The Paradox of PTSD
Thousands of soldiers are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with deep psychological scars. Posttraumatic stress disorder is a common diagnosis—but is it the right one?
When Staff Sergeant Kyle Jewart returned to his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, from Iraq in 2008, he had trouble sleeping. During his 15-month tour with the U.S. Army’s Sixty-Fourth Armor Regiment, six men in his company were killed in combat, and many more were wounded. He thought about those guys a lot. As a part of the Army’s civilian reintegration process, he filled out a standard questionnaire: Did you kill anyone? Did you lose anyone close to you? Do you feel tense? Do you think about harming yourself?
“There must have been something in my answers,” Jewart says, “because they told me I had PTSD.” The Army offered him counseling, the military’s most common treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but after a session or two, Jewart stopped going. “I guess according to the definition I had PTSD, but I just didn’t feel like I did.”
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Katherine N. Boone is a writer in Pasadena, California. She is working on a book about psychiatry in World War II.more from this author >>