Decidedly Deeks: PTSD

Deeks suffers the Pain of Post-Traumatic Stress

It’s one of the terrible downsides of their job but it can be one of the most debilitating.  For law enforcement officials called on to respond in the aftermath of a catastrophic event, many men and women behind the badge can suffer from extreme cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  School shootings, federal building bombings and 9-11 have all left their mark on these first-responders.  Exposure to these types of traumatic events can place them at extreme risk for PTSD.  But in the case of torture, unlike government diplomats, federal agents or military members, most local police officers or detectives are not usually exposed to or have the training to deal with the deliberate infliction of pain. As a result they can find themselves totally incapacitated in its aftermath.

Marty Deeks was a lawyer who wanted to make a difference in the world and decided to become a cop instead.  As the LAPD liaison for NCIS, Deeks brought his undercover skills into the international world of arms dealers, terrorists and homeland security invaders.  Unfortunately, his previous training could not have fully prepared him for what he suffered at the hands of the Russian arms dealer, Sidorov.  Unlike Sam, who had extensive training as a Navy Seal, Deeks is finding it hard to work through the complex series of PTSD symptoms caused by the violence of torture.  Will Deeks ever feel safe and learn to trust again?  Right now his ability to continue to make an impact in the world is shattered.

This week, Operations Psychologist, Nate Getz will be called in to help Deeks overcome these traumatic issues.  Nate’s intervention is vital, since Deeks’ symptoms of PTSD are contributing to adjustment problems in his social and working environment.  It will be Nate’s job to find ways to pull Deeks out of the trauma and force him to face his memories and feelings.  He must set out to try and help Deeks find his inner strength again perhaps from all the unexpected places he may have now forsaken.  As what happens to many sufferers of PTSD, Deeks behaviors became apparent only after a period of time had elapsed between the trauma and the fallout.  It’s easier to outright deny the problem, when inside he’s falling apart.  PTSD does not go away by itself and Nate is going to have a lot of work in front of him to get Deeks functioning as an integral part of the team again.

People who have been tortured can face a wide range of symptoms including, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, insomnia, irritability, depression, and suicidal thoughts.  Deeks may find himself disconnected from the world around him choosing to think instead of feel and comfortable only when totally hiding out from the world.  It’s hard to imagine our usually positive, glass-half-full Detective losing interest in life, becoming aggressive and angry and withdrawing from the people he cares about.  Survivors of torture can live with these debilitating symptoms for years or maybe even the rest of their lives and without treatment it only becomes worse.

Deeks’ recovery is going to depend on a lot of things including his ability to fully integrate himself within the team again, allowing him to become an accepted and respected member.  Also, his relationship with his partner will be an ongoing test of the healing process.  Will Kensi be able to reach out to him and assure him of her support and trust? She has to move beyond her fear and guilt and prove to Deeks once and for all that she still has his back.  Callen and Sam can’t continue to treat Deeks symptoms of PTSD in a cavalier manner either.  They certainly have firsthand knowledge of man’s inhumanity to man and maybe in some ways they have become immune to that side of their job.  Not so for Deeks.  His feelings of horror, helplessness and extreme fear are enough to affect anyone negatively but faced with this type of violence, Deeks is more likely to run than to try to cope with what he can’t understand.  He won’t know how to handle these new feelings.

In order to restore Hetty’s belief in him again, Deeks will have to learn how to deal with the trauma he experienced.  Rather than avoiding the pain, or any reminder of it, he’s going to have to face head on the emotions and sensation he felt during the torture.  Once he feels more in control only then can he reduce the powerful hold the trauma has inflicted in his life.

Deeks’ healing will not happen overnight either, nor do the memories of the trauma ever disappear completely.  It will be a gradual, ongoing process.  Nate’s job will be to remind Deeks of his strengths and teach him the coping skills, (some of which he may have practiced as a child) to get him through the tough times ahead.  Most likely he will encourage Deeks to do what he does best which is to continue to help people either as a cop or as a volunteer at his local charities.  Taking positive action is the key to overcoming the helplessness of PTSD and with a little help from his friends, we all know Deeks has the courage and fortitude, deep down inside to get through this debilitating condition.

How will Deeks cope and who will he turn to for help?  Please leave your comments below.