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Extortion, Fear And Post Traumatic Stress

Uncle Matt was a diligent and honest man. He lives up to his reputation and was venerated by the society. His contribution to the rural folks such as in helping looking into the affairs of the elderly population to the youths and even to the young age groups was enormous. He was one of the few persons in the village that knows the function of the State, and therefore, everyone from the individual to the community will seek his help in matters directly relating to the Government. This continues for many years until unavoidable change creeps into his life destroying his peaceful existence. It does not only affect the individual or his family but have been a great loss for the community in which he represent.

Today we see him devastated with no sign of improvement. In very simple language, he is shock and the post traumatic stress has taken his age. What are the factors that have defined him today? One of the obvious reasons was his response to extortion because he acted weird just after the incident. Numbers of psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors have put their best effort to bring him back to its normal state, but is still reeling under shock or say the post traumatic stress. Fear has overtaken his emotion and the response we see is unable to attend any telephone call. He goes on hiding every time when any youth hit the door bell. It was this youth that threaten him with a gun vandalizing all the property and took away precious ornaments and a huge sum of money that was saved.

We are perplexed as to what shall be the right name to call those who play this game. Would it be murderer, because if any interference is seen in their game they directly eliminate, or would it be burglars or robbers?  Would it be fair enough to call underground groups and even the policeman/armed personal with those names? As we study the objectives of underground groups in the State, than it would be unfair to give these names. The organization and the person involved are not such initially as fashion by their objectives, but the pattern of the act or the game executed later is no less than murderer, burglars or robbers and therefore they came to be branded with such names.

There are no rooms of ethics and rights of the individual in this present economic set-up. Uncle Matt is not the only persons in the State but there are many who are experiencing such emotions. Fear has taken hold of our society. Distrust and intransigent attitude have prevailed upon us. Now the question is what is fear and post-traumatic stress that is defining our identity? Fear is difficult to describe in scientific terms due to the subjective nature of the experience of fear. The term fear, threat, and anxiety are often used synonymously. However, in order to properly introduce the human responses of threat, fear, and anxiety; a threat can be defined as a perception of imminent danger, harm, evil, etc that is to occur in the future. Individuals can respond to a threat in a number of ways such as with fear or anxiety. Fear is a general term for the anxiety and agitation felt at the presence of danger. According to Rachman “fear describes feelings of apprehension about tangible and predominately realistic dangers”.  Anxiety defines an array of responses an individual may have to a threat or fear. Rachman contends “anxiety refers to feelings of apprehension that are difficult to relate to tangible sources of stimulation”.

Psychological research has demonstrated that fear can be acquired either through a conditioning process or by vicarious experiences. The conditioning theories postulate that fear is a learned response “occurring to signals (conditioned stimuli) that are premonitory of (i.e. have in the past been followed by) situations of injury or pain (unconditional stimuli)”. Conditioning can cause fear; it also can be used to reduce or extinguish some fears by the use of systematic desensitization. Fears that are acquired vicariously are believed to be developed by observing fear in others. Bandura observed that not only could attitudes and behaviors be developed by observing others but by using the psychological technique of modeling other people’s appropriate behavior, fearful attitudes and behaviors can be changed.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you’ve seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may occur soon after a major trauma, or it can be delayed for more than 6 months after the event. When it occurs soon after the trauma, it usually gets better after 3 months. However, some people have a longer-term form of PTSD, which can last for many years. PTSD can occur at any age and can follow a natural disaster such as a flood or fire, or events such as extortion, kidnapping, war, a prison stay, assault, domestic abuse, or rape. Uncle Matt can be described as the best example of these kinds of events.

The cause of PTSD is unknown, but psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors are involved. PTSD changes the body’s response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters). Having been exposed to trauma in the past may increase the risk of PTSD.

Having good social support helps to protect against PTSD. In studies of Vietnam veterans, those with strong support systems were less likely to get PTSD than those without social support. People with PTSD re-experience the event again and again in at least one of several ways. They may have frightening dreams and memories of the event, feel as though they are going through the experience again (flashbacks), or become upset during anniversaries of the event.

Now as we defined fear and post trauma, let us put into the shoes of Uncle Matt and view the world as his. How devastated would be the individual or the family and the community? It is not only the individual that suffers but also directly affect such families and communities which can be termed as social suffering. Factors that is paramount to be mentioned to the cause of post traumatic stress in the State is the system of our society with ramified groups bargaining for its own share of wealth at the cost of others. Extorting and kidnapping from business man, contractors, Government employees etc is the prime cause of fear and post traumatic stress. Underground groups resorting to such act have lost trust among the general population. Revolution for peace and freedom should not be polluted to reach the goal. Since various extortion and force implemented to collect cash for functioning of the groups, the true picture of our UGs is distorted and have even give birth to duplicate groups (especially drug addicts) with the same technique of collecting taxes and demanding cash.

Turning back to our fear and the post traumatic stress experienced, we can question what the meaning of freedom or sovereignty is when fear has defined the general population. The quest is reclaiming our lost land and to escape from rulers that have oppressed us for long. But we are ignorant of people like Uncle Matt where their freedom and peace has been affected by the very process and function for attaining the goal. Without the support from people like Uncle Matt, the course to our freedom is obstructed. Therefore we need such person for the struggle and not to let them end up with fear and post trauma because of unreasonable demand at gun point. Let us be sensible in collecting taxes if needed for the struggle. Had we been reasonable then the word extortion, fear and post traumatic stress will never appear in our society. This is an appeal to our fellow citizen to rectify the anomalies and to check on groups (extorting in the name of UGs) operating for their own benefit.

*The article is written by RK Jeermison.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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