Do You Have a Psychological Plan?

Do You Have a Psychological Plan?

This is a discussion on Do You Have a Psychological Plan? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; JD and I have been reading a series of books on subjects like Vietnam Veterans, PTSD, Killing, Mindset, combat stress and the like. In these ...

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Thread: Do You Have a Psychological Plan?

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    Do You Have a Psychological Plan?

    JD and I have been reading a series of books on subjects like Vietnam Veterans, PTSD, Killing, Mindset, combat stress and the like.
    In these books and others they advocate the importance of cooling down, talking, destressing and being around like-minded and understanding individuals who can help the rationalization and healing process of post-combat trauma.

    Police officers, after being involved in shootings, have mandatory periods of rest or even psych evals, comrades they can talk to and people who can help them cope with that they have been forced to do and their department often tries to keep press filtered through the office rather than the officer.

    The military has unit-wide debriefings and Chaplin meetings, welcoming family and friends and associations who welcome soldiers home to praise and "thank yous" and general acceptance for what the military personnel has been required to do in the line of duty.

    This is all in attempts to protect the mind of the person that had to do the killing and that vulnerable period when they are trying to justify, rationalize and come to terms with what he was required to do. The second guessing and the reliving and the psychological trauma can be lessened by the support and comfort and time to analyze and heal

    Even still these people can face isolation and oppression from those who do not completely understand which can lead to feelings of guilt and shame that can ultimately lead to further psychological problems.

    These kinds of protective measures are obviously lacking in the civilian sector when a civilian is required to defend him or herself from an aggressor and the psychological toll, even if no charges are files and the police find his or her actions completely justifiable, can be hard to handle.

    There are no local groups supporting post-shootings and there will likely be press and local citizens and even family who will accuse and second guess rather than support and comfort.

    Most of us have immediate aftermath plans involving contacting a lawyer and how we would handle the police, etc. But do you have a plan for dealing with the psychological trauma?

    Do you plan to take off work? Do you have someone you could talk to? Do you have plans for dealing with those who would accuse you of murder and second guess you and your decision? Do you know what you might experience and the thoughts you might have to address? Do you know what signs to look for that might indicate a serious problem such as severe depression or post-traumatic stress? Does your family (or at least your spouse) know what to look for so that even if you can not recognize these things in yourself you have someone who can identify these issues and get you help? Have you committed yourself to getting help if you or your family thinks you need it?

    Do you have a psychological plan?


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    Senior Member Array Barbary's Avatar
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    Maybe a support group needs to be formed.

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    Another good post, certainly something to think about.


    But do you have a plan for dealing with the psychological trauma? YES

    Do you plan to take off work? Right now if it happened I would be on leave, already off work. Or it would be while I am in Hawaii/on duty, and the military would send me though their process

    Do you have someone you could talk to? Yes, I am a combat veteran, who has actively engaged the enemy, and surrounded by the same kinds of folks daily

    Do you have plans for dealing with those who would accuse you of murder and second guess you and your decision? Ignore them to the best of my ability, any public communications would be through a lawyer

    Do you know what you might experience and the thoughts you might have to address? Yes, we get trained a lot on mindset in the military, refer to the post above about my friend

    Do you know what signs to look for that might indicate a serious problem such as severe depression or post-traumatic stress? Yes, such things are taken seriously in the military, and occur in combat units, we are trained to recognize signs and symptoms in ourselves and others

    Does your family (or at least your spouse) know what to look for so that even if you can not recognize these things in yourself you have someone who can identify these issues and get you help? I don't have a spouse, but I have several other close relatives in the military, who know what to look for

    Have you committed yourself to getting help if you or your family thinks you need it? Yes

    Do you have a psychological plan?
    This really is a serious issue, and thankfully something the military takes very seriously now. Granted, civilians can not usually get the same kind of training. I think "On Combat", and "On Killing", by Lt.Col. Grossman, would be a good place for anyone who wants to take this seriously, to start learning. A lot of what is in those books can apply to civilians.
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

    Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
    NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor

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    VIP Member Array AZ Husker's Avatar
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    I've been diagnosed with PTSD from Viet Nam, and spent 25 years as an LEO. I'm sure I'm nuts, but my psychiatrist says I'm OK. I'll take his work for it. I do attend a support group.
    Treat me good, I'll treat you better. Treat me bad, I'll treat you worse.

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    I pray i never have to take another persons life in defense of my/loved one's life....i have thought long & hard on such a situation....my thoughts are: "do what you have to do & move on"...i hope & pray it will be so.

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    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    Good post. Stress, anxiety, and depression are serious conditions and need to be addressed with the help of a medical professional. It can be overwhelming and debilitating.
    Know Guns, Know Safety, Know Peace.
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    Senior Member Array Frogbones's Avatar
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    I guess all I can say is; I'll cross the bridge when I get there. I hope, pray, and will do all I can to never have to cross that bridge.

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    Interesting post.

    Just as you might have an attorney in mind ahead of time, there is nothing to stop you from lining up a clinical psychologist ahead of time. Instead of The Yellow Pages, try-- Anxiety Disorders Association of America www.adaa.org Going to this site will help you find someone qualified to help you.

    I also think a post shooting situation possibly could be helped if you have the right clergy person to go to. Some are pretty good psychologists. Others not at all.

    The one caution I would add is that you shouldn't talk to a psychologist until you have permission from your lawyer. There are some circumstances in which what you tell a psychologist might not be protected.

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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Post shooting scenarios have always been something I've attempted to convey in subtlety. Thing is, starting out from the basics.....each and every person who seeks or gains a permit for CC should be ready, willing, and able to take that life that will save their own. Reading books will only get you into the mindset of the author, and this will never fully convey to you in the end or at the time of need. Realize that I come from a military background where the instinct was instilled and survival was more of a day to day ordeal. I'm not saying that the average civilian (and I'm now a member of that group), is lacking in the basics....just that it's highly possible. Taking a life is never the goal.............continuing to live your life is. It's not a game. I don't know how many times I have said it before. If you're not ready now....when will you be? Books are good references, but always based on someone else' experiences or history. Believe me.......you never want to make history and you never want to kill. Whatever you do......you be willing to live with it, and that's just about as basic as we can get. The "aftermath"? So long as you live to tell it, IMO....you're doing fine. Any day above ground is good. Don't make it out to be a complicated ordeal. The more questions you have will only delay a response.

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    Ram Rod,

    Since I am the only one who has mentioned any books, I'll go ahead and offer my respectful response. I said that they were a good starting point, they can help get the mental juices flowing, and bring up points civilians might never think of. Also, I think Lt.Col. Grossman gets his message across with very little macho BS, those books do not glorify taking lives, they talk about surviving during the moment, and afterwards.

    I've read "On Killing" twice in my life. Once when I was a young Devil Dog, fresh to the fleet before Iraq, figuring it could be useful in the future. Once in Afghanistan after a very rough month, that time, I did personally find it very useful, it helped explain a lot of what me and my friends were going through mentally. And those guys I know that have just tried to "Do what they have to and move on", that plan doesn't always seem to be working out for them very well.

    Once again, I think this thread has a lot of potential for good thought, and that is just my own opinion on the matter.
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

    Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
    NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor

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    In Fire and EMS we have Critical Incident Stress Debriefing teams organized by groups for crews who have been through a critical incident. Say possibly a mass fatality incident or a particularly stressful incident. The debriefing is usually done within 24 - 72 hours after an incident and includes a moderator who is a peer, but someone outside your agency and a mental health professional who can be helpful in explaining some of the physiological stresses your body may be going through as well as your emotional responses. I have participated in several Debriefings both as a recipient and as a member of a CISD team over the years.

    However, the first 10-15 years of my career, critical incident stress was never addressed at all. People just sucked it up and moved on or left the profession. Of course drug and alcohol abuse took it's toll with many people as a result as well. Alcohol and drug abuse is still a problem I think, but to a much lesser extent these days thanks to the work of CISD intervention. Now drug and alcohol abuse is about on par as it is with any other occupation and not at a much higher level as it used to be.

    So, in my case, I have coping mechanisms and skills which will naturally help if I am ever in a shooting incident, and know where to find the extra help if needed. I am also well aware of the signs to look for in someone who is not coping so well.
    -Bark'n
    Semper Fi


    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckj View Post
    I pray i never have to take another persons life in defense of my/loved one's life....i have thought long & hard on such a situation....my thoughts are: "do what you have to do & move on"...i hope & pray it will be so.
    Yes, I agree with the "do what you have to do & move on" BUT for some it could be a question of "how?" How do you move on? How do you stop thinking about it? How do you know if something is stalling you from moving on? Where do you go to get the help that will help you move on?

    I'm certainly not saying that everyone who has to fire a shot in self defense is going to turn into a psychological basket case but from the cases I have read many go through periods of questioning themselves, fear, disturbed sleep, heightened nerves and the like and veterans of multiple shooting (certain police officer stories I have read) get to a point where they know exactly what psychological and even physiological things they can expect in the aftermath. Hopefully, none of us get to the point where it is "old hat" but doing a little research into the psychological effects of self-defense resulting in taking a life could at least point you in the right direction on how to "move on."

    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    Interesting post.

    Just as you might have an attorney in mind ahead of time, there is nothing to stop you from lining up a clinical psychologist ahead of time. Instead of The Yellow Pages, try-- Anxiety Disorders Association of America www.adaa.org Going to this site will help you find someone qualified to help you.

    I also think a post shooting situation possibly could be helped if you have the right clergy person to go to. Some are pretty good psychologists. Others not at all.

    The one caution I would add is that you shouldn't talk to a psychologist until you have permission from your lawyer. There are some circumstances in which what you tell a psychologist might not be protected.
    Our pastor is a police Chaplin and would be a great resource for talking to if need be. That's a good idea about looking up someone who you might feel comfortable calling. I'd imagine anyone who had dealt with officer-involved shootings would be someone to talk to as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ram Rod View Post
    Post shooting scenarios have always been something I've attempted to convey in subtlety. Thing is, starting out from the basics.....each and every person who seeks or gains a permit for CC should be ready, willing, and able to take that life that will save their own.
    Yes, but this "scenario" (if you will) is not talking about being ready to take a life but being ready to deal with ALREADY HAVING HAD to take a life.
    Reading books will only get you into the mindset of the author, and this will never fully convey to you in the end or at the time of need.
    Convey what? I'm confused by this sentence. Anyway, again, we aren't talking about the psychology involved in taking a life but dealing with the aftermath of having been involved in a self-defense shooting. And books can certainly help you understand that processes one might have to go through after such an event. It's not about mindset but about being informed.
    Realize that I come from a military background where the instinct was instilled and survival was more of a day to day ordeal. I'm not saying that the average civilian (and I'm now a member of that group), is lacking in the basics....just that it's highly possible. Taking a life is never the goal.............continuing to live your life is. It's not a game.
    Of course taking a life is never a goal and it's certainly not a game which is why one should know and be ready for the full consequences of his or her actions even if those consequences are not legal but rather psychological. The knowledge that YOU took a life might way heavy on a mind and heart even if he or she was completely justified and ready to do what was necessary to survive.
    I don't know how many times I have said it before. If you're not ready now....when will you be? Books are good references, but always based on someone else' experiences or history. Believe me.......you never want to make history and you never want to kill. Whatever you do......you be willing to live with it, and that's just about as basic as we can get. The "aftermath"? So long as you live to tell it, IMO....you're doing fine. Any day above ground is good.
    I'd have to disagree with you here. There are people who have rather have died than live with what they have had to do and/or lived in such a horrible existence that it has cost them family, jobs and everything they hold dear. I would hardly call that "good." PTSD, depression, these things have ended the lives and families and hopes and dreams of many a military and law enforcement member. Again, I'm not saying this is going to happen but that it could if one is not at least distantly aware of the possibility and ready to get help before it's too late.
    Don't make it out to be a complicated ordeal. The more questions you have will only delay a response.
    Delay a response to what? Again, we aren't talking about being ready to accept the responsibility of carrying, we are talking about at least being familiar with what MIGHT happen in the aftermath.

    I'm going to give an example here.

    Most people who have been here for a while know that I am a survivor of rape. For a long time after the ordeal I suffered from fear, severe depression, confusion about sexuality, about my role as a woman, about men in general, about relationships. I didn't know how to trust or how to get over and deal with what happened to me. I suffered with guilt and feeling like it was my fault and then hating myself and even thoughts of suicide. I didn't want to live the way I was living but I didn't know how to change it. I was terrified of the prospect of motherhood and nearly had a panic attack when considering even THINKING about bringing a child into this world. I was so confused and angry and bitter and lost. When someone suggested counseling I was terrified to go because I thought I would be seen as crazy or weird.

    Finally I started to read up on stories of other rape survivors and found out that I was not alone in my feelings. Had I known it wasn't unusual to fear myself and hate myself and blame myself I might have been able to recognize those things in myself and reach out for help sooner rather than spending so much energy wondering why I was feeling the way I did.

    Having done more research I have learned that EVERYTHING I was feeling was TEXTBOOK for what a vast vast majority of rape survivors go through and I could have started my healing processes sooner if I had only allowed myself to realize how normal I was considering what I'd gone through.

    In that same sense we carriers go through life preparing through training and what not for an event we pray and hope and beg will never happen and we've prepared ourselves for everything up to the tragic event and we even have our speed-dials equipped with lawyers' phone numbers but what about when the satisfaction comes? What about the guilt after the satisfaction? What about the sleepless nights replaying what happened and the second guessing what you just did? What about when it starts affecting your job and your family? What if you just can't stop thinking you should have done x or y or z? What about when your friends and family start to shy away from you or look at you sideways or no longer invite you over to family events? What about when coworkers won't talk to you anymore? What about if flashbacks start? Is this normal? Is there something wrong with you? Who do you talk to? Who CAN you talk to who will understand?

    What's normal and what's not? What's a sign that you might not be dealing with things well on your own? When do admit you might need more help?

    There is a gal not far from here that was involved in a self-defense shooting against an abusive boyfriend. She called her instructor and said that no one talks to her anymore and she doesn't understand why.

    There are normal responses to post-combat related stress and things that are "usual" and things that are not usual and, yes, there are books, as mentioned, On Combat or On Killing that at least provide a basis for what is a normal response after a killing event. There's no harm in educating one's self.

  13. #13
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    The bottom line, a shooting event is going to be a life changing event! One you will never forget and likely never to be far from conscious thought. You may very well carry a negative stigma from friends or family who will likely never understand. Certainly there may even be so called "friends" who will no longer want much to do with you. And that is too bad.

    You can't expect to have all the answers going in. People are going to have to do the best they can. The better their mental health is before the incident, and stronger their family unit is before the incident will be a huge factor in how well a person does in the aftermath. Many people get strength and support from their spiritual and religious beliefs as well as from counseling from their religious community.

    For myself, I don't dwell on the subject too much. I tend to spend more time thinking about the legal issues involved if I am ever involved in an incident. I think it's something people should consider, and if they feel they may be negatively affected, they should take steps now to find the answers they may need to remain emotionally intact in the aftermath. It's always better to address these issues beforehand rather than try to deal with it afterwards.
    -Bark'n
    Semper Fi


    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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    Senior Member Array Beans's Avatar
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    Ramrod, BuckeyeCpl and Limatunes has it correct.

    Speaking strictly from a Military point of view ,because I have nothing in civilian life (thankfully) to base my experience on, sharing the experience helps. Your brother in arms, have/are experiencing the same thing but maybe not at the same time as you are.

    The memories stay with you, as time passes they don’t come to visit as often. after 50 years they have somewhat faded but still exist.

    To deal with it I have accept it "is what it is". Some friends of mine seem to want to hang onto their memories or can’t let them go.

    I respect them, I can listen to them, I can and do offer a shoulder to lean or cry on. I can share my feeling and experiences to let them know they are not alone, But the downside is I can't help them, or solve their problems. I wish I could. Each one of us have to come to terms in our own way. I have made peace with my god and continued with my life.

    Nothing and I repeat nothing can change what has happened. There is no magic pill. no "secret" formula, no magic wand, that can change the past.

    Those that haven't been there can say they are sorry, they understand, ETC but the stark truth is they are sincere and truly want to help, but they really don’t have a clue.

    I enlisted in 1961 and spent the next 4 years being mentally/physically prepared for combat. They showed us the "on location" films of the battles of WWII and Korea, not the Hollywood productions, encouraged and instilled the "warrior spirit" and even though I was better mentally prepared then the new Marines just out of boot camp-- reality was not the same, as shooting blanks and assaulting a Calif beach or a Camp Pendleton hill.

    After being medically discharge, for physical reasons, from the USMC in 1970 I went to college and my minor was in Psych.

    My Psych Professor and I used to have long deep conversations about combat. He truly wanted to understand but without the experience, he was relying on what myself and other vets in the class were telling him. Each vet had his own version of what they experienced and they were somewhat the same but also different.

    After collage I spent 5 years as a street cop, I presented my weapon on several occasions, but thankfully never had to fire a shot.

    Can I/will I defend myself and my family? Yes I can/will if it is required, that decision was made many years ago. I truly hope I never have to. I have enough memories to last me a lifetime.

    My sincere hope is that no one will ever have those type of memories to keep him/her company

    SEMPER FI

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    I remember beating this drum a few years ago, I'm glad it has come back up again.

    The biggest piece of advice I can give is to not only have a plan to deal with things appropriately, but have "system" in place to ensure the plan is carried out. I gotta say, if it ever happens, all plans of yours will go out the window. You need someone else to make sure you follow through with all the steps needed to take care of number 1. LE and the military all take the matter out of the hands of the individual, and sometimes force it on the shooter.... it sucks to have it happen, but in the end, it is what is best. You cannot do it alone, unless you are an extremely driven and perceptive individual.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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