PTSD is an acronym for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a dysfunctional condition resulting from on-the-spot contact with an event, or series of events which shock mind or body to the extent that the condition is engendered. The mind is principally affected, but it can affect the subject’s motor system as well. In the extreme, the sufferer may experience psychotic episodes. Symptoms can moderate, disappear, intensify, or persist without diminution. PTSD, in general, is difficult to treat successfully.
Triggering events may be such things as: witness to a series of brutal events that fly in the face of moral or ethical beliefs; exposure to wartime combat — especially repetitive events; being present at or surviving a disaster such as the 9/11 Twin Towers collapse; an accident in which you lose a limb or suffer disfigurement; rape; and torture.
Upbringing and family stability play an important part; one person witnessing a triggering event might ultimately fall victim to a full-blown case of PTSD, while the next will walk away unfazed. (Should the exposure be repetitive or prolonged, such as unrelenting military duty in an intense combat zone, even the resistant person may succumb.) A considerable period of time often passes before the affected person realizes he is in distress; he, or she, may attempt to rid themselves of their problems by the use of alcohol or drugs. Supervised drug therapy is often prescribed once the subject has sought medical care.
Denial is common. Many cases of PTSD go untreated, the affected person — progressing, out of shame, into alcoholism and/or drug addiction — seeking to disguise or self-treat the symptoms. Suicide may take on the appearance of an increasingly attractive solution.
The symptoms of PTSD are quite pronounced; anyone experiencing them should be aware they are dealing with something most unusual and seek professional help.
Symptoms being: “Night terrors” — horrifying dreams that waken you in a profuse sweat; a desire for isolation; anti-social behavior, amounting to an extreme distrust of people who would normally qualify as friends; an overwhelming desire to change jobs — no job proving satisfying; extreme irritability; and “flashbacks,” vague or full-blown waking dreams — replays of the event that originally shocked you, or snippets of some action related to it — these replays interjecting themselves into the middle of your daily work routine or activities. Involuntary physical reaction (sometimes accompanied by a flashback) is often triggered by the sight, sound, smell, or touch of anything relating to the triggering event.
If the symptoms are easily cast off, it is difficult for the sufferer to believe anything is amiss — especially if daily life is unaffected. Should suspicion persist that something deep within is “out of kilter,” you may be toying with self-denial. A visit to a psychologist may prove helpful.
In 3ACES, Abner Weaver knows very well what his problem is; he’s strong and stubborn enough to think he can handle it. Self-treatment has consisted of isolating himself on the American road for seventeen years in the cab of a long haul truck, where Weaver avoids coping with much of the everyday world. Control evaporates when he allows a distraught female hitchhiker into his cab — temporarily, he thinks. Weaver’s problem is close to extreme — the result of 18 border recon missions during the Vietnamese war. Any degree of PTSD may represent a nasty problem.
Richard Ide is a writer of realistic, action-adventure and romantic-suspense fiction. On May 26th, 2008, Button Top Books released 3 ACES, his first published work. Now available on Amazon.com or by special order (ISBN: 978-0-615-15821-1) in bookstores. For more information on Richard and 3 Aces, visit: 3 Aces.