Regular readers will know that I am very interested in helping people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and you will find a number of articles here.
The problem is growing as more people are returning from the conflicts overseas. But it is also important to return to another point: the difference between categorical and dimensional diagnosis. Few problems fit into neat little boxes. Instead they tend to lie on spectra. At one end you have people who have never had a day’s trouble in their lives, at the other you will find people who have been incapacitated by the most terrible things that have happened to them.
And in between is a huge number of people who do not fit any diagnostic criteria, but nonetheless suffer from many of the signs and symptoms of illness. How many people suffer from some of the symptoms of PTSD because they found a dead relative? Or had an important relationship that went terribly wrong?
They do not, of course, have diagnosable PTSD, but it can sometimes be helpful to reframe their suffering as a reaction to trauma.
I have just reviewed a book on the Amazon website that I hope is read very widely.
The book is called The Dancer Returns: From Victim to Victory, by Susan Lee Titus.
It tells an extraordinary true story about a young businesswoman who is brutally assaulted. She suffered from such severe PTSD that she actually needed to be admitted to hospital for a short time.
She transcends the terrible experience, and she is herself transformed by compassion and forgiveness. She moves on to teach dance to incarcerated women, each of whom carries her own scars.
The book is short but profoundly moving and can be life-changing.
If you have any interest in PTSD in all its manifestations, and also if you are interested in alternative ways of living with and transcending distress, I strongly recommend the book.