WBUR CommonHealth | By Rachel Gotbaum | July 24, 2014
(part of the Brain Matters: Reporting from the Frontlines of Neuroscience series)
For 32 years, Leslie Ridlon worked in the military. For most of her career she was in army intelligence. Her job was to watch live videotape of fatal attacks to make sure the missions were successful.
“I had to memorize the details, and I have not got it out of my head, it stays there — the things I saw,” she says. “The beheading — I saw someone who got their head cut off — I can still see that.”
Ridlon is now 49 and retired from the military last year, but she finds she cannot work because she suffers from severe post traumatic stress disorder. She has tried conventional therapy for PTSD, in which a patient is exposed repeatedly to a traumatic memory in a safe environment. The goal is to modify the disturbing memory. But she says that type of therapy doesn’t work for her.
“They tried to get me to remember things,” she says. “I had a soldier who died, got blown up by a mortar — he was torn into pieces. So they wanted me to bring that back. I needed to stop that. It was destroying me.” Continue reading »