Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Drone Operators
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an interesting phenomenon because it troubles assumptions about drone warfare and exposes some of its paradoxes, including an image of the drone as disembodied, unmanned, and removed. The mental condition proposes that although drone operators may be shielded from physical danger, they are nevertheless exposed to psychic risks; and part of their psychic vulnerability seems to come from the drone's visuals. Yet while PTSD is a clinical condition whose specifics in regard to drone warfare are only slowly examined, the following argument is not primarily invested in a clinical reading but in a cultural interpretation. This chapter looks at a select number of these studies and interprets their findings through the lens of visual culture, art criticism, and political philosophy. It deals with PTSD in drone operators, namely Omer Fast's semi-documentary 5,000 Feet is the Best. Fast reenacts the one-sidedness of the drone's visual field by situating 5,000 Feet is the Best in the US.