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The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Hardcover – January 20, 2015
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A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
"THE EVIL HOURS is a provocative, exhaustively researched and deeply moving analysis of traumatic memory and how we make sense of it…an essential book not just for those who have experienced trauma, but for anyone who wants to understand post-9/11 America. Reading it will make you a better and more humane citizen." —New York Times Book Review
"The Evil Hours, by David Morris--at once a patient and fine writer--conveys the mysteries of trauma in a way that is unsurpassed in the literature...this is the most important book on the subject to come out in this century." —Times Literary Supplement
“A lucid etiology … Well-integrated autobiographical elements make this remarkable work highly instructive and readable.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review
“An exploration of the enduring human cost of war...An eye-opening investigation of war's casualties.”—Kirkus
“Morris brings not just experience but insight to a topic of grave relevance...The takeaway is a durable resource for both those with PTSD and their loved ones.” —Donna Chavez, Booklist
“Even today, the ‘PTSD’ label is often misunderstood and misapplied, with the average reader seeing it as something that only affects veterans and rape victims (which is decidedly not the case). What a relief, then, to have Morris’ stunning writing and thorough research to make sense of it. As a former Marine, Morris writes vividly about life during and after war; and he also turns his eye towards the trauma that can arise from other categories including sexual assault and near-death experiences.” —Flavorwire
“The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an engaging exploration of, and a timely resource on, the affliction first known in modern times as shell shock. David J. Morris, a former Marine who covered the Iraq war until he was involved in an explosion, uses his own experiences, literary accounts of war, and interviews with veterans, rape survivors and psychiatrists to weave a fascinating and well-researched narrative about psychological trauma and the American treatment of it.” —Chicago Tribune
“Morris has found himself in a position to help us think about PTSD with much more complexity than we’re accustomed to, and in so doing The Evil Hours takes an important and timely place in our culture.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“David Morris, a war journalist and former Marine officer, delivers a compassionate, approachable examination of post-traumatic stress in The Evil Hours…It is a book that already has cut a wide swath in the world of military veterans and others.” —The Oregonian
“A brave and honest memoir of living ‘in terror’s shadow,’ as well as a definitive account of the history, culture and science of the great affliction of our era… The Evil Hours is a gift of insight for survivors of combat stress and traumatic events of all kinds, as well as a call to action for the vast majority of Americans untouched by the brutality of more than 13 years at war.” —San Diego Union-Tribune
“David J. Morris invites us into his own heart of darkness in order to deliver an unflinching and compassionate study of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is far more than a biography of a psychological condition, or a memoir of one individual, it is also a cogent analysis of an ever increasing phenomenon that has changed the landscape of our culture. If one has any hope of coming to grips with what shapes America every day, The Evil Hours is a must read.” —Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
“’Trauma destroys the normal narrative of life,’ Morris explains in this impassioned, well-researched, and beautifully written biography of an illness that we’ve only recently realized is an illness. Though he ‘hates the idea of turning writing into therapy,’ reading his book has helped this fellow sufferer. The Evil Hours is a much needed narrative.” —Ismet Prcic, author of Shards
“Masterful and moving, David Morris’s investigation of this troubling psychiatric disorder asks all the important questions. This book honors suffering while also making room for hope.” —Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones
“A beautiful book, the non-fiction brother of Phil Klay's Redeployment. Read it.” —Tom Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Generals
“This book has the hypnotic appeal of authenticity. David J. Morris is a writer, warrior, and sufferer, his words carry an inescapable truth. His story glides through the drifting incredulity of trauma, terrible memories, and the struggling science of comprehension. There is something addictive in his way of drawing you in. The Evil Hours is fascinating uncovering of the mind, unnervingly profound.” —Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void
Top Customer Reviews
The individuals Morris met included not only war veterans but rape survivors and those who'd gone through near death experiences. Their personal accounts and statements are extremely moving, revealing the challenges they face daily. Morris discovered that those with PTSD may also be more likely to become violent, suffer from extreme anxiety, a sense of alienation, and loneliness. Without treatment, the effects can be lasting. Those with post-traumatic stress disorder not only face great personal challenges but also may be unable to function well at work, in their marriages - and as members of their communities.
One of Morris's goals in writing The Evil Hours was to understand how the "current war on post-traumatic stress is being waged". He also looked at past information about PTSD. Then he assimilated it all and arrived at his own conclusions. Some of those conclusions were ones I hadn't read before - and I've read quite a bit about PTSD.
Morris acknowledges that he was also partly motivated to write the book for personal reasons, to grasp why his world seemed so different after his return from Iraq and to grapple with his feelings of alienation. But he brings in larger issues as well, including recent treatments and therapies, resulting in a balanced combination of both personal and wider information.
I was surprised and also encouraged by learning of positive change which can (eventually) occur after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. One individual felt that PTSD "recalibrated" his values and gave him an opportunity to reassess his life and move in a better direction. And Morris found other examples of those who felt that extreme stress had led to both great suffering and - in time- opportunities for personal growth and a new beginning. Unfortunately, he also discovered that society often considered post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers to be "broken", possibly leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy from survivors who accepted others' perceptions as the truth.
Of course a single review can't possibly list all of the topics covered in The Evil Hours but I hope I've included enough here to compel potential readers to obtain a copy of the book. In addition to the introduction, main chapters, and epilogue, there are detailed notes on studies, books, articles, and other material related to each chapter. There is also a bibliography for those who want to seek out more information on PTSD.
The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders really is a biography of PTSD that goes wide and deep into the history, symptoms, treatments, and the valiant fight by group of Viet Nam Vets to have PTSD included as a mental Illness Diagnosis in the DSM III. Morris writes of Shell Shock, Combat Neurosis, Traumatic Neurosis, Combat Fatigue, VietNam Syndrome all being different names for what we call PTSD today. He writes about the trauma of the soldiers in WWI and WWII and VietNam and the trauma of rape and natural and man-made traumas, as well as his own difficulties with PTSD. He includes interviews though out the book.
Morris writes about his own treatments (he dropped out of one) and other treatments: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-Cognitive Processing Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, Flooding, the drug propranolol and even Yoga. He cites the ineffectiveness and dangers and controversies of some of the therapies and the dropout rates of 54% of therapies with most empirical support. The chapters on therapies and psychologist and psychiatrist infighting is informative and is reason enough to recommend this book.
Author David J. Morris writes that historian and philosopher, Will Durant "calculated that there have been only twenty-nine years in all of human history when there wasn't a war going on somewhere in the world."
Morris writes in the final chapter about suffering and growth from suffering and he quotes psychologist Richard Tedescho who says his research has shown that post-traumatic growth is far more common than post- traumatic stress. Research continues.
This beautifully written factual and philosophical book is rich on many levels. Morris delivers information about PTSD within a broad history of war and social, political and cultural movements and shows us the influences that shape who we are today and who we will be tomorrow.