I have a network of friends who are in my exclusive club. We've talked. We all felt the same way- shaken and vulnerable all over again.
- Joan Peterson, Brady Campaign Director
I don't mean to belittle PTSD. It is a terribly difficult and painful and very real afflicatn. I personally know people who have wrestled with it. If you look at the dictionary definition for PTSD, part of the definition involves this as a critical element:
(1) the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others (2) the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.None of us can tell how we will respond at the moment of truth. Even hardened veterans, grizzled cops, or "seen it all" EMTs sometimes are exposed to something so horrifying that they have intesne fear, helplessness, or horror. However, mental preparation and training can reduce the chances of these reactions and improve resiliency. The Army knows this. Mental health professionals know this. Self-defense experts -- including those who train police -- know this.
Avoiding intense fear, helplessness, and horror has two major benefits: first, you probably react better in the crisis. Second, you are at lower risk for developing PTSD-like symptoms.
It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.
Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth...
Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.
Is it any wonder that three of the four citizen first responders who sprung into action in the the Arizona shooting had "bulletproof minds?" One was an Army vet. Another had already made the decision to carry a loaded, deadly weapon. Another had medical training. They are understandably shook up -- some psychological, some physiological (an adrenaline dump takes 24-72 hours to clear out of your system) -- but statistically they are likely to survive this incident relatively intact, psychologically speaking.