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Trauma & Recovery

Every time I read any kind of book on psychology, I generally need a pen or a highlighter in hand because I like to underline little nuggets of wisdom to remember or doodle the occasional little star next to a key concept. When reading this book, however, I’m pretty sure I destroyed it with my pen! Notes. Everywhere! I devoured this book on my quest to be better equipped to help people process their experiences.

I appreciated Herman’s review of the history of the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis. From labeling traumatized people as ‘hysterics’ in the late 1800s, to Freud’s cover-up on his findings on childhood sexual abuse and then insisting that “women imagined and longed for the abusive sexual encounters of which they complained,” to the stigmatization and disrespect of veterans in the early 1900s. It wasn’t until the 1970s that crisis centers became available for sexual assault victims. Helping those that are suffering or dealing with prolonged reactions to traumatic events have a history of being shamed and disbelieved, their abuse covered up or disregarded, and tragically misunderstood.

It was Victor Frankl, a psychologist and Nazi concentration camp survivor that said, “An abnormal response to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.” History tells me that we have not had the grace and validation for those that are experiencing post-traumatic symptoms. I am encouraged, however, to know a host of people, mentors, professionals, and organizations that are currently helping people recover from trauma, providing a sense of normalcy to their responses, and courageously listening to their stories without judgment.

heather lokteff, counselor
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