Ron Paul may be be a doctor, but just because he's an outspoken, politically inclined OB-GYN doesn't mean he know what he's talking about when it comes to the latest emotional — and deadly — case of PTSD. Famed former U.S. sniper Chris Kyle was killed over the weekend at a Texas shooting range by a former Marine he was helping deal with PTSD; Eddie Routh, an Iraq war veteran, is now facing capitol murder and murder charges for killing Kyle and another man, Chris Littlefield. But for whatever reason, Paul felt the need to weigh in with this comment on Twitter today:
Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that "he who lives by the sword dies by the sword." Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense— Ron Paul (@RonPaul) February 4, 2013
And, well, people have unsurprisingly taken Paul to task for being shortsighted:
While it should be noted that conservative blogger types don't always agree with Paul in the first place, there remain some on the right who are flogging Paul for his ignorance:
Grandpa's talking to the furniture again twitter.com/RonPaul/status…— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) February 4, 2013
And some expressed their disgust with simpler language:
This is appalling. twitter.com/RonPaul/status…— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) February 4, 2013
Ron Paul is, to put it plainly, flatly wrong in his assertion that "treating" someone with PTSD at a shooting range is a bad idea. First of all, not everyone with PTSD is a dangerous threat to your life. But, further to the point, Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET) is one of the leading ways to treat PTSD, as one commenter pointed out to Paul. It's even endorsed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They call it "one of the most effective treatments" of PTSD.
"This therapy works by helping you approach trauma-related thoughts, feelings, and situations that you have been avoiding due to the distress they cause. Repeated exposure to these thoughts, feelings, and situations helps reduce the power they have to cause distress," their website explains.
What Kyle was practicing was a type of PET called "vivo exposure":
- Real world practice. Exposure practice with real-world situations is called in vivo exposure. You practice approaching situations that are safe but which you may have been avoiding because they are related to the trauma. An example would be a Veteran who avoids driving since he experienced a roadside bomb while deployed. In the same way, a sexual trauma survivor may avoid getting close to others. This type of exposure practice helps your trauma-related distress to lessen over time. When distress goes down, you can gain more control over your life.
So, the same way that getting back behind the wheel might help someone who was a victim of a roadside bomb, going to a shooting range could be a method of PET that would have (in theory) helped Routh deal with whatever he was going through.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.