'Crazy vet' assumptions after shootings more stereotype than reality
By LEO SHANE III
Stars and Stripes
Published: February 7, 2013
WASHINGTON -- When renowned sniper Chris Kyle was killed by a fellow veteran on Saturday, the news brought familiar headlines of the instability of returning warfighters and the dangers of post-traumatic stress disorder.
But health experts say that’s more Hollywood stereotype than reality, and that blaming veterans’ violence on their PTSD makes as much sense as blaming it on their broken leg.
“There is zero linkage between PTSD and criminal behavior,” said Barbara Van Dahlen, a clinical psychologist and founder of the veterans charity Give an Hour.
“We see veterans with PTSD who can become overwhelmed by a situation and may look to push back or push away. But that’s not the same thing as violent and aggressive behavior towards others.”
Researchers have established a link between traumatic stress disorders and a series of destructive behaviors: drug and alcohol abuse, self-cutting, suicide.
But the link between the disorder and violence toward others is much murkier, often connected only through secondary effects or compounding illnesses.
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