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An Inquiry into Discursive News Coverage, Popularization and Presuppositions Concerning Military PTSD Treatment Options

Roxanne Barbara Doerr


Since 1980, when the term was officially associated with soldiers’ traumas during combat, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) has reemerged due to a significant increase in patients and its revision in DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The media have contributed in disseminating information, promoting awareness and opening debates on the patients, the cure (Brent and Penk 2011) and the implementation of experimental PTSD treatments (Donovan 2010). The most contested consists in “memory dampening” or “memory enhancing” medication that helps patients cope but has raised questions on the ethical, legal (Kolber 2006; Snead 2011) and moral (Gross 2006) importance of memories, as well as its effect on soldiers’ formation and perception (Moreno 2008). The present study observes how articles in favor of memory-modifying medication and of alternative treatments are framed and sustained in USA news published over the past 20 years. Corpus-Assisted Critical Discourse Analysis (Baker 2004; Garzone and Santulli 2004; Degano 2006; Freake 2012) is applied to identify relevant linguistic and discursive strategies in terms of text organization, lexical choices, expert advice, popularization, and common cultural references.


bioethics; knowledge dissemination; military community in the news; military medicine; PTSD

Full Text:



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Appendix: Quoted sources from the corpora

Alternative corpus (ALT)

AbilTo Introduces Military Transitions Program for Veterans Finding Return to Civilian Life Challenging;

Tele-Behavioral Health Program to Address PTSD, Transitional Issues, Positive Coping Strategies for Veterans, PR Newswire, December 8, 2015.

Veterans with PTSD praise audio-therapy results, Associated Press, August 29, 2015.

Scanning invisible damage of PTSD, brain blasts, Associated Press, November 10, 2009.

VA Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Programs, Federal Document Clearing House Congressional Testimony, March 11, 2004.

USF explores new PTSD therapy, University Wire, November 4, 2013.

Sniper killing aftermath: 5 things to know about PTSD, CNN wire, February 5, 2013.

Army science conference to focus on 'disruptive technology', Defense Department Documents and Publications, November 25, 2008.

Oakland Effect: Got PTSD? There's an app for that, Contra Costa Times, July 24, 2011.

Medication corpus (MED)

Tonix Pharmaceuticals Presented Additional Phase 2 Clinical Results in Military-Related PTSD and Design of Ongoing Phase 3 Trial at the 2017 Military Health System Research Symposium, GlobeNewswire, August 29, 2017.

Soldotna shooting victim responds to treatment, The Associated Press State & Local Wire, September 1, 2013.

Study Linking Beneficial Bacteria to Mental Health makes Top 10 List for Brain Research, States News Service, January 5, 2017.

Benefits and Dangers Pervade Use of Human Enhancement Tools, Bioethicists Say, States News Service, June 6, 2008.

AAAS Capitol Hill Briefing: Neuroscience Raises Dramatic Hopes and Key Social Issues, States News Service, August 22, 2011.

Is Every Memory Worth Keeping?; Controversy Over Pills to Reduce Mental Trauma, The Washington Post, October 19, 2004.

The Quest to Forget, The New York Times, April 4, 2004.

The Forgetting Pill, Wired, March 2012.

A Drug to Cure Fear, The New York Times, January 24, 2016.

Memory loss, University Wire, December 18, 2006.

Hypertension drug could muddle traumatic memories, University Wire, March 30, 2007.

A pill to halt painful memories would leave void, Dayton Daily News, December 18, 2006.

New medicines may make memory-erasing a possibility, University Wire, April 15, 2004.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2019-001-doer


Lingue Culture Mediazioni - Languages Cultures Mediation
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (27/11/2013 n. 380)
Online ISSN 2421-0293 - Print ISSN 2284-1881

Dipartimento di Scienze della Mediazione Linguistica e di Studi Interculturali
Università degli Studi di Milano

Editors-in-Chief: Paola Catenaccio, Giuliana Garzone
Editors:  Marina Brambilla, Luigi Bruti Liberati, Maria Vittoria Calvi, Gabriella Cartago, Lidia De Michelis, Dino Gavinelli, Marie-Christine Jullion, Alessandra Lavagnino, Chiara Molinari, Giovanni Turchetta.
Sub-Editors: Maria Matilde Benzoni, Paola Cotta Ramusino, Mario De Benedittis, Kim Grego, Giovanna Mapelli, Fabio Mollica, Bettina Marta Mottura, Mauro Giacomo Novelli, Letizia Osti, Maria Cristina Paganoni, Giuseppe Sergio, Virginia Sica, Nicoletta Vallorani.
International Advisory Board: James Archibald (Translation Studies) - Hugo de Burgh (Chinese Media Studies) - Kristen Brustad (Arabic Linguistics) - Daniel Coste (French Language) - Luciano Curreri (Italian Literature) - Claudio Di Meola (German Linguistics) - Donatella Dolcini (Hindi Studies) - Johann Drumbl (German Linguistics) - Denis Ferraris (Italian Literature) - Lawrence Grossberg (Cultural Studies) - Stephen Gundle (Film and Television Studies) - Tsuchiya Junji (Sociology) - John McLeod (Post-colonial Studies) - Estrella Montolío Durán (Spanish Language) - Silvia Morgana (Italian Linguistics) - Samir Marzouki (Translation, Cultural Relations) - Mbare Ngom (Post-Colonial Literatures) - Christiane Nord (Translation Studies) - Roberto Perin (History) - Giovanni Rovere (Italian Linguistics) - Lara Ryazanova-Clarke (Russian Studies) - Shi-Xu (Discourse and Cultural Studies) - Srikant Sarangi (Discourse analysis) - Françoise Sabban, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine (Chinese Studies) - Itala Vivan (Cultural Studies, Museum Studies)

Editor of LCM - The Series: Marie-Christine Jullion

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