The PA and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Sorry everyone. I thought I had posted this, but I guess I just saved it as a draft. I don’t usually go so long with publishing here. LOL.

All I’ve been thinking about since I ran into this article last weekend in the Sunday USA Today is “Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water…” I was reading an article about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or Syndrome). Like most people I thought it applied mostly to people in the military. Wrong. Come to find out, and I feel foolish as I say this out loud that I hadn’t thought of it sooner, it can happen to anyone who has been through any kind of traumatic experience. The only time I had been exposed to this diagnosis was when the father of my kids and I went to marriage counseling and he was diagnosed. I should have had a clue when he told me he had signed up and done 3 tours of active duty in Viet Nam that he was a little “off”, but for as intelligent as I may think I am, sometimes I can be a pretty slow study. LOL.

Outside of the military you would think of this as being associated with things like violent crimes, like rape, etc. What caught my attention was that almost any terrifying event can trigger it, including physical or sexual abuse, or a perceived serious threat to self or others. To be diagnosed according to the DSM (diagnosis guide book) 2 things have to be present.

DSM-IV-TR Criteria for PTSD


1. The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.

2. The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Now as we each learn as much as our passive aggressives will let us regarding their past, their growing up years, etc. , that many passive aggressive people have experienced these 2 things. In fact, supposedly in the United States, 60% of men and 50% of women experience a traumatic event during their lifetimes. I can’t believe it’s not more, but these numbers are from the people “in the know”. LOL.

So for instance, my passive aggressive boyfriend was physically abused as a kid, in which I’m sure at times he “feared for his life” and felt completely “helpless”. Then he went to Viet Nam. Feared for his life and the lives of his buddies, saw many of them die, felt “intense fear, helplessness and horror”.

The article goes on to say symptoms may include:

* Having flashbacks, nightmares, bad memories or hallucinations. (I think bad memories are a given. Don’t we all have some bad memories of something?)

* Trying not to think about the trauma or avoiding people who remind them of it. Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma; (Does your passive aggressive try to avoid their parent(s) or family functions?)

* Not being able to recall parts of the event

*Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities; Not interested in life events

* Feeling emotionally numb or detached from others. Feeling of estrangement.  Restricted range of affect (for example, unable to have loving feelings); (Sounds so much like the passive aggressive spouse/boyfriend/partner).

* Having trouble sleeping

* Being irritable, angry or overly jumpy (This one sound familiar? Sudden outbursts, or jumps to the ceiling every time there is an unusual noise?)

* Being hypervigilant

These symptoms will usually persist for more than a month, which some of them we’ve been living with for years! Once again I cannot believe how many disorders can be all wrapped into one passive aggressive personality.

I’m curious as to what you think? Are you dealing with a lot of this, or nothing other than parents neglect or abuse ever happened to your PA? I’ll tell ya, mine just keeps batting a thousand. LOL


2 Responses

  1. Good day to you ladybeams.
    Nice post. I think that you are a sensative individual that sees what others experience and takes it to heart. We see our PA’s having a problem and we have the sympathy for them, however can we really say that we can help with something that is far beyond our reach of ability? If your PA is experiencing the PTSD or appears to be, why is he not getting help for it? The PA wants to stay in the victim and oh poor me role so that he can be taken care of. Is this what you want for your life? To take care of someone who doesn’t take care of himself. Not me.

    I am NOT putting anyone down for experiencing such a traumatic event or suffering from PTSD as those wonderful men and women who serve our country…Not in the least!!! I am so proud and grateful for what they do for us… but don’t we need to be able to accept that if the PTSD is bad enough to change someone and others recognize it and mention it to them, isn’t it then their responsibility to get help? If they don’t get the help or utilize it, there is nothing more we can do.

    I do know what you are referring to and that your sensative, understanding post is to make us think about the possibilities of the PA’s problems, but they are just that—Their problem. It is only sensative and compassionate to want them to get help, but without ACTION on their part, there is nothing more that we, as individuals, can do for them. they must take that responsibility for themselves.

    I think that even the partner of a PA, once they realize they are living with a PA, can also have a form of PTSD. They have been threatened as well. Don’t we all have things like:
    Having trouble sleeping
    Being irritable
    Being hypervigilant
    Feel emotionally numb sometimes.
    Don’t we too sometimes, have a form of fearing for our emotional lives? There is still a fear. Don’t we, once we understand what we are dealing with in our PA, have a “hopelessness” of sorts? Don’t we too, during the process of the PA’s actions towards us, find that things just don’t interest us as much anymore.

    Our dreams of -or the clinging to- that “perfect” partnership out of blind love… gets us into lots of emotional trouble.
    Because we have allowed our self-esteem to diminish to levels which become unhealthy for us. We think that loving more, praying more, accepting more, forgiving more is going to magically kiss the boo-boo goodbye and everything will be okay.

    I would imagine the emotional abuse which we have endured over time could also be considered a form of PTSD if we allowed ourselves to get to that point. I almost did.

    I think that your last sentence about “nothing other than parents neglect or abuse” is a good starting point for anyone… PA -OR- partner of a PA, or PTSD sufferers. Parent neglect or abuse is nothing to sneeze at, It does leave lasting scars on the psyche, but it can be managed within yourself. It is the perception of the trauma by the child, person, soldier, whomever -that needs to be investigated.
    It’s taking the responsibility to investigate it that matters.

    I have just finished a book by Nathaniel Branden- “How to Raise Your Self Esteem”.

    It is a fantastic read and has answered many of the self-esteem questions so many struggle with when living with a PA. Or for anyone who struggles with anything, for that matter. It may even help those that ARE PA since their personality stems from their past hurts (perhaps neglect or abuse).

    It covers not only WHAT self-esteem is, but HOW to DO what we must to attain or build it back up in ourselves. It talks about the injured child, teen, etc. and how to reconnect., accept and support. That IS the inner bonding thing….but better.
    Truly an enlightening read! Only 165 pages, not expensive. $7.99- I believe on Amazon.

    • jmarie- Nice to see you back. Thanks for the “heads up” about the book. Definitely something we could all use as you said if we’ve been taking the abuse or even covert abuse of a PA.

      I do think it’s the PA’s responsibility to seek help no matter what his problems: PA, sociopath, pshychopath, PTSD or whatever. I just was saying that I found it interesting because I had never thought of PTSD along the lines of every day living vs. war or military. It seems like the more I research, the more I find how easily the passive aggressive personality seems to meld with so many others. And yes, I do think it’s very possible that many who have suffered at the hands (or tongue) of a PA could very well suffer from PTSD also.

      Thank you for your kind words, but I’m not such a sap as to let someone pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. LOL. I appreciate your comments and giving all of us more to think about and consider. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

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