bad behavior.
Please, do not think that I am denying that PTSD exists, because it certainly does. But what I am asking is are people truly using it as an excuse for bad behavior? If so, then we can offer them no free pass and treat them like anybody else.