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10 reasons why James Bond suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder


If you go to see Spectre this weekend you may notice an unusual 60- second advertisement I made by for the unique PTSD charity called Talking2minds founded by my former comrade-in-arms Rob Paxman.

Showing the film alongside Bond may help to highlight the plight of thousands of former UK servicemen and women suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Indeed Bond himself has been on the frontline, more often behind the lines of British foreign policy for over fifty years, and has shown several of the classic symptoms of suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Most sufferers can end up with a PTSD diagnosis if displaying only three or four of the following symptoms –  Bond has demonstrated all ten during his long service for the nation:

  1. Dysfunctional relationships. Bond seems unable to make lasting and meaningful relationships with women, and those he does date don’t last that long. Indeed his only recorded marriage, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, ended in tragedy when his bride was assassinated on the roadside on their wedding day.
  2. Inability to hold down a job. Bond regularly gets fired, or resigns, from seemingly reliable, and well-paid employment. In the last two films – in the very latest film, Spectre, for example, Bond is ‘grounded’ almost as soon as the opening credits are over.
  3. Alcohol dependency. Ordering two spirits, no mixer, straight up would ring alarm bells with most people.
  4. Problems with authority. Well documented and continuous contre-temps with his boss, ‘M’ leaving Bond facing seemingly continuous disciplinary action.
  5. Prone to physical violence (for which he was expensively trained). Common to many servicepeople this could define the classic ‘timebomb’ which all too often has regrettable results.
  6. Anger issues. Frustration easily over-boils into disproportionate emotional response.
  7. Dramatic reactions to previous unresolved traumatic events –leading to flashbacks and nightmares. Understandable, given every recorded close relationship in Bond’s life has ended in tragedy and his path is littered with corpses - but he really could talk to someone. Months-long drinking binges while in hiding in Skyfall led to Bond enduring materialisations of past traumatic events.
  8. Compulsive risk taking. Gambling more than he can afford, adrenaline chasing high-wire acts, jumping from buildings, riding motorbikes over ancient rooftops, need we go on.
  9. Lack of empathy. In Goldfinger Bond spectacularly electrocutes an adversary by throwing an electric fire into the bath of water into which he has been pushed. Instead of human horror, his reaction is to quip: “Shocking”.
  10. Inability to take responsibility for his actions. In Goldeneye Bond destroys half of the medieval city of Prague without so much as a flicker of the eyebrow. In Spectre he is seen battling two adversaries (including the pilot) of a low flying helicopter, seemingly oblivious to the lethal danger to the massive crowd of Mexican revellers only feet below him.

About Talking2minds

Talking2minds was founded in 2008 by CEO Rob Paxman, a former Royal Engineer and 22 SAS NCO who I served with. The charity came to be on the back of Paxman’s own experiences. He suffered for many years with PTSD and found he had been passed right through the medical and psychiatric system without success. 
Determined to create his own treatment Rob developed Paradigm Therapy ® - a gentle and non-invasive talking therapy that eliminates PTSD symptoms without re-traumatising the sufferer. More than 500 veterans and their families have been successfully treated by the charity. I like his approach as my experience of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is that it doesn't work, who really wants to discuss the time the bomb went off over and over again, and in my opinion drug therapy should join frontal lobotomy as a psychiatric tool. Rob's ideas around hypnotherapy I think represent the future for this type of treatment, though it meets resistance from many in the psychiatric community. In 2015, Rob Paxman was given the Deputy Prime Minister’s ‘Hero of Mental Health’ award by Nick Clegg though his charity still struggle to raise funds, they all work for free, and to gain recognition.

In the film I cast veteran and former PTSD sufferer, Steven Coyle who appears at the end as I felt only veteran could convey the emotion of the scene without which it would lack credibility. Rob said: “Obviously James Bond is a fictional character but this list will resonate with anyone who is suffering from PTSD and/or their friends and families. Our film has a simple but really powerful message and will ring big bells with anyone familiar with the scourge of PTSD. We are massively grateful to Tom and his crew and the actors – all of whom gave up their time for free. We can only hope to raise more funds and give more veterans freedom from this terrible affliction.”

How you can you help? Giving money is one route and you can make a donation to Talking2Minds below, but I also think we can all engage in mental health. Talking about this issue is a good way to de-stigmatise the subject, this is not a military or veteran issue, many people suffer with mental health problems over their lives and it is the last no go area. We know we need to go to the gym, not smoke, drink less but people treat their minds with something approaching contempt, and if someone who has the mental strength to serve with SAS is prepared to come out and say we shouldn't, then we should all be listening. 
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