Mike Orban, veteran, author, radio show host, and contributer to this little blog, recently brought an article to my attention. In the article a woman, stakes the idea that PTSD is universal irregardless of how you got it. She says that, “Its a normal persons normal reaction to abnormal circumstances.” She states that she feels as though those of us that went to war suffer from the same form of PTSD as rape and theft victims. But there is one fundamenatl problem with that statement and it lies in the last word of the former sentence, victim. I have been many things while at war, newbie, gunner, warrior, protector, PITA, last thing a man see’s, saving grace, psychopath, buddist monk, pirate, old man (in soldier years), but never not once was I victim other than some pretty good practical jokes. I was the predator not the victim.
I was the not an unwilling participant but I was forced to act due to circumstances beyond my control. But more than that I was a witness to the fray. I was made to stand witness to the incredible depths of evil that man can produce. I was baptized by fire and left to either die or learn how to survive. I was not someone that got mugged or robbed or raped. I was a combatant. My version of PTSD is mixed in with my survival skills from war. I don’t cry out of fear, the only time I ever find the desire to cry is out of anger and remorse over lost brothers. I don’t get timid when something that reminds me of my trauma happens, I prepare for war and actively hunt for the cause. I am not saying that victim PTSD is weak or some how a lesser form but it is surely not the same as predator PTSD. I am the tiger that had to kill to survive not the gazelle that was nearly eaten. Thanks to evolution I have the ability to understand why I killed and why those close to me were killed around me, and thus predator PTSD is born. Also with our version of PTSD it is not a singular event. We have enough trauma trapped in the memory banks to make most grown men wet themselves. It is not a singular event with a singular trigger but a clouded murkey mixture of a thousand events all with multiple triggers. A thousand smells, sounds, sights, and feelings can trigger any number of repsonses from us; we do not a have a single trigger to watch out for.
Another side of the predator PTSD that makes it stand in defiance to victim PTSD, is the pride. Pride that is instilled by our common training, common background. We are taught that our PTSD is a shameful thing something to be hidden or “sucked up”. Victim PTSD, they are typically told its not their fault and they don’t have this common system and social network that fights against healing. They may fight their own wars and live in their dark places, but I tend to think we have not only seen the darkest depths of the human soul but have ourselves pushed those boundaries further.
“…now I am become Death [Shiva], the destroyer of worlds…”
Physicist Robert Oppenheimer