PORT HAWKESBURY: One year after retired Cpl. Lionel Desmond was medically discharged from the military for severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the former infantryman was then diagnosed with “mixed personality traits.”
The new evidence was introduced on March 2 by Robert Ouellette, a psychiatrist at the Montreal-based Ste. Anne’s Hospital, where Desmond received in-patient treatment for 77-days in 2016.
Ouellette testified that with Desmond suffering from mixed personality traits, which weren’t “full-blown disorders,” it complicated his treatment process as it instilled obsessive compulsive and paranoid behaviour.
“These traits made him suspicious of other people’s motives and unwilling to trust others,” he told the inquiry. “He was not sure if we were working with him or against him. They doubt everybody.”
These traits were also something Ouellette said seemed to fuel Desmond’s mistrust and jealousy towards his wife, and it was of his opinion those feelings weren’t caused by his PTSD.
The psychiatrist told the inquiry his anger manifested through his nightmares; including one that involved him killing his wife.
After originally agreeing to take additional medication, Desmond refused to continue once at the in-patient program at Ste. Anne’s, something his psychiatrist said he would have benefitted from, by controlling his outbursts.
“You’re not going to take the demon out of me,” Desmond told his psychiatrist during treatment.
Initially, Desmond had made progress as he reported better sleep patterns with fewer nightmares, more energy, an increase in his socialization, and was basically free from depression.
“If he would have taken the right medications, he would have shown more progress in the residential program and later at home,” Ouellette said. “Anger was a major problem for him.”
He suggested rather than being given the go ahead to acquire his firearms license, Ouellette said Desmond should have received treatment for his anger and undergone anger management.
Although Desmond didn’t want to take any additional medication, the psychiatrist testified he was “highly motivated” to attend the residential program for the sole reason he was “desperate” to create better relationships with his family.
“But that was the first thing he told me, that he wanted to be a better husband and a better father,” Ouellette said. “It was really difficult to gain his trust; to create a therapeutic alliance with him.”
He noted that Desmond’s trust and paranoia issues led him to believe if two people were talking together, they were talking about him.
In addition to declining additional medication, a psychologist who treated Desmond at Ste. Anne’s Hospital testified he was also unwilling to engage in processing his trauma from his tour in Afghanistan.
Isabella Gagnon, told the inquiry that Desmond only made minor progress during his therapy, which consisted of about 10 people at the hospital specializing in veterans with PTSD.
She testified he was unwilling to discuss the traumatic events that were affecting him since his return from war, and was also not prepared to look at how they were affecting his personal reactions to daily stressors.
“He would say that he had to focus on the future, not on the past. He wanted to find something he could fix,” Gagnon said. “He avoided talking about traumatic events in Afghanistan and instead focused on his troubled relationship with his wife and young daughter.”
She said when Desmond came into the program his only coping skill was avoidance.
Desmond ultimately lost trust in his treatment team and made the decision to leave the in-patient program on Aug. 15, 2016, reporting he wanted to spend time with his daughter before she started school in September.
In his release report, the clinicians recommended he needed to continue therapy within the community, something that never happened even though Veterans Affairs Canada was in the process of finding more help for him.