This is a post of my thoughts about the NLPRR project to which you recently donated $10000. I am aware that some of its projects work outside the PTSD project, but in this write-up I primarily address the PTSD project and the association of NLPRR with the SOSSEC Consortium.
Joining NLPRR to the SOSSEC Consortium, a group of military subcontracting firms that includes the infamous CACI, makes practitioners of NLP look ugly. CACI was sued by 250 former prisoners of Abu Ghraib for the treatment that CACI employees inflicted on Abu Ghraib detainees. The other firms listed in the SOSSEC membership list are also mostly military.
I would like to offer a suggestion. The suggestion is that you find out what the SOSSEC Consortium's mission is so that you can consider the possible consequences of its success. Membership in SOSSEC lends credence to false associations of excellent and ethical NLP practitioners with lackeys of a fascist state. Using NLPRR association with SOSSEC for your own purposes could distort your principles and create an ethical drift among your students.
The military’s implementation of the PTSD treatment you give them through NLPRR will not serve your purposes for it. The army will choose the diagnosis and prognosis of soldiers suffering PTSD, presuming you can prove that the protocol works under particular conditions, including:
- that the patient suffering is in fact experiencing PTSD.
- that the patient is discharged from military service after the successful treatment is over.
During your PTSD demonstrations, you might control one or both of those factors, hopefully both. Once the army takes over PTSD treatment, you will not control either factor. The army might offer a couple months of R and R to treated soldiers, but that will fail to make the soldiers more productive upon their return to active duty.
The impacts that are possible for your pursuit of PTSD protocol use within the US Army (and first responder organizations like the police) include:
- ambiguous or false PTSD diagnosis chosen to meet political or budget concerns.The military bureaucracy will deny soldiers treatment for non-PTSD psychological ailments once their "clinically-proven" PTSD treatment has been administered for what is not, in fact, PTSD. This will make more sense if you consider that the army has incentive to reduce benefit costs and that successful NLP PTSD treatment is fast and cheap.
- conflicts of interest over whether to discharge veterans cured of PTSD. Both the army and its career soldiers have an interest in soldiers completing their tours. The army treats its soldiers like products. US soldiers are employees. In between are practitioners who can relieve soldiers’ PTSD, but to neither side’s satisfaction, necessarily. The army needs recruits, and US soldiers have few job prospects in the US, which is why they join.
- redirection of PTSD treatment toward keeping soldiers in the line of duty longer. Ultimately, the PTSD protocol, if it was ever supposed to be implemented in veteran's hospitals, will be abandoned if it fails to work for soldiers who return to active duty after treatment and R & R. The army will drop the PTSD protocol in favor of other methods, and they might ask you for help designing those methods. This will begin to happen once army psychologists on the front lines are trained NLP practitioners and the existing method of drugging active duty soldiers appears to have alternatives.
Even assuming that the PTSD protocol is widely adopted and that the military understands the need to let soldiers suffering PTSD end their tour after successful NLP treatment, the military will offer new recruits the promise that if war proves too much for them, they will be able to put it behind them thanks to the Army’s excellent psychological care benefits. That is a kind of war health insurance, but is it healthy? No, of course not, think of the implications yourselves.
A Vietnam veteran I know, whose name has to be kept confidential, is also a NLPer and psychotherapist. He actually treated Vietnam’s US soldiers for PTSD in veteran's hospitals (he has also treated women for rape trauma, but not military service). He paid attention to the differences between the veterans who suffered PTSD and those who did not. Surprisingly, the soldiers who tolerated war the best were the ones with the most dysfunctional families growing up. The soldiers with the better families suffered PTSD, while those whose drunken parents beat them every day endured wartime without acquiring PTSD symptoms.
If you do help the army create more resilient soldiers, then your ethical distinctions might not serve your intention to create benefit for our country. Let me offer a single distinction that you might already possess. The distinction is illustrated by the ethical difference between giving a farmer a plowshare, and giving a marine a plowshare.
In Vietnam, the military conscripted young men, easier to train, but even so many did not want to fight, or would not have joined on their own. Now, the military’s wartime recruits include older men and women. The army’s soldiers include people whose ethics are in place, whose identities are firm, and who understand that their job includes killing people, but they cannot find work, so they join for the money.
In any case, the joining of NLP to the military will eventually happen. Academic research into PTSD will eventually percolate to the military after the research is proven. You allowed NLPRR to pursue a project that promises large amounts of money, up to $15,000,000 in grant funding, but it is only to prove your technology to the institutions most likely to misuse it: DHS-contracted corporations and the US Army. What’s the hurry?
You have alternatives, different people to help with the PTSD protocol, and different institutions to serve than SOSSEC firms and the US Army. I am writing you not because I am afraid of the military using your PTSD protocol - they will do that and much worse - but because I do not see a need for you to tarnish your work by serving them. I would rather that you changed direction.
The intention of funding and participating in NLPRR is to improve public recognition of the validity of NLP technology. There are other projects whose performance and long-term outcomes will be under your control. Those projects could actually heal people along with increasing public and academic recognition of NLP technology’s value.
We know that CACI, a member of SOSSEC, has pursued a policy of directly inflicting trauma on people in their care. To address the ethical imbalance in the NLPRR approach to join with CACI and promise the military a fast cure for unproductive soldiers, you could seek to treat released prisoners of Abu Ghraib and other overseas military jails. The victims of rape, torture, ritual abuse, and battery deserve as much help as soldiers and first responders. However, here in the United States, there are many people who already suffer trauma from similar events, so I wonder how you might reach them with your PTSD treatment. That would be much easier than making peace through apology, but please do consider ending your association with SOSSEC and the military.
If there is any group of people who deserve all the resources that they need to serve their ethical principles as they extend their reach and gently hold the world, I know that you do.
Thank you for reading.
 Personal interview with family therapist who is Vietnam Vet and treated Vietnam Veterans suffering PTSD.