review of Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence by Judith Lewis Herman

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political TerrorTrauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Lewis Herman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book, for me, was a horrible read. Horribly accurate. Yet hopeful as well.

Horrible to see that I am not so different after all -I see myself in every comment she makes on adults who survived long-term trauma as children.
Horrible to see that my experience is not so different.
Yet hopeful to see that there are ways of solving the problem, living ‘normally’ -just that ignoring it is not one of those ways.
Most irritating.
Especially after burn-out has twice stopped me from working enough to distract myself from my distracting memories.

She mentions The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma in her 2015 epilogue, and that book seems to recommend both movement and writing -both of which helped me until I had to get back to sitting in a chair looking for a job all day long.

I seem to be stuck in Stage 2, and worst of all, I read over and over again that either in writing or in talking therapy, I must now stop “living in my head” and move back into my body. I have always found it easier to forget to eat then to bother about my body. Work has always been a useful form of escape, until now. Ok, not so much -once I get to about the intermediate level of just about anything, it seems no longer to hold my interest, and I find myself assaulted by unwanted memories that refuse to go back into their Blankety-Blank-Blank!!! boxes.
Irritatingly enough, this is the first place I have seen such a thing predicted.
She even has the gall to predict and counter my ‘unique’ perspective on my right to choose when to die, and how. Apparently this too is normal for folks like me. Huh. So much for being misunderstood. I guess she has us pegged, finally, Thank the non-existent God!! Finally someone actually documents what we go through, and tells us it is a normal response to a hideous start in life. Ok, now, on to how to fix the problem: start with saftey (years of martial arts did help some), get a good therapist, talk, write, and move your body. And remember that faking functionality will not work forever.

Later update:  NaNoWriMo 2015 novel  Hubris and Hemlock came out of this…

27.10.12015 HE

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14 thoughts on “review of Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence by Judith Lewis Herman

  1. I haven’t read it but I feel your aggravation and pain. Somehow, your phrase “I find myself assaulted by unwanted memories that refuse to go back into their Blankety-Blank-Blank!!! boxes” is more poignant than any curse or epithet you could have used. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You made me laugh at: ”ignoring (the trauma) isn’t one of the ways to solve the problem. Most irritating.” Indeed irritating that just ignoring it won’t help. Writing does and I need to do more of it. Self confidence oh self confidence!! I’m going to have to get this book. I’ve done years of therapy and it did help and recently wanted to speak to a local therapist who actually turned me away = there are reasons, too long to mention here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to have taken so long to reply to this comment. I appreciate your writing. Don’t worry, I’ve been turned away recently by a therapist as well. First time, in fact, but also the first time I insisted on knowing how to work through the heart of the problem/trauma. Just getting to look functional isn’t enough. But you knew that already. And not every therapist can deal.
      Be careful with your writing. A brain specialist recommends a punching bag to go along with writing about traumas, but I prefer to run as a way of working it out of my body. Either way, that stress has to go somewhere, and if you don’t find a way to work it out of your body, your body will end up physically ill (or you end it yourself, which is a shame, since we need the PoV of folks who have seen suffering from the inside…).
      21 Jan. 12016 HE
      (the Holocene Calendar)


      1. Good advice about being careful with the writing. I am in fact feeling rather down at the moment and I do think it has to do with having written about the trauma. There’s so much more to say. I do try and do yoga and I love going on long walks. Will start doing that again.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I mostly seem to be able to leave ‘the world’ behind when I’m out walking. I get absorbed in my surroundings, examining stones, plants, water, even the wild animals, baboons and monkeys mostly with the odd deer.

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  3. I think that walking is where I think best. I was thinking of how people often try to force themselves to fall in love when another person, usually a rescuer, is urging that love upon hir. I think that if we were all taught to walk, get some air, and look logically at the situation (and of course if that situation also included a Basic Income, it would help alot for vulnerable folks), then many of our problems could be solved on the walk. Panic responds quite well to walking, as it forces one to breath.

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