• Can one get PTSD via Twitter?

    Please note: I do not know Melody Hensley, and I have never had any interaction with her. As far as credentials go for my understanding of PTSD, here they are: I’m a licensed clinical psychologist and psychology professor who specializes in the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders, and have published extensively on them, including several papers and a book. Check out my personal website at www.caleblack.com for more information (including reprints of the articles and chapters and slides from my course on anxiety disorders).

    I don’t really keep up much with drama and goings-on in the skeptoatheist online world. I’ve got friends who do, though, and they pointed me to a recent post with the in no way linkbaitesque title of:

    Woman claims she has PTSD from Twitter and Cyberstalking

    Twitter gave me PTSD’: Woman claims mean comments and ‘cyberstalking’ gave her an illness usually suffered by WAR VETERANS

    I was asked by this friend, basically, “Can one get post traumatic stress disorder from Twitter?”

    In a word: Yes.

    But, before I show you why, let’s learn a bit more about PTSD, first. PTSD has long been considered an anxiety disorder (until the latest edition of the DSM anyway, but that’s a whole other can of worms). As I write in the introduction to the above linked book:

    Anxiety is a common and essential process of daily life. It is highly important, evolutionary speaking, as people typically experience anxiety when faced with environmental threats such as encountering a lion (not so common a concern in modern society for most people), scarcity of food or other resources, or acceptance among one’s peers and society at large. This anxiety orients the individual toward anticipating dangers, motivates the person to act in order to avoid events that might cause bodily harm or psychological distress, and prepares the body and mind for taking some sort of action (Zeidner & Matthews, 2011)….When intense worry or fear begins to disrupt one’s daily functioning, however, it can be detrimental to one’s health.

    So, anxiety is generally good, until it goes awry. This can cause enormous amounts of problems for the person with this maladaptive anxiety.

    Meta-analyses have shown that the most damaging anxiety disorders to overall quality of life are social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but that all are associated with high rates of QoL and functional impairment, especially in the areas of mental health and social functioning (Olatunji, Cisler, & Tolin, 2007).

    Although some would argue, PTSD does not seem to be a new phenomenon, with accounts dating back fairly far in written history. It also appears to be as well validated a diagnosis as most other mental disorders (which are, in and of themselves ,social constructions, as are medical disorders, but this does not mean they are “made up” or not real. I’ve written a whole series of posts on how we define psychopathology, so I’m not going into detail here). Specifically, persons with a diagnosis of PTSD display three broad groups of symptoms:

    1. Re-experiencing symptoms

    • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
    • Bad dreams
    • Frightening thoughts.

    Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

    2. Avoidance symptoms

    • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
    • Feeling emotionally numb
    • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
    • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
    • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.

    Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

    3. Hyperarousal symptoms

    • Being easily startled
    • Feeling tense or “on edge”
    • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

    Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

    It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.

    There has been an enormous amount of research on who has PTSD, or the epidemiology of it.

    The majority of people experience some sort of traumatic event at least once during their lifetime, with 25% of people experiencing multiple traumas. Rates are slightly higher for men (61%) than for women (51%), although types of trauma vary dramatically between genders. Women, for example, are much more likely to experience sexual assault or rape (9%) than males (1%), but men are much more likely to be involved in a serious accident (25% vs. 14%). Thankfully, though, the prevalence rate for PTSD is much lower than these numbers, as the vast majority of those involved in traumatic experiences do not develop it. Lifetime prevalence rate for the general U.S. population is 6.8%, with 12-month rates of only 3.6%.

    Not all groups are equally at risk of developing PTSD, however. In high- or at-risk individuals (e.g., combat veterans, disaster victims, or criminal violence), prevalence rates ranging from 3% to 58% have been found. In countries with high rates of civil war and internal strife, shockingly high rates of PTSD have been found. In one study, over 37% of Algerians in the late 1990s met criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, compared to 6.8% of Americans. Interestingly, the type of disaster a person experiences greatly impacts the chance of developing PTSD. For example, while only 4-5% of those who live through a natural disaster develop PTSD, studies have found that 30% or more of people involved in man-made disasters (shootings, bombings, and so on) develop PTSD.

    In recent U.S. combat veterans, studies have found that lifetime prevalence is about 39% in males, above the rate of 30% seen in veterans of the Vietnam War. When compared to other types of traumas that males experience, being in combat results in higher lifetime PTSD prevalence, a greater likelihood of delayed onset, and a greater likelihood of unresolved symptoms. Several studies examining PTSD in military females have found similar rates, even without the front-line combat experience. These studies have been criticized, though, due to some methodological difficulties.

    Although I didn’t specifically address it in my book, rates of PTSD diagnoses are at 50% or more for victims of sexual assault, which actually put them at a higher rate than even military veterans. Anyway, we can see that a majority of people who experience traumatic events will not develop PTSD (just as we know most people exposed to major losses in life will not develop major depression). But what could cause someone to be more likely to develop it in the face of a traumatic event?

    Alone among all the disorders listed in the DSM, PTSD has a specific etiological event – experiencing a trauma. While it is highly adaptive to have a strong fight-or-flight response during a trauma and when your life is threatened, these reactions should decrease once the trauma has passed. In persons with PTSD, however, they do not. As such, PTSD can be seen essentially as a failure to adapt to differing situations. Why people’s reactions fail to return back to normal after can be influenced by a number of factors. Prior to the event, a number of factors will greatly increase risk. These include being female, of a minority race, having a lower level of education, and having a lower income level. Also, a history of previous psychiatric problems and childhood trauma make it more likely that one will develop problematic symptoms. In addition to the type of trauma experienced, certain factors about the trauma can increase risk, such as greater perceived threat or danger and helplessness, as well as the unpredictability and uncontrollability of traumatic event. Post-trauma, lack of social support, overall amount of life stress, coping mechanisms used, and type of attributions made for the disaster can all increase risk. 

    As well as these, there has been increasing interest in the role that epigenetic gene expression can have in the development of PTSD (and other psychopathology). Interestingly, there’s also good research showing that it’s not so much the type of trauma experienced that makes you more likely to experience PTSS (PTSD symptoms), but that it’s a) your interpretation of the events (i.e., how threatening and dangerous you feel the situation was, regardless of “objective” danger) and b) your attributions after the event (i.e., the reasons you come up with for why the trauma occurred). In addition to the type of trauma resulting in very different chances of developing PTSD, it turns out that being female also greatly increases your risk.

    Women are significantly more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic experience than men, even when predominantly female victim traumas, such as sexual crimes, are taken into account, with lifetime prevalence rates well over double that for men (9.6% vs. 3.6%). The genders also show differential patterns of response to traumas. For example, only 1% of males threatened with a weapon will develop PTSD, but over 30% of females in similar situations will. Females also show higher rates after physical and sexual assaults.

    TL;DR – PTSD occurs more often in females, as well as for a host of pre-, peri-, and post-trauma variables, with around 6-7% of the U.S. population qualifying for the disorder at some point in their lives, not just war veterans (although they have very high rates).

    So, now that you know a bit more about PTSD than you did before (hopefully, anyway. If not, you may need to do some rereading), let’s return to the question at hand: can one “get” PTSD from Twitter?

    Bullying has long been known to have a severe impact on mental health, particularly if the bullying is repeated and prolonged. While research has traditionally focused on youth (as briefly reviewed here), more recent work has examined it’s impact on adults. as well, particularly in the workplace. Research focusing specifically on cyberbullying has found very similar results to “traditional” bullying, in terms of increased risk of depression, suicide, and anxiety. In youth, around a third of bullying victims display quite high rates of PTSD symptoms and rates are perhaps even higher in adults who are bullied.

    So, given what we know about PTSD, and given what we know about the effects of bullying (cyber and otherwise) on mental health, I think it’s relatively safe to say that “Yes, you can ‘get’ PTSD from Twitter.” One needs to be careful, though, to be specific about this: it’s the bullying and harassment that could lead to PTSD or PTSD symptoms (as well as depression, increased suicidality, and so on), not anything inherent to Twitter itself. Twitter and other forms of social media are just a new tool to use to bully and harass others, but the underlying mechanisms and the results are the same as if these interactions were face to face.

    Now, on to your comments, which will hopefully not be as abhorrent as those on the Daily Mail article.

    Category: Mental HealthPoliticsPsychologySecularismSocial Media


    Article by: Caleb Lack

    Caleb Lack is the author of "Great Plains Skeptic" on SIN, as well as a clinical psychologist, professor, and researcher. His website contains many more exciting details, visit it at www.caleblack.com

    12 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

    • Dave

      Why is the article asking for a password?

      • I had a draft version up for review – it’s now all ready for public perusal.

        • An Ardent Skeptic

          This comment section makes me wonder if you should have put this post up for public perusal. I’m very interested in the subject, (as I am in all things medical), and enjoyed reading your post, particularly as it was not the answer I would have expected for the question “Can one get PTSD via Twitter?”. (Of course, I am willing to admit I know very little about PTSD and, therefore, I should not have had any preconceived notions on the matter. 😉 You have my respect for handling the onslaught of comments, many of which seem to have missed the overall point of your post, in such a highly professional and ethical manner while still being able to maintain a sense of humor.

          • Well, as my dad always told me, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

            When you try to help educate people, even without taking sides on a particular issue (or a person, in this case), people will read into your work what THEY want to see, not necessarily what’s actually there. I’d say it’s no different whether you are talking about evolution, or the paranormal, or (apparently) something more mundane like what type of situations could cause someone to experience PTSD symptoms.

            • An Ardent Skeptic

              There’s also:

              People don’t read your work because they’ve already made up their minds, yet they are certain they can convince you that you’ve gotten it wrong despite not having read it. 😉

    • Travis Roy

      If twitter (or the bullying on twitter) causing somebody PTSD, does any good come from remaining on twitter, and continuing to interact with the abusers?

      • iamcuriousblue

        There’s that. It seems like if somebody finds Twitter so traumatizing, turning around and becoming a full-tilt Twitter warrior isn’t exactly the smartest way to respond.

        • Much about anxiety is counter-intuitive and doesn’t make sense to those who haven’t studied it and worked with folks who have it. I can’t speculate about Hensley in particular, though.

          • Guest

            No offense, but I find your last sentence spectacularly disingenuous in the context of this thread.

            • That’s your decision, of course, and you feel free to think what you want.. I don’t know MH, haven’t read any of the twittering and such, and frankly don’t care to. I was asked, by a friend, if a particular scenario could cause anxiety and distress, so I answered it.

            • Pitchguest

              By a friend. The more I read from you in this thread, the more I wonder whether that friend is more invested in this than you lead on. Additionally, you must be aware that PTSD is not the same thing as anxiety and distress.

              A poster on the forum I frequent wrote this comment and he makes, in my opinion, a good point.

              Huh? This guy just lost my respect. Homosexuality wasn’t a mental disorder even when it was considered so because…homosexuality was never a mental disorder in the first place. Cancer has always been an illness, even when nobody knew what it was because…cancer has always been an illness.

              You can’t just designate disorder and illness by fiat. If you went back a thousand years, or a million you would still find symptoms of PTSD (or cancer), whether there were names for them or not.

              This guy is living some kind of solipsistic fantasy where a tree doesn’t make any sound if there’s nobody there to hear it fall.

              This was in response to this, that you wrote in your blog post:

              Caleb W. Lack wrote:
              I think it’s hard for many to understand the concept that these disorders (and medical illness, for that matter) are socially constructed and defined according to us, the humans making the system. They aren’t handed down upon high from the Psychiatric Gods living upon Mount DSM or anything. They change, they shift, they might not even be that useful at times or embarrassing as hell later (homosexuality is a prime example).

              Any thoughts on this?

            • Well, he basically makes my point for me. We, as humans, make determinations and definitions about what is and is not an illness or a disease. This does not mean that symptoms of PTSD (and we’ve got some interesting hints of them in some of the earliest records of humankind) were not present…but it does mean that we, now, have determined to call them a disease.

              I’d recommend this chapter for anyone who wants to dive into the subject of social construction of disease. It’s not really something most of us think about – “What is an illness?” – and so it’s a bit of an odd concept at first.


              As far as “you can’t designate disorder and illness by fiat,” I have to wonder if your friend has actually looked into the way in which the DSM and ICD are developed. Sure, there is much research that takes place and is hopefully incorporated into the development of criteria for diagnosis, but many decisions are actually reached via committee decisions (or “fiat,” as it were).

              Finally, I can’t speak for my friend’s investment, only my own: I have no dog in this (apparently) large fight. I didn’t even know it was a fight prior to my writing this post.

            • An Ardent Skeptic

              Another interesting read… Thanks for this link as well!

      • LaRae Meadows

        Is this something like don’t go to school if you are being bullied at school? We should not tell the bullied that they are responsible to shut off their communications in order to accommodate their bullies.

        • Travis Roy

          School is mandatory, Twitter is completely optional. Not only that Twitter has systems in place to deal with the “harassment” (a lot of it is just criticism). You can block anybody, or make your profile private.

          • LaRae Meadows

            Oh, I guess my point was not clear. I don’t understand why we put responsibility for trauma on the traumatized and demand that once you suffer affects of emotional violence, you are now responsible for changing your behavior.

            It marginalizes the wrong group. This is to put the ownership of the internet on bullies, not the decent.

            • Pitchguest

              Hahah what? We put responsibility for trauma on the traumatised?

              How do you figure that?

            • Michael W Busch

              That is what is happening whenever someone is pressured to be silent to avoid being bullied, rather than the pressure being on the bullies to stop bullying.

            • Pitchguest

              Aha. So Melody is bullied, is what you’re saying?

              Strange. I could’ve sworn when she told her followers to false-flag a YouTube channel, that was a form of bullying. But I suppose it was the other way around? And when she called other women ‘sister punishers’ and ‘chill girls’, that was *her* being bullied. Likewise when she told a woman no one gave a toss about her until she went after x organisation. No one would react strongly to that sort of thing and if they did, well, that just means Hensley was the one being abused.

              Also, I seem to recall Hensley threatening to contact someone’s employer in a very “I know who you are” mafia-esque way. But that wasn’t bullying. That was that other word … blackmail.

              Yeah. Hensley could never do something as heinous as…bullying.

            • LaRae Meadows

              Larger issue here, larger issue.

            • given her definition of “bullying” is “someone, somewhere not agreeing with me and criticizing what I said”, it’s rather impossible to not bully her.

            • Travis Roy

              Not that I said she had to leave it, I pointed out that there were ways to protect yourself from the abuse with using Twitter’s already in-place mechanisms (blocking/private timeline). But in the end, you don’t have to use twitter if it’s causing you that much grief.. Even if it’s only to take a break, short or extended depending on the need, to give you time to get treatment, and get better.

              This doesn’t excuse the harassers, but you can’t control them, you can only control your own actions. If Twitter is not willing to help perhaps another outlet is a better option.

            • LaRae Meadows

              If your assertion that she should hide from twitter is simply to look out for her, well it’s ill founded. When someone has PTSD, they are encouraged to do things they find traumatic for exposure.

              However, the larger issue is if a person is traumatized, it is their duty to run away is certainly ill founded. It allows bullies to determine who is in communities.

              As for her tools, she used them to block abusive people but they created new profiles. I see no reason why she should have to become private to stop someone from doing something to her.

            • you mean “not agreeing with everything she says.”? How do you stop that?

            • If you’re traumatized by abuse on twitter, you don’t go out and try to abuse people on twitter the way hensley has, in particular Sara Mayhew and Abbie smith. You don’t attack other groups. At some point, at some point, you maybe DON’T STICK YOUR HAND IN THE FRIGGIN’ FIRE.

            • or, you keep demanding fire not burn.

        • DrewHardies

          No, they’re pretty unrelated.

          Travis’s question is about effective medical treatment. Your argument is about moral rights.

          • LaRae Meadows

            Drew. Travis is wrong on both fronts. Exposure is part of getting well from PTSD. And my issue is not simply morality but the practical issues of creating communities where such behavior is not met with gleeful excitement and pride.

            • DrewHardies

              You might expose people to harmless events that remind them of the root cause of their PTSD. For instance ‘loud noises’.

              You’d never put the person (or anyone, really) back into situations where they’re at risk for re-experiencing the trauma that caused the PTSD in the first place.

            • LaRae Meadows

              Drew. Actually direct exposure is often used when it isn’t life threatening to do it. Since there isn’t really a social media “loud noises” and doctors often want people not to avoid things which are triggering, it may be that her doc told her to do it.

              I wonder if we would tell her to stop making calls if she were getting harassing phone calls or stop checking her mail if she were getting threatening letters. People receiving harassing comments, no matter the medium, ought not be expected to abandon those mediums to accommodate people who would do them harm. Isolation and marginalization is also harmful to the person being harassed.

        • badrescher

          Should people stop locking their doors because the criminal is to blame for theft? Should people stop wearing seat belts because it’s not their fault if someone else runs a red light and slams into their car? Should people swim with sharks because it’s the shark’s fault if they are attacked? Because, you know, it’s their *right*?

          This kind of shallow thinking isn’t helpful. Yes, there are assholes and trolls in the world, but stomping your feet will make people behave the way you want them to and that’s just not realistic or even right.

          Furthermore, most of what I have seen people call “bullying” and “harassment” is nothing at all LIKE bullying and harassment. Melody is a good example, as she classifies just about anything that she doesn’t want to hear as “harassment”. The world simply isn’t designed to coddle any of us–not you, not me, and not Melody–and pretending that we can just click it all way by re-tweeting complaints of “harassment” whenever someone says “you’re wrong” isn’t helpful to anyone.

          • LaRae Meadows

            Bad. I’m sorry. What is your point? That if someone does not lock their door, they are responsible for being robbed? Are you equating thinking human beings with sharks? As if an animal hunting for food and harassing on twitter are the same thing?

            Just because there are bad things in the world, does not excuse bad things or invalidate people when they are affected by bad things.

            • No, you’re saying that no one should do anything, but rather bad people should stop beign bad. By that logic, I shouldn’t lock my doors, people should stop stealing things. I shouldn’t have to not tape $20 bills to my forehead, muggers shouldn’t mug.

              that’s a very nice world, but I’m going to go WAY out on a limb and say that you probably lock your doors, and you probably don’t tape $20’s to your forehead.

              How is that okay, but recommending someone so traumatized by twitter that she cannot “go on the internet” (I guess twitter isn’t the internet?) that maybe, picking fights on twitter isn’t bloody helping? Maybe? Just a bit?

          • LaRae Meadows

            Yesterday in a discussion on this topic, the stuff you are categorizing as “your wrong” were calling her a whore, and a number of other equally degrading terms.

            What we are discussing is not rational criticism but simple bullying.

            • and you’ve just categorized 100% of the criticisms about her as “you’re a whore”. Good job. Tell me, why is it okay when you do it?

            • LaRae Meadows

              No. I disapproved of the idea that all of the comments were critical and were instead bullying. For example I objected to calling someone a whore as being categorized as criticism.

              Nor are rape threats
              Nor are death threats
              Nor is calling on the phone to levy threats and harass

              I encourage you to review the comment in the context of the conversation. That may shed some light. I generally try not to offer a summary of each person’s points before each of my comments, that is impractical.

            • Pitchguest

              So? Most people who’ve criticised Melody have neither called her a whore, nor threatened with rape and/or death. So what is the problem here, exactly?

            • Well then this is easy. Please, show me a twitter conversation between melody and someone who is not already her friend who is publicly and specifically disagreeing with her on this point, wherein she reacts as one would expect someone of her age and education to, and I will happily, *happily* admit my error.

              You show me better facts, and I shall absolutely change my opinion. But the facts I’ve seen to date do not support your contention that she differentiates between legitimate disagreement and bullying. Everything I have seen to date says otherwise.

              Please, prove me wrong at your convenience, and I shall happily admit it right here.

      • When you look at anxiety, a person tends to do behaviors that reduce said anxiety (particularly avoidance and escape behaviors). These can be quite obvious (e.g., I see a snake and GTFO) or less obvious (e.g., I see a spider and SMASH IT DEAD) – either way, you reduce anxiety because the anxiety-provoking stimuli is no longer present or a danger.

        At the same time, though, you often have situations can be both anxiety-inducing and highly reinforcing. For example, my wife drags me to a movie, but I have social anxiety. I hate going to the crowded theater and sitting next to someone, but at the same time I love the work of this particular director. I want to go and don’t want to go. This is what we call an approach-avoidance conflict (a nice review of this concept in trauma is a classic article available here – http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/approach_avoidance_and_coping_with_stress.pdf).

        I think the bigger concern, here, is what would make some engage in bullying acts that would make someone feel that they should completely avoid a very widely used medium of social interaction.

        • She does avoid abuse on Twitter anyway, which is what she says is the problem, not “Twitter” itself. She uses @TheBlockBot, she gets her husband to block nasties on her TL for her. She asks people to not @ her in convos with people she has blocked…. All of which elicits abuse and ridicule from Travis, PitchGuest and friends in this thread.

          • Pitchguest

            So I guess the soldiers who has it from their friends dying in Afghanistan, would do swimmingly in Iraq? I mean, if it’s not from the place itself.

            • Err no, it’s from the stuff that happened there. Obviously!

              Most of her experiences on Twitter have been conversing with friends and having a laugh. So why would just being on Twitter be an issue? She said herself it isn’t so I don’t know what you hope to achieve here.

            • Pitchguest
            • Yes she has said many times the abuse online caused it… What about that can you not grasp?

            • Pitchguest

              I know you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, but this is ridiculous.

              “Yes, I have PTSD from Twitter …” She explicitly says Twitter. That she mentions other places as well is immaterial; she mentions Twitter specifically. You + density = > Amazon forest.

            • *ABUSE* on Twiiter, from *PEOPLE*, she has said it many many times. Way not to get the point PG.

              Facebork has a UI that illicits feelings of stress, helplessness and anger from me. But that is not what we are talking about, not what Melody has said in her own words.

          • Travis Roy

            “All of which elicits abuse and ridicule from Travis, PitchGuest and friends in this thread.”

            Please show where I’ve been abusive.

            • I did, linked to it. Unless you think discussing her suitability for her job due to the PTSD you seem to be denying then tagging her bosses is not abusive. It is, Travis.

            • ah, oolon. So how come when Laden et al have gone after people’s jobs by directly contacting their employer, you cheered that shit on.

              wait, wait, I already know: “it’s okay when we do it”. It’s your standard line. When you do it, it’s okay because . It’s only when OTHER people do things that it’s wrong.

            • Hmm I thought content free sniping at people was disallowed by the mods?

            • Pitchguest

              Yeah. Content free sniping is.

            • John, keep it civil, please.

            • I’m simply curious as to why Oolon is so selective in his outrage about causing someone problems with their employers. When such actions have been taken against people he disapproves of by people he approves of, he has not only a curious lack of outrage, but seems to be rather encouraging of said behavior. Almost as the good or bad of an action is entirely dependent on his opinion of the person taking the action and the target.

              But i’m sure Oolon can easily explain with proof how I’m completely incorrect here.

            • I don’t even remember what person’s employer Greg supposedly contacted. I’ve ignored the stench from the Slymepit for some time now.

              But whoever it was – Greg laden contacting peoples employers = wrong according to you. Therefore you agree that Travis shouldn’t have done that? Or have you a logical way of squaring the hypocrisy you would be demonstrating yourself by disagreeing?

            • Pitchguest

              LOL. You, ignoring the Slymepit? Hahahahahahahahaha!



              (You know full well who it was, James. Don’t play dumb.)

            • I’m with Damion, although unlike him I was never part of it, the place is at best pointless, worse a confirmation bias sweat shop. So yeah, I criticise pitters like yourself but never go there. Was it Mykeru’s employers? I remember he supposedly contacted his government employer at the time of the “doxxing” …

              Anyway the point is it’s irrelevant, if contacting employers to intimidate is wrong then it’s wrong. No?

            • Richard Sanderson

              What do you mean – you were never part of it? You remember the “screencap” incident? Anyway, you are a regular at FTB, Pharyngula, etc, so you are in no position to lecture the Pit. You also defend Ogvorbis!

            • I think it’s wrong to contact employers over this regardless of who does it. I *understand the impulse*, but I think it’s wrong. It’s wrong if laden does it, it’s wrong if travis does it.

              And as far as you forgetting. Oh nonsense, you most certainly did not. I also, (since this revolves around PTSD) didn’t notice you saying it was wrong when:

              He deliberately tried to trigger Justin Griffith’s PTSD
              When Stephanie Zvan et al defended his actions
              When a year later, Zvan and Canuck posted anniversary rememberances of it.

              You were so strangely, strangely silent on it. As you were when Laden tried to get people fired, or when Zvan went after Justin Vacula’s job.

              Which brings us back to my original point, which, mind you, you’re doing a splendid job of proving: that the only time you dislike “bad” behavior is when the person engaging in it is someone you dislike. When it’s someone you consider righteous and good, you have exactly zero problems with the same behavior you’re so horrified with in others.

              AKA: “It’s okay when we do it.”

              Just be honest about it for once. Once someone’s on your good side, they about have to actually physically assault…no. I don’t think even then. I am, at this point, firmly convinced that once someone is on your good side, you will explain away any and all “bad” behavior from them as totally justified. You are the Ultimate Enabler.

            • Richard Sanderson

              I think you remember exactly who Greg harassed and stalked, Oolon.

          • Richard Sanderson

            The Block Bot does not protect people from ableism and a number of other abuses stemming from you and others like you.

            For example, you have ignored Rebecca Watson’s ableism, even though you were alerted to it on a number of occasions (chop chop!), so you don’t get to claim that Melody using the BB is somehow an attempt to block harassment, when you purposely ignore harassment from your friends.

            Further, you are defending a woman (Melody) who has dealt out her fair share of harassment and abuse.

            You’re dismissed.

            • Rich, I get the impression you are really worked up about Rebecca. But this is off topic, please get back onto the topic of the OP.

              The block bot does help her avoid abuse. Damion has demonstrated she tweeted about it being part of her avoidance strategy. Hence this supports my claim that she has been avoiding her trigger. Something people here seem to want to lie about. For some reason.

            • Richard Sanderson

              No, oolon, I like making you squirm by pointing out you can’t add Rebecca Watson to the BB, even though she blatantly offended people with her ableism. I enjoy highlighting your hypocrisy. ~(chop chop)

              As for BB helping, Melody, that is rubbish. Blocking the names on my #WomenAbusers list would block most of the trolls, abusers, and sex pests in the atheist/secular/skeptic Twitter community.

              PS – chop chop.

        • My impression is that there is some contention about what constitutes bullying acts. Some are widely agreed-upon, and some are less so. I doubt much that a clinician must take it literally and for granted that every description heard is an accurate and sound one.

        • badrescher

          “I think the bigger concern, here, is what would make some engage in bullying acts that would make someone feel that they should completely avoid a very widely used medium of social interaction.”

          Caleb, I think you’re assuming that such bullying is as commonplace as claimed. I don’t believe that’s true, or even close to true.

          A more interesting question to me at this point is why would someone perceive any and all criticism as bullying, especially someone who has engaged in bullying him or herself.

          I think we have at least some idea why bullies bully–some dispositional factors and a lot of situational factors. What I find interesting is that many of the same personal characteristics contribute to malingering and self-pity when the context is different.

          • Barbara, bullying (in both children and adults, in both meat and cyberspace) is incredibly common. Several of the linked articles from the post support this.

            For your question, there’s a large and growing body of work showing that bullies seem to have quite a large number of psychosocial difficulties and impairments (see http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_What_Happens_Over/ for a short, well-sourced overview). This includes, often, being bullied themselves by some party. A bully isn’t a bully in all situations, but could be a victim in others.

          • Utterly disingenuous, frame what she calls bullying as “criticism”. Were the rafts of videos about “Histrionic Hensley” a critique? Amazing coming from one of the #FTBullies fans who frames blog posts on FreeeThoughtBlogs.com as bullying… But only when it goes one way apparently.

      • Michael W Busch

        That line is a way of saying “people are bullying you for saying things, so you shouldn’t say anything”. That is not helpful – it takes the bullying as a given, rather than as a cultural pattern that can be and must be changed.

        • Travis asked an empirical question, one whose answer is worth knowing, I think. You infer a “should” value statement from an empirical “is” statement but you can not get an ought from an is. The question of how such problems may be socially remedied is a separate question, and also one that is well worth exploring.

        • Pitchguest

          Are questions prohibited in your world?

    • iamcuriousblue

      I have little doubt that any medium that can transmit a traumatizing threat can be one that can lead someone to PTSD. However, those of us familiar with Hensley’s pattern of gross exaggeration, wolf crying, and Manichean views on gender politics question whether the backlash she’s received amounts to anything close to a traumatizing threat.

      Even if her PTSD is real, does the fact that some people are particular vulnerable to it (in other words, they’re proverbial “shrinking violets”) justify stifling rightful criticism of their ideas and actions because they might find such criticism traumatizing?

      • I’m working on a post about PTSD and trigger warnings that you may find interesting. It should be up in a few days.

        As far as personal thoughts or critiques of Hensley, I have none.

      • Michael W Busch

        “question whether the backlash she’s received amounts to anything close to a traumatizing threat.”

        Cut out the victim-blaming. You can review a fraction of the flood of abuse she has received in the last few days. There is no context that excuses it.

        And, as has been explained to you here already, it does not matter what you personally would consider a “traumatizing threat”. What matters is the effects that being bullied has on people.

        • Pitchguest

          She brought it upon herself. If she can’t take the heat, she shouldn’t throw fuel on the fire.

          Or rather, she shouldn’t have started the fire in the first place.

          Or what, do you think her “abuse” came from a vacuum?

          • Michael W Busch

            That is simply saying “shut up or people will bully you”.

            Cut out the victim blaming.

            I am done.

            • Pitchguest

              Or it’s saying “take responsibility for your actions.”

              And give it a rest with the bullying accusations.

          • LaRae Meadows

            So I guess you are conceding that your issues are not that her diagnosis is real, or that she was actually harassed – you simply think the harassment was justified.

            It is a shameful thing to gloat insults when intellect is available to use instead.

            • Pitchguest

              It’s a clever little trick you people have, when you keep using loaded words to describe certain actions. Bullying. Harassment. Stalking. Even though I never used the word ‘harassment’ or implied ‘harassment’ was justified, there you are putting words in my mouth. And now I’m supposed to defend something I never actually said. Very good. As I said, clever little trick. Not very honest, but…clever.

              Oh, and I would use intellect more often, but unfortunately the people I’m addressing has proven time and again that I’d just be wasting my breath. Do me a favour, LaRae: prove me wrong.

            • LaRae Meadows

              So now you have a semantic issue – the word is wrong. Again, you are not concerned if she actually has PTSD, or if she should leave twitter for her own good; you simply believe the behavior – call it harassment or dinglhehoppery – which caused her distress was justified and find it no moral hazard.

              As for intellect, again you had a choice and again you chose to use insults. That says nothing me or my character.

            • Pitchguest

              Here’s how I feel about Melody Hensley.

              When you say something stupid and people call you out on it, you don’t turn around and call it harassment. You take responsibility for what you say and either own it or apologise. Alternatively, you could own it and attempt to clarify, or apologise and attempt to clarify. But don’t play the victim, turn on the crocodile tears and claim “harassment”, “bullying”, “cyberstalking” or whatever else you could think of.

              Melody Hensley hasn’t been afraid to dish it out herself, but when push comes to shove suddenly she is the one being attacked. It’s absurd. This latest gaffe is of her own doing and yet for some ungodly reason, she tries to part blame. Everyone is against her. Boo hoo. She has been doing this for so long now, I don’t care anymore. I might have been sympathetic once, but that ship has long sailed.

              She wants to make it all about her, and her supporters wants to make it all about her, and I am sick of it. “Her” distress and “her” bullying and “her” harassment. What about the distress she caused the woman she told didn’t mean shit until she went after a sceptic organisation? What about the distress she caused when she told other women they were ‘sister punishers’ and ‘chill girls’? This is just scraping the bottom of the barrel. Sorry, but it really has become a parody.

              What happened to personal responsibility? Am I supposed to own what I say, or am I supposed to call you an harasser and cyberstalker?

              And I really couldn’t care less what you think of me and my character.

            • LaRae Meadows

              You are again stating that she got what she deserved. Personal responsibility means if you call someone names, or you threaten them or treat them nicely, that is on you.

              For example, you again had the chance to discuss the topic we were discussing and not resort to insults. That is not the choice you made. I am not responsible for your choice to insult, you are responsible for that choice.

              I think there is room between sympathy and dinglhehoppery. For example, if one does not care for her, one could choose to address the points she brings up or simply ignore her. Yet, people choose to repeatedly insult her in order to silence her and then justify it by blaming her for their behavior while also pontificating personal responsibility.

              “Am I supposed to own what I say, or am I supposed to call you an harasser and cyberstalker?”

              If I came up with dozens of new profiles on twitter so you could not block me, and I used those profiles to call you names, or threaten to hurt you, then you could call me a cyber stalker or harasser.

              Calling someone a whore is not criticism of their ideas, it’s not intellectual discourse. It is a disgrace and shameful.

              “And I really couldn’t care less what you think of me and my character.”

              I didn’t say anything about my feelings on your character or suggesting that you do. I said your choice to continuously choose insults over intellect is reflective of your character, not mine.

            • Pitchguest

              Ah, yes, because the people who tweet at Melody Hensley all do it repeatedly, call her names and threaten to hurt her, using different aliases. *facepalm* Or at least, the people she dislikes are.

              And again, the topic bounces back to what a helpless, innocent victim Melody Hensley is. It’s textbook. Unbelievable.

            • LaRae Meadows

              You asked if I would be a cyber stalker or harassing. I explained the conditions under which I would be a cyber stalker and harasser. Instead of addressing the point of my comments,I’ve seen points I did not make refuted. A straw man was built and knocked down. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

              What this comes down to is the believe she got the harm she deserved and gloating that she was harmed or an accusation of lying when there is no way it could be proven so. I find such gloating and rejoicing over another person’s harm or unfounded accusations pathetic and shameful.

            • she was fine with twitter abuse when she was the abuser. Funny that.

            • whatever

              “Public Service Announcement:
              The right to free speech means the goverment can’t arrest you for what you say.

              It doesn’t mean that anyone else has to listen to your bullshit, or host you while you share it.

              The 1st Amendment doesn’t shield you from criticism or consequences.

              If you’re yelled at, boycotted, have your show cancelled, or get banned from an internet community, your free speech rights aren’t being violated.

              It’s just that the people listening think you are a cunt.

              And they are showing you the door.”

              xkcd 1357

              The Internet has yelled at Melody. The Internet thinks Melody is a cunt. The Internet has shown Melody the door.

              I don’t see in the originalist text of xkcd 1357 any reference to
              harasssment so I disbelieve that the SJL founder Randall Monroe could
              conceive that Melody’s treatment constitutes harassment.

              –argumentum ad xkcd

            • David Jones

              Let me ask you, just to clarify.

              What do you mean by ‘has PTSD’?

              Do you mean, exhibits a collection of symptoms that are shared with people who have PTSD, or which are specified as symptoms of PTSD by DSM while at the same time not fulfilling the diagnostic criteria for PTSD?

              i think that’s Caleb’s POV.

              Or do you mean, satisfies the diagnostic criteria for PTSD?

              You see, to an extent, PTSD may well be a construct, convenient for certain social and political reasons. Reifying it as a discrete condition and claiming someone ‘has’ it when they don’t meet the diagnostic criteria could well be to utterly misunderstand the point of PTSD as a diagnosis. And may well be misunderstanding the current state of psychiatry.

            • she likes to attack people she dislikes. it’s only a problem when she can’t do it scott free.

            • whatever

              And when you troll long into an abyss the abyss also trolls into you.
              She trolls long and hard. One day, she got trolled back.
              That is not harassment.

            • LaRae Meadows

              Ah yes, the beautiful “she got what she deserved” argument. Well, I am not the type to relish in the suffering of other people with gleeful internet comments and gloating.

              Either the behavior (trolling and insults) is wrong, or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then there is no grounds for anger directed toward her. If it is wrong, then there is reason for compassion to all afflicted by trolling and harassment.

              This argument that bad behavior is somehow justified by other bad behavior – well we are supposed to be taught that is incorrect thinking when we are in grade school.

            • whatever

              “Ah yes, the beautiful “she got what she deserved” argument. … If it is wrong, then there is reason for compassion to all afflicted by trolling and harassment.”

              Got what you deserve has nothing to do with it.
              Reason has nothing to do with this.

              You stand up at the front of the Hollywood Bowl and with your megaphone denounce Jews, Gays, minorities and Martin Scorsese, there is nothing reasonable about all the lemons and tomatoes that will be tossed in your direction.

              But it’s simple math.

              Do not troll on the Internet. The Internet is far bigger than you are.

              When you do troll and get pounded, do not whine about your harassment. You are only asking for more.

              “Well, I am not the type to relish in the suffering of other people with gleeful internet comments and gloating.”

              I don’t know Friedrich Nietzsche, maybe you can find him saying it’s not fair for the abyss to gaze back unto you.
              She who fights with monsters should look to it that she himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

              Fair and reasonable are out of scope.

              I don’t know you, but from reading your other comments here, I think you are that person, and I suspect you are in denial of this.

            • whatever

              “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” — John Gilmore

              Melody Hensley is censorship.
              The Net routed around her.

              What she received was the consequences of her free speech.
              The Internet yelled at her. The Internet considers her to be an asshole. The Internet showed her the door. –xkcd

              It may not have been fair. It may not have been reasonable.

            • David Kirby Dean

              I don’t think there is “gleeful” intent. If you touch a fire and get burned – Its YOUR fault – correct? When you touch that burning coal – You ARE getting what you deserve! You beat a lion – That lion attacks you – You GOT what you deserved.

              She DID get what she deserved. Its not nice. The world sucks that way. But its a hard fact!!!!

              The internet IS that fire. It IS that lion. Its cause and effect sadly. Its how this world works.

              PS: I HAVE PTSD… I know what its like! (Experience: 2 years 3 months 18 days in Iraq – 2 bullet wounds, 1 shrapnel wound, 1000+ nightmares!)

              PPS: If you have PTSD (surprised the writer of this article didn’t talk about this) you want to stay away from things that cause episodes. IE: If ticking causes you to have flashbacks. You don’t go out and buy/use a fucking clock! Thusly you would NOT continue to use Twitter! It makes no sense… It sounds NOTHING like PTSD – It sounds like Schizophrenia (Of note: I am in NO way a doctor – Only that through my own issues – I have had long tangent studies of different disorders!).

            • Well done David, you just compared those bullying her to an unthinking process, fire. Then a wild animal … I’m guessing you are not actually a parody who is on her side, but it’s coming across that way with those statements. Bullies are human beings who make choices to hurt others or not, no one “brings it on themselves”, that is a bullies narrative to excuse bullying. Unless you think the Simpsons episode where Lisa proved bullies are unthinkingly driven by pheromones is science.

              BTW sorry to hear you have PTSD, from what I’ve learnt recently it’s a horrible debilitating illness. You don’t need to provide any proof of diagnosis to me as I lose nothing by expressing some tiny bit of sympathy.

              I suggest you read the post and some of the comments as the person writing it is a professional and disagrees with you. Exposure therapy is a valid treatment of PTSD according to the US Dept of Veterans. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/therapy-med/prolonged-exposure-therapy.asp

            • David Kirby Dean

              Oolon. Thanks for the reply. There are a lot of people here that disagree. And yes. I do not believe she suffers from PTSD. I believe there may be a disorder. My opinion however isn’t something that anyone should take – Nor does it matter though! Lol

              But from personal experience. She doesn’t produce the same feedback to stimuli as others do that have it. Lots of things force me to question it. That being said: I am NOT a doc as I said. I may be wrong ofc – But red flags for me are red flags. Lol. (For example: It has taken “one year” for her to come forward with this issue and to try and raise awareness”? The fact that she is seeking 2.5k$ for PTSD research where the VA has just agreed to 45m$ – There are better ways to bring awareness to the issue without making yourself look like a money monger. And her quote about “According to my psychologist, anything that make me feel in control is good for my health.” is actually the opposite of what you should do. It took me (I got out in 2005) over 8 years to get use to sleeping without a blanket over my face. I still can’t sit with my back to a door. You MUST over come these little quarks in your life if you suffer from PTSD – If you don’t you let your disorder ruin what life you have left – It literally kills you form the inside out – Notice the suicide rate amongst military today!

              On the note about the US Dept of Veterans affairs stance on the condition:

              Under Criterion A: stressor > 4
              “Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse). This does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.”

              And YES. Those that are “bullying” her ARE an unthinking process. Its the nature of the beast she poked! I in NO WAY support their actions. But she provided the fuel for that fire sadly…

            • So you still haven’t read the post, as Caleb says it would be “ludicrous and unethical” to diagnose her over Twitter. More so given her husband has been at least partially running it for her for at least a week.

              Look like a “money monger”! By raising money for a charity she has no connection to other than they are researching the condition. Wow, you don’t seem at all fair.

              Tip: When saying something is bad and you add a “but” in, that but negates what you just said.

            • Thank you for your service, David. I work with a number of veterans and tell you honestly that I truly value the sacrifices you made.

              That being said, avoidance isn’t just “not doing” something (as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in these comments). PTSD is a dimensional, not categorical problem (it varies in degree), and I’d ask you to please kindly refrain from throwing about diagnostic terms like “schizophrenia” when you are not a professional in mental health.

            • David Kirby Dean

              That is why I specifically said “Of note: I am in NO way a doctor – Only that through my own issues – I have had long tangent studies of different disorders!” right after the comment – This is my own opinion!

              That being said: I’m sorry if that in anyway misinforms anyone about this issue. I posted here only as someone that also has the disorder.

        • Pitchguest

          And “no content that excuses it” … it’s backlash from her threatening to report soldiers with PTSD to their commanding officers, it’s backlash from her condescending to other people with PTSD and telling them to “educate themselves”, it’s backlash from people who are tired of her patronising attitude and her nonchalance concerning her own PTSD.

          And would you know it, I read most of that Storify (by the way, what happened with Storify being a tool for harassment?) and most of it is from people who are genuinely angry at the things Hensley has said. They don’t get to be emotional much like Hensley has been? Only she gets to do that? What a joke.

          • Michael W Busch

            She did not threaten to report soldiers with PTSD to their commanding officers. She said that she would report soldiers who harassed her to their commanding officers. Notice the key difference there?

            Genuine anger is one thing. Rape and death threats and a massive flood of sexist slurs is something else entirely. You should be able to recognize the difference.

            • Pitchguest


              Here are the mentions,


              here is the hashtag,


              Show me the rape and death threats and flood of sexist slurs. Go ahead.

              She threatened to report soldiers with PTSD to their commanding officers. In Hensley’s mind, being asked questions she doesn’t like is harassment which is exactly why a rape, sexual abuse and fellow PTSD victim was deemed one and blocked. What the soldiers did was question her, which might be offensive, and what she responded with was condescension and announcing she’ll take the complaint to their superiors. She then undermined their PTSD and told them to “educate” themselves. Is it any wonder it escalated the way it did?

              But I hope you’re not saying that just because Hensley may now be experiencing backlash (allegedly) in the form of threats and sexist slurs (among other things) that she’s done nothing wrong? Or is that what you’re saying? I hope not.

            • WilliamRLBaker

              I would think the one question that must be asked is @oolon confirmed that Melody Hensley Experienced rape and child abuse yet she gets ptsd from twitter and not the rape and child abuse?

              There are certain disconnects and missing information it would seem to me that PTSD was already existent its twitter causing the symptoms but not the cause of the psychosis, yet nothing of the sort is claimed instead twitter and harassment is claimed as the cause of the psychosis yet I’m sure as any one else that being a feminist, going to these talks and conferences and Is she an atheist? I’m unsure but under those circumstances it is likely she has faced harassment LONG before twitter interactions yet it isn’t until twitter that she’s all of a sudden developed PTSD.

            • First of all I confirmed no such thing, it’s written in Zvans post which Melody vetted (I have no reason to think it wasn’t). Also she makes mention on her TL of her past abuse.

              Just because she didn’t get PTSD from X doesn’t mean she cannot then get it from Y. Not exactly rocket science. Also, again, she said a campaign of harassment from her own community caused it. Not just Twitter. Do some research being abused by people you think are part of your community is much much worse than people who are not. She could probably take any amount of abuse from theists.

            • Richard Sanderson

              Do some research being abused by people you think are part of your community is much much worse than people who are not.

              Oh, the IRONY. EllenBeth Wachs will tell you all about that, and no doubt, all the other women in the secular, atheist, skeptic movements labelled “sister punishers”, “chill girls”, etc. The there are those who have had Tumblrs set up to harass them. Looking at you, Zvan!

            • Yes I agree, EBW getting abuse in a space she thought was safe made it much worse than the vast amount of lies and abuse she got from the Slymepit. Glad we agree on something. But your point fails when it comes to “chill girls” etc. As Mayhew and others do not consider FTB people to be part of their community.

            • Richard Sanderson

              Funny how EBW never mentions the “lies and abuse” she got from the Pit. Seems you are making stuff up again. Your point about Mayhew is simply EVASION.

            • bismarket 1

              Sadly Questions = Harassment to some folks. I have even seen the very idea of questions ridiculed & painted as a tool of the Patriarchy or some such nonsense. If anyone was a little skeptical about Hensley’s PTSD they automatically became harassers. Military personnel simply wondering why someone suffering from it would return to it’s cause, (Twitter) were doubly condemned & was cause for them to be reported to their employer, so i can understand why some people got a little mad. I did feel that after the initial day or so of outrage there was little point in continuing to send her tweets & it was obvious that the outrage many people clearly felt about her comments would be turned & used as ammunition against them. I have to wonder whether this brouhaha will change anything though?

            • Did you learn nothing from this post? Caleb says, quite clearly, diagnosing from Tweets is “ludicrous and unethical”. I think that qualifies as harassment, there is no reason to think she is lying and nothing to gain from being “skeptical” about something that is none of your business. Her private life is private.

            • bismarket 1

              Then how exactly (If it was all so private) did anyone even find out she had PTSD?

        • so it’s okay for her to attack people, but when those people come back at her with the same kind of things, THEN it’s wrong? Why is it okay for her to be abusive towards people?

          • Same kind of things? I’ve been blocking people threatening to rape her, kill her, dismember her, find her and beat her up …. Also haven’t you managed to look up tu quoque yet? It’s still a fallacy.

            • that’s funny oolon, you’re using it here. Anything melody says to anyone is okay because people are mean to her. I mean, I guess that makes you an expert in tu quoque, you use it enough to justify the behavior of those you approve of.

              Again, we see how you hide behind “it’s okay when we do it.”

            • Richard Sanderson

              Have you blocked Sasha Pixlee for recommending that someone immolate themselves?

              Didn’t think so, hypocrite!

            • Anger in response to harassment/bigotry/etc has always been tolerated by the block bot blockers. Given you supposedly copy our rules I would have thought you’d know that Rich?

            • Richard Sanderson

              That sounds more like “it’s OK when we do it”. Plus, we all know anger in response to harassment/bigotry from #FTBullies is NOT tolerated by the block bot goons.


      • David Jones

        ‘I have little doubt that any medium that can transmit a traumatizing threat can be one that can lead someone to PTSD’

        Not according to DSM. Media interactions are specifically excluded.

        • As I also posted below:

          “Right, David. That means I can’t get PTSD from watching something on television or hearing about it on the news – in other words, simply by absorbing information. This is very different, though, from interpersonal interactions that are facilitated by social media. These are entirely different things.”

          • David Jones

            Right, now I am puzzled indeed. You now seem to be agreeing that the DSM diagnostic criteria ARE germane after all in deciding whether a patient has PTSD. Quote: I can’t get PTSD from watching something…etc

            So why do you pay attention to and accept this criterion but seem to be casual about others?

            • LaRae Meadows

              David. Our brains don’t have a social media center. There is no “twitter threat” center of our brain. The reason why social media is so sticky a meme is because it activates the social areas of ourselves.

              “We found that we could predict the intensity of people’s Facebook use
              outside the scanner by looking at their brain’s response to positive
              social feedback inside the scanner”


              When you grow up in a home where you experience in home combat and being sensitive to the moods of people around you can help you prevent rape or beatings – you develop a highly tuned antenna for attitude. For those people, ongoing twitter threats feel like a scream would feel to a person with 1,000,000x better hearing to a normal person.

              When you put those two things together (predisposition, and trained sensitivity) with a life threatening, rape threatening, insulting rabble attacking for over a year, yes – it is enough.

            • David Jones

              It isn’t enough according to DSM.

            • I’m not diagnosing anyone with PTSD, as it’s unprofessional. Apparently you are.

            • David Jones

              Er…nope, I’m not doing anything of the sort. I haven’t diagnosed anyone. I’m talking about the diagnostic criteria, as were you, implicitly, when you talked about whether someone can ‘have’ PTSD.

              You wrote, just above my comment:

              That means I can’t get PTSD from watching something on television or hearing about it on the news

              and what I have written is much the same: I’ve followed the DSM diagnostic criteria to understand when someone can ‘get’ PTSD.

              If you can see a difference between your following the DSM criteria to agree a person can’t be properly diagnosed (or ‘get’, in your terms) PTSD under some circumstances; and my following the same criteria to draw the same conclusion well…I’d be interested.

    • Pitchguest

      The elephant in the room which has been a topic of interest for a long time, at least for those who are more familar with Hensley than others, is why is she still on Twitter?

      As a licensed psychologist, if you had diagnosed someone with PTSD, would you advice for them to revisit the place where they got it? And on the bigger question, is that a behaviour that others who suffer from PTSD share? If you can truly get PTSD from Twitter, social media, or over the internet in general, then do they who provide the diagnosis look at universal symptoms (shakes, nightmares, cold sweats) or is this another, (much) less intense, form of PTSD where you also don’t have to avoid the place where it originated?

      • LaRae Meadows

        Is this something like don’t go to school if you are being bullied at school?

        • Travis Roy

          If you’re being bullied at school it’s easy to identify and deal with the people doing the bullying. It’s also impossible to “block” them like you can via twitter.

        • DrewHardies

          If someone’s being abused so severely that they get PTSD, then they really should get pulled from that situation.

          Why would a psychologist ever recommend that someone let themselves be exposed to more PTDS-level psychic trauma?

        • Pitchguest

          Heh. Not even remotely the same scenario. But suppose if you were bullied at school and suppose you were bullied to such an extent that it caused you severe mental grief not unlike PTSD, would you willingly go back to that place?

          And no, I’m not saying don’t go to school if you are being bullied.

      • The best and most well-supported treatment for PTSD relies heavily on exposure and response prevention. In effect, the more maladaptively anxious you are about something, the more you need exposed to it in order to allow yourself to habituate to those stimuli so that they are not anxiety-provoking. Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy as developed by Edna Foa is one of the primary treatment options, for example. So, under properly guided care, one would expose themselves to that which causes them the most distress. It’s not an easy or fun process, but it works quite well.

        It’s also important to understand that PTSD symptoms occur on a continuum, not as a dichotomous PTSD/no-PTSD category. So, someone with a certain level of symptoms may be more or less functional in their environment than someone with differing levels.

        • Pitchguest

          But that exposure would be gradual, no? That process would happen incrementally, wouldn’t it? Over an x period of time (depending on the person involved).

          The thing with Melody is, she claims she got PTSD from Twitter – so severe that she had to take leave from work and has now been bedridden (her words) for a year and a half – and then spent most of her time on Twitter. There was never a gradual exposure of any kind. She never left. She got PTSD and then went about business as usual. Now, surely there must be a handbook or something that you peruse to clearly confirm whether someone truly suffers from PTSD or if they’re just having a panic attack or similar. There must be symptoms that you look for that corresponds with other victims. Right?

          As a licensed, presumably professional, psychologist, how many PTSD sufferers have you heard that returned to the place of their torment willingly and without problems, going about their day as if nothing happened? From the people who usually get it, soldiers, how many soldiers have you heard from this happening? How many rape or torture victims? I’m not a psychologist, but I suspect the number to that would be zero. So to hear your (presumably) professional opinion, considering Hensley’s situation, do you really think she suffers from PTSD?

          • No, she claimed she got PTSD from *abuse* from *people* on Twitter, blogs, videos etc. To be precise … Someone who got PTSD from being attacked in the street may have an issue with just being in the street, they may not.

            • Pitchguest

              You don’t seem to be grasping this, James.

              If someone gets attacked in the street, they may not have an issue being in the street, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t go back to the same fucking street! Do you get me? Twitter is static – you can access it from anywhere. If you say you have PTSD from *abuse* on Twitter, why in seven hells would you go back on Twitter?

            • Cos most of the time she enjoys Twitter, I don’t see why you cannot grasp that she has an issue with *abuse* on Twitter. Not Twitter.

              (Oh and blogs, videos, etc. As she never claimed just Twitter abuse caused it)

            • Pitchguest

              If she simply had a problem with *abuse* on Twitter, that would be one thing. A lot of people have that in common. But she says she has post-traumatic stress disorder from Twitter. Which is not the fucking same as simply a problem with abuse, now is it, James?

              Honestly. How many goalposts have you shifted in your lifetime?

            • Are you taking the piss PG? I know you are famously obdurate but taking her short statement about getting PTSD from blogs, videos and Twitter absolutely literally is a laugh.

              Why are you not claiming she got it from freethoughtblogs.com as well then? She reads that and she claimed she got it from *blogs*, not a particular one or even ones with abuse on. So it was clearly every blog! Take an aspirin, get 40 winks, and come back to the comment section refreshed and ready for coherent comments please.

            • Pitchguest

              Because she didn’t mention freethoughtblogs specifically, you silly sod!

              Ought I take her literal statement that she got PTSD from Twitter as a metaphor, then?

              Give me a fucking break. I think that’s enough trawling for today.

            • I would agree. You and oolon up there need to go grab a drink and take a break. It’s quite clear you disagree.

              Also, any other personal attacks and name calling, and you’ll both be banned. Thanks.

          • There was never a gradual exposure of any kind. She never left. She got PTSD and then went about business as usual…

            This is a testable empirical claim of the sort that usually requires evidence to be believed by practicing skeptics. You say she never left social media for any amount of time. Where is your evidence?

            • Travis Roy

              Her twitter feed itself. Show a gap longer than say, a weekend, if you can.

            • Pitchguest made the affirmative claim, he can back it up. No need to shift the burden of proof to me for being skeptical about it.

            • Also the thing she is avoiding is *abuse* on Twitter, she is tweeting right now cos her husband (And the block bot) is blocking hundreds of people and she is not looking at her mentions at all.

            • Richard Sanderson

              Is she aware that my #WomenAbusers list details many more nasties, abusers and bullies, to help make one’s Twitter experience safer?

            • How do you know she is avoiding her mentions/interactions tab on Twitter? Private convo or public post?

            • I don’t think Simon would mind me saying we have DM’d and he has been blocking people on her TL. I’ve been adding them to the block bot so he has less manual blocking to do. I’d imagine it’s a toll on him as well. AFAIK she is off FB as well currently, as Simon again posted from her FB page.

              Dunno why people think there is some sort of conspiracy here and she is engaged in trying to fool people into thinking she has PTSD. For what end? Not like she is suing anyone for the damage done or gains anything from it. Clearly it’s the opposite case!

            • By my count that is at least three distinct “avoidance behaviors” on her part:

              1) Taking off four solid weeks ~ Dec 2012
              2) Getting on the Block Bot ~ Feb 2013 (correct date?)
              3) Having Simon manage her social media on occasion

              Now maybe I’m being hypercredulous here, but it seems pretty clear to me that the many objections in this thread based on the idea that Melody does not fit the avoidance criterion are demonstrably misguided. Lord knows I’m not in a hurry to agree with you most of the time, James, but I don’t see how the evidence can be interpreted any other way here. As a skeptic, I have to follow the evidence where it leads.

            • Pitchguest

              Her Twitter feed has been consistent since before she got her diagnosis and after. She announced she had PTSD on Twitter on the 31st of July. Since then she has kept a steady stream of tweets every day. Check it yourself.

            • Will do.

            • The tool I’m using doesn’t go back far enough, alas. Going to have to leave the burden of proof on you for now to back up your own claim.

            • Pitchguest

              What tool would that be?

            • You cannot see the graph? Logo is in the upper right.

            • Pitchguest

              Are you really going to force me to screenshot every tweet of hers from July last year to the present because of some undescript tool?

            • Feel free to retract your testable claim if you aren’t willing to do the research to back it up. And it’s December 2012 not July 2013.

            • Pitchguest

              Listen. Mate. I haven’t the foggiest idea what you mean by tool, what you mean by graph, what you mean by logo in the upper right. It could be language barrier, it could be I’m tired, but please, speak plainly.

            • Probably you should refresh the page.

            • Pitchguest

              Still nothing. Using AdBlock, if that helps.

            • Let me know if you ever figure out how to support your claim that she never took a break from Twitter in the relevant time period. Until then, have a good night!

            • Pitchguest

              Jesus Christ, Damion. When did you become such a smug *****?

              self edit

            • The very moment I stopped reading the Pit.

            • Pitchguest

              That is…not an insult.

            • Pitchguest

              Oh, and willing to do the research? I’m looking at her twitter feed right now, I’m seeing her make a tweet every day, but how do you propose I collate it all together? Just take a screenshot for every ten tweets, paste it in Paint, put it on imgur; lather, rinse, repeat? And I’m supposed to “enact this labour” because you, what, use a tool?

              You don’t suppose you could, I don’t know, not use the tool?

            • Pitchguest

              Oh. Well, it seems her twitter feed only goes as far back as mid May last year. But the thing is, she still announced it July 31st. That still makes it a consistent tweet (or tweets) per day, and I suppose when you said your “tool” didn’t go that far back, you meant as far as back as December 2012. Right?

              Although, while perusing her twitter feed again, I did notice some discrepancies. There are sometimes a day where she doesn’t tweet, so I might have to concede the point. But did you at least try to corroborate that she’s tweeted almost every day since she announced she had PTSD on Twitter? Or am I the only who should…enact…that labour?

            • You are trying to make the point that Melody did not engage in any avoidance behaviors, right?

              You may well be able to show that she did not quit Twitter altogether, from the aforementioned graph, except it does not go far back enough to mark the beginning of her symptoms.

            • You are trying to make the point that Melody did not engage in any avoidance behaviors, right?

              How do you account for her use of the Block Bot if not to avoid being harassed on Twitter?

            • Bennie T Crouch

              Pitch, I agree with the main thrust of your arguments here, but to pay devil’s advocate, just because she tweeted on a constant basis, doesn’t necessarily mean that she was reading responses,tweets, and retweets from her followers or purple she files

            • gps

              Very astute observation, Bennie.

            • you already know the answer. Of course he is. and then he’ll dismiss it anyway, with some argle-garble about how clearly you’re wrong, there are gaps during her sleep time, so NOT CONSTANTLY ACTIVE.

              Damion’s as predictable as poop in a dysentery outbreak.

            • Such excellent feedback, John. Your assessment of character is always welcome. Photoshopped any heads into gaping assholes lately?

            • oh that would be SUCH a biting comeback if it wasn’t for the fact that the only time i’ve done that, I photshopped my OWN head into into the goatse. To prove a point which was, no, stupid things like that only “harm” you if you allow them to.

              Or, as Eleanor Roosevelt said far better:

              “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

              But once again, we see the important thing for you Damion, is that you feel superior to everyone. It is ultimately the only outcome of any encounter you care about.

            • oh that would be SUCH a biting comeback if it wasn’t for the fact that the only time i’ve done that, I photshopped my OWN head into into the goatse.

              Are you quite sure about that?

              http://bynkii.com/bynkiidotcomimages/sheseesyouwhenyouresleeping.png ← Memory-holed, thank the gods.


            • Oh yeah, that one. Okay, you’re right on that. In addition to myself, I’ve added other people. Either way, if it’s so horrible, why would I do it to myself? You can’t have it both ways. If it’s truly horrible, then why would I put myself through that. If it isn’t, then it kind of undermines the OMG horrible aspect of it.

              It’s kind of hard to make something out to be overwhelmingly horrible when people do it to themselves, and somehow don’t give a fuck.

              Also, i’m unsure how my rather large lack of photoshop talent counters my argument. I’m sure you can explain how that’s not an ad hom, which I’m sure you’ll present here.

              Oh, and i didn’t memory hole anything. That would imply I took down a single image or entry. The entire site is gone, along with every other site I’ve ever created. Feel free to verify it. But if you really want that image that bad, I have it backed up, i can easily send it to you, so you can put it on your wall of Damion Uber Alles.

            • If you’re going to do Deutschlandlied gags at least use my last name.

            • Oh bless your heart, I used a phrase in german, and so now it’s “Deutschlandlied” gags? Had I pulled one from Spanish, would it have been a Franco reference? Lame. Perhaps you should use the word you originally used? Here, from the email I get from Disqus when you reply:

              “If you’re going to do Nazi gags at least use my last name,”

              Someone hit the post button a bit too early I think.

              But, it’s more of what I expect from you. I guess I disappointed you by admitting my error. Probably ruined a whole host of pithy comments from you. However, it is nice to know that you categorize everything I do so well. Tell me, do you use a database or a spreadsheet? I’d recommend a DB personally, they’re better suited for this kind of thing, although a spreadsheet is easier to use as a rule.

            • I did, in fact, hit the post button before checking the facts on that one, but I don’t get the sense that you’ve looked it up at all.

              Had I pulled one from Spanish, would it have been a Franco reference?

              It is a phrase from the part of the anthem that they stopped singing after Franco’s regime fell? If so, then I don’t see why not.

            • Because your primary concern here is again, dismissing via the most convenient way possible, any and all disagreement. It’s what you do, you’re hardly breaking new ground.

              your only interest in any discussion, as you’ve shown here, is ensuring everyone thinks you’ve won.

            • You forgot sheer entertainment value. Don’t sell yourself short, John.

              If you wanted to go back to the original topic it was this:

              Of course he is. and then he’ll dismiss it anyway, with some argle-garble about how clearly you’re wrong, there are gaps during her sleep time, so NOT CONSTANTLY ACTIVE.

              As you may not have noticed, there is four week activity gap in December 2012, right when Melody was first diagnosed.

              Care to revise your earlier statement?

            • Actually, let’s play your game: prove that said gap actually shows her not posting on twitter at all, as opposed to protecting her account so you cannot see it. I’ll wait for your definitive proof.

              Said search is not actually proof that what you’re claiming happened. What it shows is that the search didn’t find any data.

              (Pro tip: I know you can’t actually prove this. Because in this instance, I know how stuff works. But sometimes it is fun to use someone’s own tactics to be really annoying just because you can.)

              When you can definitively and objectively prove that, you just let me know.

            • this is the thing I love about you damion: at the end of the day, you make sure to never actually define your terms. What’s “constantly active”? well, you never actually define that so that people can objectively do anything. Instead, you very carefully avoid being nailed down to definitive terms so that you can redefine them as needed so you can “win”. Hence my statement on this.

              But in this case, you screwed up. Pitch accidently defined the term in question (in this stream at least) in a way that is definitive, namely, “july of last year.” Since that statement was made in April of 2014, the only possible “july of last year” is july of *2013*. Oops. Here, because you dislike such things, *do* allow me to quote pitch’s statement:

              “Are you really going to force me to screenshot every tweet of hers from July last year to the present because of some undescript tool?”

              and alas, you refer to December of 2012. Now, i know you dislike numbers, but *2012* and *2013* are in fact, different years. I’m afraid you’ll have to recalibrate your search. Ta.

            • Not sure why you guys think July 2013 is particularly relevant in terms of PTSD-related avoidance behaviors. Melody made it quite clear when this all started.


            • Because that’s the date range pitch used.

              But let’s be honest for a change. Well, a change for you at least. This isn’t about Melody Hensley, or PTSD. If it were, your arguing points would be completely different, we both know this.

              All of this, including Caleb’s article, is armchair doctoring at best. None of use are hensley’s doctor, none of us have any details on this. So you don’t care about the case at hand. What you do care about, is what you always care about, and ironically, what oolon cares about: making sure that when certain subjects come up and certain people comment, you’re there to slap them into place and once again establish yourself as the most smartest.

              This is never about, or more correctly, *you* are never about the subject at hand. As long as you can walk away with a “victory”, as long as you can convince yourself and possibly the small number of people who will be impressed that you “won”, then your job is done, and you have your little victory dance.

              I bet you even consider all of this “skepticism” when it has nothing to do with that. It’s all about your ego Damion. Melody Hensley, PZ Myers, Abbie Smith, the person doesn’t matter, the case doesn’t matter. As long as you can add another tickmark in your list of victories over the stupid, that is all that matters in your world.

            • Armchair psychoanalysis is bad, except when you do it?

            • Oh bless your heart yet again.

              My opinion is based on the consistent kinds of things I see you do. Over and over. In fact, you’ve even come close on several occasions, usually in ‘pit posts, to baldly admitting that you are really not interested at all in the actual points, just how you compare to the other people who you judge as less than you. I see the evidence of how you do things, and base my opinions on that. Your behavior walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s hardly “analysis” to call it a duck.

              That’s not psychoanalysis, that’s knowing what a duck looks like.

              Even now, you’re still going for that win. Don’t stop believing. Hold on to that dream. Oh Yeah.

            • Are you trying to make an “actual points” on the topic at hand, John? I’ve not seen any yet. You seem to be vastly more interested in “going for that win” and making personal attacks than in addressing what anxiety-based avoidance behaviors look like.

            • I’m simply reflecting what you bring to the table. You seem to need to win, I’m doing you a favor: letting you. Of course, I’m having my own brand of fun with it, which allows me to point out the rampant hypocrisy you bring. I mean, *you* complaining about personal attacks? That’s basically your stock and trade. You work very hard to find any justification to dismiss any points made by people you dislike.

              For example, it is funny that out of all the people disagreeing with Melody’s stance, the only one you directly challenge is…pitchguest. In fact, you essentially ignore everyone else to go after him, at least until I show up. It’s funny that you do that, because there are a lot of people commenting and disagreeing with Melody’s “thesis” as it were. Yet you only engage specific people. Even then, you’re not actually even trying to discuss it with them. The only thing you have an interest in is being able to directly refute one of the things they said, with your usual argle-garble about testable claims. You spend a great deal of time going after pitch, and later me. I wonder why Damion? I mean it seems a bit focused, almost as if had Pitch not commented here at all, you wouldn’t have either. And your immediate stance is to do your best to dismiss everything he says. Bit of a “two men enter, one man leaves” method.

              The problem with me, I’m just the kind of rude person to not engage in the pretense that you’re using any form of skeptical behavior, but rather, feeding your ego. I’m dreadfully déclassé in that I don’t play the game, but rather point that out directly. It pleases me to do so.

              But again, it allows you to “win”, to feel superior to those sad lesser people. So I’m unsure why it even slightly displeases you. Other than me not pretending that you’ve any interest in anything but making sure certain people are slapped down as fast as possible. I can see where THAT would annoy you.

            • Welch, do you feel even slightly at a disadvantage having written a post called (paraphrasing from memory) “How to take down New Media Douchebags”. I seem to remember that post was specifically about “winning” by not addressing your opponents points in a logical and rational manner. While I’m no fan of Damions I definitely cannot accuse him of that. You hung your colours on the mast of “winning” at all costs, so own it, you’d be honest at least then?

            • Actually oolon, your memory is as bad as your writing. The thrust of the post was, NMDs fundamentally don’t care about the “point”. They care only about attention, looking good, and being able to prove to their followers they “won”. You’re a great example of that.

              I recommended not taking them seriously, because they are not worthy of it. Mocking seems to work rather well with them, as it punctures the balloon of self-importance they live in.

              I do not in fact take either you or Damion seriously. Neither of you care about the point at hand, only at making sure that your allies are defended and your opponents attacked. Had this post been about Peanut Butter Sandwiches being made best with strawberry jam, and pitch posted that he preferred grape jelly instead, I’m fairly certain both you and Damion would have reacted the same way.

              Caleb’s point, his entire article is meaningless to both of you, you only want to make sure you can show your followers that you have your true “creds” in whatever way you claim them.

              Given that, and the trail of hilarity you leave in your wake, why ever should I attempt, on any level to take either of you seriously? When we all know good and well that your only purpose in engaging me, or pitch or anyone “Of The Pit”, (and dear lord, you should be so thankful that you have a coherent bad entity to gather against), is to attack them in whatever way you feel appropriate.

              My worst crime here is that I refuse to pretend either of you have some different purpose. I am admittedly terribly rude that way.

              Oh well.

        • whatever

          If you can assume for a moment that you were the psychologist of a patient, not Melody Hensley, but who you thought might have PTSD from Twitter, and need exposure and response prevention, and so you encouraged her use of Twitter then one day your patient came in your office and showed you the Daily Mail, the HuffPo, the Drudge Report, FARK.com, Reddit all inveighing against her and calling her a dipshit,

          How would you feel about your skills as a psychologist?

          “In effect, the more maladaptively anxious you are about something, the
          more you need exposed to it in order to allow yourself to habituate to
          those stimuli so that they are not anxiety-provoking”

          This makes sense to me in terms of psychological disorders and even allergies, but oddly it’s pretty close to sounding like the back of a homeopathy kit.

          • I don’t speculate like that, since this isn’t my patient (and even if she was, it would be a major breach of confidentially).

            If you’d like to learn more about exposure therapy, the below article of mine contains a good case example.


            • whatever

              That’s fine.

              I just have a difficult time believing her recent twitter activities could be explained as being part of a competently prescribed controlled exposure and response campaign.

              If I were her therapist and driving into my office stopped off at Starbucks and over my morning bagel and latte saw the Daily Mail article and then all the other media reports, as well as read the comments that contained so much contempt, I would drive back home, take five Xanax and go back to bed myself.

            • An Ardent Skeptic

              Thanks for the link. That was a very interesting read.

      • Michael W Busch

        “Why is Ms. Hensley still on Twitter?”

        Because she has refused to be silenced. This is not an “elephant in the room”. This is something she has explicitly said.

        You are not in any position to have opinions about her treatment; and the line you are playing is used as a silencing and victim-blaming tactic. It can be bullying itself.

        Cut it out.

        • Travis Roy

          I can have an opinion about anything I want.. It might not be right, but I’m still allowed to have it. You might not agree with it, and we can have a discussion about it, or not, that’s entirely up to you. Melody can ignore me if she wants, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion.

        • Pitchguest

          Silencing her? No one wants to silence her, you silly, silly man.

          It’s a legitimate question.

          And I’m not in any position to have OPINIONS about her treatment? Who’s trying to silence who here, genius?

    • Soopy

      “Avoidance symptoms” … what if there are none present in the person who claims to have PTSD ? Would this influence a diagnosis, and if so, how ?

    • I see no value in comparing rates of PTSD among totally different groups. If the rate is higher for sexual assault victims than veterans, does this somehow make any one person’s PTSD worse or more serious? Does it make the other’s less so? I hardly think so. There is no meaningful statistical comparison. Which veterans count for the stat? All? Just combat experience one or more times? Soldiers whose profession is combat-based? Plus, soldiers are not representative of Americans. They have a unique sex, age & health profile.

      Secondly, I see quite little value in absolute binary questions such as “can twitter give you PTSD?” It’s a bit like, “Can video games kill you?” The answer is yes, video games can kill you (http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Lee_Seung_Seop). But does that tell us anything important about gaming or risk? No. The details matter. The likelihood, the prevalence, the etiologies.

      Thirdly, the DSM is not a scientifically definitive account of all mental health. Until essentially yesterday, it pathologized all trans people. Until 1973, homosexuality was a mental disorder. The DSM is a heuristic guide aiming to classify and categorize apparent pathologies to aid in diagnosis. It gets updated frequently because this is very difficult, and not exactly objective, work. And by the way, “PTSD” doesn’t even exist in the newest revision.

      • Very accurate, Ed, on many accounts. However, PTSD is in the newest revision, it’s just been shifted from “anxiety disorders” to “trauma and stress-related disorders.”


        I think it’s hard for many to understand the concept that these disorders (and medical illness, for that matter) are socially constructed and defined according to us, the humans making the system. They aren’t handed down upon high from the Psychiatric Gods living upon Mount DSM or anything. They change, they shift, they might not even be that useful at times or embarrassing as hell later (homosexuality is a prime example).

        As far as comparing PTSD among groups, it’s useful in that it can help groups understand how much of a risk someone is for PTSD after a disaster or trauma, and inform levels of care provided and amount of screenings offered. Vets, for example, need much more monitoring and education about symptoms than folks after a natural disaster.

        • Risk can be assessed sans comparisons, and often is best done that way because the groups have unique features. It adds nothing but trivia. I guess if you’re a policy maker who doesn’t know what to do you might look at that but that’s a pretty insular example and I think, not the reason anyone is talking about these things lately. Rather than strain to imagine reasons, I would prefer to address the context of the comparisons being made: to attempt to obtain sympathy or support by way of equivocating classes of victims. This use is irrational and perhaps not honest. Prevalence doesn’t make one’s personal condition better or worse and comparative prevalence is even more irrelevant to such a thing.

        • Hunt Stoddard

          This is ridiculous. Homosexuality was never a disorder even when it was considered so because….homosexuality was never a disorder. Cancer has always been an illness because…cancer has always been an illness!, even when nobody had given it a name. These maladies are not social constructs. They may be imperfectly characterized, but they have absolute existences in the real world.

          • Consider e coli, Hunt. When it enters the human body and precipitates a disruption of health and potentially death, it is doing only what it should be, from an evolutionary perspective – reproducing. It’s because it is impairing us that we call it a disease, an illness. Certainly it has an objective existence, but it’s only a disease because we label it as such.

            • Pitchguest

              Err. What does it matter what we label it? It would still act in the same way regardless, would it not? Likewise with PTSD. Even if you call it a social construct, the same symptoms would still probably have been as pervasive as they are today, would they not? The name, too, has changed over the years. It used to be called shell shock, then combat fatigue, and then a bunch of other names before settling on PTSD – its current form.

              I really don’t see the point in your argument. So it’s an illness because we call it an illness – so what? Would that change anything? Hunt pointed out that humankind used to call homosexuality a disease, too, or a mental illness. Now we don’t. Has changing the label of it changed anything about homosexuality? If we suddenly started calling cancer an ice cream fudge sundae, would that change anything about its behaviour? Even if the point of the cancer virus is as you say, to reproduce, would it still not kill people? Help me out here.

            • Well, “it” (meaning the symptoms expressed) might act in the same way, but very likely “we” (meaning society) would not if it was labeled differently.

              Let’s say that what we call cancer today was seen, not as some sort of terrible disease to fight against, but was instead conceptualized as a sign that one’s time on Earth was finished. The processes would be the same, biologically, but the response would be much different.

              With PTSD, the symptoms could be the same, but if it was considered a normal reaction to a traumatic event(s), we might not see it as something to be ashamed of, or treat, or considered it an “illness.”

              I linked this chapter already once, but for a more thorough review of social construction of illness, here it is again:


        • tomato

          The DSM specifies types of trauma none of which are described as being things “read” but things “experienced”. Even in the case of PSTD due to hearing about a close friend or family members experience it is still something that actually happened rather being a threat or criticism communicated through text. It isn’t helpful to act like something that hasn’t happened is equivalent to something that actually has.

      • LaRae Meadows

        MH is a member of a group which has twice the rate of PTSD as war veterans.

    • DrewHardies

      You’ve linked bullying to anxiety and depression. That’s an entirely reasonable step. And if someone claimed that internet bullying made them feel anxious and bad, I’d believe them.

      But how are you making the jump to PTSD, specifically?

      Criterion A from the DSM-V describes direct exposure to an acute threat of death or severe injury. That doesn’t fit. Criterion C requires a persistent pattern of avoidance of trauma-related stimuli. That doesn’t fit.

      As far as I can tell, the symptoms are ‘PTSD-like’ only in as far as PTSD has anxiety symptoms in addition to ‘altered cognition’ or ‘altered response’ symptoms.

      And why would we want to ’round up’ general anxiety-symptoms to a very specific disorder related to exposure to an acute trauma? There really shouldn’t be any cachet is having _this_ problem, as opposed to some other one.

      • As I tried to explain to someone on Twitter, which really isn’t conducive to very thoughtful and subtle discussion (IMO), there isn’t anything in PTSD criteria that says “The world must agree that this is a traumatic experience.” Instead, Criterion A is all about the “exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation.”

        Injury here does not mean only physical injury, but could mean perceived violation of safety (as one example).

        Further, and I’ll repeat, I’m not diagnosing anyone with anything. Several of the studies linked above, though, do specifically assess PTSD symptoms and have found that those who are or perceive themselves to have been bullied and harassed have very high levels of those symptoms (plus general anxiety and depression).

        For the avoidance, see my response to Travis Roy above. It’s not as simple as reading diagnostic criteria might make one think.

        • DrewHardies

          ‘PTSD symptoms’ or PTSD? Your posts (such as the reply to Travis Roy above) switch between ‘PTSD’ and ‘anxiety’ rather freely.

          If the assertions are just ‘twitter can cause anxiety’ and ‘anxiety is a PTSD symptom’, then sure. That’s trivially true.

          But I think my bigger problem with your position that you’re trying to assert both:
          (1) Twitter-participation can be so subjectively-traumatizing that it can serve as a root cause for PTSD-proper
          (2) Continued Twitter-participation can be anything other than unhealthy for this person.

          Aversion-therapy might work to reduce the severity of someone’s response to a *trigger*. But you’re saying that Twitter can be an original root cause.

          I can’t imagine a doctor saying, “Event X caused your PTSD. Part of your treatment is experiencing more of Event X.” That would be fantastically irresponsible.

          • Well, Drew, it’s apparent that you have no idea how to treat anxiety disorders. CBT with exposure & response prevention is THE gold standard treatment for anxiety disorders, including PTSD. It takes place under controlled conditions, though.

            And this isn’t aversion therapy, that’s where you classically condition someone to NOT want to engage in a particular behavior.

            • DrewHardies

              You’d expose people to triggers. Not to a re-enactment of the original root cause. That would be monstrous.

            • Not triggers, per se, for most with PTSD. True, they can be highly problematic, but usually more problematic are a person’s memories of a particular event (in other words, their perception and interpretation of the event). This is, in PTSD, where much of exposure takes place.

              As for other anxiety disorders, the external (or internal, in the case of panic attacks) stimuli are exactly what you use for exposures – be that germs for contamination-focused OCD or snakes for an ophidiophobic.

              Far from being monstrous, it’s very much exchanging short-term pain for a long-term gain. To learn more, I’d recommend reading this article – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1077722903800111

          • Austin Moore

            That would be irresponsible if the doctor was getting them to continue to twitter without learning coping strategies to deal with the problem. CBT enables the person to control the experience that they percieved earlier as uncontrollable. That’s the whole point. If you want to use a doctor analogy think of it like this: If you came in with staph that was caused (assuming we know) from environment ‘X’, the doctor would only be irresponsible if they didn’t treat the staph and sent the person back to environment ‘X’ without knowing how to prevent staph. What Dr. Lack is talking about is that we treat the immediate staph infection and then teach the person how to be cleaner and avoid staph.

    • Pingback: Why don’t the bullied people just hide? » Butterflies and Wheels()

    • Amazing, nary a hint of “you can’t get PTSD from Twitter!!eleventy!” from the commenters below who have been saying exactly that … No they’ve moved onto she wouldn’t remain on Twitter or she is lying. Lovely motivated reasoning from them with no admission they are wrong based on this authoritative post.

      Such as Travis Roy, below, who has tagged her bosses onto his facebook discussion about how she is unfit for her job due to having PTSD. Also calling to question the very idea she could have it from abuse on Twitter. Ironic he is now saying why is she remaining on Twitter when his view she was unfit to continue working for the CFI was that she *needed* to use social media. Nice work there Travis. http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/08/04/an-organizer-for-a-state-level-skeptic-group-in-the-us/

      • On a positive note, hopefully many more people are now aware that bullying and harassment can lead to PTSD symptoms and functional impairment.

        • Steersman

          Interesting article of course, and I’m looking forward to reading your “Science, Pseudoscience, & Critical Thinking”.

          However, I wonder whether you might comment on the severity of the symptoms of PTSD, and whether there might be a spectrum of severity, particularly from an objective perspective, and particularly as more than a few seem to be insisting that all cases are equal in that regard. And which seems to be one of the primary bones of contention. As a point of reference, some here may wish to take a look at this recent YouTube video which rather strongly suggests that the trauma experienced by many army veterans is very substantially worse than that supposedly experienced by Melody Hensley.

          • PTSD symptoms, much like almost all other things we study in psychology, exist on a continuum. They are dimensional in nature (e.g., how much of a particular type of symptom do you have?) rather than categorical (e.g., you have it or you don’t). That’s quite well established.

            • Pitchguest

              Um, but what are these symptoms? If you have to ask how much of a particular symptom someone is experiencing, isn’t that an abject admission that there are specific ones you look for to determine whether someone is suffering from PTSD or not?

              It’s not half and half; you either have it, or you don’t.

            • The symptom categories are listed above in the post (re-experiencing, avoidance, hyperarousal). Within each, though, there are numerous symptoms, and it’s the number of the symptoms you show that helps determine severity.

              For example, I might have three hyperarousal symptoms, while another person may only have one. We would both have satisfied the “hyperarousal symptom criteria” but mine would be more severe.

              The other aspect to severity is level of functional impairment as a result of symptoms, but that often goes unmeasured and uncommented on (which is a major problem in the literature). To illustrate, maybe I have 3 HA symptoms versus someone else’s 1, but theirs is much more impairing in their everyday life. Would I still be considered to have “more severe” PTSD?

            • Pitchguest

              Would you in all honesty say that someone who has trouble with simple interactions, is at all equal to someone who experiences light flashes now and again? As I’m not a licensed psychologist, I can’t with confidence claim credentials on this matter, but I would say the former is absolutely worse than the latter. Even if both have suffered a trauma and both are quote unquote “bad”, I would still designate one of them more debilitating than the other.

              But if every case of PTSD is different, in terms of hyperarousal, avoidance, etc, and the severity of the symptoms differs person to person, how do you determine if someone is suffering from PTSD or if they’re just having panic attacks? There must be universal symptoms that you look for, symptoms that are prevalent in sufferers but not always exactly the same. For instance, the subconscious desire to avoid triggers that remind them of their trauma. If what I, and many others who actually have PTSD (I don’t), have been saying about Melody Hensley is wrong, questioning how she’s still on Twitter despite saying her PTSD originated on Twitter, is that desire to avoid just something that occurs for a choice few?

            • I think you misunderstood me. PTSD (like all other mental illness) is more accurately viewed as continuum of symptoms and severity (dimensional; how much PTSD do you have?), but the DSM and ICD instead have conceptualized it as a categorical thing (you have it or you don’t). This is for a number of reasons and I’d refer you to the chapter I linked in another response to you for more discussion.

              So, while it’s diagnosed as either there or not (categorical), the reality is that it’s much more dimensional in nature.

              For your second question, a very high percentage of folks diagnosed with PTSD also have comorbid panic attacks. These are distinctly different from flashbacks in a number of ways, and aren’t specific to PTSD like a flashback is (i.e., you see them across many other diagnoses). So, it’s pretty easy to see if someone is have PTSD + PA or PTSD with no PA, or PA with no PTSD.

              I’ve answered the avoidance issue elsewhere, in a reply to David (I believe).

        • David Jones

          Caleb, media interactions are specifically exclucded by DSM.

          • Right, David. That means I can’t get PTSD from watching something on television or hearing about it on the news – in other words, simply by absorbing information. This is very different, though, from interpersonal interactions that are facilitated by social media. These are entirely different things.

      • The purpose of our discussion sections is not to snipe at other people. Please endeavor to confine your remarks to matters of substance, not attacking people.

      • Pitchguest

        I realise this must be difficult for you, James, but pay attention.

        The reason why we call into question Hensley’s claim of PTSD is that, usually, victims tend to AVOID that which caused their PTSD. That would be, in her own words, “online harassment on social media.” Twitter, specifically. Now, the claim isn’t, “Can you get PTSD from Twitter?” or the more affirmative, “you can’t get PTSD from Twitter” but more accurately, “Does Melody Hensley have PTSD from Twitter?” Do you see the subtle difference?

        You probably don’t, but no harm in trying.

        The next thing is that Hensley’s “abuse” on Twitter… could really be anything.

        Even though she is an executive director of CFI (Center for Inquiry), she does not like to be asked questions. Or…questioned. Like with this woman, victim of rape, sexual abuse and molestation, being deemed an harasser and blocked:


        If she considers that to be quote unquote “abuse” (a simple question), then the comments she gets now (not from us evil Slymepitters mind you) must be torture. But I digress.

        • The question of does she have it is for her psychiatrist, and you are being disingenuous to suggest it’s a simple claim that should be examined. You are trying to hurt her, nothing more or less by implying she is lying. None of your business what her psychiatrist diagnoses her with. It’s perfectly reasonable that she has PTSD, as this post and many others have established. The correct response to learning that is to express sympathy. In the million to one case where the person turned out to have made it up, you’ve lost nothing.

          • Pitchguest

            Yes, funny that. Questioning someone who has a disorder that supposedly leaves them in shambles, cold sweats, waking nightmares, and can apparently go through their ordeal with nary an issue in sight, is such an unsceptical thing to do. Or rather, hypersceptical. Heaven forbid we should ask questions.

            We should also express sympathy to someone who has demonstrated she is willing to go lengths to demonise people who does not share her ideological viewpoint. Someone who calls other women ‘sister punishers’, someone who abuses her CFI privilege to send her followers to false-flag YouTube videos, someone who would threaten to contact people’s employer in an attempt to get them fired. She has PTSD from Twitter. All is forgiven.

            • It is NOTHING to do with you what mental illness she has. Someone inquiring about another’s mental illness for anything other than how to help has nothing good in mind. That would be you PG.

              You are free to criticise her for anything she has said or done. But instead you choose to use her mental illness to attack her. I think I know who the “weak” one is here.

            • Pitchguest

              Hensley is the one using her mental illness at her leisure. It is her actions followed by her excuse of PTSD that precipitated this response.

            • Pray tell how does one “use” their mental illness? I’ve been lucky and never had one and now I’m worried I’m missing out on some sort of super power.

            • Pitchguest

              Didn’t you just say that we choose to “use” her mental illness to attack her?

              Not going senile, are you?

              Here’s how you “use” your mental illness: as a crutch, to fall back on whenever shit hit the fan. As a hammer, to hit people with whenever they say something to you that’s not appreciated. “I have PTSD, you should treat me better.” As a badge of honour, whenever you contend in the Oppression Olympics. All of which Hensley has commited, in spades.

            • A hammer to hit someone with … Hmm, so having a disability is a super power! Thanks PG, makes it much clearer.

              How is that working out for her and the millions of disabled people around the world? Not so good from where I’m sitting. Maybe you can give them tips on how to exploit their mental and physical disabilities for fun and profit. I feel a book is in the works.

            • Pitchguest

              I am not the one who believe a mental illness is a “super power.”

              There are, however, people like Melody Hensley who treats their mental illness as a tool to end the conversation. They might say something stupid and people might voice their discontent – sometimes in a less polite manner – but they suffer from such and such, their supporters will come to their aid, the people who expressed disagreement are deemed abusers, bullies, stalkers, etc, and whatever stupid thing these people said – like Hensley – is forgotten.

              There is rarely a tweet from Hensley where she doesn’t casually mention her PTSD in conjunction with her “harassment.” The fact that she is still on Twitter, occasionally writing things abusive to other people on Twitter, while simultaneously having PTSD from Twitter, gives the impression that she’s both treating it as a crutch to fall back on, and a hammer to hit people with, not to mention being an incredible hypocrite.

              Calling her PTSD into question from THAT vantage point is only natural.

            • You lose nothing by silence even if you are absolutely correct. That you feel the need to keep attacking her speaks volumes about you and says nothing about Melody.

            • Pitchguest

              Look, James. If I called you an idiot, would you not – at the very least – want to call me an idiot back? Or would you just take it? In the way you reply to me and other people who are not in 100% agreement with your words, I would say that’s a negative. Therefore it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some people to speak up when they’re called idiots, now would it?

              Melody Hensley is an executive director of a chapter for a fairly large organization and thus she’s got access to the pulpit more than most, and being that she is a public figure you would expect people to direct her questions. In particular because she’s employed by CFI, Center for Inquiry. You would also expect, in the position she holds, that she would be able to take less polite questions. Or less polite in general. But I guess not. However, this is the low hanging fruit and isn’t part and parcel of the major argument against Melody Hensley.

              The major argument is that whenever things don’t go as smoothly for her, she screams bloody murder, declares the dissent bullying and harassment and proceeds to either block or venture into some kind of naming and shaming. This wouldn’t be a problem if Melody Hensley wasn’t a leader of an organization, making it extremely difficult to conduct any discourse or debate, and it wouldn’t be a problem if she also didn’t a penchant for dabbling in the same sort of abusive behaviour she abhors.

              Whether I am absolutely correct or absolutely wrong in this respect is irrelevant. The principle I’m objecting to is the demonsing of opponents as bullies and harassers when it’s from one “side” but conspicuously absent when it’s commited by proponents by the other. Which is, sadly, what Hensley has chosen to do instead of having an actual conversation. Not all dissent are threats and namecalling and to bring it up every single time tells me she doesn’t really want to.

            • Pitchguest

              And stop evading: did you or did you not say that WE “use” her mental illness to attack her? What did you mean by that?

            • Pitchguest

              Oh, and just to reiterate: didn’t you YOURSELF say that WE “use” her mental illness to attack her? In what way am I supposed to interpret THAT, then?

      • Travis Roy

        I have never said she was unfit to do her job due to having PTSD. I think CFI should accommodate her disability, possibly by changing, or adjusting some of her responsibilities or duties.

        It’s worth noting that I don’t see even close to the same level of abuse or harassment on the CFI-DC Twitter feed, the one she manages for her job. This is mostly taking place on her personal account that isn’t part of her job.

    • An Ardent Skeptic

      Medicine is not an exact science, and diagnosis of either physical or mental disorders can be very difficult. I would think that doctors would make educated guesses about ailments based on prevalence data because 1) not all things can be easily tested for and 2) rather than subjecting a patient to a battery of unnecessary tests, a doctor will make their best guess based on symptoms and prevalence data.

      People with rare disorders have more difficulty getting a proper diagnosis because many ailments present with similar symptoms – i.e. lots of ailments cause fever. I have a rare physical disorder with a symptom which lots of ailments share. I received 10 wrong diagnoses before getting the right one. The physician who finally got it right ordered a battery of tests. I had 11 vials of blood drawn to the astonishment of the medical technician doing the draw. He said, “What on earth is your doctor looking for? He’s testing for an amazing number of things.” My doctor also had an IVP done which gave him the definitive answer to my problem. He eliminated other causes for my symptoms while finding the probable cause for my symptoms.

      What I did wrong was not having many answers to the hundreds of questions this excellent diagnostician asked on my first visit. I hadn’t been paying enough attention to my own medical issue to give him the answer he was seeking. And, no other doctor had asked because they were making a best guess based on prevalence.

      Most mental illnesses must be significantly more difficult to diagnosis than physical ailments. So, Prof. Lack, how about a post on how patients can help their clinical psychologist or psychiatrist with diagnoses by collecting the necessary data for proper diagnosis. And, another post on how to evaluate the quality of mental health professionals to insure that they are capable of giving you the help you need. One prevalence statistic that is worth noting is that in every profession, most people in that profession are only average at doing the job. 😉

      • I’ll get right on those, ma’am!

        I did address your second question, at least partially, in this prior post – http://www.skepticink.com/gps/2012/11/11/secular-psychotherapy-and-counseling/

        • An Ardent Skeptic

          Thanks for the pointer. It’s a great post.

          And, I’ll look forward to your future posts!! 😉

      • Reminds me of one of my favorite jokes:

        You know what they call the person that graduated last in their medical school class?


        • An Ardent Skeptic

          Yup!!! I think I’ve been treated by a few of those. People say you should seek a second opinion. I didn’t think I would need 10 second opinions to get a proper diagnosis. My gynecologist kept telling me to find a doctor who knew what they were talking about because what some of these doctors were telling me was complete rubbish.

          • We had to go through every specialist in our state, then at the Mayo Clinic, and finally travel to MUSC to get an accurate diagnosis for my wife (in the space of about 2 years and I don’t even want to think about how much money), so I understand completely.

            • An Ardent Skeptic

              Yikes!! That’s awful!! I’m sorry to hear it!!

    • As to those claiming she wouldn’t be on Twitter if she had PTSD, well her psychologist suggested it..

      // “You wouldn’t talk about it if you had PTSD.” According to my psychologist, anything that make me feel in control is good for my health. I’m taking control by speaking out and not allowing you to silence me. //

      So again, are you qualified to criticise the advice she is getting professionally? I’d imagine even other professionals wouldn’t since they don’t know her case. But “skeptics” from the slyme? Oh yes, they are perfectly qualified.

      • Pitchguest

        Oh, well, okay then. This unnamed psychologist says what makes her feel in control is good for her health, I suppose that advice could then be used for other sufferers of PTSD? “What makes you feel in control.” Except I hear that PTSD victims tend to have an extremely difficult time just thinking about their trauma, let alone approaching the place where their disorder originated, but hey. Maybe Hensley can serve as a role model in that respect.

        It’s a pity that other victims didn’t have the determination and the will to overcome their disorder that Hensley obviously has. And they didn’t even get to endure social media! Sorry they didn’t realise PTSD can just be conquered that easily.

        • LaRae Meadows

          Pitch. Exposure is part of recovery from PTSD. Avoiding behaviors (getting off twittter) actually makes thing worse.

          Maybe get to know a little about it before commenting?

          • Pitchguest

            Yes. Exposure. In incremental doses. Under controlled conditions. Has Melody Hensley spent time off Twitter and gradually exposed herself to it? No.

            And if I mention the second condition of what constitutes PTSD, well then I would just be repeating myself.

            • LaRae Meadows

              Must be nice to understand what someone needs when you are not their doctor. I have a mole on my back – is it cancer.

            • Pitchguest

              Oh, I’m just listening to the advice of a licensed psychologist.

              Psychology is, as you know, an exact science.

              And that mole on your back, cancer? I don’t know. Is it a very large mole? Could be a chip, though that usually rests on your shoulder.

            • LaRae Meadows

              Pitch. “Psychology is, as you know, an exact science.”

              So now your issue is that she may have been misdiagnosed because psychology is not an exact science? Or are you simply concerned that what her psychiatrist told her is poor advice? Or are you saying that exposure isn’t a part of PTSD treatments? Or are you simply attempting to say someone is lying when there is no way you could know that?

            • Pitchguest

              Nope. It was a sardonic response to being declared an armchair psychologist, but I told you basically what he told me.

    • While I greatly appreciate all the armchair psychologists weighing in, the truth of the matter comes down to this: It really doesn’t matter what YOU as an individual think about whether or not someone has a mental illness or a particular kind of psychopathology, or whether YOU think a particular treatment works or doesn’t work.

      What matters, instead, is that I demonstrated that a particular scenario can be true (in this case, can online harassment and bullying lead to the development of the symptoms that we have clustered together and called PTSD). And, the most effective psychological treatment, the gold standard, is cognitive-behavioral therapy focusing on exposure with response prevention.

      I’m not interested in weighing in on any particular person’s mental status or health state. That is both unprofessional and unethical.

      Keep it civil, kids.

      • Pitchguest

        To be honest, I don’t really care if you could get PTSD from staring at a loaf of bread. What I’ve been asking from you, the licensed psychologist, is if you truly think Melody Hensley suffers from PTSD based on the conditions you’ve been presented, and whether her conditions corresponds with other (or most) victims with PTSD, but the query has so far gone unanswered.

        • LaRae Meadows

          Yeah – diagnose someone without seeing them. That wouldn’t make him a quack at all.

          • Pitchguest

            There are certain conditions that has to be met in order for someone to be diagnosed with PTSD. You can’t just be diagnosed with PTSD on a whim. Which is why I’m asking. I’m asking if her conditions fit with the usual symptoms of PTSD and if he knows of other cases, other victims, who share the same (or similar) set of conditions.

            Edit: I also asked if he knew of any soldiers, rape or torture victims, that exhibited the same (or similar) behaviour.

            • LaRae Meadows

              Pitch. He has not assessed her so asking that question is to ask him to perform quackery.

            • Pitchguest

              Well, I’m not a psychologist, so that’s why I’m asking him.

              I suspect you don’t need to assess someone to recognise whether they have symptoms of – or is in the process of experiencing – full-blown PTSD.

              This person with a degree in psychology thinks you don’t.


            • LaRae Meadows

              Yes. I understand you want him to be a quack but your desire does not make anyone willing to do the assessment any less of a quack.

            • Diagnosis without assessment is unethical.

            • Bennie T Crouch

              Mr Lack, I think I understand what you are saying. May I then ask, is it unprofessional to give a brief opinion based off evidence presented to you? For example, would this be an unprofessional statement in your field, ” This is not a diagnosis, as I have not assessed this individual, but based off the symptoms/statements they’ve presented/made, they are In/Not In keeping with the typical symptoms of PTSD”?

            • If I was sharing that impression with another professional, or perhaps if a parent had described their child to me, then I would have no problem doing so (in the way you’ve outlined).

              That, however, is quite different from commenting on something in a public forum, which would still be highly unprofessional.

            • No offense to that poster, but there’s a vast amount of difference between a bachelor’s and graduate degree in psychology. At the bachelor’s level, you will often take a single course in abnormal psychology. That’s it. In a doctoral program in clinical psychology, or counseling psychology, you spend 5+ years under careful supervision learning about psychopathology. So, just stating that someone has a degree in psychology and so they are an expert in psychopathology is the equivalent of me taking one junior level biology course on evolutionary theory and then people would point to me as an expert in evolutionary theory.

            • Pitchguest

              So she’s talking out of her arse?

            • I certainly wouldn’t say that. I’m not familiar with this person and her writings, but from this post it seems that she isn’t just spouting nonsense and drivel.

              I would say, though, that to diagnose anyone that you don’t have as a patient, whether or not you are a mental health professional, is highly unprofessional. Diagnosis without the proper gathering of data is nothing more than unsupported speculation. It’s why I don’t do it.

            • Pitchguest

              Then, is she *mostly* spouting nonsense and drivel?

              If a diagnosis without the proper gathering of data is nothing more than unsupported speculation, the rest would just be platitudes, no?

            • Please take care not to try and put words in my mouth and start useless drama.

              That post seemed primarily focused on dispelling some myths about PTSD mixed in which general observations on how folk psychology is quite a bit different from scientific psychology. A bit on the ranty side, perhaps, but that’s how some people write.

            • A bit ranty because it’s aimed at PitchGuest and friends diagnosing Melody by Twitter. Hence PG is so desperate to quote mine you as saying her post is uninformed. Starting useless drama is what the Slymepit is dedicated to, 24×7.

            • Pitchguest

              Put words in your mouth? I quoted you directly, where you said she was “not just” spouting nonsense and drivel, which implies that in your view she was primarily spouting nonsense and drivel. Otherwise why would you add such qualifiers? Moreover, if you did not think her post was nonsense and drivel, then why would you use those words to describe it?

              Additionally, it was a question, not an assertion. And with all due respect, your response was not an answer. You said she was being unprofessional, but can it actually be done? Or is it, as you said, that a diagnosis without the data would just be speculation?

            • Yes, put words in my mouth. For example, when I said “She’s not just spouting nonsense and drivel” you apparently took that to me “She is indeed spouting that, but not only that.”

              Instead, my intended meaning was that the author isn’t ranting and raving with no regard to the actual scientific data (unlike, say many of the commenters I’ve seen on this post). Your interpretation of those few words betrays some biases on your part, where YOU want this author to be seen as non-credible.

              Ethical mental health professionals don’t diagnose those they haven’t seen, or diagnose based solely on one kind of data. I’ve already said such, several times.

            • Pitchguest

              She became non-credible the moment you said that diagnosis without proper data was unsupported speculation. In fact, in a previous comment you said that “to diagnose someone, based on tweets, is absolutely ludicrous. Not only would doing so be unethical and unprofessional, it makes absolutely no sense.” Yet this person, with a degree in psychology, feels absolutely confident to do just that. That’s not me putting words in your mouth, that’s me quoting you verbatim, quod erat demonstrandum.

              According to LaRae Meadows, it makes her a quack, and according to you it makes her unethical and unprofessional. You might even say she’s an “armchair psychologist” herself, by your own reckoning, when you said that “just stating that someone has a degree in psychology and so they are an expert in psychopathology is the equivalent of me taking one junior level biology course on evolutionary theory and then people would point to me as an expert in evolutionary theory.”

            • Maybe I missed it in my read, but you could you point out to me where in the post, specifically, the author diagnosed another individual as having or not having a particular disorder?

              It’s also important to note that, just as many people on here are giving their lay opinions, just because someone has a degree in the field (bachelor’s level, in her case) it doesn’t mean that he or she is bound by ethical codes, unlike someone who is a licensed professional. So, when you or David or whomever makes that sort of statement, you aren’t being unprofessional, because you are not a mental health professional.

        • Asking me to attempt to diagnose someone, based on tweets, is absolutely ludicrous. Not only would doing so be unethical and unprofessional, it makes absolutely no sense. For a formal diagnosis of any mental disorder, you would need, at minimum, an in-depth interview, a variety of self- and other-report rating measures, clinician-rated measures, and a strong history.

      • David Jones

        So, back from Italy…

        You’ve already had one dig at my responding to you on Twitter because I’m not a clinician – an argument from authority, surely – and now you’re having a dig at all the ‘armchair psychologists’.

        You’re not content with describing someone showing severe anxiety as a response to harassment on Twitter as being severely anxious, or having an anxiety disorder. You want to go one step further and call it PTSD. But given that the diagnostic criteria aren’t met (and you know this and I see you’ve listed symptoms but not the diagnostic criteria, which seems an oversight) and that the symptoms anyway are those of severe anxiety, what do you think you’re gaining by doing that?

        • Hello again, David, thanks for stopping by the blog and not just tweeting at me. I really enjoy the @cdarwin project, btw.

          As I’ve said numerous times in these comments, in the post, and on Twitter, I really don’t have a dog in this (apparent) fight. I was asked a question by a friend, and wrote a post. I don’t know MH and haven’t followed all the drama that people seem enamored of following (because I find doing so, honestly, a waste of time).

          As far as your harping on diagnostic criteria, I really don’t know what to tell you. This wasn’t a post designed to show how one goes about diagnosing PTSD, so I didn’t bother to include all the diagnostic criteria. I also didn’t include all of the exclusionary conditions, either, but you’re not upset by that.

          This post was designed to demonstrate that a particular scenario – bullying and harassment – could cause someone to demonstrate PTSD symptoms. I am confident that the research shows a very strong link between the two, both in children and adults and both online and in person. I’m not diagnosing anyone, as doing so would be unethical and unprofessional. That’s what, apparently, all of you want to do – put out your opinions on a particular individual and her mental state.

          People will read into this post what they want to read into it, because that’s what we do as humans – look for information that confirms and supports our beliefs and ignore contradictory evidence. But honestly, since she’s not one of my patients, I really don’t care one way or the other.

          • David Jones

            I think you’re back-peddling a little here aren’t you? You’re now saying:

            ‘…could cause someone to demonstrate PTSD symptoms…’

            but you originally said:

            ‘Yes, you can ‘get’ PTSD from Twitter’

            You might like to say it’s a fine distinction without a difference. but we’re both aware of the history of psychiatric diagnoses and the tendency to reify collections of symptoms as a condition.

            If, by ‘get’ PTSD you mean someone could display symptoms that have a lot in common with those conventionally displayed by people diagnosed with PTSD (applying current diagnostic criteria) following experiences on Twitter then I’d agree, it’s plausible that it could happen.

            But that’s a different thing from ‘getting’ PTSD isn’t it. It doesn’t speak to the cause (which could, for example, in fact be a consequence of a psychotic condition) and it might not speak to a treatment. It mightn’t tell us anything about the responsibility for the condition (and that is an issue in the case we’re not mentioning).

            • By definition, you “get” PTSD as a result of a trauma or series of traumas. Certainly, bullying and harassment would fit that definition, as they would be the “causal trauma.”

              No idea if that’s the case for MH, and no idea why everyone is so worked up about it.

            • David Jones

              But bullying and harassment don’t fit the definition.

              Put it like this. Someone comes to you with symptoms of severe anxiety. You decide they’re – well – severely anxious. Then you ask yourself, ‘I can see this person is severely anxious: I wonder it it can be said of them that they have PTSD?’

              So what’s the basis for making that second step, for deciding they ‘have’ PTSD.

              Diagnostic criteria, surely?

            • LaRae Meadows

              David. You are asserting that there is someone who could have all the symptoms of PTSD but just not have it. Uhm – huh?

            • David Jones

              Nope, I’m not saying that at all.

              Firstly’, there’s a debate to be had about ‘all’ the symptoms.

              Secondly there’s the important question about the cause of PTSD.

            • There’s only a “debate” if you, a non-mental health professional, are attempting to give someone a diagnosis via your observations of someone’s online behavior. If, instead, you are trying to answer a question, which I did here, there’s not a debate. I laid out clear evidence showing that harassment and bullying can lead to the development of PTSD.

              You seem to be incapable of understanding that the incidents of bullying/harassment are the criterion A for PTSD, and that they can be causal. I am not sure why, but as you aren’t my patient, it’s unprofessional for me to speculate on your motivations.

              As far as “all” symptoms go, why would you think, because you have observed one’s online behaviors, that you are in fact getting a clear picture of their actual lives? How do you know that someone that you’ve never met doesn’t have “all” the symptoms according to your lay interpretation of them from a continent away? Again, I could speculate, but you know, ethics and such.

              Finally, diagnostic criteria are not magical. They change, based on new information. They vary in application between practitioners. They are guidelines, not a wonderful rule book of certainty. I’d be more than happy to help you understand this if you’d like to take my graduate level Psychopathology course, where we spend about three weeks discussing this topic.

            • David Jones

              Actually, Caleb, I don’t think you have ‘laid out clear evidence’ showing anything. You’ve written a long preamble summarising some but not all points about PTSD (missed out the diagnostic criteria for eg) and then made a sudden leap in the last two paras,

              ‘ncidents of bullying/harassment are the criterion A for PTSD’

              No they are not. Criterion A is clear – although of course you didn’t include it on your blog post. Perhaps you’d like to add it?

              ‘Finally, diagnostic criteria are not magical. They change, based on new information’

              Of course. So are you now saying you’re asserting PTSD can be diagnosed without reference to the DSM criteria then?

              And finally, Please, give over with the clumsy patronising.

            • David, you don’t seem to understand that bullying and harassment can indeed be traumatic events. I don’t know why you find this hard to believe, other than you just not wanting to believe it because then you would have to rethink some of your assumptions.

              Not only do they fit the criterion (which you C&P below somewhere, and I had actually already put into the comments, lest you accuse me of “hiding” them), but as someone who primarily works with children, I’ve seen this in real life. It’s a good example of a repeated and prolonged series of incidents, which have been recognized to be able to cause PTSD symptoms for quite some time – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2044-8260.1994.tb01095.x/abstract

              And before you again, annoyingly, harp on “PTSD symptoms,” you need to become familiar with the literature and know that when we are talking about diagnostic work we often use the term “PTSD” and when we are talking about how things work in the real world we often use “PTSD symptoms,” as the number and type of symptoms are better for understanding someone’s particular reaction and planning treatment.

              I’ll be more than happy to give over the “clumsy patronising” if you give over pretending to be a mental health professional.

            • David Jones

              I think you’re eliding the meaning of ‘trauma’ here. There’s a colloquial and idiomatic sense; then there’s the sense in which DSM talks about trauma, and to understand that you need only look at the history of the diagnosis.

              And I’m not pretending to be a mental health professional: just an intelligent person who can read and who lives with a person who is a professional in this field (who, incidentally, disagrees with you and rolled her eyes when I mentioned you were American, such is the reputation of American psychiatry) .

              You, on the other hand, have veered from argument from authority to condescension. If you want to write only for professionals i suggest you stop publishing blog posts and instead try to get mental health journals to accept your remarkable and innovative understanding of the traumatic nature of a few tweets.

              I think the fact that you didn’t publish the diagnostic criteria in what was a very long preamble all about PTSD was revealing. And I think, again, on examination, there’s a pretty obvious reason why. Even if your assertion in your final 2 paras (which don’t, as it happens, follow from your lengthy preamble) is correct you’d have a much tougher argument to make that your flat, bald assertion was valid if it were immediately clear to everyone what the diagnostic criteria were.

              I don’t understand the point of your link. It’s to a single article whose suggestions weren’t in fact incorporated into DSM, and which anyway suggests the creation of a distinct disorder (PDSD) with different treatment implications. By all means, carry the torch for the authors and argue for the inclusion of their suggestions in DSM VI. Fact is – fact is – it isn’t there now.

              Of course, people who are bullied can show symptoms of stress. That’s not at issue here.

            • pengalor

              I saw you trying to make the point that ‘it can happen’ from bullying but I notice what you linked had to do with children. Do you have any evidence for full-grown adults developing PTSD from online bullying? It’s worth noting that the study you linked claiming a third of child victims experience higher rates of symptoms goes by the strict DSM-IV definitions. This means it uses all the criteria definition which has some very glaring differences between PTSD behavior in children and adults. The study also references these bullying events and delicate times in psychological development, the same can’t be said for full-grown adults (they may be fragile in other ways but chemically they are not unless they have a pre-existing condition).

              On top of this, there is a clear idea in PTSD literature that involves avoidance behavior. Hensley has displayed the opposite of this. She actually seeks out and battles her detractors. Now, I’m not well-trained in psychology or psychiatry but as someone with an anxiety condition and agoraphobic behaviors I have to say this sounds completely out of place for someone with an anxious condition. All of these things detract from her claim.

            • Adolf

              Choosing to read comments of people disagreeing with you online doesn’t count as trauma you autist.

            • So would choosing to stay in a violent, abusive relationship not count as trauma as well? Just curious about your opinion of that, given your obvious expertise on what can or can’t count as trauma, “J_Cap32”

              And for the record, artist is spelled with a “r” not a “u.” Unless you are from Boston.

            • Adolf

              I called you an autist you loser. Choosing to read mean comments online isn’t even kind of similar to being in an abusive relationship.

      • Kuki

        Hello! I don’t know if you would still be responding to these. I just have an honest question. I just heard about this girl who says she has PTSD from online harassment and was googling to see if any psychologists had been asked their opinion, and found this page!

        I understand you can’t and shouldn’t diagnose anyone without meeting them, and I understand you shouldn’t weigh in on anyone’s mental status online. So I understand if you can’t answer my question for that reason.

        I just read that one of the criteria for PTSD is “Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred.”

        Being that she retains such a strong online social media presence, does that not negate a PTSD diagnosis? If one of the criteria is avoidance of stimuli associate with the trauma, I would think her continued use of twitter and facebook, even discussing her PTSD from twitter harassment on twitter where people can continue to harass her, would be inconsistent with the diagnosis.

        I don’t know if you can comment on the inconsistency of that without commenting on her mental state. But I thought I would ask.

    • Sally Strange

      Now, on to your comments, which will hopefully not be as abhorrent as those on the Daily Mail article.

      Oh well.

      • Pitchguest

        Thanks for contributing, Sally.

        Oh well.

      • Perhaps you could make a few insightful and non-abhorrent comments so as to alter the signal-to-noise ratio?

        • Sally Strange

          Sorry. Interacting with Pitchguest & co. is kinda stressful. Heh. Not that I’m in danger of developing PTSD or anything but the cost/benefit ratio just doesn’t cut it.

      • David Jones

        Caleb, I see you upvoted this comment. Are you really saying you find the comments here as abhorrent as those on the Daily Mail?

        I’d have said it’s a bit of hyperbole by Sally Strange,

        • Wow, we’re adjudicating upvotes now.

          • David Jones

            Damion, this’ll be my only reply to you. I consider you deeply disingenuous which is why I stopped following you on Twitter. 1 step up from Billingham.

            I’m not ‘adjudicating’ anything.

            BTW. Love the ‘Wow’. Its production formed an immediately attractive part of the SJW comment generator.

            • This will NOT be my only reply to you.

              I consider you profoundly adept at highly motivated reasoning, David, which why I’m glad you stopped following me on Twitter.

              BTW – Love the attempt to make this about tribal identity at the end.

            • I upvoted that 😛

            • Bennie T Crouch

              I can’t help but feel a lot of the acrimony between you two and the internet at large, is due to the simple fact of technology limitations. When we have social interactions with verbal conversations, we can get all those non verbal cues that really help us understand what idea a person is trying to convey. Most of that is lost in translation during text only convos. That’s why I advocate for more emoticons and emphasis style editing. So along with bold, underline and italics, we should have sarcasm, Self deprecating, pleading, facetious, etc…

          • An Ardent Skeptic

            The criticizing of upvotes, and this comment thread in general, reminds me of a line from the movie “Zero Effect”:

            Steve Arlo: “There aren’t any GOOD guys. You realize that, don’t you? I mean: there aren’t EVIL guys, and INNOCENT guys. It’s just – it’s just… It’s just a bunch of guys.”

            Way too many people seem to feel that they’re the “GOOD” guys fighting for truth, justice, mom, and apple pie.

        • Oh no, not hyperbole! I must be a terrible person to up vote a comment that I found amusing and probably have some hidden motives. Maybe I am, in fact, Sally Strange?

          Reading way too much into things seems to be prevalent in this comments section.

          • Pitchguest


          • David Jones

            Ok, hyperbole then

    • Steersman


      PTSD occurs more often in females …

      So. “PTSD, it’s more of a gal thing”?

      • It’s more common in females, certainly.

        • Steersman

          Sorry – that was sort of an oblique reference to a recent kerfuffle precipitated by Michael Shermer’s somewhat off-the-cuff suggestion that “[atheist activism], it’s more of a guy thing.” Which produced all sorts of bogus, specious, spurious, and quite acrimonious accusations of sexism.

          You are, no doubt, much more familiar with the related claims by many “feminists” that both sex and gender are entirely social constructs which I and many others regard as pseudoscience at best, and more likely egregious “nonsense on stilts” which tends to poison any number of discussions – this one on PTSD probably being a case in point.

          But somewhat apropos of which, you and others here may be interested in this semi-recent comment by one “Skep tickle”, a medical doctor, on the SlymePit:

          One thing [Melody Hensley] has right is that vets aren’t the only ones who get PTSD. Also, I don’t know if she has said this, but PTSD occurs in a higher % of women than men….although in an evil anti-hornbeckian twist, the medical literature tries to claim there are biological factors for that difference. There are tons of articles on “sex differences” in neurobiology, stress response, psychiatric illness, etc, for example (linked because it came up early in my search & the whole paper is available free): Sex differences in molecular and cellular substrates of stress, which in the introduction (citing papers from 1998-2011) says (bolding added) ….

          However, I find the most problematic aspect of those types of studies is that many seem to regard those differences as something being claimed as applicable to every man and every woman. Rather analogous to leaping from the statistical fact that men are, on average, some 5 inches taller than women to the inference that what is being claimed is that all men are taller than all women, that each and every man is taller than each and every woman. Which of course doesn’t hold any water at all.

          • Ah, I don’t really do the gossipy side of skepticism, so I miss many of those types of references. Thanks for clearing it up.

            I think you make a good point, which is why we generally talk about probabilities and predictive validity, not certainly (we leave that to the fundamentalists!). So, for example, you might say that it’s more probably for a woman to be diagnosed with a particular set of symptoms at some point in her life, but you wouldn’t say “You, lady! Right there! You are gonna be diagnosed with this!”

            • The only issue the “it’s a girl thing”, as steers puts it, people would have is any suggestion that this is indicative of a fundamental difference between men and women. More specifically misogynists might prop up their misogyny by saying women are “weak” because it’s diagnosed more in women.

              They’d ignore any possibility such as being a woman in our sexist culture might be more stressful and men in the same position would have the same incidence. Etc. Etc. So to assume there is certainly a fundamental difference from this factoid would be sexist IMO!

            • Steersman


              The only issue the “it’s a girl thing”, as steers puts it, people would have is any suggestion that this is indicative of a fundamental difference between men and women.

              That at least suggests that you, among many others, seem to balk at any suggestion that there are in fact any “fundamental differences between men and women” – and apparently for highly questionable and not particularly tenable political or philosophical reasons. For instance, while the terms “male” and “female” are a little fuzzy around the edges – cases in point being various syndromes or conditions such as “Turner
              syndrome (XO), Triple X syndrome (XXX), Klinefelter syndrome, (XXY) …” – the facts of the matter are that some 95% to 98% of the population fall into the standard XY or XX “bins” – which certainly looks like a rather “fundamental difference” to me, and to most credible biologists.

              As for the “it’s a girl thing”, I don’t think you’ve understood my point that I tried to illustrate with the analogy on the distribution of heights in the male and female populations. As Steven Pinker puts it:

              With some other traits the differences [between men and women] are small on average but can be large at the extremes. That happens for two reasons. When two bell curves partly overlap, the farther out along the tail you go, the larger the discrepancies between the groups. For example, men on average are taller than women, and the discrepancy is greater for more extreme values. At a height of five foot ten, men outnumber women by a ratio of thirty to one; at a height of six feet, men outnumber women by a ratio of two thousand to one. [The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature; online chapter on Gender]

              More particularly, you might want to peruse the NCBI article I linked
              to above on “Sex differences in molecular and cellular substrates of stress”, the upshot of which is largely that “more reactive” responses to stress are more prevalent in females than in males – without that necessitating or justifying any claims that all females are more susceptible to the consequential effects than all males. Or even that all females have the same alleles that make some of them “more reactive” in the first place.

              But as a possibly clearer case or example, consider the situation with
              the 3 genes that combine to produce hemoglobin which seem to have a large number of variants (alleles) with some 8 of them apparently capable of producing various diseases, the most problematic one being sickle-cell anemia. And it should be noted that the “sickle cell trait prevalence is highest in West Africa (25% of the population)”. From which one might reasonably and accurately state that “there is a fundamental difference in the populations in West Africa and, say, North America” without that at all reasonably justifying any claim that there is a fundamental difference between all members of those populations.

              Likewise with “fundamental differences between men and women”: any number of those when we’re talking about populations, but likely to be a lot fewer when we’re talking about any two individuals from both of those respective populations. Bad karma to confuse those two situations, but something that seems to happen all too often.

            • “…seem to balk at any suggestion that there are in fact any “fundamental differences between men and women etc etc on and on” .. Newp.

              WTF has this got to do with the OP?

            • Steersman

              You did say:

              The only issue the “it’s a girl thing” … people would have is any suggestion that this is indicative of a fundamental difference between men and women. …. So to assume there is certainly a fundamental difference from this factoid would be sexist IMO!

              Which would seem to deny the biochemistry underlying Caleb’s “PTSD occurs more often in females”, and whatever conclusions we might draw from that fact, particularly as it pertains to Hensley’s case. Notably and somewhat hypothetically that women are, in general, more susceptible to various “stressors”, and are more likely to develop PTSD from situations that most men are unlikely to. Which might even have some relevance to how most people view her claims.

              But maybe you didn’t read the OP very closely, or you had your pink glasses or blinders on ….

            • .. “deny the biochemistry” … Please show me the peer reviewed evidence for biochemical differences that are not due to socialisation as a woman in our culture. Or due to stress, harassment, sexual assault etc that women experience that men do not.

              My contention would be there is no reason to think women are more susceptible in a society where they are equal and treated equally. If there is evidence this is not the case then fair enough, but it would be damn hard to obtain.

            • Steersman

              Oolon: .. “deny the biochemistry” … Please show me the peer reviewed evidence for biochemical differences that are not due to socialization as a woman in our culture.

              That seems rather analogous to a demand by a religious fundamentalist to “show me the peer reviewed evidence that the universe is not due to Jehovah”. The fact of the matter is that there are a great many “biochemical differences” that manifest themselves right from the moment of conception, long before any socialization from “teh patriarchy!!11!!” could manifest itself. And if that is the case in many circumstances then it seems reasonable to accept that as the default explanation, particularly if subsequent tests or studies can explicitly remove or compensate for any socialization effects. For instance, as in the study that Caleb referenced in the OP – which you apparently didn’t read very closely – to wit:

              OP: The genders also show differential patterns of response to traumas. For example, only 1% of males threatened with a weapon will develop PTSD, but over 30% of females in similar situations will. Females also show higher rates after physical and sexual assaults.

              Now one might argue that the 30:1 difference there was at least partly due to socialization, but it seems a serious stretch to argue that that magnitude is due entirely to socialization and none due to the underlying differences in biochemistry. And, as mentioned several times now, that article or even abstract that Skep tickle linked to – which you don’t seem to have read or understood, although I’ll readily concede that stuff gets pretty complicated and intricate pretty quick – quite clearly argues, by two women I might add, that “sex differences at the molecular level” are a large part of the reason why “women are twice as likely as men to suffer from stress-related psychiatric disorders”.

              And while that doesn’t prove that those “sex differences” aren’t due to “socialization as a woman in our culture”, you might note that part of that study was at least based on differences between female and male rodents – care to argue that a “rat patriarchy” is the cause there? Or maybe you’ll concede that “socialization” isn’t the whole story?

              Oolon: My contention would be there is no reason to think women are more susceptible in a society where they are equal and treated equally. If there is evidence this is not the case then fair enough, but it would be damn hard to obtain.

              And I would say the studies on other animals – where there isn’t much in the way of a society to begin with – still show differences in responses to stress by sex, and were probably not all that hard to obtain. Although the animals themselves might suggest otherwise.

            • Funny that if you are correct then treating women like special snowflakes would the correct course of action. Something the other pitters claim we do, and they do the exact opposite trying to harass and demean as much as possible. My view is that all studies that examine sex differences show minute differences at best, such as HJ Hornbeck demonstrated in his video on the subject. That “male” and “female” brain study was demonstrated to be massively amplifying an effect that is tiny in reality. Over and over again humans are shown to be far more alike than different.

              When we live in a culture that is disproportionately stressful to women then that is the first explanation to work from. Also it’s something we can change. My “side” thinks we should fix that and not waste time hypothesising that women are more susceptible to X until there is solid evidence. Especially as these “fundamental difference” arguments are used by misogynists to excuse their misogyny and ironically do nothing. Of course if you are right then stopping harassment online and offline that currently *massively* affects women more than men is even more important. Weirdly your “side” doesn’t seem to think that is a priority at all and my “side” does. Wouldn’t have seen that coming 😉

              It’s really in your interests to destroy the patriarchy Steers as then we’d have a chance of answering your question of is the difference fundamental and to what degree. Get to it!

            • Steersman

              Oolon: Funny that if you are correct then treating
              women like special snowflakes would the correct course of action. Something the other pitters claim we do, and they do the exact opposite trying to harass and demean as much as possible.

              You do seem to have a remarkable “talent” for missing my point unless that’s intentional. It is less a question of treating all women as “special snowflakes”, although one might quibble about some of the pejorative connotations of the term, than one of recognizing that some of them are, that all of us – men and women both – exhibit varying degrees of sensitivity to various “stressors”, that what some of us find debilitating others perceive as little more than water off a duck’s back. And that the former at least frequently justifies some degree of special consideration of one form or another – for instance, we provide handicap parking, and special tax breaks for those whose afflictions cost them serious money.

              However, that someone is entitled to a permit to use the handicapped parking places in no way justifies them using that permit as a get-out-of-jail-free card for any and all other transgressions. And it seems to me, and to no few others, that Hensley, in her apparent characterizing of all criticism directed her way as harassment, is attempting to do precisely that. And if that is in fact what is happening – maybe a moot point – then one might reasonably argue that her condition is at least contributing to her inability to do her job – unless you maybe think her job as a CFI Director is to take on the Pentagon for the supposed transgressions of some of its employees.

              In addition, I might suggest you at least try qualifying “pitters” with,
              for example, “some” as not all of us, very few actually, are actually engaged in much “harassing and demeaning”. Otherwise one might reasonably argue that you’re indulging in the same “mythologizing” and “demonization” that Lousy Canuck, with maybe some justification, argued is somewhat endemic in society in general and in the Pit in particular, that you’re simply peddling propaganda.

              Oolon: My view is that all studies that examine sex differences show minute differences at best, such as HJ Hornbeck demonstrated in his video on the subject.

              You may wish to take that up with your “Dear Leader” as he at least argued that “sex differences are real” and anything but minute – and I kind of expect his “chops” are a little more credible than Hornbeck’s. Which reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s response to some woman who asked him what he thought was the most important difference between men and women: “Of that madam, I cannot conceive”, although I expect he probably meant gestation rather than conception.

              But that looks to be rather more than a “minute difference” to me, and one that apparently at least colours a great many other behavioural “modalities”. While one might argue that, as one of them, “[over-sensitivity], it’s more of a gal thing”, the other side of the coin seems to be “[insensitivity], it’s more of a guy thing”. But trying to deny that difference and its biochemical roots looks like, at best, putting our heads in the sand.

              Oolon: My “side” thinks we should fix that and not waste time hypothesizing that women are more susceptible to X until there is solid evidence.

              “None so blind as those who will not see”; you might actually try reading some of the sources I and others have linked to instead of parroting dogma and propaganda of the “four legs good; two legs bad” variety, instead of indulging in what is little more than Lysenkoism.

            • “no way justifies them using that permit as a get-out-of-jail-free card for any and all other transgressions”

              You seem to have the same problem as PG, thinking mental illness is some sort of super power that is wielded against you personally. There is absolutely no evidence that her mental health has helped her avoid any criticism what-so-ever. In fact it’s clearly spurred on lots of people to criticise her more than they ever would have done otherwise.

              Your “fear” of people “using” mental illness as a shield is ridiculous.

            • Steersman

              Oolon: You seem to have the same problem as PG, thinking mental illness is some sort of super power that is wielded against you personally.

              That’s some impressive reading-between-the-lines there Oolon, or you haven’t read as many of Hensley’s tweets as you should have if you want to be making those types of statements. While I don’t have all of the relevant ones at my fingertips, you might want to take a look at this YouTube video from Thunderfoot where he quotes and displays several relevant ones.

              For instance, @1:37 “Neptune Fallen” asks of Hensley “How is [your supposed PTSD] as painful as my PTSD from rape, sexual abuse, and molestation?” Which hardly seems to qualify as any type of bullying or harassment, yet Hensley seems to think otherwise:

              Hensley: You are very insensitive to question someone who has a life altering disorder. This is harassment. You will be blocked.

              While I will readily concede that she might well have some of the symptoms of PTSD, to characterize a rather civil question as harassment rather clearly shows that she has gone off the rails. Nothing to do with me personally, but that tweet exchange and a subsequent one where she states that she has “just contacted someone’s commanding officer” to complain about similar tweets suggests what she is doing reflects poorly on herself, on the CFI, and on the atheist-skeptic community.

              And somewhat apropos of that you may wish to take a look at a recent post by Miri over on the FTB site Brute Reason where she states that “I’m not saying that all online criticism (or even most of it) qualifies as ‘bullying.’” How about I concede, as I have done elsewhere in effect, that some people were “gratuitously nasty” towards her and you concede that she was wrong to, in effect, characterize all of the criticisms directed her way as bullying and harassment?

              Oolon: Your “fear” of people “using” mental illness as a shield is ridiculous.

              You do have a problematic tendency to make categorical statements – the bailiwick of demagogues and the intellectually lazy if not the intellectually dishonest: you are referring to “people” and all I’ve done is point to one case – with evidence – which I think rather clearly proves that she is using, or allowing the use of, her supposed “mental illness” to circumscribe “free inquiry” – rather inconsistent with the mission statement of CFI.

            • bismarket 1

              I think you know perfectly well that when you spout things such as “being a woman in our sexist culture” you are likely to piss a lot of people off. You assert that our culture is sexist & move on. I don’t agree that our culture is sexist (or not to any significant degree at least) although there are sexist cultures elsewhere. Happily, Hensley isn’t living in one of those cultures but it does beg the question, what would she be suffering from if she were?

            • Yes it’s nice of you to dismiss yourself from any serious conversation by asserting that. Thanks, saves me the bother.

            • bismarket 1

              Remember the Woman who was on that TV report you were featured in that said “Men are raised to hate Women”? Who is it that are raising these men, especially when you take into consideration the amount of single parents (most often female) doing the raising? It makes as much sense as saying we live in a sexist culture. Just because it’s asserted doesn’t make it so & for every argument made for the assertion i’ve seen a better (IMO) argument against. When pressed, you do what almost all feminists do, you try to shut down the argument by being dismissive. Thankfully more & more people are seeing this for what it is, as a way of avoiding having to answer difficult questions. It’s been noted, now we can move on. You play the stereotype to perfection BTW.

            • They are raised in this culture, not by “whom”, but by a pervasive set of negative stereotypes that are ingrained into them. So you missed the point there … Also by your weird assertion that these men might be raised by single mothers you also seem to think women cannot be sexist or raise misogynists. Of course they can! Plenty of Catholic women or Quiverfull Xtian women who will deny women are equal to men. You’ll probably agree with my extreme examples of religious misogyny but somehow those powerful institutions cannot effect our culture as a whole.

            • bismarket 1

              You were raised in this culture as was i & almost everyone i know yet i couldn’t honestly point out a single Man i know who hates Women. It would seem that despite this pervasive set of negative stereotypes, we all managed to overcome the programming? Quiverfull Xians are not typically single parents & i’m not so sure i would agree you’d find many Catholic Women (despite their churches teachings) agreeing that Women are less than equal to men, in fact Catholicism is the only branch of Xianity to embrace a female (albeit unrealistic virginal) semi-deity in Mary.

            • whatever

              Would you speculate on the relationship between PTSD, female susceptibility to PTSD, and the old diagnosis of hysteria?

              The wiki for hysteria has these three paragraphs that seem salient:

              In the early 1890s Freud published a series of articles on hysteria
              which popularized Charcot’s earlier work and began the development of
              his own views of hysteria. By the 1920s Freud’s theory was influential
              in Britain and the USA. The Freudian psychoanalytic school of psychology
              uses its own, somewhat controversial, ways to treat hysteria. Freudian
              psychoanalytic theory attributed hysterical symptoms to the unconscious
              mind’s attempt to protect the patient from psychic stress. Unconscious
              motives include primary gain, in which the symptom directly relieves the
              stress (as when a patient coughs to release energy pent up from keeping
              a secret), and secondary gain, in which the symptom provides an
              independent advantage, such as staying home from a hated job. More
              recent critics have noted the possibility of tertiary gain, when a
              patient is induced unconsciously to display a symptom because of the
              desires of others (as when a controlling spouse enjoys the docility of
              his or her sick partner).

              Many now consider hysteria to be a legacy diagnosis (i.e., a catch-all junk diagnosis),[4]
              particularly due to its long list of possible manifestations: one
              Victorian physician cataloged 75 pages of possible symptoms of hysteria
              and called the list incomplete.[5]

              Judith Herman suggests, in Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror,[6]
              that hysteria was a label given a form of PTSD arising from routine
              domestic abuse of women, including physical abuse, rape, and emotional
              abuse. She describes the work of Charcot and Freud resulting in Freud’s
              finding in “The Aetiology of Hysteria,” in 1896, which he later

              “I therefore put forward the thesis that at the bottom of every case of hysteria there are one or more ocurrences of premature sexual experience…”[7]

    • MadMike

      I’m not sure I would trust any mental health professional that would prescribe bed rest for PTSD. She’s been bedridden for how long? Something does not add up. However you feel about her diagnosis, keeping her on twitter and in bed? Really?

    • Soopy

      This article is bad. It’s bad because it doesn’t actually answer the question it claims to answer.

      The real question behind this entire broohah is not whether Mrs. Hensley is full of youknowwhat (which we already knew she was), but if it’s actually possible to develop PTSD /exclusively/ from online experiences – which is at the core of her seemingly ludicrous claim.

      The content of this article however, doesn’t warrant any affirming statements of that kind. It loses itself in a rundown of stats and generals, which franky anyone could’ve looked up in an instant, and even those on-topic studies, which are hidden behind a single deep link in this article, don’t answer that question.

      What the actual researchers do, is to point out their difficulties with seperating the appearances of “cyberbullying” from real-life bullying, because they mostly go hand in hand, and their difficulties with comparing the effects of these types of bullying in individuals with regard to their age groups, which is rather typical psych’ obfuscation lingo for “young people are too stupid for us to take their self-evaluations seriously and put them in a meaningful context”.

      Well, at leat the actual psych researchers have become more honest than they used to be. I guess we should thank them for that. This article however, is and remains useless. The author should take it down and apologise.

      BTW: For the commenters who brought up “Amanda Todd”: No. Don’t go there.

      Amanda Todd’s problems might have started with “cyberbullying”, but they culminated when the real-life bullying became violent and started to consume her entire social life. Yes, she’s used as a poster girl for the dangers of “cyberbullying”, but that’s nothing more than a cynical political move.

    • Loads of commenters here saying that Melody never exhibited classic avoidance behaviors contemporaneous to the onset of her symptoms. Did you guys try to search her timeline around Dec 2012?

    • Richard Sanderson

      BTW, it has to be noted that FreeThoughtBlogs/A+/Skepchick and friends, have always had a rather hateful attitude towards people serving in the military. Melody’s recent behaviour reflects this.

      Don’t forget the way they treated Justin Griffth (Rock Beyond Belief) when he exposed Greg Laden’s threats of violence. Don’t forget that even though Griffith was the VICTIM, PZ attempted to protect Laden until he was forced to act (with Griffith spilling the beans), and various others, esp. Stephanie Zvan, treating Laden as the victim, and then victim-blaming Justin Griffith. Zvan even toasted Laden the night he was kicked off FTB.

      Justin later revealed that after the event, PZ cold-shouldered him and treated him like an outcast or an apostate. PZ and other are victim-blamers.

    • MosesZD

      What a load of crap. You reinvented the disorder to make a phony argument.

      PTSD, as set forth in the DSM V has clearly defined causes and symptoms. She doesn’t have the CAUSES. Twitter trolling, and its backlash, doesn’t count.

      Hensley, btw, has made a shit-ton of claims about her mental problems:

      First, it was General Anxiety.
      Then it was General Anxiety with PTSD-like symptoms.
      Then when people mocked her for “Twitter-caused PTSD, SHE WAS QUITE CLEAR SHE SAID THAT SHE DID NOT HAVE PTSD, but GA with some PTSD-like symptoms.

      Then sometime last year she started in on the “I got PTSD from Twitter” after doctor shopping for a new therapist. And now she claims the therapist is telling her that this unsupported trolling on twitter is ‘good for her’ which, frankly, no competent psychologist would tell her.

      You’re being conned by one of the mean girls who dug herself into a bullshit hole.

      So much for skepticism here…

      • Thanks for all the helpful links backing up your narrative, Moses!

    • David Jones

      Just to make the DSM ‘A’ stressor criteria available for people to read:

      …the “A” stressor criterion specifies that a person has been exposed to a catastrophic event involving actual or threatened death or injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of him/herself or others (such as sexual violence). Indirect exposure includes learning about the violent or accidental death or perpetration of sexual violence to a loved one. Exposure through electronic media (e.g. televised images the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center) is not considered a traumatic event.

      • Impressive example of motivated reasoning!
        “Indirect exposure includes learning about the violent or accidental death or perpetration of sexual violence to a loved one. ”

        Just *learning* about death or sexual violence enacted on someone *else* (loved one) is a criteria. But direct sustained threats of violence, sexual assault, death via electronic medium directly to the person is somehow immediately discounted. Impressive, not even taking into account you are psychsplaining to a professor and licensed clinical psychologist.

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    • Verklagekasper

      “What matters, instead, is that I demonstrated that a particular scenario can be true”

      What happened to “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”? Yet there isn’t even ordinary evidence in this case. There doesn’t seem to be a single confirmed case of Twitter-PTSD. You don’t mention any, either. In fact, Mrs. Hensley’s condition appears to be so exceptionally rare that she is the first person on the planet claiming to have it. Doesn’t that raise a red flag or two?
      If Twitter-PTSD was all that plausible, then why hasn’t anyone mentioned it before? If Twitter-PTSD was all that plausible, how could it stay under the radar in a community of 645 million users? Where are the Twitter-PTSD help groups? And how are people suffering from PTSD supposed not to be offended when their disorder is compared to something that is currently indistinguishable from fiction?

      • You, like several other people on here, seem to be very stuck on the idea of “Twitter causing PTSD” rather than what I showed, which is that the bullying and harassment (which happened to come via Twitter) would be the actual problem and potential cause. Long-term bullying and harassment can, as several of the studies I linked show, cause very high levels of PTSD symptoms, up to the diagnostic level.

        As far as why there isn’t an “epidemic” of it, how do you know there isn’t? Please go ahead and prove that negative (yes, that was the snarky answer, which befits your tone). Realistically, there are likely to be a number of people who have PTSD symptoms or even full-blown PTSD as a result of bullying and harassment via various social media outlets, but no epidemiological studies have looked at this, so I can’t give you any numbers.

        Finally, I’m not commenting on any particular individual, as I’ve said numerous times (in the article and in the comments below). It’s unethical and unprofessional.

        • Verklagekasper

          Hi Caleb, thanks for the reply. As for being “stuck on the idea of Twitter causing PTSD”, well that’s your own words in the article. It’s the message that your article also gets cited for.
          Regarding the studies you linked, they are about the effects of school bullying. The existence of PTSD through school bullying does not imply that cyberbullying has a similar effect and causes PTSD.
          Also I’m not demanding evidence for an epedemic. Just some empiric evidence that the phenomenon actually exists. Is there any empirical evidence other than Hensley’s claim that supports the existance of PTSD through Twitter, or through cyberbullying via Twitter, or through cyberbullying via any online medium whatsoever? Like, has anybody else been diagnosed to have gotten PTSD through cyberbullying? I’m not asking for numbers. Just some cases. Or even just one case.

          • Is there any empirical evidence other than Hensley’s claim that supports the existance of PTSD through Twitter, or through cyberbullying via Twitter, or through cyberbullying via any online medium whatsoever?

            Yes according to Dr. Drogin.

            • Well, that seems to settle that a bit. Thanks Damion for the link!

            • Verklagekasper

              The linked article doesn’t contain a hint to confirmed cases of PTSD through cyberbullying. It mentions that PTSD is “frequently
              associated in the scientific literature” with cyber bullying” but that association isn’t described further. To find out more, I got a copy of Drogin’s own article he’s referring to, “Forensic Mental Health Aspects of Adolescent “Cyber Bullying”” (2008). There, the connection bewteen PTSD and cyber bullying is described as follows:

              “According to Sadock & Sadock (2007), of
              the approximately 6% of students harassed in this context, one
              third “found the incidents extremely distressing” (p. 42).
              Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is thus a logical option for
              forensic investigation; “however, the requirement that the
              event be one involving death, serious injury, or a threat to
              physical integrity, or the witnessing of same, does limit the
              applicability of this diagnosis in mental injury cases” (Melton,
              Petrila, Poythress, Slobogin, Lyons, & Otto, 2007, p. 418).”

              So there’s a note that PTSD was worth of forensic investigation. But still no hint to an actual case of PTSD through cyber bullying.

            • I’ve addressed elsewhere in the comments the issue of Criterion A for PTSD, as well as provided links in the article to other research showing extremely high amounts of PTSD symptoms in those who have been bullied or cyberbullied.

              What you are apparently wanting is someone to write up a case study on someone who has been harassed and bullied via electronic means and has developed PTSD. That’s not really how research in psychology works anymore – there’s not a single journal that would publish such a thing (although there are some journals devoted to case studies, they tend to be more focused on treatment and outcomes, not just “here’s a person with a diagnosis”).

              If you can read through the literature on PTSD, bullying, and harassment and remain unconvinced that it is possible and probable for a person to develop PTSD, that’s your decision. in the meantime, I’d encourage you to explore some of the other documented terrible impact of being bullied and harassed via electronic means, such as suicide:


            • Verklagekasper

              So you can answer the question “Can one get post traumatic stress disorder from Twitter?” quickly with “In a word: Yes”, yet the question “Has anybody else been diagnosed to have gotten PTSD through cyberbullying?” is somehow incompatible with psychology research’s mode of operation and requires me to read through the literature on PTSD and suicide first? Really?

            • Well, It’s pretty obvious that I didn’t just use one word to answer it, otherwise I wouldn’t have had an 1800 word post here.

              Suppose you were to ask me “Could someone have a specific phobia (that is, an intense irrational fear that impairs their functioning) about bubble gum?” I could then do just like the post here, telling you about specific phobias, etiology, prevalence, and then show that it would indeed be possible for someone to have a bubblegum phobia.

              Then you ask me to point to an example on the internet that shows someone who has been diagnosed with bubblegum phobia, because that will someone convince you. And I say, “We don’t really write up case studies like that.” You, then, tell me that I am therefore wrong about all of the prior information I gave you showing that it is, in fact, a possibility. You then feel smug about this and as if you have “won.”

              But, it turns out, I actually have treated a 22 year old female for bubblegum phobia (quite successfully, I might add). I’ve not published a case study on it, I don’t have details and this person’s name online somewhere, and you really don’t need it.

              I can do the same thing for development of many anxiety disorders (e.g., construct a plausible scenario and mechanism for development without being able to find “proof” of it via a published case study). What you are attempting to prove is a negative (e.g., “No one can get PTSD via harassment and abuse over social media.”) – can you assure me that this is the case via a linked article?

            • Verklagekasper

              “But, it turns out, I actually have treated a 22 year old female for
              bubblegum phobia (quite successfully, I might add). I’ve not published a
              case study on it, I don’t have details and this person’s name online
              somewhere, and you really don’t need it..”

              I believe you that you treated a case of bubblegum phobia. The rest is just you making up another straw man about me requesting things I actually have not requested. And all of that bullshit just because you cannot simply admit that you never heard of anybody else having been diagnosed to have gotten PTSD through cyberbullying. Skeptic fail.

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    • Sarah

      What’s hilarious about this situation is that both sides like to claim they’re being bullied by the other. “They’re harassing us by obsessively documenting us. That’s why we have to record everything they say and do” say both sides.

      “The FTBullies are upsetting me. This really hurts why would they be like this?!? This kind of insulting bullying is really really bad. Also, they should grow a thicker skin and stop whining about a little criticism and some insults on the internet.”

      “Aw are the misogynists man-feewings hurt by a little criticism? Poor little babby. Does babby want a tone argument? Are insulting criticisms too much for yew?? These sicko bullies need to stop harassing us, I just can’t believe how painful and upsetting this is, I have ptsd.”

      Who’s right? Nobody knows. Except the people on one side or other. Then it’s very obvious it’s not the other lot!!

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    • Didgya

      I appreciate the article. Very informative. I enjoy the bias in the comment section also. It is slightly amusing.

    • fiveseven15

      i’m curious. she is still very active on twitter (from what i’ve read) if someone had PTSD, wouldnt they tend to AVOID the medium that caused it? to me, its like a soldier getting PTSD in battle, yet wanting to go back out into the same situation. i had anxiety issues before (heart issue which led to seizures) and i got so scared that i would seize while driving and kill someone, that i refused to drive until i was confident it would never happen. or does that happen more often that one would think, someone suffering from a condition and purposefully agitating it. it almost sounds like a ploy for attention, or is this not unheard of?

      • I’d encourage you to read through the other comments and my responses, where I actually addressed this issue several times. Thanks for reading!

    • Leucisticraccoon

      Your studies kinda suck on the aspect of showing that one can get PTSD from social networking. The way you connect it is as follow:

      >People get PTSD
      >Kids who are bullied can get PTSD
      >Through your powers combined, Traditional Bully is now equal to Cyberbullying (The study I used says nothing of the such, and I kinda just pulled this part out of my ass)
      >Twitter (despite being 140 characters) is social networking
      >People can be bullied via social networking
      >Twitter can cause PTSD

      Which is all complete bullshit.But thankyou for trying. But you failed.

    • Judge Jack

      its a hard buy when some one has PTSD from twitter, and even harder when said person states her case is the same as people who go to war and see really traumatizing stuff.

    • The research seems fairly clear that there is a link between traditional (i.e., offline) bullying and PTSD symptoms among children bullied at school and adults bullied at work. But since most experts on traditional bullying define it in such a way that it differs considerably from what is called cyberbullying (or cyber harassment, cyber aggression, and many other terms), it remains to be seen whether these various electronic forms of aggression have the same link. For example, traditional bullying generally involves a power imbalance, which is not necessarily part of cyberbullying.

      If I had to speculate, I’d say that research will eventually link cyberbullying victimization (and other forms of electronic aggression) to PTSD symptoms. We already have evidence that it is associated with depression, suicidal ideation, and other emotional problems. It seems likely that evidence will accumulate showing that some psychologically vulnerable individuals exposed to high levels of cyberbullying will develop PTSD symptoms. Whether the DSM-5 trauma criteria can be met in this way remains to be seen.

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    • John Mill

      While I greatly appreciate the condescending term “armchair psychologist”, I’d say that intuition is about the only useful tool when diagnosing mental disorders. There is literally no rigorous test one can perform to prove mental disorders; neither is there any hard evidence to prove their existence. Instead, what we have is an observed pattern of behaviour among people, and techniques for treating them. Now, it is a psychologists job to identify malingering and factitious disorders, and stop them from leeching off of our government.

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    • bill

      DSM clearly states that unless it is job related, one can not be diagnosed with PTSD via social media.

      • Hey bill, thanks for commenting. You are referencing Criterion A4, which says:

        “Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse). This does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.”

        This is actually talking about INDIRECT exposure via media – for example, seeing video of the destruction of 9/11. Repeated threats and bullying via Twitter is actually a DIRECT type of exposure if it is directed towards a particular person – indirect would be reading the threats or bullying comments directed towards another individual.

    • Joél Bernabel

      It’s very unfortunate to see how overused the issue of PTSD has been used since 9/11 & the oversaturation of quick diagnosis from it devalues it’s true psychological disposition. While it is true to get anxiety from nearly anything, we should really assess where “Traumatic” in PTSD is really true. Now a traumatic experience very relative would be that of our War veterans who have clearly psychologically as well as physically experience a known threat to their mental psyche due to clearly relevant environmental cues. A twitter post would have to express some kind of “Fear” impulse similar to those Youtube scare tactic puzzles that had some loud scream without warning. If someone harasses you (Whether you are male or female) online on twitter, they are read. The context can be hideous, but then again they are just words. No Sound, no environmental cue (loud noise, explosion) just words. Now I am a man that grew up on “Sticks & stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” so that might be my attribution bias. But I can’t clearly manifest why it must be “PTSD” and not some sort of generalized online social phobia. If you are claiming to have a traumatic event due to twitter then I would suggest digging a little deeper with past development than to conclude twitter as face-value concrete.

      Two context in PTSD make this questionable: Acting or feeling as if the event were recurring (Includes a sense of reliving the experience) & physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble the traumatic event. & Persistent avoidance of associated stimuli with trauma…

      And of course it must last longer than a month, right? I mean where is the “EVENT” in a twitter post? Where is the physiological experience to cause future cues to anxiety? And why are they not avoiding twitter’s stimuli? I don’t know it’s a really depressing matter to see that humanity has become more vulnerable & sensitive as a race with these quick assumptions & it really leads to a media bias want to believe it.

      Who cares about prevention, proposing actually psychological rhetoric in hopes to prevent this from actually happening. I would have to assume that twitter is one of many online social & in real life symptoms that would lead up to such a horrific experience to getting ptsd from a twitter post.

    • Sugar Bear

      You cannot have ptsd from Twitter. You omitted the clinical definition of a trauma, which does not include the Internet or news, etc. without that you don’t meet criterion.

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    • Adolf

      You can’t get PTSD from reading mean comments online, is this a fucking joke?
      Comments like “feminism is dumb” and “you are wrong” do not count as personal attacks either. People need to shut the fuck up and move on with their lives.

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