“Who Will Get PTSD?”

Michael Telch, a psychology professor from UT, is on the road to figuring out who’s going to go all John Rambo.

Perhaps the biggest insight came from the eye-tracking test. Before deployment, Telch asked soldiers to look at a panel of four faces while a computer monitored the soldiers’ eye movements. In the panel the soldiers saw a happy face, a sad face, a fearful face, and a neutral face. The soldiers who quickly averted their gaze from the fearful face—looked away within 100 milliseconds of seeing the photo—were far more likely to develop PTSD after deployment, the study found.


They’ve tested soldiers’ panic response, by having them inhale oxygen laced with 35 percent carbon dioxide; those who lose their nerve appear to be more likely to develop PTSD.

From the Boston Globe. There’s some stuff towards the end about giving high-risk-for-PTSD guys “easy” military jobs–it doesn’t make sense–but the predictability is interesting.

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4 responses to ““Who Will Get PTSD?”

  1. Doesn’t this run the risk of soldiers getting a stigma attached to them of being “susceptible to PTSD”?

    • Yes?

      I saw it as more useful as a initial entry screening tool than as something you could use with guys who were already in.

      If they can successfully mitigate PTSD risk with training, it’d be useful for getting the right guys to the training they need–if not, maybe over a certain score, soldiers with the increased risk are nondeployable? I don’t see it as much different from my guy who I had to redeploy because he needed a CPAP to sleep.

  2. See I equate that to the Army screening for flat footedness because they think they are more susceptible to foot injuries. If I had not requested the doc doing my physical 14 years ago to leave that out, I would have never have been allowed to even enter West Point.

    But yes, people claiming sleep apnia to get out of deployments is annoying.

    • There’s an assumption there, on the Army’s part, that the flat feet test is an accurate predictor of ________, and another one that flat feet can’t be overcome.

      Is this eye gaze test (or it’s future descendant) something equally or more accurate? Can tendencies towards
      PTSD be overcome? I think the first question answers whether or not it’s appropriate to screen with, and the second whether or not vulnerability to PTSD ought to be treated as a barrier to service, or something to mitigate through training.

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