The Newnan Times-Herald


Scared stupid

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Oct. 26, 2018 - 10:32 PM

 Scared stupid

The Newnan Times-Herald

The illness has been around forever.

Only the labels have changed.

Soldiers who suffered from psychological trauma in the Civil War were said to have “nostalgia.” The recommended treatment was public ridicule.

During World War I mental health officials coined the term “shell shock” to describe a condition exhibited by soldiers whose symptoms included anxiety, nightmares, tremors and impaired sight and hearing.

British and American physicians treating soldiers who fought in World War II called the condition “battle fatigue,” “combat fatigue” and “combat stress reaction.”

By the time the Vietnam War ended, mental health officials had labeled the condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

According to researchers “Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that occurs when someone witnesses or experiences a severely traumatic event. This can include war or combat, serious accidents, natural disasters, terrorism or violent personal assaults, such as rape.”

Whatever the condition is called, it’s horrible. I know several people, especially Vietnam vets and police officers, who suffer from PTSD. They deserve all the love, care and help we can give them.

Another group doesn’t -- a collection of college students whose professor recently claimed they were stricken with "clinically significant event-related distress" that could include diagnoses of PTSD.

The students claimed they had been traumatized by a single event -- the 2016 election of Donald Trump.

Melissa Hagan, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University led the group that studied the students. “Some were visibly upset,” Hagan said. “Some were even crying." She said they were scared and anxious about “policies that had been discussed on the campaign trail.”

The study also claimed that “women, racial minorities, people from working and lower-middle social classes, Democrats, non-Christians and sexual minorities reported significantly more election-related distress.”

PTSD from an election? That’s an insult to people who actually have PTSD. I can’t imagine a rape survivor or a soldier who has seen and tasted the terror of war being traumatized by an election result.

Angry? Sure. Disgusted? Maybe. But traumatized to the point of being diagnosed with PTSD? By an election?

It hasn’t been well-publicized, but the subjects of the “study” were 769 students studying introductory psychology at Arizona State University.

I wonder if students studying engineering or physical education or agriculture would have shown the same results? The tens of thousands who volunteer each year to serve in the law enforcement and the military are not too traumatized by election results to fall apart. Why students?

It’s insulting to classify these students in the same league as people whose real cases of PTSD were brought on by events some still find difficult to overcome -- or even discuss.

The students claim they hate to be called “snowflakes” because the term implies they are weak and over-sensitive.

Forget the students. It's the snowflakes that should be insulted. But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. The students traumatized by an election result grew up playing games in which everyone got a participation trophy. They have been told all their lives that all people and all things are equal.

They went to college without ever learning that in life there are winners and losers. Even in elections.

This country was built by people taught to rely on themselves for whatever they got out of life. Now, some kids who were raised by parents who preached that the world -- or the government -- should provide all their needs are crying over election results.

This is the scariest story I’ve heard in a while. It’s probably appropriate that Halloween is upon us.

Alex McRae is the author of There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love. He can be reached at: