Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing

By Rachel M. MacNair | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Both Sides of Law Enforcement

POLICE

While it is common that active participation in the trauma is not attended to as a possible etiological stressor for PTSD, the case of police who shoot in the line of duty is the exception that proves the rule. It is readily admitted that police get PTSD from such incidents, and it is a particular kind of PTSD that is worse than what comes from being shot at. This has been clearly asserted in several studies (Carson, 1982; Loo, 1986; Mann & Neece, 1990; Manolias & Hyatt-Williams, 1993; Martin, McKean, & Vetkamp, 1986; Neilson, 1981; Stratton, Parker, & Snibbe, 1984).

In this case, the blame for the officer having to shoot is placed with the criminal(s) who created the traumatic situation. The officer's traumatic symptoms are viewed as a sign of virtue and sacrifice for being a good officer. In contrast to the soldier, the police officer is treated as someone who naturally would find shooting someone to be repulsive. Unlike military action, there is no social interference in admitting to it and sympathizing with the officer accordingly. The attitude is one of sympathy toward the officer who was put in a situation in which it was necessary to shoot.

The officer is seen as already being a victim because the trauma was bad enough to make shooting necessary. Shooting is to be avoided if at all possible; therefore, if it happens to a good officer doing his or her duty, acknowledging psychological difficulties is no insult. Unlike the soldier, who is expected to be fierce in battle, the idea of psychological difficulties for the police officer is a

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Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents vi
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 - Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress 1
  • References 12
  • Chapter 2 - Combat Veterans 13
  • Chapter 3 - Executioners 31
  • Chapter 4 - A Historical Case: the Nazis 45
  • Chapter 5 - Both Sides of Law Enforcement 57
  • Chapter 6 - Is It Violence?: Abortion Practitioners 71
  • Chapter 7 - Other Groups to Study 83
  • Chapter 8 - Implications for Psychology 91
  • Chapter 9 - Social Implications 109
  • References 125
  • Chapter 10 - Research Agenda 127
  • Chapter 11 - Technical Aspects of Research 147
  • Chapter 12 - Conclusion 161
  • Appendix - Statistics from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study 173
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 199
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