PTSD: The Spurious Medicalization of Painful Memories


I’ve recently read Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, by Ethan Watters (Free Press, 2010).

It’s a great book, the theme of which is that western countries, especially America, are exporting the medicalization of human problems to less developed regions of the world.  The new “illnesses” are being avidly promoted as if they had the same kind of reality as pneumonia or cancer, and are being foisted on vulnerable populations, with little regard for their impact on the cultures, ideas, sensitivities, and health of the recipients.

The author discusses four examples of this kind of “illness” exportation: anorexia in Hong Kong in the 90’s; PTSD in Sri Lanka in 2005; schizophrenia as a brain illness in Zanzibar; and the marketing of depression as an illness in Japan in the early 2000’s.

All sections of the book are worth reading, but for the purpose of this post, I will be focusing on the exporting of western-style PTSD to Sri Lanka in the wake of the December 2004 tsunami that took about 250,000 lives.

What brought PTSD to Sri Lanka was the large number of trauma counselors who rushed to the tsunami disaster zone armed with PTSD checklists and western “knowledge” of this “illness.”  They carried within them a certainty that if the survivors of the tsunami weren’t “properly” debriefed, they would suffer devastating psychological consequences for years, or even for the rest of their lives.  The western crusaders routinely ignored the fact that the people in Sri Lanka had a long history of coping with disaster (natural and man-made).  The methods traditionally used by Sri Lankans to cope with tragedy were dismissed by most of the PTSD proselytizers as irrelevant, and even as evidence of denial!

Here are some quotes from the chapter in question:

“Mental health professionals around the world were telling reporters that millions of people would soon be suffering the debilitating effects of PTSD.” (p 69)

“Seldom considered in our rush to help treat the psychic wounds of traumatized people was the question of whether PTSD was a diagnosis that could be usefully applied in all human cultures.” (p 71)

“Traumatologists have also advanced the idea that psychological rehabilitation is best managed by mental health experts, certified in and sensitized to Western understanding of how humans suffer and heal.  The post-tsunami intervention would prove to be a crucible for these Western certainties.” (p 73)

“The drug company Pfizer was quick to get in the mix as well.  In early February 2005, just over a month after the disaster, the company sponsored a symposium in Bangkok titled ‘After the Tsunami: Mental Health Challenges to the Community for Today and Tomorrow.’  Professor [Jonathan] Davidson…predicting pathology rates of 50 to 90 percent, helped organize the conference with an ‘unrestricted grant’ from the company.” (p 80)

“He [Professor Davidson] described PTSD as ‘a severe, chronic, and disabling condition with major consequences for the individual and society,’ but assured his audience that antidepressants such as Pfizer’s Zoloft could become ‘an effective tool in promoting the long-term psychological and psychosocial health and economic recovery of those in the region affected by the tsunami.’  Zoloft, he reported, had been shown to reduce anger after the first week of treatment and lessen ’emotional upset’ by week six.” (p 80)

“A radio, TV, and newspaper ad campaign was launched to make the population aware of what psychological consequences to expect, and posters of the PTSD symptom list were placed in schools, community buildings, police stations, churches, and grocery stores.” (p 106)

“Despite the public and professional certainty that counselors and debriefers should rush in after disasters to treat traumatized populations, there was one problem: there was little evidence that such efforts helped.” (p 118)

“Early interventions sometimes appeared to be priming victims to experience certain symptoms.  ‘When dealing with people after an accident we need to remember that emotionally aroused people are suggestible,’ David Brown, a psychologist from Australia wrote later in the British Medical Journal.  ‘If we suggest they might feel angry, it is likely to come true.'” (p 118)

As I was reading this chapter, I was struck obviously by the crass arrogance of the pharma-supported trauma “experts” who, because they had memorized the APA’s facile symptom list, somehow imagined that they could teach these resilient people how to cope with tragedy.

But I was also struck by the fact that this is exactly what happened here in America after the Vietnam War.  From time immemorial, soldiers have come home from war with truly horrible memories, and have dealt with these memories using the concepts, skills, and support groups that were available to them in their families and in their communities.

But PTSD changed all that.  The horrific memories became an illness which needs to be “treated” by experts – and the first-line “treatment,” of course, is drugs.  People who have experienced psychological trauma are given the message that they cannot deal with this from their own resources, and protestations of resilience and ability to cope, are characterized as denial.

In Crazy Like Us, Ethan Watters touches on this aspect of the matter:

“Indeed, many have pointed out that we are now a culture that has a suspicion of resilience and emotional reserve.” (p 123)

The fact is that traumatic memories – no matter how severe – are not illnesses in any meaningful sense of the term.  The notion that they are illnesses is psychiatry/pharma propaganda, and the fact that the fiction is so widely accepted (and even being exported) is a tribute to the resources that psychiatry/pharma can bring to bear in promoting their self-serving agenda.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  Americans have been returning home from wars since before the country was born, and were re-adjusting successfully to civilian life using their own resources and community support.

Nor is the experience of disaster confined to the military.   Civilians in all ages have experienced devastating floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, murders, rapes, accidents, etc…

Tragedy, sooner or later, touches us all, and sometimes the nature and circumstances of these encounters can be truly horrific.

But through all of this, people have coped.  They’ve coped by drawing on their own resources and the support of family, friends, mentors (religious and secular), and even random strangers. They’ve drawn strength from embraces, whispered condolences, and graveside rituals.  We all know that any of us can be touched by terrible tragedy, and we reach out individually and collectively to offer comfort to those in grief.

But psychiatry undermines all of this.  The horror-struck soldier returning from war – he has an illness – a broken brain – he needs drugs.

The children who witnessed their parents being killed in a car accident – they also have a brain illness – they need drugs.

The mother who saw her three children carried off to their deaths by floodwaters – she has a brain illness – she needs drugs.

This tawdry, spurious medicalization of tragedy trivializes human suffering, undermines the dignity of the sufferer, and relegates him or her to the status of drug customer.

The psychiatrists contend that they only offer their “treatments” to those who really need them, but they ignore the fact that it was their propaganda coupled with pharmaceutical advertizing that created the need in the first place.  It was their propaganda that convinced people that they were “broken” and needed “medication.”

It might be argued that the psychiatric-pharma “solution” works, and that this is really all that matters.  But reading the various reports from the VA, it’s easy to get the impression that the “treatment” is not enjoying unqualified success.

On April 23, a panel of PTSD experts presented a seminar on PTSD to the general public at Cumberland County Public Library in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  One of the presenters, Kevin Smythe, PsyD, a supervisory psychologist with the Mental Health Service Line at the Fayetteville VA, is reported (on as saying that there is no way to cure post-traumatic stress disorder, but that those suffering from it can learn to manage it.

For me – that sounds awfully like:  “you must take the pills for life.”  Where have we heard that before?

Incidentally picked up the piece and ran it, and it generated some interesting comments, most of which appear to come from military or ex-military people.  A good proportion of the comments express the belief that drugs are not the answer.  Some of the commenters maintain that there is a good measure of fraud in the system: i.e. people pursuing a “diagnosis” of PTSD in order to qualify for disability benefits.

On that topic, incidentally, I’ve come across two interesting Australian reports, courtesy of Nanu.  The first, dated March 27, 2013, predicts a “tidal wave” of PTSD cases as Australian troops are brought home from Afghanistan.  The other report, however, which was published two years earlier (Jan 6, 2011), quotes a senior military doctor as saying that up to 90% of PTSD claims are fraudulent.

Obviously people will dispute these perspectives.  But the fact remains that virtually every “diagnosis” in the DSM can be faked by anyone with a modicum of imagination and resourcefulness.

That, however, is not the main issue.  Even the individuals who aren’t actually consciously trying to game the system are not sick.  They do not have an illness.  What they have are painful memories and unresolved grief.

Once psychiatric muscle and pharmaceutical money had achieved acceptance of these so-called illnesses, the government had little choice but to qualify the affected individuals for benefits.  If you’re sick, you’re sick!  The AMA, incidentally, according to Wikipedia, “has one of the largest political lobbying budgets of any organization in the United States.”

When the APA invented this “illness”, they opened two equally tragic doorways.  Firstly, they encouraged distressed people to think of themselves as broken; secondly, they created a situation in which people are encouraged to fake the symptoms for the sake of a disability pension.

The tragedy of the first group is that they are disempowered, and end up taking toxic drugs, often for years.  The tragedy for the second group is that they settle for an unproductive, aimless life in return for a small pension.

The beneficiaries, as usual, are the psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry.


  • Paul Mace

    Vietnam is an interesting case. Outside the rural South there was no cultural support for the returning vet. But perhaps this merely points to the same larger problem–you cannot simply stop handing out pills once the cultural structures that once sufficed to cushion the effects of trauma have been degraded beyond recognition. Thus, we are doubly hooked.

  • carolynthomas

    Phil, interesting take on the important issues involved in importing a Western, drug-managed diagnosis to Sri Lanka as described in the beginning of your post.

    But I’m tempted to use your own word “spurious” to describe subsequent statements like: “From time immemorial, soldiers have come home from war with truly horrible memories, and have dealt with these memories using the concepts, skills, and support groups that were available to them in their families and in their communities.”

    Concepts? Skills? Support groups? Sounds a bit facile to me, as if all those combat vets needed since time immemorial was a couple of nice Sunday night roast beef dinners at Grandma’s to feel all better. What kinds of community “support groups” were even available in pre-Vietnam War years?

    Psychological trauma in war has been called different names throughout different times – soldier’s heart, combat fatigue, shell shock, gross stress reaction – long before the term PTSD was even coined. These were not made-up psychosomatic fantasies as you seem to be implying, unless you consider responses like uncontrollable diarrhea, unrelenting anxiety or suicide to be the result of being “suggestible”.

    During World War I, 4 out of 5 soldiers hospitalized with shell shock were unable to resume any form of military duty. As the medical superintendent at one military hospital in York wrote at the time, “the patient must be induced to face his illness in a manly way’. So much for those helpful concepts, skills and support groups…

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming in.  You make a compelling point.  Families aren’t what they used to be.  And I could certainly agree with the notion of the VA and indeed state and county governments generating some kind of support network for people in distress of any kind.

    The mental heath system uses this argument extensively to justify their existence.  My problem, however, is with the medicalization of this kind of support.  They create the fiction that distress of any kind is an illness and has to be treated by psychiatrists.  In these circumstances, the “help” inevitably degenerates to doling out pills, and psychiatry, not only is showing no signs of backing off this practice, but has – with DSM-5 – recommitted itself to even more of the same.

    I’m not saying that people shouldn’t take drugs.  I advocate for the legalization of all drugs, not because I think these products are good for people, but simply because I don’t think it’s any business of government what people ingest; and secondly, because prohibition is simply not possible in practice.

    The drug seller on the street corner will sell whatever the customer wants.  But there’s no pretense that the product is in any way beneficial to health.

    Psychiatrists, on the other hand, actively push the lie that distress always equals illness, and the even more damaging lie that their drugs are medicine.

    Your comment also hits another nail on the head – once a person is hooked on the drugs, he can’t just stop cold turkey.  At present the VA is using three classes of drugs to “treat” PTSD: antidepressants; benzodiazepines; and neuroleptics.  Many veterans are taking drugs from more than one class.  These are very powerful drugs, and withdrawing from them can be extremely difficult.

    Again, thanks for coming in.  It’s nice to hear from you, and best wishes.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming in. These are important issues that warrant discussion.

    “Concepts? Skill? Support groups? Sounds a bit facile to me…”

    Concepts? Throughout the ages people have used a range of concepts to give meaning to personal/horrific tragedies and to make these tragedies bearable. These concepts historically fall into three broad groups:

    a. the individual is less important than the group

    b. this life is a vale of tears; happiness can only be found in the next

    c. to die in war is the ultimate glory

    Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that these are particularly valid concepts. All I’m saying is that they have enjoyed a great deal of acceptance in former times., and are still fairly widely accepted today. But the important point is that they did (and do) help many people deal with tragedy.

    Throughout the twentieth century, there has been a growing appreciation of the value of each individual, and the notion of sacrificing people for the purposes of government is becoming less accepted and less acceptable. But the old notion that dying for one’s country was a great glory and a great honor as a concept has not been adequately replaced. I think the closest we’ve come is: “shit happens.” You may think that this is trite, but in fact it contains an important truth, i.e. that truly awful things frequently happen at random. It is a complete contrast to the mantra: “Everything that happens in God’s world happens for a purpose.” It is also, I suggest, a big improvement over the widely proclaimed notion that the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, for instance, were God’s punishment for homosexuality.

    The general point here is that people of all ages have used concepts to help them cope with tragedy and suffering. The orthodoxy today is: “What you’re going through is an illness; take your pills.” It is this spurious medicalization of human tragedy that I object to.

    If a person who has been diagnosed with PTSD asks his psychiatrist why he is so jumpy; why can’t he sleep well; why does he have difficulty concentrating? The psychiatrist will reply: because you have PTSD – it’s an illness.

    If the person asks: how do you know I have this illness? The only possible reply is: because you are so jumpy, etc.…

    The diagnosis is not an explanation, though it masquerades as one and is constantly presented as if it did have genuine explanatory value. That’s why I say these diagnoses are spurious. The only evidence for the “diagnosis” is the very behavior/problem it purports to explain.

    Skills? I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. To me, it seems obvious that people use their skills to cope with all the problems and difficulties of life. Why should coping with bad memories be any different? Why should that seem facile? Maybe if you could get back to me on that I will try to respond.

    Support groups? “What kind of community ‘support groups’ were even available in pre-Vietnam years?”

    Firstly, of course, there’s the family. In former times families were larger and more cohesive than is the case today. This was a constant source of support. “Home is the place where when you have to go there. They have to take you in.” (Robert Frost)

    Secondly, extended family. In former times, the extended family was a powerful source of support. Uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, second cousins, etc., etc., were there for one another, and rallied round stricken members. And, yes, met at grandmother’s for Sunday dinner, and played cards, and helped fix each others’ roofs, and helped turn vegetable gardens, and passed down clothes, and shared apples at harvest time, and fixed each others’ cars, and defended one another against outsiders, and noticed when one member wasn’t doing too well, and babysat when parents needed a break, etc., etc., etc.,.

    Thirdly, the neighborhood. In former times, neighbors knew each others’ names. Going next door to borrow a cup of sugar wasn’t just an anachronistic witticism. Neighbors talked and shared their troubles and concerns. They stopped to fuss over one another’s new babies and attended one another’s funerals, etc., etc., etc…

    Fourthly, the churches. Clergy have traditionally been a mainstay of support for people in grief or disasters. I am not a religious person myself, but I recognize that for those who are, the concepts, rituals, and support of clergy can be a great comfort. One of the great tragedies of the PTSD hoax is that clergy have often been given – and indeed bought – the message that they aren’t qualified to deal with these kinds of traumatic memories; that these issues have to be deferred to psychiatrists and “treated” with drugs.

    Fifthly, informal groups in the workplaces.

    Sixthly, etc., etc., etc…

    With regards to shell-shock, I think we’re confusing apples and oranges. Shell shock, as it was called in World War I, was a reaction to combat that occurred on the battlefield. PTSD is, by definition, a reaction to the memory of distressing events, after the fact.

    My general position is that the “diagnosis” of PTSD is spurious. But I also maintain: that it is unhelpful in practice; that people coped more successfully with tragedy and with painful memories before the invention of PTSD than they do now; that the drugs do more harm than good; and that the only real beneficiaries of PTSD are the psychiatrists and their psycho-pharmaceutical allies. Psychiatry routinely pays lip-service to the notion of desensitizing painful memories through supportive talk, but in practice they just push the pills.

    Please feel free to come back if you feel I’ve missed the point, or if you would like to raise any other issues.

    Or, if you prefer, we can just agree to differ.

    Again, thanks for coming in, and best wishes.

  • Aussie farmer

    Heard him speak on ABC radio in South Australia, amazing story about depression and Japan. The power of marketing by drug companies.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Aussie Farmer,

    Nice to hear from you again. Yes, marketing is a highly honed skill. And the pharma people are on the cutting edge.

    Best wishes.

  • kingofmadcows

    That is a gross oversimplification of the problem. The problems associated with PTSD aren’t just the bad memories but also behaviors acquired during extremely stressful situations which may have had some survival value during those times, such as hyper-vigilance, paranoia, increased aggression, etc., but is maladaptive and often dangerous in normal everyday life.

    While I agree that the medicalization of of PTSD has many problems, you need to present a better case on your side if you want to convince people of your views. The fact is that behaviors acquired as a result of extremely stressful experiences can be difficult to cope with and sometimes even dangerous. A person’s support system may not be enough to deal with that. People may need additional help and therapy in order to unlearn those behaviors and relearn the proper behaviors needed to function in normal society.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming in. You make a good point. One of the great difficulties in writing about these issues is that one has to simplify material in order to keep the article to a reasonable length. The specific problem with the condition known as PTSD is that it embraces such a wide range of people: from soldiers returning from war to young children who’ve seen their parents killed in an accident, etc…

    You’re right about people acquiring adaptive habits in one situation and finding that the habits are maladaptive in another. But – and I think this is the critical issues – these habits, although now counterproductive, are not illnesses, any more than painful memoires are illnesses.

    You’ve also hit another nail on the head. Painful memories from a traumatic incident are an essentially different problem from the habits-that-are-no-longer-useful problem. The only reason that they are bunched together in the “diagnosis” of PTSD is because the APA say so. From the point of view of common sense and from the aspect of remedial action, I would see them as different problems.

    With regards to help and therapy, again, you’re right. Sometimes pervasive natural support systems aren’t enough, for whatever reason, and the person may need something more structured or formal. From a practical point of view, however, it’s very difficult to get this without also getting strong encouragement to take the pills. A great many counselors (though not all), are closely aligned with pharma-psychiatry, and the pressure to take pills can be persistent.

    Personally, I’ve seen more success come from peer support groups than from mental health centers, though of course each individual is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

    Again, thanks for coming in. Best wishes.

  • ReaverKing

    Nice Post-facto analysis there Phil.

    I agree that PTSD is one of the most mishandled conditions in psychiatry. I recently became friends with a Canadian soldier who saw (and alludes to doing) some pretty horrible stuff during the Kosovo crisis in the 1990’s.

    Ben (I’ll call him) is a pretty broken individual. He drinks and he lives alone and mostly relives his worst memories. He even spent a few winters living on the streets of Toronto because he was completely unable to function in regular society.

    Ben was completely failed by our medical system. (That said he actively avoided seeking or receiving any kind of help or treatment until very recently).

    PTSD research (as far as I know) is pretty much the aggregate data of trial-and-error clinical work. It took two decades to learn a basic fact modern psychiatry has been doing everything it can to walk away from:

    People need to TALK about shit.

    “Cognitive Therapy” or “Talk therapy” is probably one of the cheapest, most effective, and easy to implement “treatments” available. All it is is talking with a trained listener and working out your problems. The brain can’t function correctly when its simultaneously trying to remember and forget terrifying memories and horrible images all the time. And that shit builds up and ossifies over time into something truly terrifying.

    So, when I can, and when he needs me to, I listen. I DO see a need for drugs in treating PTSD from time to time, but not in Ben’s case.

    We can’t walk away from PTSD like it never happened. That’s the most fucking stupid thing we in North America could POSSIBLY do to those who have been debilitated by traumatic events. What we need to do is build support structures that work. Ben is not some factory worker in Malaysia, but he also doesn’t have family, and he doesn’t have many friends. He’s starting over from scratch.

    Your prejudice against the “medical establishment” is a little broad and misguided for my taste.

    Heartburn and obesity and tooth decay are medical conditions. So are heart attacks and seizures and dandruff. Hell Listerine made the term “halitosis” into a medical condition to sell an antiseptic to “treat” bad breath. That’s not the point. The point is, not all medically identifiable conditions need pills to make them “go away” and even fewer need actual medicine to make recovery possible. But some require major surgery followed by a lifetime of taking medicine to simply stay alive.

    I agree that in general psychiatric medications are over-prescribed and the current policy of “throw pills at it” does more harm than good. However, if you’re laying a case that mental illness doesn’t exist rather than calling for non-pharmaceutical treatments to be covered by health insurance, you’re sort of worse than useless and I wish you’d stop misinforming people.

  • all too easy

    Check out the results of the research conducted on the brains of deceased, shell shocked veterans.

  • Saul Youssef

    Hi Phil & everyone. Here is an interesting PTSD story on CNN doubting that medications are an effective treatment for PTSD

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for the link. Interesting indeed!

  • all too easy

    “January 14, 2015Source:Johns Hopkins MedicineSummary:The brains of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who survived blasts from improvised explosive devices and died later of other causes show a honeycomb of broken and swollen nerve fibers in critical brain regions, including those that control executive function. The pattern is different from brain damage caused by car crashes, drug overdoses or collision sports, and may be the never-before-reported signature of ‘shell shock’ suffered by World War I soldiers.”

  • Rob Bishop

    “There’s no need to medicate someone traumatized by their experiences”… that says it all. Of the thousands of thoughts humans have each day, most are negative, and most are rehashing and ruminating about the past, and worrying and fretting about the future. This default mode of the mind isn’t an illness. People plagued by their memories are not ill. To say they must be drugged to reduce their suffering is outrageous and ignorant.

  • all too easy

    “Benzos “work” on these anxieties essentially by switching off neuronal activity. Benzo users don’t feel anxiety, because the pills have impaired their ability to feel anxious. ” Big Phil

    Please. Just do what you ask others to do when they make spurious, fraudulent, unproven, selfish, ridiculous, biased, unsupported, preposterous, outlandish claims. Display the evidence.

  • all too easy

    “They create the fiction that distress of any kind is an illness and has to be treated by psychiatrists.” PH

    While you’re at it, don’t respond to my previous requests to prove your statement quoted above. Thanks for not doing so.

    “I advocate for the legalization of all drugs…” PH

    Do you have any idea how bad smoking marijuana is for one’s health? If the government doesn’t ban certain drugs, it is granting tacit approval.

  • Logicalle

    Dear Phil,
    You blog has been a great source of information and inspiration to me. I would like to add my own observations about PTSD. Besides undermining people’s belief in their own resources and resilience I think it gives people more to stress about and provides people with a narrative which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    Because the Western world is now hyperaware of the PTSD diagnosis, and knows at least superficially what it entails, I believe it affects the way people think about and experience their distressing experiences and episodes. Before when someone was going through a very difficult experience they may have worried about the resolution of the difficulty in question or looked forward to when the experience would be over and they could be at peace again and may have remained at least partly optimistic.
    Now, the worry about being afflicted with PTSD as a result of the experience is added to the distress of the experience itself. Now, instead of “I cant wait until this is over” it’s “Will I be traumatised?” And the answer they give themselves is usually yes, because this is what psychiatry has been teaching: that it happens all the time and it is chronic and unusable. The worry about your life crumbling obviously produces enormous stress on top of an already stressful situation which causes people to worry and feel even more hopeless about the original problem which leads to high levels of anxiety and depression and rumination which is then interpreted a PTSD.
    This widespread knowledge of PTSD also now informs people how distressing experiences are (supposedly) experienced so people now know that PTSD comes more or less as part and parcel of any difficult experience and expect to have symptoms with and after the experience and so end up having them. There seems no other way to conceptualise a difficult experience these days and that’s where that quote about resilience being looked at suspiciously comes in. I am not saying that people choose to do this to themselves, not at all, but how we react to things is informed by our knowledge of the situation or experience and psychiatry is controlling a lot of the knowledge coming out into the mainstream.

  • Rob Bishop

    Great points! Instead of teaching people the power of resilience and emotional intelligence, biopsychiatry has medicalized our cognitive struggles and has normalized chronic anxiety and depression as part of the human condition. Since we’re naturally prone to rumination and negative thinking, to be told by “experts” our traumas will likely become a long term “problem” requiring medication creates additional anxiety. When we resist our anxiety, our depression, and our traumas, and run from them, wishing they would go away, they grow larger, thereby causing ourselves additional suffering.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for writing and for your encouraging words.

    You are absolutely correct. Psychiatry is systematically and self-servingly undermining our cultural resilience with all their diagnoses. The tragedy with “PTSD” is that it has really taken off. This is largely because pharma-psychiatry managed to get the military organizations on board, and of course the mental health centers followed right along.

    And it’s not just the Western world. Take a look at Crazy Like Us (The globalization of the American Psyche) (2010) by Ethan Watters. It’s quite an eye-opener.

    Best wishes.

  • Logicalle

    Thanks Phil, I actually just finished reading this book which I found through your blog! I have also just read ‘A Harmony of Illusions’ by Allan Young. It is a fascinating history of the PTSD diagnosis which is traced back to the spurious ideas of 19th century psychiatry. The writer is a medical anthropologist I believe and presents the account of PTSD in great detail and shows that it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny as a diagnosis or as a disorder. Part of his book is a record of his time in a VA facility which specialised in treating PTSD and it is especially tragic reading. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested how we have ended up with this diagnosis.