Experienced journalist Sebastian Junger writes about the complexities and dangers of PTSD in this new Vanity Fair piece. It's a long read, but well worth the time. Junger looks at the history of PTSD over the 20th century, its broader evolutionary history, and attempts to identify, manage and treat it today. PTSD is one of those disorders that spans disciplines - everyone from neuroscientists to anthropologist say something to say about it. Ideally, this diversity will foster solutions that might rely on biomedical science and cultural and psychological advances. PTSD gets at the core of what it means to be human in this modern age.
America is a largely de-ritualized society that obviously can’t just borrow from another society to heal its psychic wounds. But the spirit of community healing and empowerment that forms the basis of these ceremonies is certainly one that might be converted to a secular modern society. The shocking disconnect for veterans isn’t so much that civilians don’t know what they went through—it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to fully understand another person’s experience—but that what they went through doesn’t seem relevant back home. Given the profound alienation that afflicts modern society, when combat vets say that they want to go back to war, they may be having an entirely healthy response to the perceived emptiness of modern life.