What's the link between PTSD, TBI and violence?
March 22nd, 2012
07:15 AM ET

What's the link between PTSD, TBI and violence?

Editor's note: Dr. Charles Raison, CNNhealth's mental health expert, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has not personally examined the suspect in the Afghanistan mass shootings, Robert Bales, but has used news accounts as the basis for his views.

Q: Sgt. Robert Bales has been accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians. He served three tours in Iraq before this and his lawyer says he may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury. What's the link between violence and those disorders?

A: Psychiatrists understand some types of aberrant behavior pretty well and can do things to help resolve it. But, unfortunately, in other instances - and often the most interesting ones - we can only mumble generalities that require no special expertise and that offer no hope for a diagnosis or treatment.

Take the case of U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of massacring 16 Afghan men, women and children while they slept unprotected in their village.

The first thing a psychiatrist would want to know is whether the person who committed such a heinous act was psychotic at that time, meaning out of touch with agreed-upon human reality. Did he perform the killings as a result of deeply held false beliefs or in response to hearing voices commanding him to act? If yes, then although the tragedy remains, the psychiatric mystery is solved.

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soundoff (15 Responses)
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  3. Miranda Bobsin

    Posttraumatic stress disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder; the characteristic symptoms are not present before exposure to the violently traumatic event. Typically the individual with PTSD persistently avoids all thoughts, emotions and discussion of the stressor event and may experience amnesia for it. However, the event is commonly relived by the individual through intrusive, recurrent recollections, flashbacks and nightmares.`^..:

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    July 2, 2013 at 3:15 am | Reply
  4. Darryl Mcnutt

    According to a pilot study published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Healing and Caring, veterans with high levels of PTSD saw their PTSD levels drop to within normal limits after treatment. They reported that combat memories that had previously haunted them, including graphic details of deaths, mutilations, and firefights, dropped in intensity to the point where they no longer resulted in flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of PTSD. The study involved veterans from Vietnam, as well as more recent conflicts. ^

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    February 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  5. Dannie Mark

    PTSD treatment for Veterans found ineffective.
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    I took Zyprexa Olanzapine a powerful Lilly schizophrenic drug for 4 years it was prescribed to me off-label for post traumatic stress disorder was ineffective costly and gave me diabetes.
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    April 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
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  6. mipolitic

    this freak is no better than any other serial killer , same results , innocent people are dead .
    women and children slaughtered in their dwelling in night is no better than the gruesome raids in africa by evil thugs.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:10 am | Reply
    • USMC1968-73

      Two things are certain, you have never served in the military and of course never in combat. While what he did was horrible, until you've walked in the shoes of a combat veteran keep your trap shut!

      March 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
      • keith

        oh ok. so then by that idiot logic all the medical experts who have never served in combat should keep their mouths shut and leave it up to uneducated meat-heads like you to figure it out. lol yeah that will work .

        March 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
      • mipolitic

        hey usmc 1968-73 , hey dope for brains how much of that junk did you do over there that twisted any hope you had of becoming a member of the human race dipstick. its not the deployment idiot that screws with people its the drugs they do, and your a perfect example of that , and that is from a vet , you slug !

        March 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Notmyopic

      Can people have civil discourse? People behave differently all the time depending on brain function. Unfortunately, when it is violent behavior, we have no tolerance for it because it is so difficult to have any compassion for the perpetrator. But think of people who function daily with limited I.Q.s, or who are locked away in psychiatric hospitals or jails. Unfortunately, when someone "snaps" they might be in the wrong place with a weapon in their hands, incapable of making a good decision.

      March 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  7. michaelfury

    I know what the Pentagon hacks will say, but in your professional opinion: Have I lost my reason, Dr. Reason?

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    March 22, 2012 at 7:48 am | Reply
  8. michaelfury

    And what if the entire military mission in Afghanistan is "out of touch with agreed-upon human reality", Dr. Raison?

    http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/the-ones-who-attacked-us/

    March 22, 2012 at 7:42 am | Reply
    • Notmyopic

      Agreed.

      March 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Reply

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