Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

646 words | 3 page(s)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is a disorder included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. According to the manual, PTSD is a valid disorder, symptoms including ‘a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. . .’ . Many veterans suffer from PTSD when they return from the battle field, as well as victims of rape, domestic violence, and any other emotional, mental, or cognitive traumatic event. However, at times, PTSD has been used as an excuse or scapegoat for erratic behavior. Yet, I feel that the majority of the time, PTSD is not responsible for erratic behavior.

Much research points to the fact that PTSD does not usually cause somebody to engage in erratic behavior, such as committing a crime. This is evident in the passage of, ‘Much of what is seen on this issue in the media is a result of savvy lawyers conjuring up defenses for their clients that would have likely committed the crime regardless if they had PTSD or not. Lawyers know that the average citizen sitting on a jury will have a great deal of sympathy for the veteran. . .’.

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Research does show that having PTSD can make a person more hyper vigilant, more on guard, and to have a lower startle response. PTSD can also result in insomnia, nightmares, and re-experiencing the traumatic event over and over through constant thoughts. PTSD may make a person more prone to partaking in some risk taking behaviors, such as drinking more, drugs, theft, or alcohol, and drug use . However, many individuals with or without PTSD engage in these behaviors, which makes the argument that PTSD can be used to explain erratic behavior a weak argument.

Unfortunately, PTSD has been used by defense attorneys, so that that people who engage in severe criminal deviant acts can get off the hook in a court of law. Instead of taking responsibility for one’s own crimes and own personality problems, people with PTSD are sometimes trying to take the easy way out by attributing their behavior to PTSD. Some people have attested that their struggles with PTSD influenced them to download child pornography, sexually assault or rape a woman after being out and drinking at a tavern, or rob a store. However, PTSD being the impetus is a very unlikely reason .

There is also still a stigma associated with mental illness that makes it bad for people with PTSD who do not commit crimes or engage in crimes or criminal behavior. The criteria for PTSD is also not a disorder that is affiliated with the morals and ethics of a person. While re-experiencing a traumatic event may cause a reaction, a person should still know that criminal actions such as robbery, murder, rape, and domestic violence are wrong and not acceptable actions. If one makes an excuse that PTSD causes one to resort to erratic behavior, then how many other mental illnesses can be used to make criminal erratic behavior acceptable? It is not the same as Antisocial Personality Disorder, in which lack of empathy, criminal behavior, and impulsivity is associated with the crime and in the DSM (American Psychological Association).

While people have tried to blame PSTD on erratic behavior, I do not feel that it causes criminal erratic actions most of the time, based on DSM V criteria and research that does not categorize PSTD as criminal in nature and facts that have been presented in this paper.

  • Association, American Psychiatric. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental health disorders (DSM-V). Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing, Incorporated, 2013.
  • Moore, Bret A. “Criminal Behavior is Not a Symptom of PTSD.” 2 August 2010. Psychology Today.com website . Web. 13 April 2015.
  • “PTSD: National Center for PTSD.” 3 January 2014. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs . Web. 13 April 2015.

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