Saturday, 3 September 2016

PTSD: a response to Tim Kennedy


Tim Kennedy is an ex-American Green Beret and MMA fighter who has served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has 181,000 followers on his Facebook page. He takes a rather unsympathetic view of those who claim to be suffering from 'Post Traumatic Stress Disorder' and thinks he has a better solution to it, than the current treatment model of drugs and counselling. He has made the choice not to “have nightmares every night or be a medicated PTSD victim,” and has instead elected to make a “difference”. He recommends this approach to those affected by the condition.

He writes on his Facebook page(and he has had 30,000 'thumbs up' for it) the following: 

I'm asked daily about how and why I don't have PTSD. I'm probably the last person on Earth you should ask about this stuff. I have killed kids and women during war. I have seen my friends and fellow soldiers burn alive. My adult life is filled with the things horror movies are made of. I could have nightmares every night or be a medicated PTSD victim if I didn't choose every day to make a difference for myself and more importantly for the men that died to my left and right. I don't give a fuck about how they say we are supposed to heal. I'll tell you how to get better. You stop being a pussy. You get up early and train. You train so hard your hands bleed, and you sweat acid. You train so hard you collapse seeing stars. You go get cleaned up. Have a healthy meal. Look your best, dress nice. Then know that the real work is about to start. Find something bigger than yourself and pour every ounce of who you are into it. If that's your family, be the best father on Earth. If you are a cop, firefighter, or a trash man, be the BEST. Know every law, regulation, or route like the back of your hand. Be the best shot on the force. Be in better shape than every officer in the country, and serve the community like its your reason for living. When you finally get home, be a generous lover then collapse into bed. You should be falling asleep before your head hits the pillow because you worked so hard every moment of the day. Get up the next day.... and start all over again. At some point, and I'm not sure when, you won't need to do these things any more.... but you will, because you know you are making a difference. It won't be about you getting better or healthier. It will be about you contributing and giving. It will be about being the best version of yourself, and that version is a baddass that is hard to kill, that doesn't give a fuck about what other people think. You do the right thing because you believe in it. When you finally get to heaven and get to see your brothers, they will high five you as you walk by because you made their death worth something and made your life meaningful. Hell you might even get a little wink and a pat on the ass from God as you walk by. #greenberet #ranger #sniper #oef #oif #infantry #Isis #pstd"

My reply, for what it was worth, was as follows:

To Tim Kennedy: You obviously have a lot of followers and inspire a lot of people Tim. It's a message of positivity as a coping mechanism for particularly those engaged, either past or present, with the military.
We are all aware that military training is as much psychological as physical, and any 'recovery' from it, has naturally, to contain these elements too. We all combine a physical and mental experience - the one seamlessly interacting with the other. 

There are THREE things that determine our health status in life: our genetic make-up that we cannot change; our social and physical environment, which similarly, is pretty much fixed; and our approach and attitude to them which is the only bit under our control - the bit you concentrate on. Either we fall foul of our demons, or in facing, conquer them. That is essentially a matter of choice. 

A century has passed since a certain Sigmund Freud suggested that repressed feelings of principally guilt, may reveal themselves in neurotic behaviours or depression. We see many instances of that daily all around us. In some ways your own approach to activity may even be an example of the same phenomenon! But I agree it is better than sitting a chair all day smoking, drinking and downing pills or even doing something more serious and final. The results are their own advertisement. 

Unfortunately, serious mental illness has a mind of its own - so to speak! It can INSIST on taking over control and there is little the individual can do about it. The multiple cases of "shell shock" in the First World War demonstrated that. Hopefully we have moved on slightly since affected men were tortured by doctors - to 'get them out of it'! 

There is much about warfare that is ugly, deceitful and immoral. Men have to be trained and desensitised to become potential or actual killers. That process is likely to totally contradict conditioning up to that point. Men are conditioned to obey commands without question in an system that goes right to the top of a corrupt political hierarchy. Soldiers are persuaded they are fighting for freedom, when actually it may be just money, oil and hegemony. 

Horrific actions and memories experienced during military service, must inevitably come back to haunt. Those around cannot truly empathise because they do not share them. It must be a very lonely and painful place. The realisation that the justification was phoney or the promised results non-existent inevitably will make matters worse. Was all that violence and loss for nothing? (This conversation may be an eye-opener to you or you may be familiar with it:

Our culture extols the achiever and the hero figure. Government works hard to promote the 'just war' and its exponents as role models. Sadly, this is seldom the subjective perception of those who experience the horror that is modern warfare, and which subsequently evidences in many as PTSD. If your approach to the issue helps those that suffer from it, all power to your elbow! But maybe you should also have the humility to accept that 'one size does not necessarily fit all'. Channelling regret into more productive purposes may also be of interest to your followers and supporters:

1 comment:

    S1-E1 Kill or Be Killed
    Today 9pm - 10pm Channel 5
    Documentary in which former SAS members talk about serving in the elite military unit, beginning by explaining how they rationalise killing as part of their duties and what happens to those sharply honed instincts when they leave the service and return to the civilian world."


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