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The Relief of Understanding What Posttraumatic Stress Is

13 Mar

We got this last week from a man recovering from posttraumatic stress. (His question about boundaries is answered on this week’s Q & A page).  The writer says reading Invisible Heroes was like putting together enough pieces of a puzzle to finally see the whole picture of what he’d been dealing with. BR wrote him back that when she was diving into the research data bases and writing that book, she felt the same way.  Here’s his email message:

Belleruth Naparstek’s book, Invisible Heroes, has changed my life.  I was 57 years old when I read it. Besides finding relief in understanding how my variety of problems were part of this whole, I also appreciate the help for healing I found through this understanding and her CDs.

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of my memoir that I am writing:

"I talked with Ezekiel at our brunch to help him.  I did not expect that I would discover a path of self-knowledge and healing.  My tears were a revelation.  Even though I had participated in psychotherapy over thirty years no one used the words, “flashback” and “trauma” to help me.  Six months after the counselor gave me her insight; my wife gave me the book, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal, by Belleruth Naperstek.  This social worker organized almost all of my loose ends that had confused psychiatrists, social workers, teachers, and even doctors.  Psychotherapists had only diagnosed parts of my problem, like depression, or saw other parts that they did not understand, e.g. survivor’s guilt.  Friends did not understand my intensity or overwork.

Naperstek’s book changed my life.  Chapter by chapter I learned how my problems with self-mutilation, impaired volition, “survivor’s guilt”, intensity, emotional reactivity, and a compulsive busyness which is often needless fit into the pattern of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  No one before had organized the whole this way.  It was as if I had been working all my life on a puzzle with a million pieces and she helped me complete enough of it to bring the whole picture into view for the first time.  Again I felt gratified and a lot of relief.

Like other people with illnesses that are not well understood I have felt hurt and self-doubt because of the attitude helpers in authority have shown me because when I have tried to explain my suffering.  After reading Naperstek’s book, I felt like the elephant in the ancient Indian fable told by John Godfrey Saxe, in his poem, “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” He wrote that these “six blind men from Hindustan” conclude that the elephant is like a wall, snake, spear, tree, fan or rope, depending upon which part of the giant animal that each one touched.  None of them saw the whole."

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award