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Army Misdiagnoses Hundreds with Personality Disorders Instead of PTSD

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Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 18, 2010

Army Misdiagnoses Hundreds with Personality Disorders Instead of PTSDA new Associated Press article out this week suggests that the U.S. Army may have misdiagnosed hundreds of soldiers with a personality disorder, rather than with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Soldiers who carry a diagnosis of a personality disorder often face being discharged, and find that their access to military and health benefits cut at the same time. Nearly 1,000 soldiers a year between 2005 and 2007 were discharged for having a personality disorder. Soldiers who receive a PTSD diagnosis can receive treatment while still being enlisted, and continue to receive all of the military and health benefits of an active duty soldier.

Advocates for veterans suggest that the practice, although supposedly stopped by the Army since it first came to light, is still occurring. Hundreds of soldiers are still receiving personality disorder diagnoses, cutting off their access to needed health care and treatment, according to advocates.

“We really have an obligation to go back and make sure troops weren’t misdiagnosed,” Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen told the Associated Press. Dr. Van Dahlen is a clinical psychologist whose nonprofit “Give an Hour” connects troops with volunteer mental health professionals.

It’s not clear what prompted the Associated Press to publish a new story about this issue, as it cited no new report or data in its article. Army official deny there is any new problem, or that the rate of personality disorder diagnoses has changed since the practice first came to light and was ended in 2008.

Before a soldier is accepted into the armed forces, they undergo routine physical and mental health screenings and examinations to ensure they are fit to become soldiers.

Sometimes, however, the Army apparently suggests that some individuals have pre-existing personality disorders that only become apparent after a return from active combat operations, according to the Associated Press article

Outside of a single story of a soldier who experienced this sort of treatment, there was no other source or data provided by the Associated Press in the article to substantiate the reporter’s claims.

This story first came to light in April 2010 by an investigative piece in The Nation called Disposable Soldiers.

Source: Associated Press

 

APA Reference
NewsEditor, P. (2010). Army Misdiagnoses Hundreds with Personality Disorders Instead of PTSD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/18/army-misdiagnoses-hundreds-with-personality-disorders-instead-of-ptsd/17022.html