Sgt. Robert Bales-PTSD Link at Odds With Research


"Damage to individual veterans is so much greater than their damage to other people," said Dr. Joan Anzia, associate professor in psychiatry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "As tragic as those killings [in Afghanistan] are, those are few and far between compared to what our soldiers, veterans and their families suffer."

The effects of PTSD are widespread and often devastating for people who suffer. But the condition is vastly underreported in the military. Of the servicemen and women who return from war with PTSD, only about half receive any kind of treatment. Many fear that a diagnosis will damage their career prospects or relationships with their comrades.

Some advocates worry that characterizing people with PTSD as violent potential criminals might further stigmatize the disorder and prevent soldiers and veterans from seeking treatment.

"Creating a link without really knowing what causes a crime stigmatizes hundreds of thousands of people who have such a diagnosis who are contributing members to society and are no harm to anybody," said Dr. Israel Liberzon, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Capt. Maybee said he chose to speak candidly with his family and fellow soldiers to fight stereotypes about the condition. He hopes that others will not suffer from an association with rare cases of violent crimes.

"A handful of people make major news stories," Maybee said, "and you don't hear about that person who's suffering silently, abusing drugs and alcohol, or is confronting their issues and moving on with their lives."

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