When Control Goes Out the Window

When it comes down to business sometimes potty training can fail us.

Potty training.

We all go through it. The thought of losing control of our digestive or urinary system seems absurd to most, but it is a reality that many law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and military personnel encounter than most would expect. Especially during high stress or survival situations, any and all control we have over our urinary tract or sphincter goes out the window.

Some people can own up to these situations, but for many their sense of pride inhibits them from doing so. A survey of World War II veterans found that of those who saw intense combat, roughly 50% of them urinated themselves, and 25% of them defecated themselves. These statistics are based solely off of those veterans who admitted to having encountered this situation. The laws of statistical distribution say these percentages may actually be much higher than indicated.

Why is it that people don’t admit to these situations? One explanation for this could be due to the stigmas associated with defecating oneself. Have you ever watched an action or war movie in which the main character soils himself? Of course not. Similarly, these proud men and women don’t want to be subjected to the ridicule associated with admitting this has happened to them.

Of course, this can happen to anyone. For example, a University of Florida football player lost control of his bowels during a high pressure moment of the game.

This code of silence has perpetuated across centuries of warriors. One of the most studied event in recent years is 9/11. What is not mentioned or at best scarcely mentioned is that the vast majority of survivors actually soiled themselves. This is not to do them dishonor, but to help those who have experienced this or will experience this understand that this is a natural reaction.

If our body has any “material” in the lower region of our intestines during a high stress situation, we will defficate ourselves as a natural survival mechanism. Our body puts all of our resources towards helping us survive the situation. We should help relieve this stigma and help veterans, law enforcement, firefighters and medical personnel understand that when, and, if this happens, it is not that something is wrong with them, but that something is right with them and they are trying to survive whatever challenge they face.

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