Is PTSD a Media Trope
Jerry Lembcke (2013) says Max Weber regarded as virtuous” Protestantism as “the psychological basis for capitalism: (p. 89). From the “satanic mills” of early capitalism to the post-capitalism that converged in Vietnam, “spawning a multifarious strategy that blended military and political tactics against U.S. designs for that country’s development” (p. 95). “Before PTSD, news media and popular culture had helped legitimate Shell Shcok during World War I, and after PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury in the early 2000s: (p. 19). “Constructionist writing about PTSD is inevitably met with the object, ‘So, you think PTSD isn’t real?’” (p. xii). the media (film, TV, news, photography, art) played roles in writing and rewriting “the tangled story of military experience, masculinity, medical practice, and political and popular culture” (p.xi). Lebcke takes the position that PTSD is not real. Symptoms are labeled as PTSD, and the terminology (lexicon) of PTSD gains acceptant far greater in the media than in medical science. “With historical perspective we can see the antecedents of PTSD spawned in privies wars having evolved a realness that now extends into political and cultural spheres with consequences for the entire society” (p. xii).
PTSD is on the borderline of epistemic, ontic, and ontological. Lembcke (2013) says the obscure nature of PTSD has “enable the expansion form diagnostic category to a social trope” (p. xii). As veterans returned form Vietnam the popular culture social trope of the victim veteran became “tangled with myths about home-front betrayal of the mission in Vietnam, and veterans traumatized by the hostility they felt when returning” (p. 11). Note’ spat-upon veterans by peace demonstrators, is actually urban legend, not fact. “The symptoms f PTSD, including flashbacks, appeared on theater screens at least fifteen years before they entered the DSM, a finding that made me question the firmness of the boundary between science and art” (p. 11). PTSD was evolving from mental health signifier into a cultural category. The realness of PTSD, or war trauma, has become a discussable topic “rather than a terrible reality needing public attention” (p. 11). “… the overextended application of PTSD could produce a backlash that diminished its potential to help the victims of war trauma it was intended for” (p. 11). And mental health professionals would find PTSD, since that is all they were looking for. Returning soldiers, would construct a war-story biography that confirmed what family and friends expected to hear, “I am 100 percent PTSD” (p. 12) -- ‘yes, s/he has PTSD.’
PTSD is taking on an ontological character, morphing from medical diagnosis to a disability claim (100% PTSD disability) to being bundled as “Gulf War Syndrome” the collection of ailments that included PTSD with depleted uranium weapons causing cancer (p. 12)
Question: Tell me your coming-home story, from Afghanistan or Iraq? The media (popular culture) expects the war-story to contain events of reliving horrors through flashbacks, nightmares, followed by depression, fits of anger and rage while driving. There is a neurotic need to regard returning veterans as traumatized by war. The appearance of PTSD trauma in the media for Lebcke is correlated with social, political and cultural expectations of the outcomes of war to be born out in the veteran’s ‘homecoming; story (p. 14). When PTSD returns to the vocabulary of news stories, and movies, those story lines in the media frame the expectations of the coming-home story of Persian Gulf War Soldiers, the ‘wounded warriors’ (p. 17).
PTSD takes on a power in the media’s need for heroes, to evoke the very symptoms the medical helpers seek to identify. There is an ontological result. The veteran is virtually inoculated against any authentic interpretation of their own experience. “The possibility of a successful veterans’ movement against the war under these conditions was slim” (p. 17).