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The psychology of the tragedy of Fort Hood

Last week, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez approached a group of his fellow soldiers and started shooting. A few minutes later, three soldiers and Ivan were dead, 16 wounded. Lopez, 34, was a veteran of the Iraqi War.

Lopez had been through some trauma in Iraq (about:reader?url=http%3A%2F%2Fm.nydailynews.com%2F1.1747125&tabId=). He had wrote about surviving an attack in Fallujah in which the vehicle in front of his had suffered the brunt of an explosion.

Admiral Mike Mullens, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, April 6, 2014, and speculated how Lopez, like many of his.veteran colleages, may have been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. This condition is not being addressed enough, he said, and this us a tragic result.

Lopez, initially from Puerto Rico, had been in the army since 2008. He was married and had a young son (http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/508431). He had seen a.psychologist and was given Ambien to help him sleep. Otherwise, no one saw it coming.

This incident, and others like it, continues to put Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in focus, as well as the need for increasing Mental Health resources for both Armed Forces veterans and the general population as well. Of course, Spec. Lopez had seen a psychologist and one can't help wonder if that psychologist may have not been as diligent as he or she should have been.

Or was it a matter of limited resources preventing any type of in-depth analysis? Or was it taken for granted that here was someone who had seen combat, of coursehe was shook up, and here's something to help you sleep. In short, were warning signs overlooked?

Nothing seemed to foretell his deadly action (about:reader?url=http%3A%2F%2Fm.nydailynews.com%2F1.1744315&tabId=0). He had been described as laid back, a.family man, not too anxious. Many are speculating as to the extent is timetime in Iraq affected him and whether an argument a few days prior set him off.

The National Institute of Health talks about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-pts...). When faced with danger, our body's natural response is flight or flight, an ancient instinct which compels us to try to overcome the challenge, or.flee if dewmed too dangerous. Once the sitation is resolved, our heightened functions calm down and return to normal.

People who have PTSD have experienced so much trauma, that it is difficult for em to calm down. Symptoms include hyperarousal, difficulty relaxing, and difficulty sleeping. Diagnosis involves identifying these symptoms as wel as the continuation of the person behaving as if they were still in the situation.

Spec. Lopez didn't seem to manifest these symptoms. That he had emotional issues is clear. What exactly those problems were are unclear.

In any case, it is important that more attention is paid to mental health issues. This is anwidespread issue that encompasses all levels of society.