What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

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Kenazandisaz
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by Kenazandisaz » Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:47 am

coconuts wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:19 am
That is why I value this forum so much. To feel so connected and almost normal for what I've been through and the result.. to recognize similarities in stories. To share my horrors with people who don't doubt its truth because it's too out there. And to recognize the horrors others have experienced and all the ugliness that comes with it, without shrinking away in disgust.
I'm digging that about this forum. Not that I can share my stuff, though I hope I will be able to eventually. (That's a barefaced lie. The very idea is so terrifying that I don't even hope to be able to, even though I see the incredible value it has. :oops: ) I hadn't quite realised how alienating it was to feel other and unrelatable even with other survivors. I didn't feel that I was like other people even when I was around people I was supposed to be like.

Earthhorse's quote from Judith Herman about the solidarity of the group is very apt.
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

coconuts
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by coconuts » Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:25 am

Kenazandisaz, (whew that's sorta a hard name to type, I kept having to check lol)

Anyways I think we understand the terror in sharing too. It took me a log time to share even the bits I have. It is hard, terrifying really, but freeing as well. Its relieving to tell "their" secrets. The things I have hidden in shame, a shame that shouldn't be mine.

If or when you are ready to share. We are ready to listen without judgement. Without gasps of horror. With understanding.

Kenazandisaz
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by Kenazandisaz » Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:48 am

Thank you coconuts.

It is a cumbersome name. Feel free to shorten it. :lol:
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

earthhorse
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by earthhorse » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:01 pm

Hi Jitterbug,

I have to admit it's just such a pleasure to 'hear' from you <3

This is it EXACTLY!
I felt deeply unheard and unseen and also something of a failure after reading their works - while I also, like you, felt that there was so much that was positive, insightful and helpful in their works, it has been hard to internalize those insights amidst such conflicting other thoughts and feelings I had as I read.
And it feels nasty because some of the insights that work, were mine before I read this. And I don't know there is always soemthing uncomfortable about someone taking soemthign that is your truth, repackaging it and serving it back to you. So much of the stuff I like is about breaking shame, but odd how that is presented in a shaming and exclusive way - through the approach of self valorization of the author. I mean Herman was inspired by her own experiences and search for justice. But she never centers herself in her observations, but her very thorough research.

I have come to really LOATH Levine. Another guy who has got a lot form clients, but still decided it would be best to center his own experiences as a measure of 'how to', and 'what's possible', again sidelining and even dismissing domestic violence and child sexual abuse, AND even supporting false memory syndrome, ( with no scientific basis and contrary to many times over checked and double checked studies on memory, dissociation and trauma). Levine was bullied in school as a child for a few years. And though that can certainly be traumatizing, it is a little different than for instance incest! Or coming from a fundamentally unsafe home or care environment. Or being sold or used for adult gain.

It's funny though, there's Walker on one side advocating emotional healing, (which is such a good point), and Levine on the other side pointing to the way trauma is a survival reflex gone wrong ( also so important), but both denying/excluding the experiences, needs, stories and realities of the larger majority of survivors who develop cPTSD.

Levine is so toxic, in how he completely undermines the narrative or existential level of what it means to be harmed. And contrary to Levine also the emotional content of the work. I was doing somatic experiencing for 10 years with my therapist, a devotee of Levine. I had been looking for a therapist for a long time, no one would treat me because they thought my symptoms were too severe and my history too extreme... she was the only one at the time who would take me on. Initially her techniques helped me a lot with catatonic dissociation I was experiencing.

However, when my memories started to get too frightening for her, as well as me, (I remember gong home after therapy and reliving a memory, screaming and throwing up), I told er about it. After that, that was it, no more content, she didn't want to know and I was to also try and look away as quickly as possible. I wasn't allowed to talk about it, write about it, speak to others about it. I was only to bring it to her. And we were going to never discuss content but only bodily feelings that arose during sessions, and issues in the present - deal with it slowly, slowly bit by bit. Anytime the past would come up she said get out and we practiced shutting me down again - telling me I'm 'safe' now, but not dealing with what was happening now or my feelings now. So this just increased my isolation, anxiety, phobias and feelings of deadness and depersonalization.

After 10 years she couldn't even remember any of my basic history - was like a virtual stranger to her. After ten years still the same refrain, despite telling her, I'm gettign worse I'm in real trouble for 5 of those years - "slowly, slowly drop by drop". Yes the re-livng and the flooding slowed down. But it became a block to everything else in my life too! She just buried me alive in Levines 'technique'.

I went along with it, because the memories frightened me immensely. and I was terrified of them or lying or making things up. (Even though my T. would say things like I can see by your body that you aren't lying, she did not believe we need to deal with the content to heal) In the end it just hurt me Jitterbug. Hurt me terribly and wasted a lot of my resources and time. I ended up getting more and more anxious and depressed. Deeply depressed every time a memory surfaced and then had to be pushed down again - there was a direct link! She would also shame my depression a lot, like it was weakness, or that I was not adhering closely enough to Levine's techniques . Until I froze entirely, went into the land of ghosts, a regressed state - the opposite of what Levine's techniques are meant to achieve - my vitality was crushed. Now, only after nearly 3 years I am finally slowly coming out of that freeze. The impact on my over all health, income, professional progress and self esteem has been awful.

The reason I can see the impact and make the link, is that with a different kind of approach and therapy I am working with now, my progress has been significant and tangible. There are things that help us! We are never beyond help! Along with, the fact that there is now a national program where I live dealing with the enormous number of people with extensive and severe childhood trauma, and compounded trauma, who are not being helped in this country and why... scientifically speaking ( ie evidence based), we need to deal directly with the trauma on all levels, to heal it and to alleviate our suffering. All this stabilization and management stuff has been treated as the primary goal, with our core traumas being ignored, though these tools should be there, evidence shows that survivors benefit most from processing the past, and understanding the impact on their lives. 5 things/healings that need to happen at once environmental - social/relational - emotional/psychological - physical/biological - existential/narrative/cultural.

Being trapped in silence with only one other person who was allowed to 'know' anything, encouraging this silencing and denying my truth, treating me not as a person, with person-hood, but a merely a body, and a client who doesn't 'get it' ie never 'good enough', it was childhood all over again. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Oh no wait hahahaha it would be a nice revenge to doom my horribly sadistic father to 10 years of ineffective therapy, that induces depression, undoes all his self confidence in his own self expression, and promotes self hatred! but if he is a monster now I shudder to think what he would become with such treatment!) Repression, when the need to process arrives, is NOT a good idea.

I will definitely check out "The Body Keeps The Score", I read the body bears the Burden also by a neuroscientist that I enjoyed a lot. I do tend to enjoy these kind of rational approaches too.

Thanks so much Jitterbug. It means a lot to have this validation. And it is lovely to connect with you.

All the very best in this world to you,
EH
"One kind word can warm three winter months"

earthhorse
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by earthhorse » Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:45 pm

Hi Kenazandisaz,


When I read your reply. I was so moved. I feel you have a very powerful precision in your analysis and words. It's incredibly empowering. Thank you!

And as to you disclaimer, I agree there is merit, and nothing is perfect. And if something helps you, it is helpful. And there are some truly lovely things to take from Walker.

I think it is fair though to problematize his use/appropriation of cPTSD dx.it's not just a systemic issue, its on a level here where you and I and others are being unseen and our stories and realities suppressed by the liberal 'expansion', perhaps better said, 'reduction' lets say, of a diagnosis that was meant for US, to be seen, heard, and supported. His work has become a canon. And that disturbs me, because it is so exclusive, dismissive and incomplete. So also feel free people who might read this to treasure his work a little less would be my feeling.

.. feeling a headache actually from this. It's like I have to see him as a benevolent authority figure, and I am not convinced his erasure or self centering is 'innocent', or that he is a neutral/friendly authority on the subject.
In advocating for ‘good’ survivors at the expense of ‘problematic’ ones, which is how I see his bashing of borderline and narcissistic survivors and his erasure of dissociative survivors, he is making himself part of the problem.

You know that's it exactly.

When I think about how queer communities can also hurt and exclude transgender people with their transphobia - the safer space where you can supposedly be yourself and find support rejects you, the space people like you struggled for, it's the most brutal of betrayals, the most brutal blow ... it's incredibly disempowering and isolating.

The irony is transgender people (of color) were not only on the frontlines of fighting for gay rights, they were also on the front lines of fighting for civil rights, ( check out the incredible Dr. Pauli Murray for example, well before Ruth Baden Ginsburg joined the fray). The same goes for survivors of extreme/severe torture and exploitation in childhood. I agree denying their/our humanity, reality and narratives, and space for those, means we keep going backwards. It's like a backlash that hurts the entire community. And as you say, certainly not progress. While not knowing these histories in the first place is why people feel entitled to act on their bigotry. So erasure is one of the most harmful things... to deny our existence, contributions and histories... and indeed control the narrative of representation.

I am a person who survived a lot, not just throughout my childhood but also thereafter. Abuse and traumatic experiences were relentless for the first 25 years of my life UNTIL I got far way from my family and started to recover the incest memories.. Though I never wanted to, and strove not to, let any of this define me, the reality remains my trauma is compounded over a long period of time... ie it's COMPLEX. . and I know for many others it goes on longer than this before we get a chance to recover or find safety...

Just even talking about pasts like this is stigmatizing, regardless of how far you go in life...

Herman helped me feel like I am not the only one, that I am not 'weak', nor inherently flawed, subhuman nor inferior. She was writing for those of us whom experience this kind of ongoing 'taboo' traumas in childhood, unspeakable things, that "should just be left in the past", or no one would even believe, and continuing trauma, ( compounding trauma) thereafter due to not being able to find adequate space, safety and societal support to resolve it. I thought others who identify with cPTSD, can understand living that level of unsafety, stigma and ostracization. The diagnosis felt safe for me, it 'normalized' what I have lived through. Relating to guys like Walker/Levine, it's like there's the well loved priest, exalted by the community, and I'm the circus freak always under suspicion...

When you think about it, all the still great literature, that remains relevant and is in it's umpteenth edition for people who are recovering from incest for instance, seems to have been written over 25 years ago! The trend since the '90s has been this kind of suppression like in Walkers work.

Thank you for listening, and sharing your startling clear, kind and well developed thoughts.

Much warmth and admiration,
EH
"One kind word can warm three winter months"

earthhorse
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by earthhorse » Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:55 pm

Hi Kenazandisaz,

I also just wanted to say. I will find you if and when you want to share. I also find it very hard, i feel such 'otherness' in my abuse story. It's exactly that unspeakable quality... Also because of what I had to do to survive. But mostly my silence is about denial and the fact that it's really hard to live with and confront. I bury fragments all over the place, but can never see it all at once and that's okay.

So just take your time and trust yourself, your feelings and your pace. In any case know you are very welcome here.

Love,
EH
"One kind word can warm three winter months"

earthhorse
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by earthhorse » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:18 pm

Coconuts,

I love this, again i could have said this
To feel so connected and almost normal for what I've been through and the result.. to recognize similarities in stories. To share my horrors with people who don't doubt its truth because it's too out there. And to recognize the horrors others have experienced and all the ugliness that comes with it, without shrinking away in disgust.
You're amazing coconuts. Everything you share here empowers other people too.

I think the thing is, is its so important to be sensitive. To be able to stay present and sensitive with our stories. I don't want to trivialize anyone's experiences, I feel with them, just the thing is when things stay unspoken and unexplained for so many, including ourselves, (I also love what Herman says about not being able to even find words to say it), they and we can't feel with us, can't be sensitive. People desensitize or start to make unfair comparisons. This silence, misrepresentation and desensitization, is part of what makes experiences like ours, dehumanizing.

Thanks so much for sharing your feelings and stories here.

Love,
EH
"One kind word can warm three winter months"

earthhorse
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by earthhorse » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:21 pm

Hi Easystreet,

Just wanted to thank you for your affirmation and recognition in some of the feedback in the thread.

I know you have been dealing with some unspeakable things.

I hope you are safe and okay today.

All the very best to you,
EH
"One kind word can warm three winter months"

EasyStreet
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by EasyStreet » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:31 pm

I have so much to learn from you, EH, and everyone else.

You are all very humbling in a positive, inclusive way, and I’m thankful for that.

Yesterday was actually the best I’ve felt physically and emotionally in about two years ! Today brought new challenges, but so it goes.

Thanks for thinking of me!
EasyStreet
Thanks for being.

dancingfish
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Re: What I love and don't quite trust about Pete Walkers book COMPLEX PTSD from surviving to thriving

Post by dancingfish » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:21 pm

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone writing some interesting and insightful ideas here! Particularly dear earthhorse, you've clearly written out some ideas I realised I'd sensed a little bit but not really understood when reading through Walker's book.

I've been pondering it a bit, partly as I read through various parts and haven't really returned to it for a while. I don't really know the origins of "CPTSD", other than it was used to describe a different form of PTSD that arises through experiencing multiple events, and usually at child/developmental stages. I think perhaps it's starting to be used to now describe a whole spectrum of beyond-PTSD that's still being understood. If anything I felt a bit, hm, guilty when I first mentioned to my t that a bunch of what describes CPTSD described what I'd been experiencing - I hadn't been through SA, RA, trafficking, just a bunch of other stuff. It was useful for me - but I hadn't ever thought that in finding resources relating to me, it was and is taking away from the even more unspoken, invisible hurts of others.

Walker writes to a kind of narrow audience without realising it, I think. As you and others have put it, he writes very much from his own experience (perhaps without realising how much) rather than approaching the subject matter from a more neutral, almost academic viewpoint. I kind of took the reading material at face value, and some parts resonated strongly and others didn't so much at all. (Perhaps they're not relevant for me now, or perhaps they never will be.) The character types kind of made me laugh a bit - it was like suddenly encountering a pop quiz. :) "Do you like the colour green? Then you're an earth person!" etc. It made some sense, but a person is not a simple combination of one or two factors, of course. I guess I went into the book thinking it would be more definitive, and then found it less... formal? Than expected, but without quite realising the extent or ramifications.

What I think I was trying to add on there, that where some texts have broadened/diluted the meaning of CPTSD to a wider, spectrum, say? It's helped some more, but possibly at the cost of those who have a harder path to being seen, and heard, and finding healing. I'm grateful for the former for myself, but it's not right to diminish the hope for others.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights, they're much appreciated. :) I'm not quite able to keep all of them in my head and reply at the moment, but I'll be re-reading this. It somehow feels kind of brave that you were able to take a book of some (positive) renown, and look at it while keeping centred in yourself too. Realising the ways it was not right for you, and indeed for others as well. That takes some perspective and strength, I think - I recall you mentioned the authority figure, and (to my mind) how it's easy to assume they're just correct, without questioning.

Reading along, and sending each and every one of you here much caring, warmth, and a gentle hug if wanted. <3

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