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  • Compartmentalization

    I realize this may seem to belong in the Military section, but PTSD affects Cops as well, and I’m looking for a larger pool of answers.

    I was looking at the thread in the Family section about they guy who is having trouble dealing with his emotions and got to wondering…

    How come some of us can be two completely different people with almost no carry over between the mindsets? I used to control bombs onto multi-vehicle convoys with devastating results, and went down to check the craters for Intel. I’ve participated in plenty of shooting (All in OEF/OIF) and I really don’t have any baggage I can see.

    I have friends who responded to one car bomb after the fact, who are still haunted by it years later. They can’t sleep, they have nightmares, they have trouble interacting with their kids. The list goes on and I know that we call this PTSD now.

    What I want to know is why can I roll back from a deployment where I ended a lot of people and take a shower and head out for beer without ill effects.

    After I moved to my new job with AFOSI I had to go for a “Decompression” period after our deployment where we talked to therapists about what we did. I didn’t really have anything to say, and thought I was ready to head home. Some of the people that were with me were keeping the therapists after hours talking about what happened to them.

    Here is the real question, what makes me, and others who do not seem to get PTSD different than our friends who do get it. I’m wondering if there are outside factors;

    Difficulty of Training= the harder your indoctrination, the more proof you are against PTSD. If this were the case there would be a huge difference between Cops from Heavily Militarized Training Academies vs. those from the “easier” ones.

    Support= The brothers I’ve gone to war with as a TACP were much closer to me than the folks I work with now. Is the fact I had that kind of group experience a benefit to me vs. my peers who came to this job from non-combat careers?

    Is there something chemically different that allows some of us to compartmentalize life better than others?

    I have some friends I am trying to relate to, they have some serious problems with things they’ve experienced and I consider the things bothering them to be pretty tame. I cannot seem to relate to them, I feel bad about that, but I wish I could understand why I can’t really empathize.

    I will readily admit, I do not count on the fact that I am out of the woods yet, and maybe I will have PTSD problems down the road. I hope not, but I’m really curious as to why some of us can seem to take anything, and some of us cannot.


    “All men dream...... But not equally..
    Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it is vanity;
    but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
    for they act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.....”

    TE Lawrence

  • #2
    I'm certainly not qualified to answer those questions, but if you want an in-depth look at the cause and effects of PTSD, if you haven't already, read LtCol. Dave Grossman's books "On Combat" and "On Killing".

    The Col. goes into much detail on the topic.

    I've finished "On Combat", and I'm almost finished with "On Killing". Both good reading, but I think "On Combat" is the better of the two. In "On Killing", he gets very repititious, making the same statements numerous times throughout the book. Almost looks like he was looking to fill space. Good reading anyway.

    Just a suggestion.

    (Oh, and you can probably find them on E-bay for a lot cheaper than getting them at the local bookstore. The copies I bought on E-bay were both new, not second-hand.)

    "Yes sir, I know you have rights."
    "In fact, I know your rights better than you do!"


    • #3
      I'm with Cajunguy, but I think it is chemical. Just like you have a guy who goes out drinks whiskey and gets violent. If I go out and drink whiskey, I mellow out.

      I know 2 officers that were involved in OIS, one of them is a lot like you, the next day he was ready to go back to the streets. Obviously the department made him take a leave and such.

      The other officer still questions his choice to this day and often talks about what he could have done differently.

      I also believe it is a mind set. If you constantly think you did it wrong, sooner or later you'll start to believe it. If you're confident in that you made the right choice, I think it may pass faster with less contemplation.


      • #4
        I know what you mean brother. I've often questioned others and, mostly, myself about it. As I see a lot of vets walking around suffering from PTSD (or claiming to) while I have seen more then most, and I have no ill effects (occasional dream of combat aside).

        I believe it's mostly to do with the brothers you fought along side with. Having that sort of connection and support allows us to see what we did and what happened objectively, instead of from our own point of view.

        I remember my very first combat experience. I wasn't scared, I was angry. How dare they shoot at us? After the fighting was over, and the adrenaline passed, I started to worry about the choices I made and how things went down. Fortunately my brothers on my team showed me that I wasn't wrong, and if things hadn't played out like they did, we might have been missing a team member.

        Either way I think it's mainly your support and you mindset/training. If you realize that your job may call for you to take a life (or see bad things) and you train and prepare your mind for it, I believe you have less chance of suffering negative effects from it afterwards.

        Just my .02
        “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

        "You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him."


        • #5
          People are all different. I know exactly what your talking about, but have no good answer. I think it is the mindset you have going into the situation. If you know and accept the situation is dangerous and no matter what happens you have to do what you gotta do, you'll get through it and see it as that's just how it went.
          Im just talking out of my *** though, I'd like to see an answer from someone who knows what they are talking about though...
          Last edited by exdrip; 08-02-2008, 10:42 AM.
          "Friendly Fire, isn't"


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