On BreitBart.com the following claim is made:

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Sen. John Walsh of Montana said Wednesday his failure to attribute conclusions and verbatim passages lifted from other scholars' work in his thesis to earn a master's degree from the U.S. Army War College was an unintentional mistake caused in part by post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor," the senator said. "My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."

Has any research shown that PTSD can be a factor in causing one to plagiarize?


1 Answer 1


Maybe. A well known effect of PTSD is memory problems. It's possible that someone simply forgets to attribute quotes, certainly, especially if they have memory problems. It could be a factor but certainly not the cause.

Although not all individuals who have been traumatized develop PTSD, there can be significant physical consequences of being traumatized. For example, research indicates that people who have been exposed to an extreme stressor sometimes have a smaller hippocampus (a region of the brain that plays a role in memory) than people who have not been exposed to trauma. This is significant in understanding the effects of trauma in general and the impact of PTSD, specifically since the hippocampus is the part of the brain that is thought to have an important role in developing new memories about life events

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - What are the effects of PTSD?

  • I don't know this former Officer personally, but his claims of PTSD are dubious. In 2010, he was cited by the IG for his dealings in high pressure tactics to join the NGAUS. Almost anything can be claimed under PTSD nowadays. Jul 26, 2014 at 12:39
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    @staticx in fact, I say "maybe". There's nothing incompatible with PTSD in what he says but that doesn't mean he's not simply lying.
    – Sklivvz
    Jul 26, 2014 at 14:23
  • The reason why I say he could be lying is because he likely attended War College before any combat experience. Jul 26, 2014 at 14:28

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