Steve Woods's Reviews > No Comfort Zone: Notes on Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

No Comfort Zone by Marla Handy
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's review
Aug 18, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: psychology-psychotherapy, ptsd, recovery
Read from September 16, 2011 to January 27, 2012

This is a book by a woman who suffered an extreme childhood that resulted in what she calls complex ptsd. The kind of moulding of the human experience by long term, constant trauma of the kind suffered by people who are held hostage or imprisoned for long period by a tormentor, long term POWs who have been tortured. On top of that she was unfortunate to experience rape which overlaid an incident specific ptsd that is more frequently seen in people who are combat veterans, victims or first responders to disaster. My own exploration of ptsd has arisen from my own combat related experiences in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970's. This has always been the focus as it has been the most accessible explanation for the way I experience and respond to life. I have always of course been aware of the difficulties I experienced in my childhood, living with a violent alcoholic father who believed I was the bastard child of another, and I could see the connections between that experience and my combat related ptsd. It was not until I read this book however, that I truly appreciated how severe the impact of that childhood trauma was in my life and how it magnified so many fold the impact of the war experience. Much of my behaviour as a soldier, particularly in Cambodia, was driven my the traumatised framework of that childhood experience, and therefore so were the actions I engaged in towards myself and others and that explains much of its extremity. The guilt I have felt for so long over much of that I saw as deriving from an essentially flawed character I see now that it came instead from the tortured soul and shattered sense of self worth that were the bequest of my father. The blanks in my memory and the confusion over timelines, the remembered experience of childhood now all make sense to me. I am indebted to this woman for having the courage to share her life with me, it could be a traced overlay for much of my own.

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