Get a grip

Being a right-wing columnist under New Labour’s liberal fascist tyranny is a bit like being a South Wales Borderer at Rorke’s Drift: so many targets, so little time. And just when you think you’ve got ’em all covered — Harriet Harman, ‘Dame’ ‘Suzi’ ‘Leather’, windfarms, George Monbiot, dumbing down, Mary Seacole studies — another one pops up unbidden from the veldt to torment you with his bloody assegai.

Take this new Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) epidemic. Did you know there was an epidemic? I certainly didn’t till I watched Monday night’s admirable Panorama investigation The Trauma Industry (BBC1, Monday). Rather I thought, probably, as you did, that it was an affliction confined mainly to battle veterans.

PTSD — shell shock as it used to be known — is the terrible shaking men got after they’d been under heavy bombardment in the trenches; it’s the flashbacks Nam vets have about the Charlie ambush that wiped out all their buddies; it’s the fits of rage that Falklands veteran Robert Lawrence suffers as a result of being shot in the head by a sniper. Definitely not the sort of thing you’d ever get after a low-velocity shunt in the Tesco car park.

Apparently, we’re mistaken though. It seems that PTSD is so widespread a threat to the health of the nation that it has now spawned an industry worth £7 billion. Yes, not million. Billion. That is the annual turnover of the personal-accident-injury business in Britain and a massive chunk of it is taken up by PTSD claims. Twice as many more people are treated every year by the NHS for PTSD — 220,000 — than are in the entire British army.

The Panorama reporter getting very angry about all this was the veteran war correspondent Allan Little.

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