Tag Archives: ptsd

Looking at different aspects of psychological theory and research including therapeutic jurisprudence within a forensic setting.

It's all about striking a balance.

It’s all about striking a balance.

As an individual, one is entitled to their human rights throughout all walks of life – and this is especially true when it comes to victims of crime (Towl & Crighton, 2010). Unfortunately, criminogenic activity is ubiquitous in society, and thus, no – one individual, is entirely impervious to the indirect injustices’ and misfortunes that make them vulnerable to such unlawful acts of criminality (Towl & Crighton, 2010). Consequently, whilst investigating acts of crime, the testimony of victims and witnesses is a paramount, but often a poorly remembered aspect of the legal procedure (Kebbell & Milne, 1998; Rand, 1975). Therefore, there has been an increase in the acknowledgement that certain individuals’ may have distinct needs that could facilitate investigative and legal procedures (Bull, R., 2010). However, due to mixed findings reported from police officers, there are obvious circumstantial differences in obtaining information from witnesses, victims and suspects (Bull & Soukara, 2010). Thus, this article aims to explain the shortcomings of the Cognitive Interview (CI) and the developmental aspects that have been applied to improve its efficacy in in trying to facilitate a two-way dynamicism between the interviewer and the interviewee (Bull, R., 2010). Also, the article is going to look at the possible beneficial value of promoting psychological wellbeing during the interviewing process (Winick, 1997). Thusly, the concept of synergizing therapeutic jurisprudence with the CI could be highly beneficial to police in obtaining information, and militate against witnesses’ overcoming psychological problems (Fisher & Geiselman, 2010). To conclude, examining meta-analytical research and contrasting the results with that of individual research will amplify limitations in empirical based research that could further provide insight into how practical methods can be improved (Clarke, C., Milne, R., & Bull, R., 2011). Continue reading

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War’s mental toll

The Iraq War is over.
“It must be over,” a British colleague of mine, still in Baghdad, wrote. “It must be because yesterday I saw the Yanks take down the flag. It was a rather anticlimactic end to eight and a half years of mayhem.”

Over 4,500 American servicemen and women have died since the Iraq War began. Many tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, too, in car bombings, suicide attacks, torture chambers, death squad hits, American bombings and assassinations. As terrible as this toll is, however, the long-term consequences of the American invasion of Iraq will probably continue to mount for years to come.

Sadly, many of these consequences are going to be just as challenging as the last eight years of mayhem my colleague described — harder to see, more difficult to assess and discuss and even harder to fix. I’m talking about the mental health toll that years and years of war will leave with American soldiers, sailors and Marines, their families and friends and the country that is still learning how to help them. I’m also talking about the collective trauma that some 28 million Iraqis continue to grapple with day after day.

Since the war began, many of the Iraqis I worked closely with have left their homeland and sought shelter abroad. One of them fled Iraq in 2008 after his 16-year old son was kidnapped, tortured and killed. When the father went looking for him, he too was tortured. He fled with his three surviving sons and now lives in Texas. His wife refused to come, preferring instead to remain behind so she can visit her dead son’s grave.

In this country, the Iraq War continues to take a toll on American soldiers and their families long after they return from the battlefields of Baghdad or Yussifiyah. In Phoenix earlier this week, a retired U.S Army sergeant who struggled with PTSD and mental health issues killed his wife. After killing his wife, the man turned himself into police, telling them he “snapped” and his military training “kicked in.” His Army colleagues told a local newspaper that roughly 90 percent of his unit was diagnosed with PTSD upon their return from Baghdad.

Stories like this are too numerous to count, and yet they will likely continue to plague this country for years. By most estimates, at least 20 percent of all returning Iraq War veterans are diagnosed with PTSD. These numbers don’t include the tens of thousands of private security contractors whose jobs put them in situations often just as dangerous and in many cases more dangerous than those of their active-duty counterparts. They too could face years of recovery from PTSD and without the assistance of the Veterans Affairs.

To its credit, the VA has ramped up efforts to cope with the increasingly large population of traumatized veterans suffering from crippling mental health problems related to the war. But it has not done enough. Veterans and their families regularly point out that the care they are offered doesn’t come close to what they require.

And what of the countless thousands of Iraqis who are going through similar traumas thousands of miles away? When last I visited, there were less than a hundred trained psychologists working in the entire country. Electric shock therapy was practiced regularly and frequently. Mental hospitals were in dire need of routine maintenance and help.

Now that the war is officially over, survival is going to require more than just dodging bullets. For Iraqis, Americans, everyone, it’s going to mean a full reckoning, and a slow process of healing. It’s not going to be easy. And it’s going to take a long time.

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