airport security

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airport security

Post by cymbalta on Thu Nov 25, 2010 7:04 pm

had to post this.

it's something i feel really strongly about


There is a big uproar over the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) use of full body scans and pat downs at airports - and for good reason. From videos of a three-year-old screaming during a pat down search to the story of a bladder cancer survivor whose urostomy bag was broken by a screener, spilling his urine all over him, it has become apparent that TSA screeners need a great deal more training.
A CNN article on medical conditions and TSA's screening procedures touches on several situations where people could be subject to intrusive body searches because of conditions like cancer or joint replacements. In the list the writer includes, "What about people with mental illnesses?" but doesn't address the question. Finally, the article suggests that people have a doctor's note describing their conditions.

Reading this, it burst over me just how problematic these procedures could be for a person - or a child! - with a mental illness. In addition to the fact that children are taught never to let a stranger touch them, especially on certain parts of their bodies, a child with bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or another condition that can include rages or hysteria, could be triggered into behavior that could make them uncontrollable on a plane.

As for adults with mental illnesses, even those whose conditions are normally well-controlled could be triggered by intrusive searches. If you have bipolar 1 disorder or schizophrenia with a tendency toward paranoia, a pat down search could become a nightmare. If you have a comorbid anxiety disorder, you could suffer an anxiety attack. Conditions like PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, or any one of a number of phobias could all be triggered by body scans and searches.

As for the note from the doctor: How many of us want to reveal to perfect strangers that we have a serious mental illness? Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are often so misunderstood that there is no way of knowing how airport officials would react.

My own condition is stable enough that I believe I could still travel by air - if it was essential - and make it through a body scan ... but I think a pat down or strip search would at the very least leave me shaken and in tears. I would know - as they would not - that the search was unnecessary. It would be humiliating. It was bad enough when, several years ago, my luggage was searched simply because a keychain in my purse looked suspicious when it went through the X-rays. I was frantic and furious, in danger of missing my plane, and treated like a criminal. To be patted down or worse, partially stripped - I don't know. It might lead to complete hysteria.

What do you think? How do you think you or your bipolar child might react to a full body scan? What about a pat down search? Or would TSA procedures keep you from future air travel altogether?

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