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Old April 27, 2011, 04:30 PM   #26
aarondhgraham
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Only a narcissistic sociopath would not go through some of this.
This is not a correct statement at all,,,
It's putting a personal opinion and it's implied value as a benchmark for all human behavior.

Perhaps I am one of these "principled sociopaths" I have been hearing about lately,,,
But I experience no guilt feelings at all about doing harm to someone who is/was trying to harm me.

This is the danger of "labeling" people in our society.

Glenn Meyer stated: "There are people who show no emotional consequence or strong affect after taking a life. Sociopaths may be like that. Does that imply all those who didn't get a stress disorder are sociopathic - no, it doesn't. But some could be."

This is a true statement but people in general make the mistake of forgetting the most important part of the statement,,,
Does that imply all those who didn't get a stress disorder are sociopathic - no, it doesn't.

More often than not people will automatically assign the label without thinking of the exceptions,,,
Because it's an easy thing to do and they don't have to think very hard about it.

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Old April 27, 2011, 05:07 PM   #27
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Some scary thoughts floating around in this thread...kinda makes you just want to wound someone if u had to draw your weapon..only problem with that is it seems like in the laws eyes wounding is way worse than killing....just saying that u wanted to wound instead of killing is a big no no...atleast this is hhear say...I dnt know the facts....and I have 2 uncles that killed people in Vietnam and it does seem to bother them some...im not around them alot but I can see it when they watch we where soldiers and stuff like that...weird thing is that I had a grandfather that was in world war 2 and it never bothered him..he used to tell me stories all the time..idk..like alot of people have already said..it depends on the said individual
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Old April 27, 2011, 05:14 PM   #28
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I usually try to avoid these threads because its one of those things where dreading it may make you hesitate when taking the shot.

Id rather be alive with ptsd than dead without it so ill deal with it if it happens.

I have gotten a taste of the anxiety it may cause as a 18yr old kid died in a car accident behind my house a few years ago. He died while looking at me and it haunted me for awhile but has faded.

He was recklessly speeding going double posted speed limit and no seatbelt. We swore he had to be drunk but turned out he was the a DD pledge for the fraternity and they are pressured to get there fast(caused quite a stir).
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Old April 27, 2011, 07:13 PM   #29
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Another 2 cents worth.

I say this with personal conviction, and personal authority.

I must agree 100% with the information shared by Glenn E. It jives perfectly with the things I know about this subject. Not what I believe... what I know.

First off PTSD can be caused by a single shooting but is more likely to be cause by total imersion in a life and death stress situation day in and day out over a period of time.

Anyone who takes another persons life and says he feels nothing is missing a component in their personality. I'm not suggesting that they must feel remorse... but they will feel something. It does get easier to handle the second time, and even easier the third time. This person may appear to be callus, but there is a deep emotional response. It may not be remorse as most people know it... but it's there.

In the civilian world as police, and armed citizens the reaction is a whole lot more acute. Solders are trained, and usually fight a defined enimy. I'm not saying that makes it any easier on them. I dont really know as I have never been in military combat. I do know as a civilian the work is done up close and very personal. Your adversary might look like you, or look like the kid next door... or may even be the kid next door. In the civilian world your always close enough to see the other guy, smell him, notice the color of his clothes, you may even touch him, or him touch you... Sometimes you hear his last words... he may curse you... he may forgive you... You may be close enough to watch the light go out in his eyes. You may hear him take his last breath... then be still... forever. You may realise that this man is gone... his life taken from him by you. Not just taken from him... but taken from those who love him... you may have taken a father from his children, or a husband from his wife ... forever.

You would have every right to have an emotional response. Any human being would. But it may not be what you or others would expect. As were all different, with different experiences there cant be one accepted emotional response... but there should be something. Anyone who dont feel anything after such an event would scare the crap out of me...

This is one of two things a police psychiatrist looks for... some emotional response. The other thing is that the officer is not debilitated by the event. They want to know basically... If you had to... could you do it again.

Glenn D.

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Old April 27, 2011, 10:18 PM   #30
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I knew this fellow who was a prison guard. He often was tasked with transporting prisoners to court, the hospital, and so on. Well, I was young and stupid and I asked him if he ever had to use his .38 revolver. He said 'well yes, once'. He said 'This old boy got out of his restraints and made a run for it, so I shot him in the buttocks'. I said 'still you must have felt bad about having to shot him'. He said 'Well I understood he had to run and he understood that I had to shoot him in the ass'

I think it is not regret about doing what you had to, it is remorse about the outcome. It would have been better if they had not been killed or grievously wounded.
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Old April 28, 2011, 01:23 AM   #31
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I think chadstrickland brought up a good point, reinforcing the idea that how the people around us percieve the shooting can profoundly effect how we feel about it.
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Old April 28, 2011, 02:09 AM   #32
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Good points in this thread.

Society has conditioned us, in a sense, to feel REALLY bad, and to react in a certain way if we have to take a life. It has been this way for a long time, and it has profoundly affected the treatment received by the person who did the shooting.

It is for this reason that the way police shootings are handled have changed quite a bit. Nowadays, the officer's firearm is taken into evidence; however, the officer is immediately re-armed. There are lots of people who are there for the officer, to offer both moral and physical support.

I have seen the aftermath of the use of deadly force. I, too, have seen the light leave the eyes, and have heard the "death rattle" that comes when life flees the body. It is quite a sobering experience, and a reminder of your own mortality.

I will say this, however--you MUST search yourself, truthfully and completely, before you EVER consider carrying a firearm for self defense--or even on duty. To carry a firearm, you must accept the knowledge that you ight, some day, have to use that firearm to cause another human being great pain and suffering, maybe even death. And, I must warn you--hearing a grown man cry and scream, calling for his mother (mostly) or another loved one, seeing someone who has experienced a solid upper chest hit literally coughing out their lungs, or seeing and realizing exactly what high-velocity blood splatter actually LOOKS like is a sobering experience.

You must decide if you CAN cause that to occur to a human being. And--if you have any doubt...any doubt at ALL...do yourself and your family a favor. Take the gun off your belt, leave it in the safe, and take it only to the range. Because if you do not feel that you can defend yourself, but you still carry a gun---and your moment of truth arrives, you might hesitate. Then, the person who is hurt will be YOU--or someone you love.
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Old April 28, 2011, 07:49 AM   #33
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Nobody is saying that someone would feel all of those symptoms. If they did then they would be ready for the rubber room. But some of them to some degree. The article is more of a piece of information on what to watch for.


In my case I shot a guy when I was in the Navy. He actually shot at me first. I had caught him breaking into a building. What really made me subject to the trauma at a high level was that I had seen my best friend engulfed in flames two weeks prior. I put him out, he died shortly after. And that was an arson fire. Another story for another time.

Lets just say my personality radically changed. I lost a rank for fighting a superior petty officer. At my next captains mast, again for fighting, I was ordered to see psych. I went four times and denied anything was wrong, trying not to show weakness, trying to be Mr. Tough guy. Each time the Doctor ordered me to return.


Then I got in another bar fight, one that I started I might add. I ended up in the EM room at the naval hospital after being taken there by JAFP ( which I also worked at as one of my two jobs). As it turned out, that Doctor was duty officer that night. He ordered me escorted to his office.

When I tried to deny anything wrong he ordered me to attention, then proceeded to dress me down, and I mean nose to nose screaming at me like a Marine D.I. That kind of broke down some barriers.

I saw him regularly for a time, not always in his office. That officer took me fishing several times. He also hooked me up with a CPO who picked me up on Sunday mornings and took me to church off base. I was always a christian but I had lost touch with that.

As it turned out, this Doctor had done two back to back tours as an enlisted combat Marine in Vietnam. He knew first hand what he was talking about. He was also one of the founders of using cognitive therapy, including getting out of the clinical setting, for combat related PTSD.
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Old April 28, 2011, 09:05 AM   #34
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I might have seemed strident, for which I apologize. My point was based on the problem that some folks suffering from stress disorders have been denied help as superiors, bureaucracy, etc. have made light of the problem. That is a shame and a disgrace to our emergency professions and war fighters.

When we talked to police, we found some unwilling to discuss the issue, calling those who suffered a derogatory feminine name and worried that seeking help would hurt them professionally. Then they told us symptoms.

How they almost shot a child, did shoot a child - all legit - or some other critical incident and they still have problems. Or other issues - thus, I just want those to do feel such to get help and we should accept that it does happen.

As I said and others, if you don't get stress disorders - it doesn't necessarily mean you are disordered either.

It's a complicated issue.
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Old April 28, 2011, 09:14 AM   #35
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^^Pretty much dead on man.
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Old April 28, 2011, 11:22 AM   #36
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Excellent thread.

People who carry the means to inflict mortal damage (and, whether they know it or not, pretty much everyone does) need to know that there may be consequences they have not anticipated.

They also need to know that there may not be.

I see post-deployment AD members of all services (as mentioned before, such debriefing is now standard).

I also occasionally debrief LEOs who have been involved in a shots fired incident.

Reactions to taking life (or related almosts) are as varied as the personalities involved and the events experienced.

I like the comment about "appropriate amount of time" with a Mental Health Professional. That may be 15 minutes, 15 days, or 15 months.

Oh, BTW, statistics are quite useful but cannot tell you (or me) anything about what might happen to us in the future.

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Old April 29, 2011, 12:06 PM   #37
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My point was based on the problem that some folks suffering from stress disorders have been denied help as superiors, bureaucracy, etc. have made light of the problem.
Yeah, we had a disturbance one time in which a couple officers got hurt. The warden at the time made some comments after that I thought discounted what we did. I pointed out that he and the deputies, and all the higher ups, headed out the main entrance to "Set up the CIM command post". Turns out it was over quick, due to the command of a lowly LT.
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Old May 4, 2011, 03:28 PM   #38
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I taught a course on PTSD at our academy. In the design of the course, I consulted with the department Psychologist, a former police officer who had killed on the job. In fact, every member of his team was an officer who had either killed in the line of duty, or lost a partner on the job.

There is an inoculation effect - if the issue is discussed and studied, without the macho name calling and "it will never happen to me", the effects are usually reduced.

As noted, not everyone has all/some/any of the effects of PTSD.
It so happened that a DPS officer was killed just outside our academy, and I ended up doing some on-scene counseling for his partner, who was unable to get off a shot. He said nice things about me in his after-action debrief, so I must have gotten some of it right.

Later, I killed someone in the line of duty. It never bothered me in any way, as I am secure in the knowledge that I saved others.

For a reference and seminal work in the area, read "The Onion Field". It has a clear presentation of PTSD before we knew what to call it.
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Old May 4, 2011, 04:04 PM   #39
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I have no experience with this. I was in the USMC years ago but never fired a weapon at anything but a paper, metal, plastic or other target. I've shot a couple nuisance animals but am not a hunter.

But, as a person who carries a concealed handgun and keeps a loaded shotgun in the bedroom I've thought about the topic. Its as much a part of preparation as any other training.

I remember a section of To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak The Truth where Jeff Cooper deals with this exact topic. Cooper believes that one should not feel psychological trauma in the aftermath of a justifiable shoot. His opinion is you should feel good because you defeated your enemy. I've always hoped to be able to come up to this standard should my time come.
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Old May 4, 2011, 04:19 PM   #40
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Glenn Meyer stated: I might have seemed strident, for which I apologize. My point was based on the problem that some folks suffering from stress disorders have been denied help as superiors, bureaucracy, etc. have made light of the problem.

That was very evident during and immediately following Viet Nam,,,
There were still a heck of a lot of WW-II vets around then,,,
I had friends who were severely screwed up by Nam,,,
But the WW-II vets sneered at then for being so.

My former father-in-law was a navigator in a B-24 for three years in WW-II,,,
My former mother-in-law said he was a completely different man after he returned home,,,
In the late 70's I heard him make many comments on how the "Viet Nam P___ies" should just man up and get a grip.

My FIL was a mans man,,,
He just accepted and dealt with the nightmares,,,
I believe the disorder he experienced was called Bomber's Remorse.

The one time I mentioned that phrase,,,
I thought he was going to hit me.

"Men don't talk about that stuff." was his oft used phrase.

Speculation has it that Audie Murphy had severe PTSD after WW-II,,,
But he was also a strong advocate for returning Korea and Nam veterans who were messed up.

It's completely different now in the Army,,,
I was talking to a student who just returned from Afghanistan.

He said there were support groups available immediately after returning from a patrol,,,
If there was any shooting on the patrol then your attendance was mandatory,,,
And it wasn't a chaplain but a trained psychologist leading the group.

Wow! I say,,,
What a cultural difference between then and now.

I do often wonder about my reactions after a violent encounter,,,
Or maybe I should say my lack of a reaction.

All I can truly say is that he was down and I was not,,,
And that's exactly the way I wanted it to be.

I was very pleased and content with the outcome.

Aarond
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Old May 4, 2011, 04:24 PM   #41
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Part of the very basis of PTSD (it can be any kind of trauma), is the conflict within.
On the one hand, you feel exultant and happy at having survived.

On the other, you feel bad because you have violated societies strongest norm by taking a life.

Consider if the life you have to take is that of a young female, later found to have a toy or unloaded gun - the worst possible case, that of having shot a child.

The trigger is usually comments by your friends - for cops, it is "jokes" in the station. On officer had to leave the job and suffered for years because, after a justified shooting of an (adult) female whom he shot in the head, someone on his squad said "There goes "Joe", the women lose their heads over him!"

In the military, usually the more of "them" you kill, the more 'pats on the back' for having done your part in the mission.
In the civilian world, you can expect criticism, questioning, and the civil lawsuit alleging you are a bad person (usually in the newspaper too). Been there, done that.

These "jokes" by your friends are the hardest things to overcome.
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Old May 4, 2011, 04:34 PM   #42
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Aarond,
I have read that a historian went to a WWII reunion, and after he gained the confidence of the men, they admitted that many felt the same as the Viet vets. The problem was, it was socially unacceptable. Home town folks would applaud the vet who had killed the most. If anyone expressed remorse (or PTSD), the folks who felt they had 'sacrificed' for the war effort would shun him.
So, many of the Vets who suffered PTSD hid it. Plus, there were so many vets, it was easy to sit down with your pals.

There is some evidence that it was worse for vets from Europe, who killed people who looked like them - and may have even been related. Those who fought the Japanese, who did NOT look like them, combined with the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor, had fewer PTSD cases.

Perhaps the biggest negative of Vietnam was the individual rotation policy. Replacements went alone, served with strangers, came home alone, and 24 hours after leaving combat they were dumped out on the streets with no support system, and a society that, at best, had mixed feeling about the war.
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Old May 4, 2011, 04:49 PM   #43
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On the other, you feel bad because you have violated societies strongest norm by taking a life.
This is probably very true. But you hit a nail that I wonder if you realize you hit. It is societies strongest norm. In other words, it is learned behavior. Not part of your genetic makeup, at least not yet given the shortness of time since it became "societies strongest norm".

So, it should be possible, and in the opinion of many is possible, for a perfectly well adjusted, emotionally normal human being to shoot another human being with no more "feeling" than one gets from shooting a deer. It's a matter of training and preparation. Which is all learned behavior is.
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Old May 4, 2011, 05:17 PM   #44
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Pick up a copy of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's "On Killing"; it addresses any of the points and counterpoints in this thread, and brings to light the general change in society over time as to killing other human beings and the effects it has on shooters. An excellent read.
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Old May 4, 2011, 05:30 PM   #45
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Lawnboy, I knew what I was writing. This is one of the problems with Islamic Terrorists - their society says it is commendable to kill non-believers!

So, the "surround, SWAT, and Talk" tactics don't work, as they want to kill all the hostages. Thus they get to sit at the side of Mohammad.

In our own society, it was OK to imprison Japanese-Americans, who looked different and whose relatives engaged in a sneak attack. But no move was made to imprison German-Americans - they looked like us, and declared war without any (major) "sneak" attacks. Of course, there were economic motives as well for taking everything from the Japanese-Americans.

And in some parts of our culture, not so long ago, it was OK to kill those whose skin was "different" from the majority.

Makes me wonder who it will be OK to kill in a few years?
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Old May 4, 2011, 06:22 PM   #46
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Lawnboy, I knew what I was writing. This is one of the problems with Islamic Terrorists - their society says it is commendable to kill non-believers!

So, the "surround, SWAT, and Talk" tactics don't work, as they want to kill all the hostages. Thus they get to sit at the side of Mohammad.

In our own society, it was OK to imprison Japanese-Americans, who looked different and whose relatives engaged in a sneak attack. But no move was made to imprison German-Americans - they looked like us, and declared war without any (major) "sneak" attacks. Of course, there were economic motives as well for taking everything from the Japanese-Americans.

And in some parts of our culture, not so long ago, it was OK to kill those whose skin was "different" from the majority.

Makes me wonder who it will be OK to kill in a few years?
All true and factual. As to the last question you posed: it will be ok to kill the enemy. However the enemy is defined.

My point was that the ability to kill another human is a reflex, like blinking when something comes close to your eyeball. It can be trained out of you. And modern society has been very successful at this. Successful enough that many people encounter emotional problems when they kill a human or humans.

And, if we take at his word the man who says he feels emotional trauma after using a firearm to kill a human being are we not obligated to also take at his word the man who says he feels nothing but exhultation at the victory? My cursory read of the thread show me that the general tenor of those who feel that trauma is inevitable is to assume that those who say they feel no trauma are lying (or deficient in some way). The general tenor of those who feel that trauma is optional is NOT to assume that those who feel otherwise are lying but to point out that there is another way.

What conclusions can be drawn from that?

For those of us who intend to use firearms if the situation ever requires it these are important questions that deserve as much time and effort as the ability to perform a stoppage drill under pressure.
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Old May 4, 2011, 07:28 PM   #47
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The problem with threads like this is that there are many opinions based on anecdotes and pronouncements. There is quite a bit of study of this. One should use Google scholar and read some of the literature.

1. People who deny it happens outright are incorrect. If they state people who do get stress disorders are weak - they do no service to their professions. If it is through ignorance or bravado - who cares. They are wrong. I know of cases of folks who have impeccable credentials and then in force on force training later have a stress related incident or flashback to some previous action.

2. No, it doesn't happen to everyone. Numbers vary. We can't predict who will be at risk with enough certainity at the present time.

3. If you don't get it - it doesn't mean you are disordered either. Some small percent of folks without remorse may be but it isn't everyone.

4. Great point that folks should be educated before! Stress innoculation and knowing how to be aware of symptoms is a great step forward in critical incident education. However, I will disagree that preparation can give you a guarantee of immunity. As in all things, it can help but an absolute guarantee you get it or don't - doesn't exist. But training is essential.

5. Changing the mindset so those that need help will get is also a great step forward for folks involved in critical incidents.

6. Knowing what treatments are efficacious is also important. There are crackpots out there.

Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need To Know To Mentally And Physically Prepare For And Survive A Gunfight - Alexis Artwohl

Into the Kill Zone: A Cop's Eye View of Deadly Force by David Klinger

Practical Police Psychology: Stress Management and Crisis Intervention - Miller

are all accessible reads for anyone.
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Old May 4, 2011, 07:51 PM   #48
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I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I'm currently reading A Rifleman Went to War by H.W. McBride. He was an American who resigned a commission in the National Guard to go to Canada and enlist in British Army so that he could get into WWI quicker.

He is decidedly on the "feel no compunction about killing the enemy" side of the balance. Jeff Cooper wrote the foreword to the edition that I'm reading. His account of his actions and feelings is readable, interesting, thorough and believable. He acknowledges that he is aware that his attitude towards his actions in the war makes some people squeamish, but he doesn't temper it or back away. His attitude can be summed up as "They're the enemy. Kill them or they will kill you. What's for lunch?".

It seems to me that this is a desirable attitude in a soldier. It also seems to me that this is what the USMC was aiming for when I was there. I was never tested so I don't know if in my particular case they were successful. It seems like a desireable attitude in anyone trained to use deadly force whether this is a private in the USMC or a private citizen with a CPL who has taken an NRA defensive handgun course or anyone in between.

But only you can decide where you stand on the issue.
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Old May 4, 2011, 08:00 PM   #49
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I wonder if there's a correlation between the age of the shooter and the amount of emotional trauma? When you're, say, 50 or 60, you have a lot more life experience to help put it in perspective than when you're 20. You're also old enough by then to be aware of your own mortality and by extension everybody else's.

I also suspect some PTSD is a learned response. (kind of like people who fall down dead from a non-life-threatening gunshot wound because they just know they are supposed to die.

The mind is complicated.
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Old May 4, 2011, 08:42 PM   #50
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Quote:
The mind is complicated.
Ain't that the truth! Especially since it may not even exist.

I shoot, therefore I am.

I threw that in just to make it firearms related.
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