Friday, March 18, 2011

The stress of the post traumatic

It seems several bloggers in the field of trauma are expressing concern that sufferers from the post traumatic experience are fearful of being shamed: not “tough” enough. Their not seeking help consequently is too often a prelude to disaster.

Stigma is always a concern in the mental health field. If you are a member of AA, wisdom suggests being just that: anonymous.

Let me say upfront that I cannot speak authentically about this stigmatizing. Annelie remembers a war as a German: not many throw stones at that… I had a post traumatic experience: I just didn’t know it until recently! I may have felt stigma for under-responding or over-responding to some events, but that is another story.

In general, the stigma takes one of two forms. The first usually is in veterans’ groups, either as one-up-manship or blame game. Take your choice: silly or unjust, whatever. The second has to do with the term “disorder,” as a category of mental illness. “Cruelty” is the word that pops to mind in considering that as the best way to categorize the severe aftershock of things like rapes, hurricanes, and all sorts of “et cetera.”

For our blog we chose to link the name of the Apostle Paul with the post traumatic. That this is true was almost immaterial: we wanted to point out somebody that nobody would accuse of not being tough enough. We also wanted to point out that here was somebody that nobody – or very few – would accuse of not being mentally healthy. A third reason is that there are almost no role models for moving through and beyond the post traumatic: he did, from an overwhelmed Saul to a heroic Paul.

One other factor here, if you have been reading this blog for some time. Knowing us, you will excuse it. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that he was willing to boast a little and even be willing to look like a fool for the sake of Christ. Annelie and I have been in a group going down into the Roman catacombs. It was the second time for Annelie.

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