The Making of a Mass Murder…

November 7, 2009

Here is my interview by the Tampa Tribune about the Ft Hood shooting:

TAMPA – The irony is inescapable: a military psychiatrist, trained to help soldiers deal with internal demons, apparently succumbs to his own and is accused of going on a rampage at a Texas army base.
Investigators say they are determining what motivated Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a specialist in disaster and preventative psychiatry, to open fire Thursday at Ft. Hood, killing 13 of his fellow soldiers.
Regardless of what prompted the violence, there were signs that Hasan was slipping and needed counseling, former Army surgeon Joseph Molea said.
It is not uncommon for military doctors to feel traumatized after dealing with soldiers’ physical and emotional wounds, said Molea, who now has a private practice in Tampa specializing in addictive medicine and psychotherapy.

“Hearing stories about soldiers’ post-traumatic stress disorder could trigger the same thing in medical professionals,” he said. No violence was done to the doctors or psychiatrists, but the “secondary exposure could case flashbacks and nightmares,” he said.

Hasan’s aunt, Noel Hasan, told The Washington Post that her nephew was affected by seeing injured soldiers for eight years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.

“He must have snapped,” Noel Hasan told the Post. “They ignored him.”

Not getting help from the Army, an entity Hasan appeared to have devoted his life to, may have caused resentment and eventually rage, Molea said.
Citing news reports, Molea said additional factors may have caused Hasan to crack.
Hasan had expressed dissatisfaction with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and did not want to be deployed. He got at least one poor performance evaluation as an intern at Walter Reed and there have been reports that he was harassed for his Muslim religion and wanted to be discharged.

“The tragedy of it is he was trying to tell people this was coming,” Molea said. “He was making overtures. In retrospect, it will look clearer.”

Doctors who deal with traumatized patients should be monitored more closely and recommended for counseling if they start to exhibit behavior outside of their normal range, Molea said. And soldiers from all specializations should consider treatment not as a sign of weakness but accept it as they would additional training, he said.
It is disparaging that soldiers on the front-line of war zones are identified and treated faster for mental or emotional issues than soldiers at home, Molea said.

“Psychiatrists are deployed in forward areas to deal with soldiers who have problems. They intervene early and are sent back to duty faster,” he said. “It’s ironic that Hasan didn’t get the early intervention that people in battle are afforded these days.”

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reporter Ray Reyes can be reached at (813) 259-7920.

Watch military psychiatrists closely, former Army doctor says

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