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Posted on March 5, 2018 by in Alexis Arthwohl, Ph.D.

The Survival Triangle with Dr. Alexis Artwohl: Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Dr. Alexis Artwohl, Behavioral Science Expert, and panel advisor for CCW Safe, starts an exciting new series on The Survival Triangle.  The Survival Triangle that Dr. Artwohl talks about involves your physical survival, your emotional- psychological survival, and your legal survival.    

In this first chapter, Dr Artwohl talks about physical survival and being prepared for the emotional-psychological survival that often follows a self-defense incident.  

Most people who are faced with defending themselves in a lethal, or critical self-defense incident are resilient and will get past the incident quickly, but about 10% of people will face chronic post-traumatic stress disorder. 

If you are involved in a lethal self-defense incident, everyone is upset, which is normal.  You need to realize that through dealing with the incident, you will also deal with attorneys, investigators, and others involved in the process, and it can be chaotic.  

All this will contribute to the acute stress disorder that will go on for awhile.  Most people get through that in a few weeks or months, and while many people understand that they won’t be the same following a critical stress, or lethal self-defense incident, most will also learn that they will not be worse off emotionally-psychologically following the incident than they were before.

However, about 10% of people will develop chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, and if a month has gone by and you are still feeling a lot of disruption due to the event, at that point you should really think about seeing a therapist to move beyond the event.

Sometimes you may be fine, but some of your family members may develop a post-traumatic stress disorder. 

One thing that happens following a critical stress, or lethal self-defense incident, is that we find out that the world is not as safe as we thought it was.  For some, it can be a brutal reminder that it can happen to anyone, including you or someone you love.  It can change our world view forever.  Once you are involved in something like this or are close to someone who is involved in something like this, you will likely experience post-traumatic growth, which can give you insight to life that you didn’t have before.  Something to the effect that you wouldn’t want to go through it again, but you learned some valuable lessons from it and are better off.  Or, you will experience post-traumatic stress.  Chronic post-traumatic stress is a great intensification of something that happened where you constantly think about it, and are affected by it to the point that you can’t think about anything else, and have a hard time getting past it.

Having a better understanding of the survival triangle, what you may face, and an understanding of the different ways that people are affected can greatly help you if you are ever involved in a lethal self-defense incident. 

Stay tuned for more videos in this series coming soon!

Alexis Artwohl, Ph. D.

Alexis Artwohl, Ph.D.

Alexis Artwohl, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized behavioral science consultant to law enforcement as a trainer, researcher, and author.  She is a panel advisor for CCW Safe in the area of behavioral science.