Blame 'Vicarious' PTSD

Trauma is infectious, Essig writes, and therapists can catch it
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2009 10:03 AM CST
Nidal Malik Hasan.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – When Todd Essig learned the Fort Hood shooter “was an Army psychiatrist who treats post traumatic stress disorder, himself on the cusp of deployment, I thought, ‘I’m not surprised.’” Why? Because there is a documented transfer of trauma disorders from sufferers to caregivers, dubbed “vicarious traumatization.” For some who provide care to soldiers, “the line between their experience and yours starts to blur until, well, something like what happened at Fort Hood” happens.

Nidal Malik Hasan felt like he had already been deployed, Essig writes on True/Slant, and when confronted with the fact of actual deployment overseas, he snapped. “The shooter was himself wounded by war, perhaps fatally so, well before he first pulled a trigger.” And let’s not mince words: “Those killed and wounded by his actions at Fort Hood are as much casualties of war as are all our other neighbors, friends, and family so far killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.” (Read more Nidal Malik Hasan stories.)