Is too much help, bad?

Some may call me heartless, others may call me cruel. I’m just sharing my own philosophy, which doesn’t go well with the new way of thinking from the last two decades, or more. I understand the concepts of PTSD, and many traumatic blows to the human psyche. Not only that, but I just think, perhaps we have swung the pendulum, too far the other way. In doing so, we are creating a weaker society. As strange as it sounds, these thoughts this morning, were brought on by seeing a pamphlet the puppy had managed to get from the bookcase, and left it in the middle of the floor.

I’m here to help you cope.

“Tips for Families of Returning Disaster Responders”, reads the title. The pamphlet is from a federal government agency. While I agree, that there are times when people see horrible things, and may need help in sorting their feelings. Most of the time, the counseling is just too handy. When I was in school, we had vehicle accidents that took the lives of classmates, we didn’t get immediate classrooms set up for in house counseling. We learned to deal with life and death, in stark manners. If our classmates were victims of an unfortunate accident, it was hard losing them. However, there weren’t teams of people, telling us how they think we feel, or should feel.

This pamphlet, goes into detail on how to welcome home disaster responders, and how to deal with their emotional moments of instability. I agree, there are some horrible things to be seen in disasters. There can be horror in the world all around us. From everyday people seeing horrible auto accidents, to witnesses of mass violence. Some will need help coping, but some will handle it well. Victims of the actual incident do, many times, require more attention, than just those that heard about it. Far too often, entire schools are subjected to “mass counseling” and grief management, for persons they didn’t even know. These youths, grow up to think it is expected of them to be terribly upset and unable to cope, without outside intervention. The same thing has been done to adults in the last two decades or more.

We are grooming our society

War veterans, many times, need counseling. War can provide some horrible, intense, moments that can unhinge many. It doesn’t mean, that every person returning will be that way. We are grooming our society to expect to be crippled or weakened from bad things around us, instead of first trying to do our best to cope, and teach others to cope through example. There is a list of stages/cycles for humanity, that I have always held in respect. They are;

  • Hard times make strong men
  • Strong men make good times
  • Good times make weak men
  • Weak men make hard times

We seem to be in the third cycle of those stages. This pamphlet was written a mere eight years ago. It was in a few books that belonged to a lady, that says she is disabled, due to her two years of serving on an ambulance crew. She was diagnosed with occupational PTSD. Now maybe she is one that is truly crushed by what she has seen, or maybe she is like many young and older adults, that are put into a slot, based on behavior. She does appear to have some “other issues” that are not related to first responders.

They will become damaged individuals automatically

I guess, I am trying to say, that in my opinion it appears as if we are conditioning society to be weak, and expected to fall apart in the face of hardship. What happens when that counseling is not available, and you’re of the mindset you can’t function without it, and just shut down. Perhaps trying to teach others to be strong and independent in the face of crisis, will go further and better, than teaching them they are expected to need help and comforting in any crisis, or they will become damaged individuals automatically.

“Strong men make good times”

I policed from the early 70s to 2000. In all that time, I never knew a single officer, or ambulance driver, or other first responders suffering from PTSD of the work place. Most, if they couldn’t handle it, simply left the professions, and moved on. There was no free counseling, disability, or support groups. I think we were stronger, and tougher back then, before all the cuddling. It’s said, the four cycles are a natural progression of empires, or worlds. Maybe so, but if we strive to make stronger individuals, I think we would stand a chance of slowing the progression, and maybe step back to, “Strong men make good times”.

Enough deep thoughts. It’s time for me to plan repairs to my diet, that I destroyed eating out, last night.

Comments always welcome.

24 thoughts on “Is too much help, bad?

  1. I was an EMT in London from 1979-2001, and after that I worked for the police until 2012. All the awful things I have seen and done are well documented on my blog, but they were part of the overall job. You did an ambulance call then the next call after that, and so on until your shift ended.
    Nobody ever mentioned counselling to me until after I attended the Ladbroke Grove Train Crash, in 1999.
    And when it was offered, I declined it. It was my job, so why would I need counselling after doing it for 20 years at the time?
    So I’m with you on this, Ron.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Yes, Pete. Those of us that have served in public response positions, have seen many things that aren’t normal. You deal with it and move on. I remember being offered counseling when a fellow officer passed around 2000, due to health. That is about when all the counseling started in these parts. All of us told them there was no need, it’s part of life and the job. Memories serve much better, than sitting down with a stranger and talking about something they would know nothing about, and about someone they knew nothing of.

  2. Hi Ron – It is certainly a sensitive issue however, I am in general agreement with you. PTSD, ADHD and so many other acronyms are very convenient labels that a physician can use to resolve a diagnosis very easily. We cannot deny the existence of such conditions but (and as Dr. Phil has alluded to many times on his TV show), an in depth analysis of all parameters should be studied before determining the condition and course of treatment. Promoting “help lines” for distress/coping issues is fine, but I question the value of going into much detail as that can easily be assimilated by individuals. Perhaps “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” still has validity as a life quote!

    1. Agreed, Colin. Help lines, can be a good tool for some having problems coping. Sitting down and having someone tell you, how you’re supposed to feel, just leads some to assimilate the sharing, into more problems.

  3. I don’t know the right answer but I just finished a book that was historical fiction loosely based on fact about a family surviving at the end of WW2. It wasn’t all roses and unicorns. They were subjected to brutal and degrading treatment yet they had the will to survive. No counseling or support groups other than family. I suspect that many that have gone before us have survived things that we would find insurmountable.

    1. What we believe to be true,generally is. “What will be will be” says it clearly, as does the term “Self fulfilling prophecy.” The psychology behind doctors prescribing placebos, is totally based on those perspectives so, while there are legitimate cases of trauma based on life events that need professional help, there are also those who “self diagnose” and live accordingly.

    2. I agree, Kate. Those who have seen war, or been victims of violent events, might have need of counseling, but for the most part, we all have coping skills that we can use, and really don’t need others telling us, what we should be doing, or thinking. I sometimes think, that all the counseling does, is prolonging the agony of a bad experience, and can lead to other problems developing.

  4. I’m with you, Ron. Why on earth should people be counseled if they didn’t know anyone involved in an incident? We need to encourage people to overcome, not succumb.

  5. I agree with you Ron. In our final semester of senior year, we lost a classmate who took his life. His parents were away on vacation and he stayed home, borrowed the family car, damaged it and got a ticket for a traffic infraction. He knew his parents would be disappointed in him. He pinned the ticket to the wall and put a bullet through his head. This was the Spring of 1973. Our class was shocked and our homeroom teacher openly wept while she told us the facts surrounding Tom’s death. We whispered amongst ourselves, brushed away tears, then began class. No more was said – ever. Tomorrow, the Oxford High School reopens for the first time after the school shooting on November 30th. You likely heard of it – their classmate killed four students, wounded seven more. They have counselors, therapy dogs, have redone parts of the school where the shooting took place and most of all, today they took down the massive memorial of flowers, candles, stuffed animals because those who had endured similar violence in the school said it will be a painful reminder. I get what they saw and they lost schoolmates, but, as many psychologists opined after the shooting, school kids, no matter the age, have grown up to know how to shelter in place or what to expect when a shooter is on the premises – they prepare for this, they have drills. It seems to me for every episode in school these days (and there are episodes of lockdowns here in Michigan several times a week) we grow a thicker skin and become more adaptable that this is the world we live in now and it’s not a pretty sight in the least.

    1. Yes, Linda. People don’t give young adults/kids enough credit, for how resilient they are. Most of them, by this point, are pretty tough skinned on these events. Especially in the older kids, like college age. They should be able to cope pretty well, without all the counseling, that just prolongs the memory of the event/s. As I mentioned to someone, this counseling, therapy dogs, and group sessions, seems to just reinforce the notion, that you (a person) should be a mental wreck after an incident. It’s become an industry that makes good money teaching people, to think they are fragile and incapable of coping on their own.

      1. I agree with you Ron – it seems every bad incident comes complete with counseling. The other day I saw a therapy dog which was at the dentist’s office for comfort. I sent a screenshot to my dentist to show him. There were videos of the Oxford High School kids inside the school, showing them dropping to the floor from their desks. When a police officer came to their classroom door and knocked on the locked door to ask if they were okay and sounded very casual about it, i.e. not identifying himself as law enforcement, then asking to be let in, the kids immediately discussed with one another what they had learned in active shooter drills … they all bolted and went out the classroom window (they were on the first floor) and ran across the courtyard, sans coats, backpacks; the law enforcement office met them and assured them they were okay. I think he also was shook up by their reaction to his gesture.

  6. I don’t call you heartless, Ron I agree there are too many isms and handles attached to various actions when its just growing up and finding our feet…its become big business at the detriment of society…

  7. When I was in high school they showed us a terrifying video about driving. They said “look around you. One of you will be dead next year from a traffic accident.” Then they showed us car wreckage. They didn’t seem to be concerned about traumatizing us! As for helping kids and adults, the middle road is the best. For instance I taught literature to cops and firemen. The cops had a harder time with their emotions but wanted to be a little more free like the firemen. When I taught Viet Nam vets I always said if it got too much they could take a walk, no explanation necessary. I think being available to others on their own timetables and own willingness to disclose is the best approach. No one “trauma” debriefing works for all!

    1. I agree, Elizabeth. No one size, fits all.

      I was shocked when our son told us about his boot camp in the Army. If they get too rattled by the drill instructor, they are given four cards that can be used for “time out” to get away from the stress. There is a reason why drill instructors tried to toughen up young soldiers. In battle, there is no time out card, or retreat to your safe space.

        1. Yes, that’s sad too. Boot Camp was supposed to make a man out of boys, but it seems if they get uncomfortable, or hurt feelings, they can produce the get out of jail card, and go back to the barracks to rest.

  8. I found your blog on Beetley Pete. I read some of your posts and am looking forward to more. I laughed at your trailer park hood stories. I lived in one for a short while, myself. This post gets an amen. I have been teaching for almost 30 years . . guess what I have seen!/ You know it. What a mess we have created.

    1. Thank you, rabbit! Sorry, I just found your comment in my spam with a couple of others. I haven’t had anyone going to spam in months. Kind of funny, how it started again now, with this post, haha. Thanks for the nice words and your comment.

  9. Look Ron, some people need to be cuddled, and appreciate it. It’s not that “teams of people tell us how they think we feel or should feel.” Rather, they are there to provide a shoulder to lean on, and mostly listen. They provide comfort, which sometimes is not forthcoming from parents or other guardians.

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