The New War on Terror

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The New War on Terror

Some war vets are seeking solace from their emotional trauma - and finding it - in videogames.

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Queue laundry list of people saying this is why videogames are the best thing ever!

OT: For real though, this makes perfect sense. I'm not surprised the tailored ultra realistic military simulations these days would be helpful. If it was the 1990's, they would be proper fucked and forced to live with it. Good for them. Anything that helps them move on is better for everyone, especially them and their families.

"for those that complete the program, Virtual Iraq has around an 80% success rate for eliminating all symptoms of PTSD within six weeks"

I have a hard time believing that. That's a massive success rate and a tiny amount of time for repeatedly triggering people to cure PTSD.

thaluikhain:
"for those that complete the program, Virtual Iraq has around an 80% success rate for eliminating all symptoms of PTSD within six weeks"

I have a hard time believing that. That's a massive success rate and a tiny amount of time for repeatedly triggering people to cure PTSD.

Yeah, that jumped out at me too. As someone whose suffered from PTSD for almost 11 years, I find it hard to believe that 6 weeks of forcibly reliving what happened over and over could entirely remove that.

As with most things military, these numbers and rates are very, very fishy. War vets are notoriously difficult to treat, and governments usually do a very poor job doing so.

Color me a skeptic.

Does anyone remember that thread a while ago when the latest Medal of Honour game was banned from sale on military bases and people said it was stupid and that people knew the difference between fantasy and reality yada yada yada?

Yeah.

oh are you kidding. video games are one HELL of a stress-relief! makes sense to me.

As a vet who brought back his own issues from The Big Sandy BOHICA, I think this article is false and misleading. You can't cure PTSD in six weeks. Playing FPSs sounds like a sure fire way to REIGNITE my inner demons, not cure them. I had to literally turn off my PS3 in the Vietnam portion of BlOps, because it disturbed me too much.

In other words, this type of mental state cannot be cured by witnessing more violence. Also, it takes YEARS to get "around" it. You never "get over" what you bring back, you never forget. You're only able to better cope with it, to better control the anger or sadness.

This article actually makes me kinda upset, because it references NOTHING that can be disproved. Pvt. Hawker sounds like a name randomly picked from any recent space marine video game, and they use generalizations, "a number of veterans", or "to a certain degree, it's working".

Believe 50% of what you see, and none of what you read.

Bradeck:
Pvt. Hawker sounds like a name randomly picked from any recent space marine video game,

The names of those involved were changed to protect their identities. Neither they nor their families need any undue attention. The original draft of the article had the original info, including locations and dates, which were removed during the editing process.

Six weeks?
PTSD doesn't go in six weeks, man.
It maybe calms down, but I'm pretty sure that it stays for much longer than that, maybe even forever.
I needed 6 months to help mine, but it's far from cured. It's everyday tasks that help overcome it.
But Then again, I am no war veteran.

Susan Arendt:

Bradeck:
Pvt. Hawker sounds like a name randomly picked from any recent space marine video game,

The names of those involved were changed to protect their identities. Neither they nor their families need any undue attention. The original draft of the article had the original info, including locations and dates, which were removed during the editing process.

Thank you for clarifying that, I apologize for the mistake.

Bradeck:

Susan Arendt:

Bradeck:
Pvt. Hawker sounds like a name randomly picked from any recent space marine video game,

The names of those involved were changed to protect their identities. Neither they nor their families need any undue attention. The original draft of the article had the original info, including locations and dates, which were removed during the editing process.

Thank you for clarifying that, I apologize for the mistake.

No worries. "Pvt. Hawker" does sound like something out of Call of Duty. :)

Soon as I saw this I was like "What are those cheeky Americans up to now". Than I read it. It may help some, but it's not a cure all.

Now if only they'd look into RTS games to get senility to piss off...

Look at all these mental health experts chiming in with their opinions on the effectiveness of PTSD treatment...

Im sure a certain biased news service would state "veterans receive treatment by desensitizing them through video games." However, it is good to read about people being able to get over their issues. It might not work for the skeptics in this thread, but it worked for "Pvt. Hawker."

One issue I see is the allocation of resources. For example, my unit experienced over a hundred mortar or IED attacks. We had a number of fatalities and I know a few of the guys were rather bothered by this. Not one of my unit sought treatment for PTSD.

Our Brigade Headquarters, on the other hand, spent the entire year in the Green Zone. Not one of them went outside, the wire. Their most difficult day was when the air conditioning broke for a few hours. Otherwise, it was movie theaters and Burger King every day. One year after deployment, 50% of the unit (they were Reserve) was in counseling for PTSD. The main reason being they still received an Army paycheck as long as they were 'suffering.'

Who knows how many of the "80% success rate" in the article come from the latter group.

illmuri:
Look at all these mental health experts chiming in with their opinions on the effectiveness of PTSD treatment...

Im sure a certain biased news service would state "veterans receive treatment by desensitizing them through video games." However, it is good to read about people being able to get over their issues. It might not work for the skeptics in this thread, but it worked for "Pvt. Hawker."

One issue I see is the allocation of resources. For example, my unit experienced over a hundred mortar or IED attacks. We had a number of fatalities and I know a few of the guys were rather bothered by this. Not one of my unit sought treatment for PTSD.

Our Brigade Headquarters, on the other hand, spent the entire year in the Green Zone. Not one of them went outside, the wire. Their most difficult day was when the air conditioning broke for a few hours. Otherwise, it was movie theaters and Burger King every day. One year after deployment, 50% of the unit (they were Reserve) was in counseling for PTSD. The main reason being they still received an Army paycheck as long as they were 'suffering.'

Who knows how many of the "80% success rate" in the article come from the latter group.

That's a very interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing that.

So,

illmuri:
Look at all these mental health experts chiming in with their opinions on the effectiveness of PTSD treatment...

Im sure a certain biased news service would state "veterans receive treatment by desensitizing them through video games." However, it is good to read about people being able to get over their issues. It might not work for the skeptics in this thread, but it worked for "Pvt. Hawker."

One issue I see is the allocation of resources. For example, my unit experienced over a hundred mortar or IED attacks. We had a number of fatalities and I know a few of the guys were rather bothered by this. Not one of my unit sought treatment for PTSD.

Our Brigade Headquarters, on the other hand, spent the entire year in the Green Zone. Not one of them went outside, the wire. Their most difficult day was when the air conditioning broke for a few hours. Otherwise, it was movie theaters and Burger King every day. One year after deployment, 50% of the unit (they were Reserve) was in counseling for PTSD. The main reason being they still received an Army paycheck as long as they were 'suffering.'

Who knows how many of the "80% success rate" in the article come from the latter group.

Look man,

All I'm saying is that the people who get it, can't be "cured" by seeing more of it. Whats next, fatties find solice in cheese burgers? PTSD isn't even 50% understood. People are claiming PTSD for rough childhoods and shit. Playing violent video games, to cure lack of sleep brought on by violent imagery sounds back asswards.

I wonder if it's more his will, than the video game itself.

Susan Arendt:

Bradeck:

Susan Arendt:

The names of those involved were changed to protect their identities. Neither they nor their families need any undue attention. The original draft of the article had the original info, including locations and dates, which were removed during the editing process.

Thank you for clarifying that, I apologize for the mistake.

No worries. "Pvt. Hawker" does sound like something out of Call of Duty. :)

I remember once I saw Sgt. Pepper, it made me laugh because he had a Beatles mophead and rose tinted glasses.

But though video games helped him, I feel it was more his ability to face the event in a controlled simulation. But still, we always knew video games are good! But Fox News will find a way to bring us down.. :-(

TerribleAssassin:

Susan Arendt:

Bradeck:

Thank you for clarifying that, I apologize for the mistake.

No worries. "Pvt. Hawker" does sound like something out of Call of Duty. :)

I remember once I saw Sgt. Pepper, it made me laugh because he had a Beatles mophead and rose tinted glasses.

But though video games helped him, I feel it was more his ability to face the event in a controlled simulation. But still, we always knew video games are good! But Fox News will find a way to bring us down.. :-(

I agree. The willingness to admit that something is wrong is key to treatment, and it's not a step that comes easily for everyone. Hopefully, if more stories like this get out, others will find it easier to step up and say they need help.

Hi Bradeck, I don't usually comment on my own articles, but I wanted to address your concerns about Virtual Iraq and the article as a whole.

As I quoted Dr. Rizzo in the article, there are disadvantages and dangers to using video games to "self treat" PTSD. What this article is about is how some people, both officially and unofficially, are getting (or feel they're getting) a benefit from using experience simulation as a way to help confront personal trauma and be able to talk about it with a psychological professional. That's not to say the approach will work for everyone- no treatment does- and I'm certainly not suggesting that someone can heal PTSD just by playing games.

I also wanted to talk about the "80% success rate" statistic. If you want to know how the Virtual Iraq team arrived at these numbers, you can read the published papers under the "Publications" tab here: http://ict.usc.edu/people/400

There are a few things to remember when talking about the 80% statistic. First, the statistic only includes those who complete the program, and does not count dropouts or no-shows, which are very prevalent- as you yourself know, it's not easy facing these things. It could be that the high attrition rate weeds out participants who aren't getting any benefit from the program, or it could be that those participants would have gained a remission of their symptoms had they finished, we don't know, all we know is that 80% of the people that finish the program no longer present symptoms. They are not necessarily "cured," and will never have problems again, but as of the time of assessment, they don't present symptoms and therefore no longer meet the medical definition of suffering from PTSD. Those six weeks are also extremely intense, involving three multi-hour appointments a week, so it's not a casual endeavor and involves a lot of talk therapy, which is where the majority of the benefit comes from- Virtual Iraq is a tool that assists vets in confronting and discussing their experiences, not a cure-all magic bullet.

I know it seems backward that exposure to reminders of trauma can actually be beneficial if done in the correct environment, but unfortunately in order to process negative feelings, one actually has to confront and feel them. This may mean that some patients undergoing treatment will see their symptoms get worse for a short period before getting better, as they deal with the unresolved emotions that have been buried beneath the surface. While looking for veterans to interview for this article, I met a lot of them who aren't able to play military shooters anymore because of PTSD symptoms and told me stories similar to yours. Unfortunately, they all declined to be interviewed. For what it's worth though, the 20% of participants in Virtual Iraq whose symptoms weren't eliminated reported neither a positive nor negative change in their symptoms.

Thanks for being open and joining the discussion. As far as I'm concerned, there needs to be a national discussion about how best we can help our veterans confront the many issues they face returning from war- from PTSD to veteran unemployment- and I hope this can be a small part of that conversation.

Thank you for your service.

Bradeck:
So,

illmuri:
Look at all these mental health experts chiming in with their opinions on the effectiveness of PTSD treatment...

Im sure a certain biased news service would state "veterans receive treatment by desensitizing them through video games." However, it is good to read about people being able to get over their issues. It might not work for the skeptics in this thread, but it worked for "Pvt. Hawker."

One issue I see is the allocation of resources. For example, my unit experienced over a hundred mortar or IED attacks. We had a number of fatalities and I know a few of the guys were rather bothered by this. Not one of my unit sought treatment for PTSD.

Our Brigade Headquarters, on the other hand, spent the entire year in the Green Zone. Not one of them went outside, the wire. Their most difficult day was when the air conditioning broke for a few hours. Otherwise, it was movie theaters and Burger King every day. One year after deployment, 50% of the unit (they were Reserve) was in counseling for PTSD. The main reason being they still received an Army paycheck as long as they were 'suffering.'

Who knows how many of the "80% success rate" in the article come from the latter group.

Look man,

All I'm saying is that the people who get it, can't be "cured" by seeing more of it. Whats next, fatties find solice in cheese burgers? PTSD isn't even 50% understood. People are claiming PTSD for rough childhoods and shit. Playing violent video games, to cure lack of sleep brought on by violent imagery sounds back asswards.

According to everything in the article, that's not what's happening. I think you may have grabbed the wrong end of the stick. As for abusive childhoods, the sheer mental trauma caused by somethng like that happening to a person makes it entirely possible that PTSD can be found in former victims. I know people that still freak out when touched.

Alon Shechter:
Six weeks?
PTSD doesn't go in six weeks, man.
It maybe calms down, but I'm pretty sure that it stays for much longer than that, maybe even forever.
I needed 6 months to help mine, but it's far from cured. It's everyday tasks that help overcome it.
But Then again, I am no war veteran.

What I am guessing is Six weeks spread out over a certain amount of time.

I find it hard that anyone would want to go through something so traumatic for that long of a time.

But I do agree, six weeks regardless of treatment sounds a bit off, certainly it would be enough to lessen the impact of triggers and help the patient to cope with the trauma, but completely cured? Not very likely.

However, anything that can help people that need it is always welcomed.

Robert Rath:
snip

Thank you for your well thought out response, you raise some very valid points. I can only state that I am a little past jaded with all the "cures" that people have been creating to deal with this issue. Call me a pessimist, however whenever I see groups like this, I see someone trying to make a buck off us. Granted, from your story, that doesn't seem the case here.

In response to others;

I don't know how to explain this accurately or in fact intelligently, as a sufferer and not a researcher, that's not my role. I feel that PTSD is a buzz word created by a culture that was struggling to identify why young men and women were coming back as different people. Instead of learning about the causes, they put the cart before the horse and decided it's better to just call it a mental disorder, and begin medication. Call it the over medication of our society, but the shit they made me go through upon return was real dumb.

How can doctors or researchers prescribe medication or treatment for a disorder that was just created, and by their own admission, very little of which is understood.

Stress is stress. War is war. Child abuse is child abuse. Can we stop lumping them all together? A person who was beaten or raped by a parent has mental scars, possibly greater then a vet's scars, but they are not the same scars. Lumping us all into under a buzzword doesn't make anyone better. It just increases the risk of misdiagnosis and maltreatment.

Less then 1% of this country is taking 100% of the bullets in these two wars. How can the other 99% expect to understand what we're going through? Which brings me back to my main point. Where is the years of research that discovered that this works? Because they start testing and several vets get better it's granted as plausible?

Here is why I think the OP's research is showing positive results. Video games and interactive media, like other activities which stimulate mental response, (Movies, painting, TV, reading) require us to focus our brain on one thing, to the exclusion of other influences. Thus, the constant stream of negative imagery running through a PTSD suffer's mind may be pushed aside for focus on a new directive, i.e. solve this puzzle.

I would have liked to see more of a test of other genres of video games, say puzzles, adventure games, or constant repetition media (learning to play a guitar worked wonders for my battle buddy).

This is War on Terror I can actually believe in.

Bradeck:

Robert Rath:
snip

I would have liked to see more of a test of other genres of video games, say puzzles,

There actually has been some research into that. I can't say I'm an expert about it, but I remember there was research done into how games like Tetris can reduce the build up of flashbacks related to PTSD. Admittedly it's not a treatment per se, but it is helping at leastt a little.

This is great news!

To bad fox will never cover it though...wait why do i give a shit about what fox does anyway?

I have a brother who's been through two tours and lost a few good friends of his. He was different when he came back, still had the same humor but was much different, barely smiled, and was very distant.

He was never as big a gamer like me, but it was the small distractions like gaming and doing chores.

thaluikhain:
"for those that complete the program, Virtual Iraq has around an 80% success rate for eliminating all symptoms of PTSD within six weeks"

I have a hard time believing that. That's a massive success rate and a tiny amount of time for repeatedly triggering people to cure PTSD.

I don't know. I'm not an expert by any means, but it does kinda seem to make sense from strange point of view.

You're making the person practically relive what's happening and what's ruining their life, but in an extremely safe environment with no chance of getting hurt. I'd think that it's fairly regularly too, so it's not that unheard of.

I'd make comparisons to depression, but I'm gonna stop myself right there, as I have no idea how much more severe PTSD is to depression.

Susan Arendt:

Bradeck:
Pvt. Hawker sounds like a name randomly picked from any recent space marine video game,

The names of those involved were changed to protect their identities. Neither they nor their families need any undue attention. The original draft of the article had the original info, including locations and dates, which were removed during the editing process.

Seems fair to me. Maybe not super violent shooters, maybe RPGs like Skyrim or something, more outworldy like games.

JoesshittyOs:

thaluikhain:
"for those that complete the program, Virtual Iraq has around an 80% success rate for eliminating all symptoms of PTSD within six weeks"

I have a hard time believing that. That's a massive success rate and a tiny amount of time for repeatedly triggering people to cure PTSD.

I don't know. I'm not an expert by any means, but it does kinda seem to make sense from strange point of view.

You're making the person practically relive what's happening and what's ruining their life, but in an extremely safe environment with no chance of getting hurt. I'd think that it's fairly regularly too, so it's not that unheard of.

I'd make comparisons to depression, but I'm gonna stop myself right there, as I have no idea how much more severe PTSD is to depression.

Exactly, from a sense, your having the person go BACK to deal with the issue, killing the guy that killed his friend or whatever, does that make sense. Again, only once its calmed down should they be reliving their war through a game, I'm still thinking having them playing Saints Row or RPGs would help.

I think that is why my father plays a lot of Battlefield 2 and ARMA 2, I guess I never thought of it that way, he told me a lot of what happened to him in Bosnia and Afghanistan and I hear him wake up at night screaming.

I just thought that he played lots of games because I did it, and he wanted to have something in common - because he is very bad in social situations - but this makes much more sense. He is always muttering to himself while he plays, maybe he is trying to relieve his experiences where his buddies don't die or something.

i think youd what you can, to mske your life liveable, and make it through the next day. if thats the thing that lets these vets deal with the things thevye seen, than they should do it.

Copied straight from MSN as i was discussing this with some friends:

*Sigh*
I was just reading an article on the Escapist about people with PTSD from war treated their illness in a simulated enviroment, namely, videogames.
While i don't think its possible to cure PTSD in 6 weeks like the article claims
i think that reliving the traumatic experience might not be good.
although it all depends on the person...
still
i read this and look at more stuff about war and stuff
and i feel like they are missing the root of the problem
war is wrong.
It shouldn't happen, in the state that usa is making it happen
if a country tries to invade you, its in all your right
but just invading another country is what shouldn't happen
and i know i dont know much about it
but all i see is that USA's stupidity is costing lots of peoples sanity
problems should be solved diplomatically
i tought we had learned this with World War 2 and 1 for god sakes
although nevermind, Usa wasn't directly affected by any of them
so i guess he just doesnt fucking care.

But it's not about war is it? it's about how videogames can help, right? and yes, i believe videogames can be a stress reliever, but reliving a traumatic experience might not be good for SOME people.
I just don't know.

Aprilgold:

Susan Arendt:

Bradeck:
Pvt. Hawker sounds like a name randomly picked from any recent space marine video game,

The names of those involved were changed to protect their identities. Neither they nor their families need any undue attention. The original draft of the article had the original info, including locations and dates, which were removed during the editing process.

Seems fair to me. Maybe not super violent shooters, maybe RPGs like Skyrim or something, more outworldy like games.

JoesshittyOs:

thaluikhain:
"for those that complete the program, Virtual Iraq has around an 80% success rate for eliminating all symptoms of PTSD within six weeks"

I have a hard time believing that. That's a massive success rate and a tiny amount of time for repeatedly triggering people to cure PTSD.

I don't know. I'm not an expert by any means, but it does kinda seem to make sense from strange point of view.

You're making the person practically relive what's happening and what's ruining their life, but in an extremely safe environment with no chance of getting hurt. I'd think that it's fairly regularly too, so it's not that unheard of.

I'd make comparisons to depression, but I'm gonna stop myself right there, as I have no idea how much more severe PTSD is to depression.

Exactly, from a sense, your having the person go BACK to deal with the issue, killing the guy that killed his friend or whatever, does that make sense. Again, only once its calmed down should they be reliving their war through a game, I'm still thinking having them playing Saints Row or RPGs would help.

Not to sound dickish, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you've never seen the shit in the real world. It's all well and good to tear people apart with .50cals and hear the screams, and toss 'nades around a corner to take out the baddies, as long as you're viewing it in a safe area right? Because you, being a human, can differentiate between the real world and the imaginary.

However, imagine for a second you ACTUALLY HAD witnessed those types of things in the real world. The imagery before you, no matter how fake, would still possess a strong link to the things you had previously experienced. Imagine you had to take all the pieces of your best buddy, the most recent victim of an IED, and collect them in baggies to ship back to his wife. Would you want to play video games about that shit?

You can't imagine what it's like to take another life. Or five, or ten. So you can't imagine what it's like to hear someone say re-living it would be helpful.

Draconalis:
I wonder if it's more his will, than the video game itself.

yeah i think its more himself than the game and game is only a means for him to beat it. the guy has to want to beat it himself for it to work.

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