Traumatic brain injury is pervasive in both civilian and military populations. In fact, TBI in the civilian population is eight times as frequent as breast cancer, AIDS, spinal-cord injury, and multiple sclerosis combined. According to the Center for Deployment Psychology, an estimated 10–20% of all service members who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom sustained a TBI, with most being concussions, or mild TBIs — mild TBIs are also sometimes called concussions. As such, TBI is a “hot topic” in the military community. However, TBI and its causes, symptoms, and treatment are often misunderstood, and this misunderstanding can lead to a mistreatment of the individuals with TBI and a mishandling of the issues surrounding TBI. Several myths about TBI appear to contribute to this misunderstanding. Below, several such myths are addressed.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
There is a lot of information circulating about identifying and getting appropriate treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Much of that information discusses how research has consistently demonstrated that social support is vital to recovery and is one of the biggest protective factors against post-traumatic stress disorder. Social support has a number of positive benefits following a trauma, including reducing feelings of depression, guilt, loneliness, low self-esteem, stress, and social withdrawal.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health issue that is often accompanied by a great deal of stigma, among both the military and civilian populations. Several myths about the condition appear to contribute to this stigmatization. Misunderstanding can lead to various negative implications, such as prejudice and maltreatment. And this misunderstanding is nothing new. For as long as humans have been fighting wars, there has been a psychological impact of warfare, as well as a misunderstanding about PTSD and its implications. From nostalgia, shell shock, war strain, or combat fatigue, there have been many attempts to explain the psychological ramifications of combat. As an evolving construct, the psychological impact of war has changed over time. There is still more to learn, and combat-related PTSD remains a major focus of military psychology. The military, in particular, has played a key role in risk and resilience treatment, assessment, and research. Despite this influx of PTSD research, popular myths about PTSD remain and it is important for them to be addressed. Below, are several of these myths debunked.
Recently, Task & Purpose published an article by Chris Hernandez entitled “The Case Against Being Too Sensitive.” He describes several mentally tough individuals who are able to experience horrific traumas and bounce back with a positive attitude and optimism. Instead of ruminating over a helicopter crash, facial burns, and the tragic loss of several friends, his friend took control of his trauma and was able to talk about it in a healthy way. Hernandez describes horrors most people can’t even imagine experiencing: consoling a man who helplessly watches a building burn with his elderly mother inside, seeing the head of a decapitated two-year-old on a car’s floorboard after a traffic accident, murder scenes, a young friend’s suicide, combat. In all of these anecdotes, he was able to respond to trauma with resilience.