Essay Campaign #12: PTSD, Social Networking, and Electronic Isolation in Combat

Summer Essay Campaign #12: “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a Novel Hypothesis: Social Networking and Electronic Isolation in the War Zone”

To Answer Question #10: “What are the advantages and disadvantages of real-time soldier-family communications while at war?”

By Colonel Clark Barrett, PhD., Michigan Army National Guard

*Note: This essay was previously published in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, © 2012 Springer Publishing Company.

As recent high-profile news stories reflect, the U.S. military continues struggling to identify the underlying causes of the increasing incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide (Swofford, 2012; Wood, 2012). Despite dedicating huge amounts of research and expense, the military seems no closer to identifying the root cause of this growing phenomenon. Much of the military’s time and effort has been centered on treating the problem ex post facto, but my own interest is largely focused on prevention (Barrett, 2011). Lately, I have begun to wonder if we are not victims of our own technological success. We have the global, technical, and logistical capability to bring many of the comforts of home to the battlefield. But our endeavors to make the combat zone more tolerable through technology and instant communication may have unforeseen effects, feeding rather than abating the problem of combat stress.

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