My book review of The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is now posted on Amazon.com. It seems fitting to publish it during PTSD Awareness Month, now with the perspective of someone with first-hand experience in dealing with this problem in a loved one. In my free time, I’ve spent the past few months educating myself and exploring every valid treatment option.
While some of the case studies Dr. van der Kolk includes in the book are difficult to read (horrible child abuse in every possible form), they also prove that with the right approach, even the worst experiences can be overcome. He also offers an understandable description/distinction between traumatic memory and normal memory — helpful in recognizing why it’s not possible for people with PTSD to simply “get over it” without the proper treatment (which usually means a combination of therapies).
In their justifiable reaction to helicopter parenting, coddling, and the “everybody wins a trophy” nonsense, I find that some (not all) conservatives seem to dismiss the real problem of PTSD caused by early childhood trauma and the fact that actual child abuse does exist. Now I cringe when I see memes about how being beaten with a belt as a child helped someone grow into a responsible adult.
When I reunited with my guy after two decades, I had no idea that his background included horrific abuse from both parents (physical beatings, emotional torture, and ZERO affection), compounded by subsequent combat experience in the Navy. I met him right after his service in 1992 and after reading this book, I understand why those memories were suppressed 26 years ago.
After multiple emotional conversations with him, I find myself thanking God even more for my upbringing in a loving, stable home. At first, I even felt a twinge of guilt for being blessed with two good parents and four siblings. Home was a haven for me — not a place I feared to return to after school. But his entire childhood and adolescence was rooted in fear.
Sure, my parents disciplined and raised my brothers, sister, and me to be responsible, productive people. But it didn’t involve prolonged beatings with objects like bats and belts. That’s something I wish more conservatives and people in general would acknowledge.