The “Cynicism” and “Secrecy” needs to end PTSD.

I was going through some boxes from work in my garage and found an article from “The Police Chief/November 1989” titled “Helping Subordinates Face Stress”. The article was written by Dr. Joseph F. Dietrich, Chief, Member Assistance Program with RCMP Health Services originally published in 1988. I will not re-write the entire article but highlight what they knew then. “The pain of police work”; The pain of police work referred to as occupational stress, is well documented in the literature. Several authors have described the stressors that have been found to develop from the burden of police work and the repetitive facing of crime, suffering and death. These four occupational stressors are: 1. Depersonalization, 2. Authoritarianism, 3. Organizational Protection, 4. Danger Preparation. Each stressor is followed by a description/definition that describes the symptoms of PTSD. The article also includes the following; “The Progression” 1. 0-5 years: Alienation from the nonpolice world. 2. 5-10 years: Emotional Shutdown. 3. 10-15 years: Emotional unsureness. 4. 15-20 years: Namelessness. 20-35 years; Maintaining the Status Quo. Again each is followed by a description which lists more symptoms of PTSD. The article goes on to list “Coping Mechanisms”: 1. Cynicism, 2. Secrecy, big surprise there. The article then covers “The role of health programs”, “Management Training”, “Management Leadership”, “The Manager as a Sounding Board” which ends with “Supervisors can provide powerful “sounding boards” so their subordinates don’t always have to suppress these painful emotions. Suppressed anger becomes frustration; suppressed fear turns to anxiety; suppressed sorrow turns into isolation and loneliness; and suppressed hatred of evil turns into depression when the officer begins to despise their own inability to destroy the evil they have experienced.” and “Implications for the Police Supervisor” which it sates are; “It is the police supervisor’s responsibility to be an educator for his/her subordinates. The supervisor may not always agree with personnel, but they can emphasize much needed support and offer assurances that they will share their experiences and burdens, assist them with mutual concerns and keep alive their hope that progress and personal growth is possible.” I do not remember where I got the article or why I kept it but finding it now, 26 years later makes me even more angry at the system and realize despite how it affects me, I need to let everyone know this is not new and the “Cynicism” and “Secrecy” needs to end.

R.T. (Bob) Miller S/Sgt. (retired)

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