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UNTHINKABLE 10/04/2013

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What’s Unthinkable – the Government shutdown? Yes, but we have something else in mind. Unthinkable is the title of the new independent film coming from Movies On A Mission. We’ve been in pre-production for the past three weeks and have assembled a kick-ass cast of Portland actors, including Randall Paul (“Eyes Wide Shut”), Dennis Fitzpatrick, Michael Biesanz, Drew Barrios, Deone Jennings and a ton more.
The script is based on actual events – a “murder suicide” according to local police, but possibly a professional assassination according to a well respected investigative journalist.
Want to know more? I’m producing and directing the film, but will jump in when time permits. In the meantime, stand by for updates from filmmaker and Unthinkable participant Laurie Gabriel straight from the trenches.

Peace…

Eric

KEY_ART

PURPLE MIND – TV SERIES? 08/01/2012

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I’ve been seeing promos for a new TV series featuring contestants (celebrities) who go on combat missions with Special Forces or Navy Seal teams.  Wow.  Along those lines, I think PTSD may also be on the way to claiming its very own specific film genre.  In the press and on the web, PTSD is getting nearly as much attention as romance, science fiction & action-adventure.  While the audience for PTSD themed films is nowhere near as large as those for the better established film genres, my sense is that we will be dealing with the consequences of Iraq and Afghanistan for a long time to come (many seasons, eh corporate sponsors?).

Certainly, there is plenty of drama and conflict attached to PTSD.  Joseph Bobrow’s recent article in Huffington Post told us “the most frequent reason soldiers gave for attempting suicide was… intense emotional pain.”  He then asks, “Did we need to spend $50,000,000 to find that out?”  The apparent stupidity of psychological researchers could drive a normal person over the edge.

The question Army researchers seem focused on is that because people who try to commit suicide do so in an effort not to harm themselves so much as stop the pain, that this supports developing new therapies which focus on “quelling” emotional pain rather than on dealing with “underlying issues” such as depression or post-traumatic stress.  Don’t VA shrinks already prescribe killer amounts of pain killing drugs just to mask the symptoms?

But there may be hope.  Bobrow reminds us that since time immemorial people have been using a combination of small peer support groups, expressive arts, vigorous recreation and secular ritual to transform unbearable trauma.

Good deal.  Our film, “Purple Mind,” focuses on Roy Matthews, a veteran suffering the unbearable trauma of having taken part in the Battle of Falujah where he not only lost his best friend, but also ripped apart families, killed women and children and imprisoned countless innocent Iraqi males.  Certainly, Roy Matthews’ experience of war represents a disturbing story of the trauma of war, but it is only one story.  There are as many variations as there are soldiers and veterans suffering PTSD, many who never saw a dead person, and more still who never left their homes.  Roy’s story is just one of many hundreds of thousands, twenty percent or more which will go untreated and unresolved… at least until it becomes an accepted practice within the military to see soldiers as whole people with mental and spiritual lives in addition to meeting the physical requirements of the battlefield.

But how long and how complicated is such an outcome to take?  Arizona provides a clue.  Last week we learned that if it turns out medical marijuana might help war veterans deal with their depression of PTSD, Arizona will treat veteran potheads  as hippie-no-good-nicks looking for a phony baloney excuse to get high.

“The decision to deny requests by veterans, care providers and others for medical marijuana use for PTSD, migraine headaches, anxiety and depression follows a recommendation by medical officials in the Department of Health Services.”  Bravo medical officials for keeping our veterans safe from pot!

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, yet another new study found that among soldiers, those who had engaged the enemy in combat were found to be twice as likely as others to admit hitting someone upon their return and one third of victims of the post-combat violence were said to be close relatives of the soldiers themselves.

“The association between performing a combat role and being exposed to combat, and subsequent violence on return from deployment, is about two fold,” Dr. MacManus told the BBC.

The conflicts between government interests and the individual interests of soldiers and veterans was highlighted in a press release from The American Federation of Government Employees today.  “Dr. Michelle Washington, a post-traumatic stress disorder specialist at the Wilmington, VA Medical Center, has seen her performance rating lowered, job duties altered and job titled changed stemming from her Senate testimony about mental health care access wait times, says AFGE.”   Washington and others have faced adverse actions from the VA in a “coordinated pattern of retaliation” for bringing to light mismanagement at the VA.

“For eight months, Dr. Washington has been under attack for speaking the truth about the unmet needs of veterans facing severe mental health problems,” said AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer J. David Cox. “It is time for the agency’s highest level appointee over our veterans’ health care system to take prompt action to fix this situation and make Dr. Washington whole in terms of her job duties, job title and performance ratings.”

Cox called the VA’s treatment of Dr. Washington, “highly illegal, extremely disrespectful of the Congressional hearing process and threatening to the VA’s ability to identify deficiencies in services it provides to veterans.”

Mini-series anybody?  No?  Not enough drama?  Well, here’s more…

Former Connecticut Supreme Court Judge Barry Shaller’s recent book, “Veterans On Trial: The Coming Battles Over PTSD” suggests that, “Since courts in America stand uniquely on the front lines of dealing with the unsolved problems of society, courts will bear the brunt of postwar mental health problems.”

The key-art of our film “Purple Mind” tells the story in a nutshell.

“THE ARMY TRAINED US TO GO TO WAR.  
BUT NOBODY TRAINED US TO COME HOME.”

Judge Shaller seems to agree.  “We should really look to our veterans with all their training and education, their experience to be leaders and model citizens. They are, after all, law abiding people who go through an experience that changes them in some ways, and causes them problems. I don’t think it’s enough that they just recover. I think that that’s setting the bar too low. … What the military should institute is a training program for soldiers’ re-entry into society, comparable in duration to basic military training.”

Very enlightened, Your Honor.  Wanna hit?

 

 

 

PURPLE MIND – CASUALTIES OF THE LIE 07/28/2012

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I don’t understand why more people aren’t really angry about the number of people who have died in our two wars.  The other day, Michael Moore described the Iraq and Afghanistan “conflicts” as our two “ongoing Auroras.”

Seems that when one of our own unleashes a deadly attack on unarmed civilians with assault weapons in a theater in Colorado, we can’t stop talking about it.  But when we kill over a million innocent civilians in Iraq, we can only talk about the unfortunate results to our own troops, who I’m calling “Casualties of the Lie.”

Yesterday, I posted a five minute compilation video featuring ex-CIA asset Susan Lindauer discussing her experiences as the first non-Arab American detained under the Patriot Act for threatening to expose the Bush Administration’s lies about advance warnings of the attacks of 9/11 – lies which stand to this day as the justification for our “War on Terror.”  Trouble is, the terrorists were not just the hijackers, they were also those who took advantage of their advance knowledge of the attacks to bring down the World Trade Center and Building 7 by controlled demolition.

Don’t believe me?  Well, you’re not alone.  Most people refuse to think about Govt. complicity in the 9/11 attacks.  If they did, no one would have signed up to go off to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.  If they did, we might not be witness to 18 veteran suicides a day and people wouldn’t be so impossibly familiar with the term “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

If the advance warnings of the 9/11 attacks had been responded to appropriately when the Attorney General and the President were warned, according to Lindauer, there would have been a much more satisfying result.  Through Lindauer, Iraq had offered far better than the threat of war:  they offered to purchase a million American automobiles every year for ten years; they offered American oil companies 1st tier oil export contracts; they offered American business reconstruction contracts for buildings and infrastructure throughout Iraq; and, they offered American technology companies contracts to upgrade the entire Iraq telecommunications system…. all that in exchange for our lifting sanctions responsible for the death of 5,000 Iraqi children a month.  You’d think Bush and Company would have at least considered such a great deal.

Instead we got Paul Bremmer who systematically dismantled Iraq, top to bottom, destroying a civil society and giving birth to a ten year war whose only beneficiary was the US Military Industrial Complex, and a war which still threatens to send the United States into bankruptcy.

But why does it matter, you ask, now that we’re “out” of Iraq and “winding down” in Afghanistan?  It matters because far too many people don’t want to think of America as an aggressor nation.  They want to think of America as “preserving freedom” via a military strong enough to stand up to any threat.  It matters because the trillions spent on our wars of aggression might better serve America by being spent on education, innovation, renewable energy, healthcare and infrastructure, things things which would really benefit America and Americans, things which would create jobs and turn the economy around.

If you believe the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were/are dedicated to “preserving freedom,” ask yourself this question:  What memories live in the mind of a soldier who served multiple tours in Iraq?  Ask yourself why that soldier is twice as likely to die by suicide than members of the general population.  Ask yourself what kinds of trauma, combat and deployment did that soldier experience?  Ask yourself why that soldier’s “fight for freedom” would the cause him to turn to drug and alcohol abuse, to become depressed enough to commit suicide.  Why?  In exchange for his fight to “protect our freedom,” our soldier comes home with depressive symptoms five times that of his civilian brothers and sisters.  And it is all related to stress.  Stress in the form of exposure to death – not just of his buddies, but of innocent civilians as well.  Our soldier comes home feeling isolated and disconnected.  He feels ineffective, no longer deployed or actively involved in military culture, he feels like a failure who doesn’t belong, a burden to others and unable to readjust… because there is little in common between the experience of war – especially an illegal war – and the experience of civilian values.  The war has ripped that dignity from his soul forever – unless he is fortunate enough to receive some honest and meaningful therapy.

Most returning soldiers are reluctant to speak about their experience in the war zone, especially if it contradicts the official story.  Soldiers can lose their benefits if they criticize the military.  But there are a handful of brave soldiers who are unafraid.  They belong to groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War, whose members spoke at the Winter Soldier testimony before Congress in 2008, describing the kind of experiences – clear examples – of why a soldier would come home suffering from PTSD, depression and thoughts of suicide.  Soldiers who are willing to speak truth to power, are the soldiers who truly deserve our respect.  They are the men and women who inspired us to make our film, “Purple Mind.”  They are men and women America needs to embrace and learn from in order that we not be deceived into another unjustified war designed to benefit a few large corporations at the expense of the United States of America.

PURPLE MIND – SEEKING THE TRUTH 07/26/2012

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If you’re someone seeking the truth about what’s going on in Washington or in our excursions into the Middle-East, it’s nearly a sure thing you won’t find it in the mainstream (corporate) media.  Our little indie feature film, “Purple Mind,” reflects what hundreds of Winter Soldiers had to say about their experiences in Iraq, but unfortunately a majority of Americans still prefer to believe the fictions of 9/11 and Sadam’s weapons of mass destruction.

This past weekend, I met ex CIA-Asset Susan Lindauer, who was the first non-Arab American prosecuted and silenced under the Patriot Act from talking about her direct knowledge of terrorist World Trade Center attacks well in advance of 9/11.  Susan’s story is terrifying, but now available from Amazon.com – “Extreme Prejudice” – a fascinating study in how the Patriot Act nearly destroyed Susan, eviscerated the US Constitution, and continues to threaten us all today.

One of the “secret charges” brought against Susan was an accusation that she received a book from Iraqi colleague about the US Military’s use of depleted uranium and the resulting birth defects suffered by Iraqis and cancers by American soldiers.  John Ashcroft’s US prosecutors said Susan’s possession of this “classified information” constituted a risk to demoralizing US troops and they attempted to imprison her without trial for up to ten years, an effort which, thankfully, Susan was able to overcome.

So, today I would like to share what one Winter Soldier had to say about what really demoralizes the troops.  Here it is…

PURPLE MIND – MIDNIGHT MURDER 07/21/2012

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I sure didn’t expect to be writing about mass murder today, but it’s pretty hard to ignore when a lunatic gunman opens fire on the audience of a midnight movie.  Apparently there are some similarities between how James Holmes conducted his mass kill and “The Joker’s” excessive killing in “The Dark Knight.”  But I am in agreement with others who refuse to give credence to the idea that the movie made him do it.  Rather, I think that the more detached from reality we become as a society, the more psychopaths we hatch to kill us when we’re unaware.

Our film, “Purple Mind,” illustrates the result of an organization which conditions men and women headed for combat to suppress their emotions when it comes to killing.  The tougher our warriors are in battle the better.  They are trained to put their feelings inside little boxes and shut their feelings away while they are at war.  The danger is that these men and women come home and suddenly they’re expected to become “normal” again, like turning on a switch.  But it doesn’t happen that way, does it.

Films are more violent today then ever in the history of cinema.  Our bad guys are generally psychopaths who have become more and more glorified as our movies have moved further from depictions of real life to stories reflecting the excesses of the comics films like “The Dark Knight” are based on.  Hey, they’re fun.  But they are also way out there!

So, with all that in mind, I thought I’d repost an article from Scientific American, “What Psychopath Means.”  It’s pretty interesting.

By Scott O. Lilienfeld and Hal Arkowitz  | November 28, 2007

We have all heard these phrases before. “Violent psychopath” (21,700). “Psychopathic serial killer” (14,700). “Psychopathic murderer” (12,500). “Deranged psychopath” (1,050). The number of Google hits following them in parentheses attests to their currency in popular culture. Yet as we will soon discover, each phrase embodies a widespread misconception regarding psychopathic personality, often called psychopathy (pronounced “sigh-COP-athee”) or sociopathy. Indeed, few disorders are as misunderstood as is psychopathic personality. In this column, we will do our best to set the record straight and dispel popular myths about this condition.

Charming but Callous
First described systematically by Medical College of Georgia psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley in 1941, psychopathy consists of a specific set of personality traits and behaviors. Superficially charming, psychopaths tend to make a good first impression on others and often strike observers as remarkably normal. Yet they are self-centered, dishonest and undependable, and at times they engage in irresponsible behavior for no apparent reason other than the sheer fun of it. Largely devoid of guilt, empathy and love, they have casual and callous interpersonal and romantic relationships. Psychopaths routinely offer excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead. They rarely learn from their mistakes or benefit from negative feedback, and they have difficulty inhibiting their impulses.

Not surprisingly, psychopaths are overrepresented in prisons; studies indicate that about 25 percent of inmates meet diagnostic criteria for psychopathy. Nevertheless, research also suggests that a sizable number of psychopaths may be walking among us in everyday life. Some investigators have even speculated that “successful psychopaths”—those who attain prominent positions in society—may be overrepresented in certain occupations, such as politics, business and entertainment. Yet the scientific evidence for this intriguing conjecture is preliminary.

Most psychopaths are male, although the reasons for this sex difference are unknown. Psychopathy seems to be present in both Western and non-Western cultures, including those that have had minimal exposure to media portrayals of the condition. In a 1976 study anthropologist Jane M. Murphy, then at Harvard University, found that an isolated group of Yupik-speaking Inuits near the Bering Strait had a term (kunlangeta) they used to describe “a man who … repeatedly lies and cheats and steals things and … takes sexual advantage of many women—someone who does not pay attention to reprimands and who is always being brought to the elders for punishment.” When Murphy asked an Inuit what the group would typically do with a kunlangeta, he replied, “Somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking.”

The best-established measure of psychopathy, the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), developed by University of British Columbia psychologist Robert D. Hare, requires a standardized interview with subjects and an examination of their file records, such as their criminal and educational histories. Analyses of the PCL-R reveal that it comprises at least three overlapping, but separable, constellations of traits: interpersonal deficits (such as grandiosity, arrogance and deceitfulness), affective deficits (lack of guilt and empathy, for instance), and impulsive and criminal behaviors (including sexual promiscuity and stealing).

Three Myths
Despite substantial research over the past several decades, popular misperceptions surrounding psychopathy persist. Here we will consider three of them.

1. All psychopaths are violent. Research by psychologists such as Randall T. Salekin, now at the University of Alabama, indicates that psychopathy is a risk factor for future physical and sexual violence. Moreover, at least some serial killers—for example, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and Dennis Rader, the infamous “BTK” (Bind, Torture, Kill) murderer—have manifested numerous psychopathic traits, including superficial charm and a profound absence of guilt and empathy.

Nevertheless, most psychopaths are not violent, and most violent people are not psychopaths. In the days following the horrific Virginia Tech shootings of April 16, 2007, many newspaper commentators described the killer, Seung-Hui Cho, as “psychopathic.” Yet Cho exhibited few traits of psychopathy: those who knew him described him as markedly shy, withdrawn and peculiar.

Regrettably, the current (fourth, revised) edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), published in 2000, only reinforces the confusion between psychopathy and violence. It describes a condition termed antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), which is characterized by a longstanding history of criminal and often physically aggressive behavior, referring to it as synonymous with psychopathy. Yet research demonstrates that measures of psychopathy and ASPD overlap only moderately.

2. All psychopaths are psychotic. In contrast to people with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, who often lose contact with reality, psychopaths are almost always rational. They are well aware that their ill-advised or illegal actions are wrong in the eyes of society but shrug off these concerns with startling nonchalance.

Some notorious serial killers referred to by the media as psychopathic, such as Charles Manson and David Berkowitz, have displayed pronounced features of psychosis rather than psychopathy. For example, Manson claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and Berkowitz believed he was receiving commands from his neighbor Sam Carr’s dog (hence his adopted nickname “Son of Sam”). In contrast, psychopaths are rarely psychotic.

3. Psychopathy is untreatable. In the popular HBO series The Sopranos, the therapist (Dr. Melfi) terminated psychotherapy with Tony Soprano because her friend and fellow psychologist persuaded her that Tony, whom Dr. Melfi concluded was a classic psychopath, was untreatable. Aside from the fact that Tony exhibited several behaviors that are decidedly nonpsychopathic (such as his loyalty to his family and emotional attachment to a group of ducks that had made his swimming pool their home), Dr. Melfi’s pessimism may have been unwarranted. Although psychopaths are often unmotivated to seek treatment, research by psychologist Jennifer Skeem of the University of California, Irvine, and her colleagues suggests that psychopaths may benefit as much as nonpsychopaths from psychological treatment. Even if the core personality traits of psychopaths are exceedingly difficult to change, their criminal behaviors may prove more amenable to treatment.

Psychopathy reminds us that media depictions of mental illness often contain as much fiction as fact. Moreover, widespread misunderstandings of such ailments can produce unfortunate consequences—as Tony Soprano discovered shortly before the television screen went blank.

PURPLE MIND – MUSIC 07/16/2012

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If we had made our independent feature film, “Purple Mind,” with stars and bank financing, it’s probable that we also would have hired a well known composer like Hans Zimmer or Van Dyke Parks  to handle all the music chores.  As we didn’t have access to any stars (except for Beau Bridges’s daughter Emily) and didn’t have financing to afford a well known composer, we had to rely on a wonderful music library which film &TV music supervisors regularly use for shows.  But music libraries always come up short when it comes to things like main title songs which are typically original compositions.  So, it wasn’t until we began sharing the film with some of our core audience of veterans and peace activists that one of our fans, musician and song writer Pat Scanlon sent us a song called “Young Soldier, Welcome Home.”

01 Young Soldier Welcome Home

Pat is the President of the Boston Chapter of Veterans for Peace, “The Smedley Butler Brigade,” and served in Vietnam in the late sixties.  We thought his song was perfect for the end of our film as it so clearly speaks to issues like PTSD, which is the subject of “Purple Mind.”

If you like Pat’s song, check out the film – “Purple Mind”

PURPLE MIND – ONLY A CLICK AWAY 07/15/2012

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Last night I watched “Act of Valor,” a largely forgettable action film starring real Navy Seals in a story about a Seal unit rescuing an agent and then saving the world from a psychotic terrorist and his minions.  There was, as you might expect, plenty of good action and war stuff – the team parachuting into remote locations, helicopter and drone support, aircraft carriers and submarines with lots of scenes which seemed lifted straight out of a computer game like “America’s Army.”

In a final shoot-out with terrorist about to unleash the unthinkable on America, one of the seals pays the ultimate price, falling on a hand grenade to save his buddies.  His funeral is the last scene of the film, accompanied by a voice-over which suggests what it takes to be a Navy Seal, the key being the ability to take your emotions and feelings and put them in a box and bury it where it will never disturb a Seal’s ability to fight, kill and complete the mission, no matter the odds, no matter the cost.

The trouble with pro-war propaganda films like “Act of Valor” is that the “enemy” is always someone dead set on killing as many Americans as possible in big, splashy terrorist attacks and it is always up to one or two good guys who rescue us poor defenseless civilians at the very last second.  Exciting.  Exciting.  Hero work.

But not the real world.  There is a long line of experts who have dedicated their professional lives to the study of the effects of suppressing our feelings and emotions (putting them in a box and burying it in an unaccessible place).  Wilhelm Reich described the results of this suppression in terms of “body armor.”  Reich and those who came after him, most notably Alexander Lowen (BioEnergetics), studied the human body and its relationship to the mind.  There are volumes dedicated to this research and study.  I am, obviously, leaving out a ton of vital information in this brief peek into the work of Reich and Lowen, but let my brief insight stand as a reference to a door behind which there is a world filled with the promise of Heaven on Earth.

For all our talk of boxes into which feelings and emotions need to be placed in order to protect the world from evil, it is exactly the opposite which is true.  For every painful experience in our lives, from the earliest moments including birth and before, our amazing minds and bodies lock away the pain without our having to ever think about it.  As we continue locking our feelings away, the painful experience is locked away, not in a box, but in cellular memories residing in the muscles affected by the experience.

It shouldn’t be difficult to recall a painful moment – a fight with a spouse, a punishment by a parent, humiliation by a teacher or an employer.  Bring one of these experiences to mind and see if you can recall what your body was feeling – the tension in the face and arms, your stomach, or legs.  These experiences of a lifetime are delivering memories into the very cells of our bodies, head to toe, every minute of our lives.  The more pain and suffering we’ve experienced in our lives, the greater the resulting body armor, and the more body armor we carry, the more the anger there is locked in our bodies, longing to be expressed.

The anger locked in our bodies isn’t restricted to terrorists, folks.  We’ve all got it in varying degrees, depending on what we’ve been through in our lives, and the more we are able to understand how it works and how our lives are affected, the more compassionate we may become – understanding one another more completely and able to lead lives filled with peace.

Our film, “Purple Mind’ is an expression of this understanding.  Next time you’re tempted to watch a pro-war film like “Act of Valor,” I invite you to take a look at a pro-peace film instead.  “Purple Mind” is only a click away.

Watch “Purple Mind”

PURPLE MIND – SOLDIER SUICIDE 07/13/2012

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Our independent film, “Purple Mind,” is about a soldier just returned from the war zone in Iraq.  Every day, I read an article which reflects the difficulties of soldiers dealing with PTSD and TBI, who, too often, fail to find the help they need from the military or VA and wind up taking their own lives.

Today, Rajiv Srinivasan’s article in TIME is another such article.  He writes, “The veteran suicide epidemic is a terrible outcome of multiple years of war. I have personally dealt with the issue having both lost a dear friend to suicide and consoled soldiers during such circumstances and can attest to its devastating impact on the force and the wider community. Soldiers tend to pride ourselves on our ability to care and be cared for by their brothers in arms: it’s a bond seldom replicated in modern American living. So when one of our own decides that his or her life has lost its worth — that living is somehow more terrifying than dying — our entire circle feels an overwhelming failure has come over us. What if I hadn’t skipped out on that last beer? What if I had just said a few more nice things to them? How could I have let this person live without them knowing what they mean to me? The weight of this guilt bears upon us like armor, yet is surely not as easy to take off.”

In response to the shocking number of military suicides, the VA and the military have responded with campaigns aimed at getting soldiers and veterans much needed help, but the efforts have the tone of public service announcements encouraging seniors to get a flu shot, with the result that many do not seek help.

Srinivasan continues, explaining, “Over the course of a soldier or officer’s training, we inculcate in them a vicious and emotional resistance to weakness; a persistence and confidence to overcome any obstacle, even the prospect of fatal combat. We drill into our soldiers the value of obedience and discipline. We teach them to bear their own load as well as their buddies’. On a long and arduous climb up a mountain, it’s hard to be weak when you know your brother or sister is feeding off of your energy. This is the essence of the camaraderie and family that exists between service members in our military, and particularly on the front lines. These are of course among the most esteemed values in our society, yet are also the hardest barriers to break down when a soldier begins to devalue his or her own life.”

Srinivasan goes on to explain that the difficulty in solving the veteran mental health crisis isn’t as much a question of availability of services as it is a question of encouraging soldiers to use the services.  There are many who will dispute the availability of services, however the question of what it will take for a soldier convinced he or she can tough it out to take a risk and seek counseling remains.  Overcoming the stigma of using mental health resources remains a key problem and there is no official policy solution.  What will it take for soldiers and vets to realize the importance of taking mental health personally and seriously?

A key scene toward the end of “Purple Mind” illustrates the difficulties:

DOC:  You tried talkin’ to your wife?

ROY:  You gotta be kidding.

DOC:  No, I’m not kidding.

ROY:  Well she doesn’t want to hear it.  Plus, I’m not real good at talkin’ about it.

DOC:  Talkin’ about what?

ROY:  Talkin’ about shit.

DOC:  No.  Course not.  The Army doesn’t teach that.  It’s not manly.  But it takes a real man to talk about the shit, Roy.

ROY:  So, you really think that talkin’ would do something.

DOC:  I’ll put money on it.

It is almost universally agreed among mental health professionals that talking about the experiences underlying depression and PTSD is one of the most effective therapies in dealing with the “disorder.”  It is the key lesson learned by “Purple Mind’s” central character, Roy Matthews.

“Purple Mind” is available for streaming at http://www.purplemindmovie.com

 

 

PURPLE MIND – THE SUPERMAN MYTH 07/12/2012

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Supermen Save The World

In the major media, more often than not, stories dealing with the consequences of war are hopeful – about the progress the war effort is making or of soldiers who have overcome the loss of arms or legs, double amputees now skiing or running track.  Why, when the numbers of tragic outcomes – including 18 veteran suicides per day and the unprecedented numbers of PTSD cases – are so much greater?  Perhaps it is too simplistic to suggest that because the major media depends on advertiser revenue it can not risk disturbing commerce and those who provide the media’s principal source of income.

When you consider that the biggest blockbuster entertainment of the decade is the “Call of Duty” franchise,  and that “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” grossed over One Billion Dollars in its first 16 days on the market, a deference to the “job creators” makes perfect sense.  The excitement of life and death computer gaming is BIG BUSINESS.  Not only that, it is also a significant recruiting tool for the U.S. Military.

But what happens when Call of Duty players suddenly enter the war zone?  Sure, it may be a proud patriotic impulse to join up with the prospect of taking the game world to the next level of blowing shit up.  But now, imagine yourself as a soldier newly arrived in Iraq a few years ago.  You’re one of the first to arrive at the scene of the famous “Collateral Murder” site in Iraq.  The first thing you see is a child in a van.  She’s been shot with a 30 mm machine gun round and is laying in a pool of blood and gore next to her father, whose head is half missing.  Suddenly you begin wondering why “Call of Duty” didn’t make you feel like puking your guts the way the reality of war just has.

That’s what our film, “Purple Mind,” is about.  It’s about a soldier who returns home traumatized by the vision of that little girl – to his own family and his own little girl who hasn’t had a father for the past three years and the only way she’s had to try to understand who dad is, has been by playing another popular computer game, “American Soldier.”  Only her dad, just back from Iraq,  isn’t like the soldiers in “American Soldier.”  He’s distant.  He jumps at noises.  And he gets angry easily and far too often.

Why?  Well, after seeing that little girl torn up my 30 mm machine gun rounds, he turned to his lieutenant and asked to see a mental health counselor.  But instead of granting the request, his lieutenant said, “Get the sand out of your vagina.  Suck it up and be a soldier.”

The “Collateral Murder” video is evidence of a military quite different from the honorable military in Call of Duty.  The people killed in the “Collateral Murder” video were unarmed civilians and children.  Bradley Manning released it for the world to see and now faces life in a military prison for revealing the truth of our war in Iraq.  But the “Collateral Murder” video was only one day in the war, and it wasn’t an isolated incident.  It was systemic.  It went on every day, only no one is supposed to know that Superman was really a serial killer.

Today, there are hundreds of thousands of soldiers who haven’t gone to a mental health counselor.  Until they do, instead of returning to the lives they left before the war, they’ll be trying to escape their own memories of an innocent Iraqi boy or girl by withdrawing, watching mindless films, drinking and taking pain killers.  “Nice.”

THREE 1/2 MINUTES TO CHANGE THE WORLD 07/10/2012

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Beginning scene of the new HBO series “The Newsroom” explaining why America Is Not the Greatest Country Any Longer…  God Bless Aaron Sorkin.