What’s Worse Than PTSD?

Blake Lively as O in

Blake Lively as O in

Last week we wrote about “moral injury,” as defined by Nan Levinson at Tom Dispatch in her June 28 piece Mad, Bad, Sad: What’s Really Happened to America’s Soldiers.

[It's] the result of taking part in or witnessing something of consequence that you find wrong, something which violates your deeply held beliefs about yourself and your role in the world. … While the symptoms and causes may overlap with PTSD, moral injury arises from what you did or failed to do, rather than from what was done to you.

I’m currently reading the crime novel Savages (Simon & Schuster, 2101) by Don Winslow, on which the recent film of the same name is based. Drug dealer Chon is a former Navy SEAL who served in Iraq, where he also later worked for contractors. O (short for Olivia) is his girlfriend. Winslow writes:

O has diagnosed Chon with PTLOSD.

Post-Traumatic Lack Of Stress Disorder. He says he has no nightmares, nerves, flashbacks, hallucinations, or guilt.

“I wasn’t stressed,” Chon insisted, “and there was no trauma.”

In other words, like many soldiers, especially special operations, he wasn’t troubled by what he saw or, as Levinson writes “did or failed to do.”

What’s worse than PTSD or moral injury? Sometimes, unfortunately, lack of PTSD or moral injury.