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As we came home from church yesterday, we witnessed an act of extreme rudeness on the part of a person not ethnically similar to the other person against whom the act was aggressively targeted. There ended up being no violence, mainly because the target chose to disengage and go away – smart, even though the aggressor “won.” And that was the point.

I made the comment to my wife that when lights are out, store shelves are already empty, police have long since given up and gone home to protect their own families, and there’s no likely end in sight, the very things I later read in Selco’s post last night would be happening. The pent-up aggression would come out without restraint, and the sociological experiments about infectious crowd behavior inciting more and more to do things they’d “never” normally do, would suddenly move out of the realm of sociological experiments into the realm of “normal.” It was actually a bit of a spooky thing to later read Selco’s excellent article after having had that brief discussion much earlier yesterday. “Society” ceases to exist at that point.

The reason why PTSD is so prevalent in large wars is explained very easily in the manual that catalogs and describes all psychiatric disorders (the DSM). There are two sets of criteria, labeled “A” and “B” through “D.” The “A” criteria involve a description of the triggering circumstances, while the “B” through “D” criteria detail the various symptoms that can come as a result. A person must meet the criteria in “A” and at least a specified number of items in each of the “B” through “D” criteria in order to meet the requirements for that diagnosis. The “A” criteria are:

the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death of serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others


the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

The same would be expected among very normal, well put together people, in a SHTF scenario, not just wars without rules such as we see today. It’s not weakness that results in the PTSD, it’s extreme situations that exceed the designed capabilities of our human brains – things we were simply never meant to have to experience, particularly on an ongoing or repeated basis. The “B” through “D” criteria are merely normal reactions, therefore, to grossly abnormal experiences – the type described by Selco in his article. As he stated, one may be completely unwilling to take a human life – AND be placed in a situation where that becomes absolutely necessary. Or one may be strongly predisposed to help others in crisis situations, yet have to casually walk away and not get involved, in certain SHTF situations, for the sake of self-preservation, or the preservation of close friends or family members. In other words, when society breaks down, one’s ingrained personal “rules” must be suspended, with actions taken that go against every fiber of one’s being, and then the brain has to subsequently cope with what was done vs. what “should” have been done (under “ordinary” circumstances, which simply did not exist at the time).

MB, your statement that “diversity makes it is all the easier to see those not exactly like you as ‘other,’ is spot on – and it is indeed a serious danger. Those “others” become the targets, the “rules” no longer exist, and the aftermath extends long after any order is restored – often lifetimes. You’re tentatively in much better shape in an area with little “diversity” compared to the City. Heaven help you if the “City” comes to you. In other areas, the tension is already here, even within neighborhoods themselves, where people largely stay to themselves (meaning “their own kind”) or interact only on a socially “polite” basis. When the social controls are no longer in play, the gloves come off, and it meets the “A” criteria in the PTSD diagnosis. People then either adapt and cope with the new rules (which really means “whatever works at the moment with no regard for any morality”), or they become victims. Coping with the aftermath gets dealt with only later. It’s ugly beyond written description, and tears at one’s heart to watch in others.