The Risk of (PTSD)

Written by Tonja Bagwell


The good news is that United Airlines has united people around the globe as they share their thoughts and feelings via social media. The horrific videos of the abused elderly man have outraged people in all countries. Social media and the media has been filled with comments, stories, news reports, photos, videos, jokes, protests, demands for justice, and requests to boycott United Airlines.

The bad news is that the United Airlines Flight 3411 incident was a traumatic ordeal. The abused passenger and other passengers are at risk for joining more than 3.3 million adults who may develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in any given year. More than 200 million (70 percent) adults may experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. At least twenty percent of these adults will develop PTSD.

The assaulted passenger’s civil rights, human rights, and consumer rights were violated.  The world saw the blood dripping from his mouth and his glasses hanging crookedly on his face. No one knows how much physical damage he may have incurred to his arms and shoulders after being pulled and stretched or to his body after the reprehensible dragging across the hard metal floor. This assaultive ordeal and the aftermath of videos and denigration of his character undoubtedly caused humiliation and anxiety for him and his family.

Then, there was the trauma and anxiety that was inflicted upon the adult and child passengers who were forced to witness the maltreatment. Oftentimes witnessing a brutal attack is traumatizing. It is not easy for some people to be that close to a person being tortured and not have it affect them. Some of the passengers were within inches of the assault and had to move to avoid being physically affected.

It is refreshing to see that thousands of people on social media have used humor as therapy to get through this process. Humor therapy and laugh therapy are great therapeutic treatments that can help people move beyond a troubling experience.



I discuss the difficulties of PTSD in my book 6-A Model of Alcohol Abuse in Offenders. Some clients used alcohol to cope with PTSD. Some clients developed PTSD after brutal ordeals that started with intoxication. Hopefully, the passengers, crew, officers and bystanders will not turn to alcohol as a means of relieving or coping with their anguish about Flight 3411.

A few symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Replaying the ordeal over in your thoughts or having nightmares
  • Having flashbacks as if the ordeal was happening again
  • Feeling alone and separated from others in what you feel
  • Having difficulties concentrating
  • Being easily frightened and feeling afraid
  • Having trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Feeling guilty if others did not survive and thinking you could have saved them

If you want to learn more about PTSD and therapeutic treatments, please request information at or visit



  1. Do you think a refund for one distressful flight is enough compensation to make up for the trauma Flight 3411 passengers experienced, or do you think the passengers should file a class action lawsuit against United Airlines?
  2. Do you think the crewmembers and pilots should be terminated for their irresponsible mishandling of the situation, or do you think the CEO Oscar Munoz should accept full responsibility for the crew and pilot’s actions?
  3. Do you think United Airlines should voluntarily compensate the abused passenger because he deserves it? If yes, how much do you think is a fair compensation?

I’m interested in reading your answers to the Questions & Thoughts to Ponder. Please leave comments about this article and other articles posted on Bagwell’s Book Blog. Do not forget to subscribe and/or follow me and to click Like.



Copyright ©️ 2017 by Tonja Bagwell. All Rights Reserved.


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