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A Question of Attitude

New research suggests that U.S. soldiers are more likely to suffer from PTSD than their British counterparts. Apparently almost one-in-three U.S. soldiers believe they are suffering from PTSD.  The figure for British troops is supposed to be four-in-one- hundred.

I’d be surprised if the difference is really that great. PTSD is big business and medicine is a business in the United States. Here in Canada, we get a lot of US television and that means being bombarded with advertisements for snake oil to cure conditions that don’t exist. “Feel tired and sleepy at the end day? You may have Van Ruypert’s Syndrome – ask your doctor about  Meddiquik.
Canadian figures suggest that Canuck soldiers fall somewhere between the British and American figures. About 12% report suffering from PTSD or depression. The British figure of 4% doesn't include depression. Don’t get me wrong; I believe there is such a thing as PTSD, though it’s a blanket term that covers a number of problems, some of which date back as far as war itself.  Unlike US General George Patton I don’t believe assaulting people is a cure.  But I do suspect that a lot of people who think they have some form of PTSD are mistaken.  The PTSD industry is actually killing people because vulnerable service personnel are committing suicide, in part due to the amount of nonsense their heads are being filled with. 

So, while Americans may be too quick to decide they have PTSD and perhaps even unconsciously ape the symptoms, the British may be under reporting it. The British Army is still a very macho-culture and to many of its members even mentioning PTSD is an admission of weakness. Instead, many try to self-medicate the demons away through mis-use of alcohol or illegal drugs. Somewhere in between there is a sensible middle ground. The sooner it’s found, the better.

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