MIND ZONE follows therapists with the 113th Army Combat Stress Control detachment as they carry out two conflicting missions: protecting soldiers from battle fatigue and keeping these same soldiers in the fight. With psychiatric casualties mounting, the United States Army ups the deployment of mental health detachments to war zones—an undertaking on a scale previously unimaginable. As the 113th is deployed to Afghanistan and trains for their dual roles as soldiers and healers, Colonel David Rabb and his team of therapists are equipped with a wide arsenal of psychological techniques. But as they arrive to replace the previous Combat Stress Control unit, they learn the gravity of the tasks ahead and face daunting challenges in carrying out their conflicting missions.
The documentary moves between the battle zone and the home front as therapists working at the Veterans Administration reflect back on what could have been done to prevent combat stress conditions in theater. MIND ZONE offers a rarely seen glimpse of heated debates within the field of psychology over diagnosis and treatment of combat conditions, and the limits of categories such as post-traumatic stress disorder in capturing the psychological impacts of warfare.
About the filmmaker
As a professor, clinical psychologist, and filmmaker, as well as former psychiatric nurse who worked in training hospitals in Washington, California, and Oregon, Jan Haaken brings a wealth of experience to the documentary. Haaken has produced and/or directed four feature-length documentaries focused on people and places on the social margins (“Diamonds, Guns and Rice,” “Queens of Heart,” “Moving to the Beat,” and “Guilty Except for Insanity.”). Known for her sensitive skills in accessing and interviewing people in closed or restricted settings, from refugee camps and drag clubs to shelters and insane asylums, Haaken draws out the complex humanity of her subjects.