A quack diagnosis

Nov 14th, 2009 | By | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)

A quack diagnosis

Hasan’s murders medicalized

By Charles Krauthammer

Boston Herald
Friday, November 13, 2009 – Added 1d 15h ago

Major Nidal Malik Hasan

Major Nidal Malik Hasan

WASHINGTON – What a surprise – that someone who shouts “Allahu Akbar” (the “God is great” jihadist battle cry) as he is shooting up a room of American soldiers might have Islamist motives. It certainly was a surprise to the mainstream media, which spent the weekend after the Fort Hood massacre downplaying Nidal Hasan’s religious beliefs.

“I cringe that he’s a Muslim. . . . I think he’s probably just a nut case,” said Newsweek’s Evan Thomas. Time’s Joe Klein decried “odious attempts by Jewish extremists . . . to argue that the massacre perpetrated by Nidal Hasan was somehow a direct consequence of his Islamic beliefs.” The story line was of an Army psychiatrist driven over the edge by terrible stories he had heard from soldiers back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

They suffered. He listened. He snapped

Really? What about the staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center which daily hears the suffering of returning soldiers? How many of them shoot 51 innocents?

And what about civilian psychiatrists – not the West Side therapist treating Woody Allen neurotics, but the thousands of doctors working with hospitalized psychotics?

It’s been decades since I practiced psychiatry. Perhaps I missed the epidemic.

But, of course, if the shooter is named Nidal Hasan, whom National Public Radio reported had been trying to proselytize doctors and patients, then something must be found. Presto! Secondary post-traumatic stress disorder, a handy invention.

The perfect moral finesse. Medicalizing mass murder not only exonerates; it turns the killer into a victim. After all, secondary PTSD, for those who believe in it (it’s not in psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), is known as “compassion fatigue.” The poor man – pushed over the edge by excess sensitivity.

Have we lost our bearings? Nidal Hasan (allegedly) killed 13 people. In such cases, political correctness is not just an abomination. It’s a danger, clear and present.

Consider the Army’s treatment of Hasan’s previous behavior. A Hasan colleague at Walter Reed told NPR about a hair-raising Grand Rounds that Hasan had apparently given. Grand Rounds are the most serious academic event at a teaching hospital – attending physicians, residents and students gather for an instructive lecture.

I gave one myself on post-traumatic retrograde amnesia – as you can see, these lectures are fairly technical. Not Hasan’s. His included an allegedly authoritative elaboration of the punishments visited upon infidels – consignment to hell, decapitation, having hot oil poured down your throat. This “really freaked a lot of doctors out,” reported NPR.

Was anything done about this potential danger? Of course not. Who wants to be accused of Islamophobia?

As late as Tuesday, The New York Times [NYT] was running a story on how returning soldiers at Fort Hood had a high level of violence.

But Hasan was not a returning soldier. And the soldiers who returned home and shot their wives or fellow soldiers didn’t cry “Allahu Akbar” in the process.

The delicacy about the religion in question is nothing new. After the first (1993) World Trade Center attack, the same New York Times ran the following headline about the arrest of one Mohammed Salameh:

“Jersey City Man Is Charged in Bombing of Trade Center.”

Ah yes, those Jersey men – so resentful of New York, so prone to violence.

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