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The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Pictured is the cover of the book "The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" by David Morris.
Pictured is the cover of the book "The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" by David Morris.
The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder GUEST:David Morris, author, "The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder"

Just as dramatic brain injury has been -- America's wars in Iraq and FX -- Afghanistan PTSD or posttraumatic stress disorder has emerged as the biggest mental injury of those wars. Midday edition has done many reports on the treatments and resources available for San Diego veterans suffering from PTSD but traumatic memory disorders do not just occur in combat. Rape survivors and others have been to life-threatening ordeals often report the same kinds of symptoms. David Morris is a Marine veteran and he worked as a war correspondent in Iraq. Has written a comprehensive study of the phenomenon we now call PTSD. The San Diego author has some special qualifications for the job. He has had his own battles with post traumatic stress. David Morse's book is called the comic the evil hours, a biography of post dramatic stress disorder. Welcome to the program David. Thank you. Our listeners have heard a lot about post dramatic stress disorder and how it affects many veterans who live in San Diego but I wonder if you could describe how PTSD is different from just having bad memories? PTSD you think is important to recognize it impacts every aspect of a persons life and some of the worst cases it impacts someone's sleep. They're going to be in the bucket just describe PTSD is a disease of time and in a very fundamental level some combat veteran has been to a number of IED ambushes in Afghanistan or Iraq or a writ victim can often times have a difficult time living in full in the present because they are haunted by the pastor haunted by memories that intrude into their daily lives in the form of hallucinations and voices and nightmares. Additionally a lot of, I spent some time and was recently in Seattle with a green beret veteran who had a cup of coffee and he asked if we could switch places because he did not want his back to the front door and he was very -- every letters in the coffee shop startled him and I felt really badly. It can impact, you can see it in the worst case you can actually see than the person in their behavior, their posture and the way they carry themselves. It does, it impacts both the person psychologically and their sleep and the inner life but also their family, their loved ones. There isn't even an idea of secondary PTSD that a combat veteran in some cases can inadvertently and it is really sad, can pass on to their children in the sense that some of the same behaviors are modeled in the parent and the child sometimes will exhibit similar behaviors as a result of being in the household. Like hypervigilant something like that Thomas the whole family gets to be the same way? Right and just through modeling and being around in the worst cases, we're talking about the extreme of the phenomenon in some cases you can see the children exhibiting, having nightmares because if they are round and they are hearing the stories that their mother or father had seen, have expressed in Iraq or Afghanistan it is part of their social ecosystem. That can be, that is something to consider and that is one reasons why PTSD is such a serious, can be such a serious condition is that it never come only one percent of a servant the military in the US so it is tempting to think of to test the is a specialized thing. In fact it impacts the entire country. The murder rate goes up during times of war, trinket down the murder rate went up 107%. Additionally all of the entire community deals with PTSD, the family, communities and the way that is brought into schools and to think, a think it is important as well with PTSD we usually talk about it in a military context and I'm a Marine veteran and I got interested in this because of my experiences in Iraq. The TST is a diagnosis, the diagnostic concept emerged from the aftermath of the Vietnam War so it is appropriate that is associate with the military and a certain level but in writing this book I try to address it to people generally and to humanity and wanted I discovered is that it is far more, if you could buy magic what about the PTSD sufferers in the world to see that there are far more rape victims than there are military veterans who are in the group and about 12% to 15% of Iraq and Afghan -- condos PTS deep it did 2% of rape victims are going to suffer from PTSD. How back in the disorder get? Can it be possible for some to live a normal life? I interviewed for this book interviewed some people that were very haunted and one particular veteran in San Diego who was in the veterans Village which is this very famous and effective all-inclusive veterans treatment facility. Had become, he was in Falluja and lost seven of his buddies in one ambush. His old universe had basically been destroyed in Iraq. You lost seven of his best friends. Felt some guilt about this. He had an argument with them right before they were killed. This impacted him. The survivors guilt along with all live the paranoia and the fear that he had collected in the war zone all condensed like a white dwarf on his life. He became paranoid and when I met with him, he was very agitated. He saw me coming from outside the building and saw me coming inside the building and seemed to be tracking me the whole way. He was very hypervigilant. Prior to this he had been addicted to crystal meth. When I talked to him about it I was interested in the question but I was also interested in helping Kim. Is helping him. He had become very paranoid and prior to my meeting him, he told me that when he was on crystal meth that was the only escapee had from hymns as his symptoms. We worked, I worked with his sister who was a friend to get him into therapy and to get him into some cognitive therapy at the VA because he very clearly was struggling with the aftermath and the survivors guilt of having lost seven of his Marine buddies in Falluja. I am speak with David Morse is the author of, the evil hours, a biography of posttraumatic stress disorder. David, the incidents that seems to have started your battle with PTSD happened in Iraq. You were in a Humvee in Baghdad. It was blown up by an IED. There were no, the people in the Humvee were not hurt including yourself but that is the incident and you saw things there that have affected your life since. Did you have symptoms right away? Sort of. I remember it was very strange after I was blown up in Baghdad in 2007 which the book hinges around that event. I remember coming back and going back to the -- I was at impact that in talking to an Army major who had been setting up my interest in talking to him. We're talking about this other Russian journalist that he had embedded recently that have been killed by an IED. I remember the blood felt different in my veins and I remember I had this feeling like almost when you get off an airplane and you land in Sydney Australia or something and you feel like a Martian, deeply Stepped out of a Star Trek transporter. I felt somehow disconnected from my body in a weird way and I could tell that I was nervous for 24 hours after the IED strike and I had to go back to work. I had to get back in the zone that it was weird. I could tell that my fear, the fear of what had happened didn't really hit me immediately but it was beginning, there was something going on and I do not know quite what it was but I felt different in the immediate 24 hour aftermath of the ambush. To give something from us from the evil hours? You write about whether you regret going to Iraq. He read that passage for us? To me, asking to regret going to Iraq or do regret going into the Marine Corps is him is like asking do you believe in God? Is a really big question, a question that many people can answer with these but one that tells you a lot about that person. How they see the world, how they see the role that fate plays in human life. When I think about it, what I usually say is this, I believe in nature, I believe in brokenness, I believe in wholeness, I believe in whatever it is that connects the one to the other. I believe in it the way that a geologist believes in the readability of hills, waterfalls, beaches. It justice. I went in and I went over because the situation seem to demand it. It was a similar attitude that some labor rates in ancient Greece took. They tragic realism of staring into the abyss of terror and suffering as a way of affirming life. To fully appreciate the choice of this world, one must understand how temporary they are, how fragile human existence is. That is David Morse reading from his book, the evil hours. You mentioned ancient Greece and in this book, you to track the way that trauma has been looked at in various ways through the centuries. Hasn't always been recognized? I know you told us PTSD that terminology has only been recognized since after the Vietnam War but work trauma, life-threatening event trauma has that been understood or acknowledged through history? Not really in it is interesting. PTSD is important to recognize was first institutionalized and socially recognized in 1980s it is about as old as cable television. That is one of the reasons it is such a big question right now is there is not, if you compare PTSD to say depression, clinical depression, there is a clear lineage all the way back to Hippocrates to the dawn of Western medicine with depression. It has been observed forever. Whereas, PTSD, there were previews of what became the PTSD diagnosis in the American Civil War and the first world war and you can researchers that have gone back have found evidence in the Odyssey and in the Epoch of Gilgamesh were people after a great earthquake strikes this ancient city in Soumare, the residents of the city of your time sleeping. Furthermore Jared diamond was a very well written, very well published anthropologist who spends time in New Guinea has found that the tribal warriors in New Guinea which are thought to be some of the best preserved ancient human societies, the tribal warriors there to describe having post-battle that matters. There is an element of PTSD that appears to be a central part or immortal part of the human condition specifically the post traumatic nightmare has seemed to have always been with us that it wasn't recognized, it wasn't institutionalized formally. Physicians did not treated until formally until 1980. I wonder has neuroscience been able to shed any light on what is happening in the brain of someone suffering from PTSD? A little bit. I'm a bit of a narrow skeptic frankly with respect to this. There has been a lot of resources and interest paid to the brain science behind PTSD but there has also been, there has been some insights given recently but there has also been some blind alleys and some falls findings that were really later overturned by subsequent science. I look at, when I first started this book, one of the reasons I grew up in San Diego but also moved back here to write this book in part because we have a lot of neurosciences in the committee, a lot of military people in the community but I expected to find that we would be undergoing this golden age of into research in terms of neuroscience but I think we are just now getting started and neuroscientists are just getting the basics down of how the brain works. I didn't find that neuroscience has a ton to say about PTSD and for instance there is no, at the number one prescribed drug for PTSD is Zoloft and SSRI which is really drug that treats anxiety and depression. The mechanisms that underlie PTSD are so poorly understood in terms of the brain level that we don't have , there are no major pharmaceuticals that really address the major symptoms of PTSD. There is -- which will suppress neighbors and it is very effective with dealing with that particular aspects of PTSD but there is no Prozac or SSRI really defining drug that treats PTSD which is really interesting. We are in the infancy of the neuroscience behind PTSD How were you treated? I underwent treatment at the VA in San Diego the big hospital. The first treatment I underwent was prolonged exposure therapy which I have some problems with which I describe in the book. Prolonged exposure therapy is based on the idea of Ivan Pavlov and the ideas if you tell the story coming were asked to tell the story of your most dramatic experience repeatedly in the ID is eventually if you keep telling the story it will lose that memory, the memory will lose the traumatic charge and become like every other memory. This work 60% of the time. A very good friend of mine, battle of Falluja veteran it worked very well for him. It made my symptoms worse. It made me crazy, it made me unable to sleep, read or write or run. You explain in the book why because it opened up not only that experiences the Humvee but all the trauma that you sign underwent in Iraq. I think that is one of the fatal flaws up the long exposure from my perspective is that a military veteran from my rock is going to be, they have to do with i.e. these every day. There were about indirect fire being mortared every day. You live in the shadow of that fear and that death all four months. In some cases I met one veteran who had done 42 months in the country. That is a lot of trauma to process in the idea of selecting what they call an index, one major dramatic event in focusing on that and cleaning out that when to use a metaphor the idea that that is going to cure all of the other traumas or think is foolish. I need to be careful, prolonged exposure therapy does have positive results in most people that undergo it but it also has a significant side effect profile and the VA has not been, there is not enough conformed in sent, informed consent and I've never seen the VA address or even acknowledge that there are side effects very serious side effects connected with prolonged exposure therapy. How are you doing now? Good. A lot better. Reading the book was a great journey for me because I talked to the nations leading minds on PTSD and stepped far outside the the a circle and I try to really engage and criticize the conventional thinking on PTSD and talking to psychoanalyst and philosophers and writers. I talked to Alice Seybold the talented novelist and how she processed her trauma as a writer. I talked to another rape victim who found that Yoko was very helpful for her. The process of reading and writing was very helpful for me for this process. I want to let all of her listeners know that he will be speaking about his book, the evil hours, a biography of posts dramatic stress disorder at trent eight in dish at 7:00 p.m. tonight. Want to thank you for coming in speaking with us. Thank you for having me it was great.

About 11 percent of veterans from the war in Afganistan and 20 percent of veterans from the war in Iraq suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

But the disease does not just occur in combat. The National Institutes of Health estimates that PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults.

David Morris is a former Marine and war correspondent in Iraq who has written a comprehensive study of the disease.

The San Diego author has some special qualifications for the job — he's had his own battles with PTSD. Morris tells readers about his struggle in his recently released book, "The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder."

“PTSD is the disease of time,” Morris told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. “We usually talk about it in the military context, but in writing this book I try to address it to the people — to humanity.”

Morris spoke about a San Diego veteran who suffers from the disease. He said the veteran lost seven of his best friends in combat.

“This impacted him,” Morris said. “He was very agitated. He was very hyper vigilant. He had become paranoid, and he told me when he was on crystal meth that was the only escape he had from his symptoms.”

Morris will be appearing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Warwick's Books, 7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla.

The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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