Here’s What Happens To The Mind After 5 Years of Captivity

by Ziying Feng on June 4, 2014 - 11:27pm


After 5 years of being held as a POW by the Talibans in Afghanistan US sergeant Bowe Bergdalh can finally return home after a prisoner exchange, well not quite. Psychologically the man is a mess and it'll take a lot of effort for him to recover. For example, he definitely has PTSD and while PTSD was never an easy issue to deal with in the first place, Bowe's case is a bit special. While in most cases prisoners of wars can usually rely on their comrades who were also captured for psychological support, Bowe was captured and imprisoned alone. Meaning that for the last 5 years, the only physical and psychological human contact he's ever had were with his captors. Because of this, he's developed a dependence on Taliban. Afterall,  they where the ones who decided what happens to him and what he does, so he had no control over his own life and relied entirely on these people, something that would have an huge effect on the mental state of anyone, to such an extend that it is possible that he has stockholm's syndrome.

So while he is returning home, he is not going to feel like that he is home. I mean, this is a man who's almost forgotten how to speak english now, so when you add all this on top of the normal difficulties that comes with PTSD, reintergrating into society and living a normal life is going to be hard to him, perhaps even impossible. If he wants to have a chance at truly recovering, he is definitely going to need to see mental health professionals despite whatever stigma and judgment might come with it


I find this article to be very interesting since it really illustrates the importance of more education on mental health and mental illness/disorder. I mean, look at how this article presented to us Bowe's issues, his circumstances and why he will need help, these thing helps us understand them his situation. No one's going to call his mental disorders abnormal, or weird or freaky, because as this article demonstrated to us, his psychological is in fact normal for someone who has gone through what he did. It also offers us a glimpse to the incredible complex relationship that our minds have with our bodies. Afterall, one of the reasons why Bowe is such a mess right now is that the Talibans who held him where the ones who took care of his physical needs or denied them to him and in a way that's a small and simple way, but it had a huge impact on his mental health. The simple idea that if maybe he had a comrade there with him he would be less of a mess is also very powerful, because that friend would be providing a physical presence that answers a fundamental psychological need all humans have. Finally, I liked that the final section of the article took the time to remind us that even if Bowe does recover, he is still going to need to talk with someone about what happened to him, connect to people, have healthy relationships, communicate and other such things. It shows us that the best thing we can do for our own mental health is to have friends and famiy and thus, people we love, whom we can talk to and who would understand us.

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