MISSION COMPLETION, TROOP WELFARE AND DESTRUCTIVE IDEALISM: A case study on the phenomenology of a combat veteran's social reintegration

Gary Senecal (gsenecal@holycross.edu)
MaryCatherine McDonald (mymcdona@odu.edu)


Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among combat veterans remains an urgent and intractable problem for those who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this paper, we argue that one of the reasons that combat related PTSD remains so difficult to treat is because psychologists - and American culture at large - do not fully understand it yet. It is our contention that there are two contributing factors that currently hinder our ability to successfully treat combat related PTSD. The first is a failure to look critically at the theoretical underpinnings that ground our current understanding of the disorder. The second related issue is our tendency to look to reductionist explanations and treatments. We use the theoretical framework of phenomenology alongside a case study of a man we call James in order to present this argument.

Keywords: Trauma, PTSD, Combat Trauma, Phenomenology, Social Reintegration, Idealism, Goal Orientation

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