I just spent an hour chatting with a old friend and co-worker who got PTSD from Vietnam combat, and I think that I now understand the relationship between brain damage and PTSD.
It’s the adrenaline.
I’m convinced that repeated overdoses of adrenaline cause permanent brain damage which directly causes in the paranoid disorders that characterize PTSD victims.
I also know for a fact that repeated combat stress also causes premature hardening of the arteries; which, in turn, can cause clots that kill parts of the brain. I’ve seen too many cases for this to only be a coincidence.
I’ve know quite a few combat veterans over the years, and while I’m no doctor, it’s really clear to me that “combat stress reactions” are simply a biochemical reaction where adrenaline causes brain damage.
Again, I have seen enough antidotal evidence to be convinced that adrenaline causes PTSD, but it’s nice to see that real medical professionals are recognizing the obvious relationship between PTSD and adrenaline:
"We think of PTSD as an exaggeration of the emotional response to trauma, something so significant, so upsetting, so provocative has happened that there has been a rush of stress hormones, the hormones that act to burn a memory into the brain, to the point that the memory becomes maladaptive.
Our theory is that the adrenaline rush is burning the memory too deeply."
There are many names for combat stress disorders, but none of the names do justice to its devastating effects on the brain.
- WWI – Shell shock
- WWII – Battle Fatigue
- Vietnam – Post traumatic stress disorder
I don’t like any of these names because they trivialize PTSD. I’d like to see truly descriptive name like “terror induced brain damage”.
George Carlin agrees that the name “PTSD” minimizes the seriousness of real brain damage:
“I’ll bet you if we’d of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time.”
Scared to Death
I don’t like the word “stress” because it’s not the adrenaline junkie stress like in skydiving or scuba diving.
Instead it’s the ‘This it it, I’m about to die” terror that military people encounter when they are being overwelmed by the enemy. Most soldiers who experience this type of adrenaline flooding do not survive the combat itself, but those who do can suffer for years from the resulting brain damage.
This type of terror sometime kills animals. For example, mice are the “Snickers Bars” at my ranch, everything eats them. Hawks, owls, snakes, raccoons, dogs and cats, they all enjoy eating mice, and I’ve seen more than one mouse scared to death by an approaching dog, obviously from the extreme terror of the attack.
BTW, Did you know that once a rat gets rigor mortis, you can hold them up by their tails like a popsicle? You can also bend them into funny shapes:
Small animals will often die from terror
Whatever name you give it, the symptoms of combat brain damage are all the same. It always starts with a flood of adrenaline that is a normal response to a serious life threatening situation.
Anybody who has had a near-death experience knows how the adrenaline rush can mess with your body, and repeated adrenaline discharge is a common denominator to PTSD.
I cannot image the kind of damage soldiers get after experiencing repeated “I’m going to die” experiences.
Prejudice against the insane veteran
The problem with PTSD is that the symptoms may not start for over a decade, and when they do emerge, it terrifies their family and friends.
Adrenaline induced brain damage causes symptoms ranging from mild hyper-vigilance (obsessive compulsive personality disorders) to batshit crazy (inappropriate affect with laughing like a mad scientist, hearing voices, imaginary friends).
Insane soldiers have been described for over 100 years
Even though statistics are clear that combat veterans get insanity far more frequently than the general public, and many people wrongly assume that these victims were always crazy.
Hero or Zero?
You would not spit on somebody with a missing leg, but people regularly condemn PTSD victims, especially when they act insane, talking to themselves.
I once witnessed a stupid civil servant call a veteran with PTSD a “crazy bum”, and he got a piece of my mind . . . . I still regret not reporting him to his boss.
My PTSD friend is suffering from senile dementia while he is only in his late 50‘s and he should not have to endure the embarrassment from his occasional psychotic outbreaks . . .
But I do understand the fear and loathing reaction.
A delusional ex-infantryman is very scary, and they have been known to harm themselves and others.
Medical tests for adrenaline overdoses
I’m hoping that medical science will someday be able to measure the effect of adrenaline exposure on the cerebral cortex, or at least verify that veterans have an adrenaline-induced mental issue.
A medical test for adrenaline-induced paranoia would also cut-down on all of the PTSD posers, veterans who flood the BVA with fake or exaggerated PTSD symptoms, all seeking the monthly PTSD benefits (over $1,000 for 100% disabled).
There was a story last week on "60 Minutes" where a real veteran with brain damage had trouble justifying his injury.
Let's give all combat soldiers monthly PTSD benefits, no questions asked
I'd like to see ALL solders who have ever recieved combat pay get the benefits for PTSD, no questions asked.
It's a small price to pay for their sacrifice.