Understanding PTSD

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What is PTSD? According to American Psychiatric Association it is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault. But, how can it be used as a defense? People often wonder why PTSD always comes to the forefront when something traumatic happens. Well, before the words Post Traumatic Stress Disordered entered our books, we had just stress disorders. Once this came to the forefront the courts thought this would be taken advantage of because we can not really see what a person is thinking or feeling.

Statistics show LexisNexis yielded 194 cases, of which 47 involved a criminal defense based on PTSD. In 39 of these 47 cases, the defense was addressed by the appellate court in some way, whereas in the remaining 8 cases the issue appealed was not related to the use of PTSD as a criminal defense. Twenty-nine of the cases in which the use of PTSD as a criminal defense was addressed on appeal. The 10 cases that are not described in this article were excluded because they were redundant with other cases, in that the issues addressed by the appellate court were the same as those in other cases that are discussed. The search of law review articles and the psychiatric literature for cited legal cases yielded two published cases in which trauma-related disorders that preceded the DSM diagnosis of PTSD were the bases for criminal defenses. It also yielded three unpublished trial court cases in which PTSD was the basis for criminal defenses. (Psychiatry and the Law)

Proving that when PTSD is involved in the defense it is not a clear victory. Remember no one can really see and feel what PTSD is. Making it very difficult to present it to the jury. I can easily say this because of the career field I am in. After several deployments to the Middle East we have seen an increase in so called PTSD discharges. Yes, I can not really knock them for getting out on this chapter but, it does look very bad for our military. PTSD in defense on the other hand is a serious epidemic and would only get bigger if we can not narrow down what is specific to it.

In summary, in some cases in which the insanity defense based on PTSD was successful or was found by appellate courts to be viable, the defense theory involved dissociative phenomena leading to a break with reality. As has been suggested elsewhere, this is probably the sole PTSD phenomenon that could meet the strict insanity standards in most current jurisdictions that use the M’Naughten standard or its variant, with a clear-and-convincing standard of proof However, even dissociative phenomena have been rejected as a valid basis for insanity in some if not most cases. Proving that PTSD in defenses are not easily taken seriously or can be hard to defend because it is something not easy to see or to feel. (Psychiatry and the Law)

I could easily see this soon having a direct and more meaningful agenda when it comes to the defense. I could also see a different definition coming as well. One that will say the specifics for a certain PTSD problem. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is wide and vague. Making it the reason why most cases are still guilty verdicts. We need to put a real meaning to something will this illness such as RTSD (Rape Traumatic Stress Disorder) or MTSD (Mental Traumatic Stress Disorder) just to name a few. But I am not a doctor, so I couldn’t put a name to it.

Cite this paper

Understanding PTSD. (2022, Feb 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/understanding-ptsd/

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