Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Post Tramatic Stress Syndrom (PTSD) And The Defense


Part 2: PTSD is not just a defense for the former serviceman/woman

Because symptoms of PTSD may not occur for months or years afterward and is not widely recognized as a disorder in the general population, PTSD frequently goes undisguised.  An individual who has experienced a traumatic event may appear to have “moved on” and even experienced degrees of success so a mental health professional understandably, may observe the current matter as depression, anxiety, disassociation disorders, etc. 

  • Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
  • Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
  • Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
  • Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
  • Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
  • Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
  • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • Loss of interest in activities and life in general
  • Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
  • Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career) Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating     
  • Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
  • Feeling jumpy and easily startled
  • Anger and irritability
  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Feeling alienated and alone
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
  • Headaches, stomach problems, chest pain  
If you have are a civil attorney and your client has been involved in an accident, medical malpractice, etc. and you suspect there may be signs of PTSD as a result there may be additional factors to your case that can be addressed.
As a family law attorney representing a spouse with children and abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, sexual) infidelity, witnessing violent or addictive behavior, abandonment, legal troubles by a parent, etc.  an evaluation may be needed to determine if the child is dealing with issues beyond that of behavioral, depression, learning disabilities, violent or emotional outbursts.   If you suspect the opposing party has PTSD and is not being treated for the disorder, it could potentially prove to be harmful to a child.

PTSD issues are most frequently seen in criminal defense cases.  In California and some other states, PTSD defenses are being seen in cases where the defendant has been subjected to violence, even when they have not been a victim, such as being raised in the “ghetto.”  PTSD defense will be seen in the future where a defendant who was previously incarcerated and exposed to continual violence; committed the crime as a result of a flash back, etc.
PTSD cannot be diagnosed by your standard neuropsychological or psychological testing (i.e. WAIS).  PTSD should be diagnosed by a PTSD mental health professional using specialized      test to be considered an expert opinion. 

If you suspect your client is suffering from PTSD you can locate an expert through other mental health professionals, mental health clinics, psychiatric hospital, or counseling center.  You may be able to find a PTSD expert from the Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute at (410) 825-8888 ext. 203.

There are variables with PTSD that can be best examined by researching the numerous studies that have been conducted by mental health professionals and university.  You can begin to research the possible mitigating factors for your criminal, civil, or family law castes by researching the latest studies that apply to your case.  The following are only a few suggestions that may assist in beginning your research: National Institute of Mental Health: PTSD; Expert Evidence: Law, Practice and Procedure, 2nd Edition Sweet and Maxwell; .  American Journal of Psychiatry 2005 162:2295-2301; www.helpguide.org (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome)
Sue Gent
President
Private Investigator
Prodigy Investigative Group, Inc.
(772)634-6040  *  (954)866-3338

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