Ryan Culberson shocked viewers on the season finale of The Real Housewives of Orange County when he got into a screaming match with Lydia McLaughlin’s mom, Judy Stirling. Since then, Ryan’s past of domestic violence has been exposed and some viewers are wondering if he suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Ryan is currently in Afghanistan and completed a previous tour there in 2011. During 2005 and 2008, he served in Iraq. Culberson blamed Bravo for the way he came across during Vicki Gunvalson’s Winter Wonderland party, and now an clinical and forensic psychologist is telling Wetpaint whether or not they believe Ryan suffers from PTSD.
Chairman of The Institute for Traumatic Stress, Inc Mark Lerner tells the site that viewers “rush to label people with post-traumatic stress disorder.” Dr. Lerner explains, “Although certainly a significant number of our troops, as well as people who have been through traumatic events, do ultimately receive a diagnosis of PTSD, more often than not, people are experiencing what we call ‘traumatic stress reactions,’ which is simply normal responses to abnormal events… I think it’s important that we don’t rush to label him as somebody that’s diagnosed with PTSD as much as somebody that may be having a very real traumatic stress reaction.”
Dr. Lerner explains there is a significant difference between the two. “The fundamental difference between traumatic stress and PTSD is really what comes down to an ability to function effectively in the world,” he says. “People with PTSD have significant impairment in functioning, whereas people who have traumatic stress reactions just exhibit the same symptoms but can still function. I think in watching that clip, we’re seeing a gentleman who I assume has returned from war, has served, and is now demonstrating what we call a normal reaction to the abnormal events that he’s experienced. He has what we would call a short fuse or low tolerance for frustration. And I think that’s really what we saw in that particular clip and is actually a very, very common reaction not only among people who have been at war [but] among people who have experience all kinds of challenging events, traumatic events.”
“I think the most important thing is to try to normalize those kinds of reactions rather than over-pathologize. In other words, rather than rushing to say this guy has some kind of disorder and he’s broken and psychologically disturbed and has a disorder, this is what we see among people who come back,” he continues. “They’re hypervigilant; they’re watchful; they’re excessively cautious. They get easily frustrated. They have this low-frustration tolerance or short fuse.”
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