James W.D. Stewart

James W.D. Stewart

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Firstly, let's get the definition out of the way…  Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity, accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviours, whose purpose is to detect threats.  Although it may feel like paranoia, they're not the same thing.

Discarding the military for a moment, and thinking of PTSD in general, a symptom of PTSD is hypervigilance.  This means, what society classifies as normal — being a person who lacks significant deviation from society and/or conforms to the ideals of society — typically, has little to no requirement for being hypervigilant.  Without fear, there's no requirement to be looking for something.  The most a civilian's, partially hypervigilant, is within daily acts of driving a motor vehicle and crossing the road.  That's the, typical, extent of a civilian's hypervigilance.

/blog/2017/05/08/combat-ptsd-and-the-relevance-of-hypervigilance/

https://forces.army/blog/2017/05/08/combat-ptsd-and-the-relevance-of-hypervigilance/

Combat PTSD and the Relevance of Hypervigilance

Count Words — Reading Time
by James Stewart
Published: 
Updated:    Grammar and Spelling
Location:  Greater Sudbury Public Library, 74 Mackenzie St., Sudbury, Ontario, P3C 4X8, Canada
 

 

Firstly, let's get the definition out of the way…  Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity, accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviours, whose purpose is to detect threats.  Although it may feel like paranoia, they're not the same thing.

Discarding the military for a moment, and thinking of PTSD in general, a symptom of PTSD is hypervigilance.  This means, what society classifies as normal — being a person who lacks significant deviation from society and/or conforms to the ideals of society — typically, has little to no requirement for being hypervigilant.  Without fear, there's no requirement to be looking for something.  The most a civilian's, partially hypervigilant, is within daily acts of driving a motor vehicle and crossing the road.  That's the, typical, extent of a civilian's hypervigilance.

A rape victim — a female raped by a male — due to the fear endured, from being rendered powerless during the rape, the victim now creates a state of hypervigilance and/or awareness for any male who looks remotely threatening to them.  They fear being raped again — the brain has created an awareness and/or heightened state of alertness toward males.

What have we learnt thus far?  We've learnt that, without any military training whatsoever, the brain can create a hypervigilant state in order to identify specific fears.

The military trains every recruit to a heightened level of hypervigilant status.  This occurs from learning drill, to patrolling and tactics, to weapons, and so forth.  You're trained to identify threats, before the threats identify you.  What's a threat?  Something which your brain distinguishes as a fear.  Without any exposure to an actual real-life trauma, every soldier's now been trained to a heightened symptom of PTSD, through behavioural modification.  The fear that's used for behavioural modification's imposed by a reward and punishment type of system.  If you do good, you don't get punished.  If you do bad, you get punished.  Hell, even if you do good, you may still get punished at times.  This mentally challenges you to strive for perfection — not just meeting a standard, but to perform to a high-level and work as a team.  Creating a team environment aids in the process — if you fail, you're punished by your peers.  Fear, in all of its forms, is an exceptional motivator.

Depending upon your role within any force, depends upon how far your hypervigilant state will be trained.  Infantry, for example, are trained to be extremely aware of absoutely everything around them.  Within a crowd, the slightest movement's detected — eyes scanning for threats.  Patrolling, down a city street — eyes constantly scanning cars, doors, windows, etc. for any movement and/or identification of an object that doesn't look quite right.  IEDs, often, fit right-in with their surroundings.  So, even looking right's a threat.

Now, the simplest of all issues combined…  A person who's been trained to be hypervigilant prior to their developing PTSD.  What have we learnt thus far?  The military trained you to be hypervigilant, yet when PTSD develops, the brain also (by itself) creates a hypervigilant state — 1 + 1 = 2.

Why do military, with PTSD, have a much worse state of hypervigilance and/or alertness?  Simply put, not only have you been trained with a symptom of PTSD, but upon developing PTSD, the symptom's now exacerbated in severity due to its pre-existence.  One doesn't cancel the other out.  Rather, 1 + 1 = 2 — PTSD Hypervigilance + Military Training Hypervigilance = Double the Symptom Severity.

 
Categories:  Health, Lifestyle, Medical, Science  
Tags:  MyCAF, Opinionated, Self, The Suck

 
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Creative Commons Licence :: BY-NC-SA James W.D. Stewart by James Stewart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  Based on a work at https://github.com/jwds1978/jwds1978.github.io.