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Does PTSD Make A Person (Seem To Be) Uncaring?

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by freya, Dec 31, 2008.

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  1. freya

    freya Active Member

    Thinking about PTSD... I'm just struggling to try to express some of my thoughts and questions, the things I'm wondering about...

    My father has pTSD, and about a year ago I heard I have it, too.

    Thinking, seeing the recent conflicts with my father, that PTSD maybe makes a person (seem) 'selfish'.
    I hear that others think I don't care about them, they say I don't listen, don't take their feelings into account, and such things.
    I know I felt about my father that he did not really hear or see me. He was too busy being defensive, being triggered, fighting off threats only he perceived, seeing me as hostile.

    I know of a person whose mother probably has PTSD. She lost her first child and after that could never really care for the children she got later on. I think she was afraid to become attached to them, thinking she'd lose them too or something. She did not really hear them, did not see them, was not truly aware of their needs or their own individual traits.

    My father and I are at the moment once again trapped in some sort of verbal battle. I think we are probably completely talking past one another, not hearing one another, not interpreting each others words right. Possibly focused on the ill intentions of the other person that may not even be there. I feel like I'm in total psychological confusion here at times.

    Does PTSD make a person (seem) uncaring?

    My thought is that because I'm not really in touch with reality, with the good intentions of the other person, or with the fact that I'm really safe, seeing threats that are really not there, I may simply be unable to 'connect' to the people I'm dealing with.
    She Cat likes this.
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  3. She Cat

    She Cat I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Interesting question......Makes me think back to when I was full blown PTSD. Yeah, I guess it does seem that way. We struggle so hard to keep ourselves from going over the deep end, that we may not be able to hear, or see others....Selfish???? At that point I don't think so, I think it's more on the lines of self preservation, trying to stay alive.

    I think (through my own experience) than when 2 people that have PTSD are in a close relationship, it changes the dynamics of the relationship drastically....

    The more that you work on your trauma, emotions, and feelings, the more you will see a change within yourself......
  4. morgan

    morgan Well-Known Member

    Yeah I think it does make us seem that way. My mom has complained about this to me on more than one occasion when nothing could be further from the truth. In fact sometimes my healing seems selfish to her cause I put all my energy into it and often have little or nothing left over for her and my dad. I try to do or say little things to reassure them now and it seems to be working. No complaints lately.
  5. midi

    midi Guest

    Yeah, some of us do appear quite cold, mechanical, or detached. I'm one of the least popular people here on the boards, for example, and partly because I just can't do the luvy duvy approach. Support I offer often appears stiff and forced--but that isn't the intent. Some people care, but it is from a floating distance. I am also guilty of not giving enough praise to those around me.
  6. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

    I've wondered about this for a long time. And I wonder if I seem uncaring, or if compared to other people, I really am uncaring. I see a world out there of people who seem to find it easy to connect and engage with each other, and I wonder how they do it, and why I have so much trouble with it. I think my biggest hope for recovery from this sh*t is that I'll be able care like normal people again. For now, that hope is what keeps me going with the work that seems to be required to get better.
  7. kers

    kers I'm a VIP

    Onee of the criterion areas for a PTSD diagnosis is avoidance and numbing, including:

    5. Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others

    6. Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)

    So feeling and/or seeming detached or unemotional is typical. I know that was a major relief for me, realizing that there was a reason I felt and behaved this way.
  8. Yumeko-chan

    Yumeko-chan Active Member

    I know that when people tell me about the problems they're having with this, that and the other, I go through the motions people would expect. I say "I'm sorry," I say all the right things, but on the inside I feel nothing.

    I know it sounds bad, but that's how it goes. Not that I've told anybody IRL about it. I WANT to care, but I just have that block. Besides, what would I be able to do anyway? :dontknow:
  9. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Supporter Admin ♡
    Supporter Admin

    Midi, I think what is important is that you contribute honestly. Trying to win the popularity stakes is not one of my interests, rather I prefer to contribute my knowledge and experience with the intent of helping someone. I too come across as direct sometimes as I only have minimal time on the forum so tend to get down to business and not "fluff" around. While everyone here at some point needs support it is a community so different people contribute different things and as a whole it should balance out. Personally, I don't do luvy duvy stuff well with people I don't know. I think your contributions are good and what one person reads into the written word may differ to the next so I would tend to worry more about you healing your trauma and having a good life rather than being a popularity queen.
  10. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt!
    Premium Member

    Simple answer is yes. Being preoccupied with trying to manage ourselves seems selfish or self centred to others.

    The other part of this is that society is obsessed with not taking care of one's self. When you start to take care of yourself, all the unhealthy people start having fits. It upsets their unhealthy little bubble. Of course taking care of yourself must be balanced with others in your life too.

    Marlene and Nicolette like this.
  11. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Supporter Admin ♡
    Supporter Admin

    I totally agree with this. I would also like to add that for "an outsider" who does not understand how much energy PTSD takes it is easy to "view" someone as selfish. Why I say this is to an outsider it is difficult to rationalise or logically explain to ourselves why someone would have the need to invest so much in themselves while sometimes being oblivious to all those around them. Because it doesn't make sense to someone who is well we view it is selfishness as we only see the external reactions to the internal turmoil and pain.

    Hope that makes sense...can't find the right words tonight.
  12. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I've been accused of being cold and unfeeling before because I won't do things or interact with people that are not good for me. My husband has told me that when I shut down (when stess levels are high) that he really hates it because I'm closing him out. I've heard different variations of the same song for a while now.

    While not doing things or being around toxic people might be selfish...I won't stop that because it's good for me. The other stuff about how I shut people out and's not deliberate. It's just part of the whole PTSD package. One of the reasons I work so hard to manage my stess levels is so that it doesn't affect my family as much as it could.

    Bec's description of taking trying to be healthy and tae care of yourself flipping the unhealthy people out rings very true for me. There have been several people that either left me or I left them once I started my healing because they just couldn't handle that things weren't the status quo anymore.

    For me, it's become a matter of being selfish enough to take care of myself and push forward on my healing and being considerate enough of those around me that I don't make it my full-time occupation and ignore them. It's quite the balancing act sometimes.

  13. Tbam

    Tbam Active Member

    As a carer, i can state that the outside world as well as those that are close to the sufferer do tend to view the sufferer as selfish and have no understanding. This is particularly true if the carer (s) are trying to take care of the responsibilities that would normally or had previously been taken care of by the sufferer. Examples would be if the sufferer can no longer hold a job and the carer is working extra hard to cover the expenses. or , in my case, if the childrens needs and housekeeping are not being met and the carer is doing this as well. The perceived selfishness of the sufferer causes the carer (s) to develop full blown resentment and to get angry at the sufferer. As the sufferer gets more defensive and retreats, the resentment grows even more. At some point, it all unwinds...I am not an Expert, this is merely insight into my personal experience.
  14. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

    Tbam, that is such an eye opener for me. Thanks so much for posting it. Really adds some perspective to my difficulties at maintaining relationships over the years. With a lack of knowledge or understanding that PTSD was an issue, it must have made the resentments that much stronger. It's also easy to see how the defensiveness and retreating on my part could have been seen as a lack of caring. Your perspective as a carer is incredibly valuable. I hope to see more of it.

  15. Kunoichi

    Kunoichi Well-Known Member


    thank you for posting this!! It has open my eyes too and I can now maintain a higher level of communication with my hubby :)

  16. midi

    midi Guest

    Aye, Nicolette, it isn't a popularity contest and we all offer different things to others. We are all valid, although sometimes I'd like to be like others!

    Seeing it from other people's perspectives, like whether you're a carer or the sufferer or a complete outsider - that's important. It is a reminder of why context is so important in understanding people beyond ourselves.

    I don't have a carer - I'm responsible for everything in my life--although I did let the Ex in partly, for a few years. It's the PTSD that stops me from sharing the household/life responsibilities with anyone else--but I do know that my father was frustrated when my mother did nothing but sleep drugged on the couch, so I can understand your frustration, Tbam. The frustration and desperation just snowball.
  17. Tbam

    Tbam Active Member

    i like to compare it to when you were a kid in school and the teacher put you together with another kid for a "group" project. You do all the work and yet the kid that did nothing still gets the "A" on the project. It makes you mad. As a carer, this is the single strongest feeling I have, anger.

    In my situation I am a male carer married for 13 years to a female sufferer. In our case the PTSD is not Combat related but rather stems from the loss of our youngest son six years ago. My situation seems to be a little unique but I would guess that a lot of other carer's have the same feelings.
  18. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

    I think I'll wander over and have a look at that Carer's Forum. It hasn't occurred to me to do so until today.
  19. jeapea

    jeapea Active Member

    When I have 'seemed selfish' (in the opinions of others), is when I am in 'survival mode' and for a brief period of time, they were unable to 'take' what I did not have to give. In other words, when I hear someone tell me I am being selfish, that finger generally has 3 more pointing right back at it.
  20. sallysellsseashells

    sallysellsseashells Active Member

    Very good topic. I don't think I should say any more.
  21. 2notbedefeated

    2notbedefeated Well-Known Member

    Yeap. I have others misunderstand me like this all the time and it is frustrating. I tend to be a quiet and insecure person. In school I had other kids make fun of me and think I didn't want to be a friend. This is far from the truth, but I didn't know how to be social and to make friends.

    Maybe part of this comes from having been molested I was afraid if anyone found out they would hurt me, make fun of me, or they would do something terrible to me. It was huge weight I had to carry and try to hide.

    Also my Mom was quiet, reserved, and withdrawn. I never heard her on the phone talking with others. No one ever came to the house. My Mom never went out. She was not social. She was emotionally distant with others, as well as with her children.

    Now I struggle and feel like I have to constantly go out of my way to explain to people who misunderstand me. People tell me they are intimidated by me. This is confusing and strange to me because I don't have confidence and security in myself at all. I am not all that assertive either.

    Frankly, right now, if I made vent alittle here:

    I am tired of trying to prove to people that I am not mad at them.

    I am tired of people misunderstanding my nonverbals, gestures, and behaviors. I''m exhausted from constantly trying to clear up relationships with around me who get offended. I certainly don't set out to be this way to people. In fact inside me, I feel just the opposite or what others think I am.

    People say that they think I'm doing great. That I have it all together and have lots of important business to attend too. I find that strange because that is not at all what's going on. I don't even try to appear this way.

    People think I have lots of friends, and stay busy. However, this is not the truth. I think out of my whole life, besides my husband I may have had only 2 people I would even call friends.

    I feel lonely, isolated, an so empty. Hmm, I did to consider this more.

    Even my therapist misinterprets my gestures. He thinks I'm angry at him sometimes and I'm not at all.

    I guess I need to evaluate myself and see if there are certain things I need to change with my gestures, nonverbals, and actions.
  22. FlameTachiku

    FlameTachiku Active Member

    I care a lot and I do much to avoid feeling to much because I know that my feelings are messed up when it comes to personal stuff. But at a community level at large I am a force because I can give as an outlet of my depth of careing, use my skills and give of myself, then retreat back into my safe home and small family of support.

    I care too much. It makes me ill. At a personal level it overwhelms me and I want to run, hide, disapear, excape. It is not about not careing it is stress that comes with careing at a personal level, bringing new people close where they can hurt me or/and those I love. Or worse than that I can love and they die, again. Incredible pain with careing at a personal level very volneerable. It feels so much safer to disassociate or hide. Trusting others and trusting myself its hard (understatement). How can I trust myself when my emotions are mixed up with a broken PTSD system. Why put others though living with my chaos at a personal level. Careing at a personal level makes me run, or get sick, stress out, shut down, retreat, but I want to do better. Not good at it, at all.

    The world is so much easier at a community level.

    Can anyone relate?
  23. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    About 95+ % entirely.
    FlameTachiku likes this.
  24. Tbam

    Tbam Active Member

    here is the original post question:

    "Does PTSD make a person (seem) uncaring?"

    Focus on the word "seem"

    The post is asking how the behavior of the PTSD sufferer is perceived by the outside world. That is, the carers, family, friends, church, school, community, etc. Do those individuals get the feeling that the suffferer is uncaring. What do you think??
  25. FlameTachiku

    FlameTachiku Active Member


    When we disappear, retreat, withdrawl I think it is fair to "seem" like we are uncareing. It will take a lot of education or understanding for a carer to feel otherwise, in my opionion. These are traits many of us share?:think:

  26. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Sometimes...yes. I know my husband loves me and has been my biggest supporter and help mate for the past 22 years. But when things are rough for me, sometimes it seems like he's just tired of dealing with my issues and has shut me out. When I've asked him about how he feels about these times, he's told me that he feels like I'm shutting him out and he doesn't like it.

    'Seem' is a good word because the rough times change our perceptions about things. Things haven't changed, we have. I've found that the best way to deal with this is communications on both sides. As difficult as it is (and as much as I want to close in on myself when I'm symptomatic), I try to make myself talk to my husband and tell him what's going on with me and listen to what he tells me is going on with him.

    Living with PTSD is tough on both sides of a relationship. For a lot of reasons.

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