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Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A GUIDE AND MAP FOR RECOVERING FROM CHILDHOOD TRAUMA Paperback – December 13, 2013
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About the Author
Pete Walker is a licensed Marriage and Family psychotherapist with degrees in Social Work and Counseling Psychology. He has been working as a counselor, lecturer, writer and group leader for thirty five years; and as a trainer, supervisor and consultant of other therapists for 20 years. Pete lives and luxuriates in family life with his wife and nine year old son in the San Francisco Bay Area. He enjoys his art work, gardening, hiking, and reading to his son. Pete also holds certificates in supervision from The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and from The Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley. Pete is a "general practitioner" who specializes in helping adults recovering from growing up in traumatizing families, especially those whose repeated exposure to childhood abuse and/or neglect left them with symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [Cptsd]. He has a great deal of recovery from his own Cptsd, and his professional approach is highly enriched by his own 40 year journey of recovering. Pete’s articles on a multimodal approach to treating Cptsd have been published in a number of therapy magazines and websites. His therapeutic approach is eclectic and Relational [Intersubjective]. He guides the therapeutic process with values that include empathy, vulnerability, authenticity and mutuality. Pete’s first book The Tao of Fully Feeling: Harvesting Forgiveness Out Of Blame, is also available through Amazon, has been acclaimed by many therapists, recovery websites and clients as a powerful, compassionate and pragmatic tool for guiding recovery.
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I told my daughter, who was recently accepted into a Master's program to fulfill her dream of becoming a therapist, that Pete Walker's COMPLEX PTSD is my new self-help "bible." I plan to buy several as gifts. The first one will go to my awesome daughter.
Not only has the existence of Complex PTSD been ignorantly denied by many in the psychiatric professions, those of us who suffer with this grievous psychological injury are often misdiagnosed with a wide range of stigmatizing mental illnesses, as Pete Walker discusses in the first chapter of this book. Throughout more than four decades of desperately seeking therapeutic help, I have been given a long list of various psychiatric labels. My childhood trauma and subsequent dissociation was so severe that my initial label, at the age of 14, was schizophrenia. I was given that diagnosis in 1967, more than a decade before Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was an official psychiatric label.
Numerous doctors and therapists have told me over the years that I was badly misdiagnosed, because I am not at all schizophrenic. Of course I wanted to believe them, because who likes to think that they were ever psychotic? However, through my research in preparation of writing a memoir about my experience, I have come to the conclusion that I was, indeed, schizophrenic for two of my teenage years.
Pete Walker's book is the first modern day authoritative publication I have read which acknowledges that in its severest form, Complex PTSD can cause an extremely traumatized child to develop schizophrenia. He is exactly right. But the good news is that even the most severely shattered psyche can heal ~ maybe not 100%, but close enough to live a mostly normal life. I am living proof that this is true.
Today I am in my early 60s and happily married to my best friend, a Chaplain who is a Vietnam veteran with combat-related PTSD. (We put the FUN in dysfunction!) Although I am now a great-grandmother, I am still actively and enthusiastically learning, growing, and healing from my long-ago developmental wounds. I am deeply grateful to Pete Walker for writing this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who has been psychologically wounded by early childhood trauma or neglect, or for anyone interested in helping people with CPTSD.
Yes, Complex PTSD is "real," regardless of what the DSM gurus say; just as PTSD was real back when "shell shock" and "hysteria" were the in-vogue labels.
People with Complex PTSD aren't crazy, or bad, or weak, or lazy, or inherently/genetically defective, nor are we "whiners who don't want to let go of the past" ~ we are simply ordinary people who have been grievously psychologically injured, and it is not our fault. Having a PTSD reaction to extreme trauma is NORMAL, just as it is normal to bleed if you are stabbed. You don't berate someone for bleeding when they have been stabbed, not if you have any compassion; you call 911 and get them the care they need to facilitate their healing.
***Treat PTSD with CARE: Compassion, Acceptance, Respect and Empathy/Encouragement.***
My husband and I have both been berated for having PTSD, because "the war is over" and "your childhood is over" so therefore we ought to "stop living in the past." Having PTSD is painful and debilitating enough, without also being SHAMED for it. For most of my life, my inner critic bought into this terrible shame and self-blame. I beat myself up emotionally for years, berating myself for my inability to "forgive and forget, live in today, and just get over" the traumas that occurred during my developmental years.
Is there anything more miserable than hating yourself? I don't think so.
But I don't hate myself anymore because in recent years, scientific studies using modern brain-imaging technologies have found that severe trauma literally changes the shape and function of the brain, in both humans and animals. Other brain imaging studies have found that, thanks to neuroplasticity, the injured brain can also heal with proper treatment.
PTSD and CPTSD are real, physically verifiable injuries. These injuries don't just "go away" when you try not to think about them. Berating a person for having PTSD because their trauma happened a long time ago is no less ignorant and cruel than chastising someone who is paralyzed from the neck down for not getting up and going to work, because the car crash that crushed their spine happened decades ago. The traumatic event may have happened in the distant past, but the injury it caused is still PRESENT. Yet there is healing available, which you will find in this wonderful book.
Here is a big great-grandma ((((HUG)))) for anyone reading this who needs and wants one.
But of all the books I’ve read on the subject, Pete Walker’s Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving does the absolute BEST job of mapping the recovery process from the survivor’s perspective. I had gained useful knowledge and understanding from Mr. Walker’s website, but this book puts it together in such a clear and orderly perspective that I can now see (and feel) how far I’ve come and, more importantly, which issues I need to tackle next – and how to tackle them -- in order to more fully reclaim my birthright as a human being.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is invaluable for survivors, therapists, and, I believe, for friends and loved ones who want to understand us. It explains us so well. Thank you, Mr. Walker, for writing this.
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