Clinical psychologist: Hyper-masculine military failed to offer Bradley Manning support on gender identity
Clinical psychologist Michael Worsley diagnosed Manning with gender identity disorder and says he experienced severe stress
A military psychologist who treated Bradley Manning said there was no support available for him to cope with his gender identity disorder and that Manning suffered greatly in a “hyper-masculine environment” that was hostile towards gay soldiers.
Captain Michael Worsley, a clinical psychologist, evaluated and treated Manning between December 2009 and May 2010, when Manning was stationed in Iraq.
Worsley told the sentencing hearing at Forte Meade military base that Manning would have been put under considerable stress.
“With little support, and few coping skills, the pressure would have been difficult, to say the least,” Worsley said. “It would have been incredible.”
Manning had already been recommended to take part in “ongoing psychotherapy” when he was referred to Worsley.
From the beginning, Worsley observed that Manning had “trust issues”, diagnosing him with an anxiety disorder. He met Manning around a dozen times, concluding that Manning was “super-critical of himself” and felt like was “never good enough, or never able to do the right thing”.
Worsley said Manning had a “personality issue” and had difficulties integrating with fellow soldiers. As the months progressed, he found Manning “isolated” and “guarded”.
“Obviously I was a therapist, but he was still guarded with me. It was one of those things where you go: who can this guy share with? Who does he have?”
Manning, 25, was convicted last month of passing a hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
He was found guilty of several counts under the Espionage Act, but acquitted of the most serious charge of “aiding the enemy”.
Manning, who worked an intelligence analyst at a remote base in the Iraqi desert when he downloaded the material, is facing a possible jail sentence of up to 90 years. He is expected to be sentenced next week.
Worsley said he became more aware of the severity of problems faced by Manning when he was awoken at 1.30am on May 8, hours after Manning was found curled up in a supply room, with a knife at his feet. That same day Manning had punched a female colleague.
A few days earlier, Manning had sent the Worsley an email – apparently similar to one emailed his master sergeant – with a photograph attached of him dressed as a woman.
Worsley said he spoke to Manning for about two hours through the night, and discussed his gender confusion for the first time. Worsley diagnosed him with gender identity disorder.
“At that point he was sharing enough with me to suggest he met with the diagnosis,” he said.
Worsley, who has worked as an military doctor for five years, was critical of the army’s ability to deal with soldiers who had gender identity disorder or were gay.
“I think being in the military and having a gender identity issues does not exactly go hand in hand,” he said. “I think it further serves to isolate, to create this issue with, kind of, defining who you are as person.”
He added: “At that time, the military was not exactly friendly toward the gay community, or anybody that held a view as such. I don’t know that it is friendly now, either, but it seems to be getting toward that point.”
Asked by Manning’s counsel, David Coombs, what kind of support was available to Manning at that time, Worsley replied: “Really, none. There as nothing available other than somebody like me.”
He added that by confiding in a clinical psychologist, Manning was “taking a chance” and may have received a court martial and been “put out of the military”.
“So to share that information as an extremely difficult thing,” he said.
Manning was already being mistreated by fellow solders, even without revealing his identity disorder, in what Worsley described as an “openly hostile environment”. Worsley said the impact of being open about his sexuality would have been profound. “I can’t imagine, he said. “It is hard for me to put myself in that place.”
Asked by Coombs if gender disorder would have made a soldier in the military at the time feel alone, Worsley replied: “Absolutely.”
Cross-examining Worsley, military prosecutor Alexander von Elten suggested Manning was “not blaming himself” or “not acknowledging his role” in his own problems.
Von Elten asked Worsley to interpret private online chats in which Manning called fellow soldiers “ignorant rednecks”. “It depends,” Worsley replied. “I can’t say that I haven’t called folks that I’ve worked with in the marine corps rednecks.”