Brannan Vines has never been to war. But she’s got a warrior’s skills: hyperawareness, hypervigilance, adrenaline-sharp quick-scanning for danger, for triggers.
- This is a categorical claim, the author assuming that these skills must be that of a warrior. Although these traits may be common to some soldiers, they can not be accepted universally. Some soldiers may be bumbling, slow witted, and not very aware at all.
He’s one of 103,200, or 228,875, or 336,000 Americans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and came back with PTSD, depending on whom you ask, and one of 115,000 to 456,000 with traumatic brain injury. It’s hard to say, with the lack of definitive tests for the former, undertesting for the latter, underreporting, under or over-misdiagnosing of both.
- These various numbers given are all categorical claims that are not even those of the author. They are numerically categorizing soldiers as sufferers of PTSD or traumatic brain injury. The author goes on to make a claim of her own without providing clarification or examples. She merely states that there is a lack of definitive tests for PTSD, and underreporting/over-misdiagnosing of both.
Hypervigilance sounds innocuous, but it is in fact exhaustingly distressing, a conditioned response to life-threatening situations. Imagine there’s a murderer in your house. And it is dark outside, and the electricity is out. Imagine your nervous system spiking, readying you as you feel your way along the walls, the sensitivity of your hearing, the tautness in your muscles, the alertness shooting around inside your skull. And then imagine feeling like that all the time.
- Here, McClelland appeals to the reader’s emotions to convey the feelings of one who suffers from PTSD. First, she assumes that readers think of hypervigilance as nothing to fret over. The, she claims that all people would react the same to a murderer in their presence. Also, this extreme example may be overstating the mindset of one with PTSD. It seems a little far-fetched when she claims they feel like this all the time. This means 100 percent of their waking, and presumably sleeping, life is spent creeping about waiting for a murderer to pop out. I could be wrong, but it seems likely that there would be at least a sliver of time where they do not feel all of these high emotions.
Caleb has been home since 2006, way more than enough time for Brannan to catch his symptoms.
- McClelland makes a causal claim here. She is saying that the duration that one is exposed to a family member with the disorder can have an affect on their contracting it. Does anyone really know how long it takes for one to “catch” PTSD, and if it can even be passed along? McClelland makes PTSD sound like a virus or contagious disease, especially with the use of the word catch. Is she implying when she says “way more than enough time” that Brannan is past the incubation period?
Even when everyone’s in the family room watching TV, it’s only connected to Netflix and not to cable, since news is often a trigger.
- Another causal claim. There is no basis provided for the claim that news often triggers PTSD. Although this may be true in Caleb’s case, it shouldn’t be generalized to all PTSD sufferers.
This PTSD picture is worse than some, but much better, Brannan knows, than those that have devolved into drug addiction and rehab stints and relapses.
- Just because some PTSD sufferers are on drugs does not make their situation worse than that of the Vines family. For instance, a PTSD afflicted soldier may latch onto drugs as a way of calming his symptoms, entering perhaps a comatose state to clear his mind. This could prevent him from hurting his family or engaging in violence. On the other hand, the drug free Caleb Vines constantly has his family on edge. It’s hard to say one is worse than the other: a drug-addled soldier whose mind is in far away, mystical lands or a clean Caleb who is ready to murder at the sound of a bug hitting the window.
They don’t know why some other guys in his unit who did and saw the same stuff that Caleb did and saw are fine but Caleb is so sensitive to light, why he can’t just watch the news like a regular person without feeling as if he might catch fire.
- “Fine” is a subjective term. These men who were in Caleb’s unit could be dealing with raging inner demons, and perhaps they just don’t display it as outwardly as Caleb.
Civil War doctors, who couldn’t think of any other thing that might be unpleasant about fighting the Civil War but homesickness, diagnosed thousands with “nostalgia.”
- Although this may be McClelland’s attempt at sarcasm, this claim states that Civil War doctors only accounted for homesickness as the sole ail of a soldier, overlooking torments like witnessing murders, dodging bullets, or experiencing excruciating bodily injuries. It would seem more likely than not that these doctors took all of the other aspects of war time into account when diagnosing soldiers.
“Trauma is a contagious disease; it affects everyone that has close contact with a traumatized person” in some form or another, to varying degrees and for different lengths of time.
- This categorical claim is making PTSD out to be some sort of extremely contagious disease on par with measles. “It affects everyone that has close contact with a traumatized person” can conjure up images of people who pass a soldier with PTSD in a grocery store becoming afflicted with the condition. Although it did state “close” contact, it should make it clear that the intended example is that of family members, or those who interact with the person on a daily basis.
“Katie Vines.” Brannan was born here in Alabama, so that’s drawled.
- This assumes all Alabamians fall under the Southern accent category. Although most do, it can not just be inferred that Brannan Vines speaks with a drawl because she is from Alabama. I could not just say a soldier went to Iraq, so he has PTSD. Geographic influences do not apply to all denizens of the area.