This Is Your Brain On War: “There was this police officer in Florida,” he says. “She was shot 10 times, and in the middle of this gunfight she says to herself, ‘I’m getting married in six months and you’re not going to stop me.’ And she killed the two bastards who shot her. She was back on the job a year later. So, yes, these are irrational thoughts, but at the same time, they’re motivating thoughts.”
What do ruined people do? Weird shit. This seems to be the consensus of psychoanalysts as far back as Freud and Jung; the traumatized self creates, out of necessity, a system of self-care that is keen to avoid repeat trauma. This makes change difficult; it makes people who’ve had part of their psyches destroyed by unmanageable emotions push people and emotions away, create obstacles, generate unnecessary drama. [more inside]
Action Man: Battlefield Casualties is a disturbing spoof toy commercial in a campaign by Veterans for Peace UK to raise the military recruitment age from 16 to 18. Warning: autoplaying video with graphic violence.
"Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit." [more inside]
Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan. An extensive new study (PDF) by human rights lawyers from Stanford and NYU examines the impact of drone strikes on civilians in Pakistan, including the strategic effectiveness of the policy as well as the psychological impact on those living in constant fear that they might come under attack. [Via]
West treats East. "To help traumatized Tibetan monks, doctors in Boston turn to cross-cultural medicine." [Via]
The MacArthur Foundation awarded its "genius" grants yesterday. Among the winners was Jonathan Shay, a a VA psychiatrist whose midlife discovery of the Homeric epics inspired him to use their depictions of soldier bonding and cohesion, leadership, trust and betrayal, and terror and rage to treat the psychological disorders and transition difficulties of combat veterans. NPR interview.
Are you a Gulf War veteran still suffering from mysterious symptoms or post-combat trauma? The Veteran's Administration has just the prescription for you: "Obecalp," otherwise known as placebo. (p.s. -- They'd better start working on an Extra-Strength version for Iraq War vets.)
Is the aroma of burning flesh putting you off your lunch? An Israeli company called Patus is marketing a new product called Odor Screen to EMTs, soldiers, cops, and medical staff who work at the sites of suicide bombings, combat zones, and other modern catastrophes. The Proustian link between smell and vivid memories is well established, and by displacing traumatic odors with a "calming vanilla aroma," the company hopes to lessen PTSD in first responders, and that's no laughing matter. [via medgadget]