Sebastian Junger’s Take on PTSD

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Sebastian Junger (@sebastianjunger) recently spoke with Tim Ferriss (@tferriss) about his new book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. This Wall Street Journal piece covers much the same ground:

Tracking back to the theme of “Tribe,” he said, “I asked a buddy of mine, a soldier, ‘Would you rather have another good friend or an enemy?’ He looked at me like I was crazy. ‘An enemy, of course. I’ve got plenty of friends. An enemy brings out the best of you.’”

Social problems decline, Mr. Junger explained, when community cohesion rises. “[After] 9/11 the suicide rate went down,” he said. “The violent-crime rate went down.” PTSD symptoms among patients in Department of Veterans Affairs facilities subsided.

In his book, Mr. Junger marshals history, psychology, anthropology and statistics to make his case. He suggests that in countries with a strong sense of community, such as Israel, incidence of PTSD is low even though that nation exists in a state of near-constant conflict.

At least in part because most Israelis do military service. “Those who come back from combat are reintegrated into a society where their experiences are very well understood,” said Mr. Junger, quoting Dr. Arieh Shalev, an expert on PTSD and formerly chief psychiatrist for the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps.

He sounds like a distant cousin of Ernst Jünger (Storm of Steel).

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