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Revisiting post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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He Ojohs achieved their first pregnancy after a period of enduring and torturous twelve year’s of barrenness. On the eight month, the result was a still-birth. When Jean graduated with a first class honours degree in Law, the joy of her family knew no bounds. However, the family and friends are yet to recover from the agony of losing her to motor accident a few months later while she was on her way to resume at Law School.

Who can console Henry who lost his entire business empire worth over 100million naira to arson? What of Isaac whose entire family members were wiped away by assassins? This young man owes his being alive to divine mercy, which occasioned his inability to return home from a visit to one of his friends who lived in another city that fateful night.

No doubt the troubles and trials individuals and organisations are facing today may differ in content and context from the earlier examples, the fact remains that the incidence and propensity of strain and stress, pain and penury, agony and angst are on an increasing dimension. It does seem that humanity is engaged in a predetermined agenda of self-destruction.

PTSD is a type of psychological disorder, which results from dangerous and damaging life events. It is triggered off by terrible, terrifying and terrorising circumstances in the life of the individual. The symptoms of PTSD can be divided into four, namely; pessimistic thought pattern, and mood, avoidance behaviours, disruptive memory, as well as changes in physical and emotional reactions. Many victims of PTSD report repeated incidences of troublesome nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbness, involvement in self-destructive actions, irritability, a deep sense of guilt, as well as self-condemnation. These symptoms may commence immediately after the shocking event or they may occur later.

From the foregoing, one notes that PTSD can be very complex and confusing. It can predispose the victim to other forms of psychological disorders such as depression, suicide, manic-depression and their likes.One of the reasons PTSD is on the increase in our society today is because of increasing egocentric lifestyle of many people in our contemporary age. Helen Keller, the world renown, deaf and blind woman in the opening quotation confirmed the harmful influence of selfishness when she said that, ‘…selfishness and complaint pervert the mind…’ Consistent with this fact, William E. Galdstone noted that, ‘Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.’ This terrible human curse hurts and harms the selfish and everybody around them.

Perhaps, one of the worst manifestations of human selfishness today in our globe is apathy. A large percentage of humanity has deliberately decided to become insensitive to the plight and problems of their fellow mortals. They have neither sympathy nor empathy. Sometimes, they place a higher premium on their pets than on their fellow human beings. No wonder our globe has evolved into an amalgam of oppression and suppression, a terrible war zone of terrorism, a jungle of ferocious beasts, a conflagration of warfare fire and cage for the display of bestial passions.

The irrepressible Black-American pastor and activist, Martin Luther King Jr., was right when he said that ‘Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.’ It seems that a greater percentage of humanity has chosen to belong to the latter group. Why would a parent drown his/her child? Why would human beings get involved in suicide, murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and such bestial actions? Human selfishness has degenerated into wickedness.

Poor mental capacity is yet another reason for PTSD. Some people may be developed physically, materially or financially but are still psychologically (mentally and emotionally) undeveloped. This is evident in their daily actions and reactions. People with poor or undeveloped mental and emotional capacities end up as victims of circumstances, situations as well as of their environments. They find it extremely difficult to break through serious life challenges. The reason being that the state of our minds determine the degree of our health and success. William James, the great American psychologist said, ‘The greatest discovery of my generation is that, a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude’. Attitudes are the expressions of human thinking.

The Holy Writ, says that ‘fear has torment’. Consequently, any society that engenders and encourages fear is a fertile ground that would fester PTSD.Typically, many people live in such destructive and damaging environments. Both on the road and at home, alone or in the crowd, engagement in private and public service, fear has become so elevated in our society that some people are really getting paralysed. The reign of the evil trinity namely, uncertainty, inequality and iniquity only escalated the troubles of mankind.

Particularly in our underdeveloped world of African experience where there exists the additional disadvantage of poor or total lack of basic amenities, the incidence and increasing rate of PTSD has become commonplace. Furthermore, the matter is complicated by lack of qualified medical and paramedical personnel as well as unavailability of adequate equipment.

One of the difficult and threatening features of PTSD is that, it may exist in an incubating stage for a longtime (varying from a month to a few years) without manifesting. In other words, PTSD may be a silent killer. By the time it is made manifest, the victim often suffers major loses. The depression may become clinical, the suicidal ideation may degenerate into self-destruction, the insomnia may become intractable and the phobia may lead to paralysis.

An understanding of the myriad dangerous symptoms and consequences of PTSD will motivate everybody to seek for possible solutions to this psychological disorder. PTSD is an excellent example of a psychosomatic (mind-body) disorder, which predisposes the victim to serious health hazards, which if not tackled on time and adequately, may lead to death. In another discourse, I will consider available strategies to prevent and ameliorate the increasing rate of PTSD.


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