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

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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 Jitterbug »

Hello dancingfish,

Lovely to see your name appear. I found your post very moving. That kind of thoughtfulness, sensitivity and solidarity is what makes this site and the people here contributing so precious. Thank you.

Dear EH,

Your posts resonate so strongly for me. In particular your observations about the unhelpful appropriation of techniques not suited to your needs and their harm within a long period of therapy - that really struck a chord. I am so sorry that that relationship was so repressive and caused you so much toxic pain, shame, anxiety and self doubt. It has sparked more than a few uncomfortable realisations about my own 11 year therapy. So much of what you said about your experience rang true for me. Not all, but I definitely need to reflect of this some more. Really really happy to read you are feeling in a much better space, having found some much better suited therapy! (((( EH ))))

Hello everyone else
Every contribution from each individual in this thread has been immensely helpful and validating. Thank you all for that. I want to engage more, but it's a little like wading thru treacle over here, ( :roll: ) so I am very grateful for all your combined sensitive articulacy and clarity. x

With much much warm caring,

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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 there »

I've arrived late to this discussion, or maybe there's no time limit.
I read some of what's published on Pete Walker's website after somebody from here told me they were reading his book.
My most recent and (mostly decent) T did tell me I have cPTSD. She's an LicSW, not a psychiatrist. Honestly, in my experience, to some extent, the higher up the academic qualifications go, the more distance from the truth of survivor's lives.
I'll give him some credit for being a survivor of abuse and from that, trying to help anyone .
I've experienced a LoT of abuse from 'mental health professionals' who generously donated to my cPTSD storehouse. :lol: And that's a mark of my healing that I can laugh at some of the painful wounds. The wounds or inflicted were inflicted through systematic Power over tactics, including social isolation, denial of my stated truth, denial of my abilities personhood, to name a few.
What's important to me now is recognizing and building my own authority in my life, of my life and my truth.
It seems Pete Walker could have used more truth in his book. For instance, he could have, if you didn't, stated that his book book has inherent limitations, and reflects his own particular experience of abuse.
What I hear in this thread is that Pete Walker, and unnamed other 'mental health professionals' further abuse survivors by exploiting them. They exploit survivors through something like a form of cultural appropriation.
Another thing that I won't get into too much, is that I live in a place where Dr.Judith Herman, and Dr. Besser van der Kolk instituted their work. Through programs started by them and based on their work, I've had both services and disservices.
All women are beautiful. Period.
I deserve better than survival.
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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 Oceantide »

Hello EH and everyone,

It's so refreshing to read comments that resonate with mine. I'm posting this 2+years after this thread, but just joined isurvive, so am catching up.

Yes to the Drama of the Gifted Child (which I read in 2006). Yes to Judith Herman (~2009).

I initially resonated with Levine (~2010) because I didn't believe my pre-verbal memories. Levine's description of mammals returning to the scene of the crime, or 2yo crash victims to the scene of the plane crash, made sense to me because after returning from years "escaping" overseas I mysteriously chose to live in a small town in my home state, many miles from my workplace, but just 5 min. from the highway rest stop where I was raped in a car by my father as a baby. Two years after "remembering" the rape in SE therapy (I didn't know I was in a car and thought I was 18 months, but knew it was my father) my mother wrote me an email validating my SE memory: "You've never told me what happened to you, but God revealed to me that the incest started at age 1, when your father was stopped by a policeman who accused him of abusing you during a diaper change at a rest stop. He told me it was traumatic to be accused of this. I believed him then, and don't know what to believe today." Right.

But once I "trusted" my body memories, the SE therapy went south for me as well. The SE therapist didn't know about DID, and was horrified when I switched 6 times in rapid succession at my final session. Those 8yo parts were so angry at her. She was skilled at SE but perpetuated ignorance. Like EH, I spent a lot of time and resources on SE therapy.

By the time I encountered Pete Walker I was aware of the SA RA MC. I recall feeling alienated and angry. So thanks for your articulate analysis, EH.
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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 Progress »

I came back to find this original post, EH. I remember reading it quite a while ago.

I am so thankful for this, because I don’t understand my depression. I mean, of course my personal history would make me depressed, but, why is my depression everywhere, all the time in my psyche? Medication gives me a break from it but it is always there. It’s my baseline. And I would prefer to feel happy. (No duh, right?)

I wake up in the morning- depression. I have my coffee, depression. I get in my car- depression. I switch parts, who knows how many times - depression. Depression. Depression.

And what do I *do* about it? I’ve tried digging into the pain. But I don’t process it. I don’t know how. I just get mired in it and it spirals into worse depression. How do I fix this? Besides a short 5hour reprieve with medication that increases my dopamine levels? (And then a crash that makes it even worse.)

Maybe Pete Walker’s book has the answer. Abandonment Depression. Hmm. Interesting. That feels like it fits. I wasn’t outright physically abandoned, like left in a box at a train station. It was emotional abandonment day in and day out. It was grasping at hope after hope after hope of:
seeing signs of, feeling the emotions of, sensing comfort of: physical and emotional safety and confidence in my identity as a new person on the planet!- a small helpless person (a baby!) whose needs can be expressed and met. Who feels loved and cherished.

Instead I received ice cold blank stares. And I am quite sure that my resulting depression caused my parents to be both angry at me (momster) and act weird (frankenfather). They had their own methods of trying to make me appear happy, play the part of the happy, healthy, well-adjusted child. My frankenfather would use one hand and touch the corners of my mouth with his fingers and thumb and push my frown up into a smile. And he wouldn’t leave me alone until I made my own fake smile. Bizarre. My momster would just spit more anger and cold silence and fire and ice at me and my depression.

Thank goodness this thread is here, because if I got Walker’s book and jumped in without the very applicable warnings, (THANK YOU SO MUCH earthhorse!) I would probably dissociate, feel ashamed, and then throw his book in the trash. And feel like a huge loooosah (loser.)

I think if I am careful, I have an awful lot to gain from the parts about Abandonment Depression. Is this the missing link for me? I mean, I have a lot (a lot-a lot) of puzzle pieces still to put together. I know I switch, but I don’t know my parts yet, and I find myself asking “who am I right now?” Yeah so there’s that. BUT, the depression thing has been a nightmare. And it’s this huge unknown, as in, what can I do about it. It’s like trying to put a nail through water and make the water stay still!

Not too long ago I would wake up every morning with excruciating depression. Absolutely excruciating. It’s been lighter for quite a while now, but it’s always there. The excruciating depression is so hard to describe. In a previous post I think I called it a “living hell”. It’s not sadness, it’s not grief. It’s yeah, a living hell. Even when I’m feeling pretty profound depression, I can still say to myself, this sucks, but it is NOTHING compared to that excruciating depression, so we (my system) can push, and fire it up, and go get some things done.

Anyway, maybe I will start with Walker’s website and see what I can see. Do I dare feel a glimmer of hope? Cautiously optimistic. That’s the plan.

PS This thread holds so many more interesting thoughts that I feel may apply to me…more to dissect later about the type of patient/client I am. I am one of the lucky ones in that my fawning response comes across pleasantly. One of my daughters however, just told me that she just got a Borderline diagnosis. That’s one of the types of trauma responses that it seems like many of the books just brush under the rug as incurable. Yeah well, not on my watch!!!! My daughter is a great kid and she deserves better than that!
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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 Scars »

to EH and everyone,

have totally enjoyed this discussion
started reading this book and would get glimpses of helpful info mixed with the feeling that the text didn't fit me and my situation.
I put it down because he seemed to be blaming everything on parent abandonment/betrayal.
in my case the abuse was outside the family and my parents were unaware.
i do not feel that they abandoned or betrayed me.

i started reading SOUL WITHOUT SHAME: A Guide to Liberating Yourself From the Judge Within by Byron Brown
I am getting a lot out of this book about dealing with my inner-critic who seems intent on crushing me lately
if anyone has read it, i would love to hear/read your thoughts on it.

This too shall pass. it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.
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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 Progress »

Holy bejeebus!!

I got my PeteWalker book, and right away on page 3 he “defines” C-PTSD.

Thank heavens I was forewarned about the flaws of this book. I flipped through it starting at the back. Idk why I do that sometimes. (Shrug) Glad I did!

It looks amazing and fabulous when it comes to abandonment/attachment depression. And probably a lot of other things. I will still read it, and I think this is one of my missing links for my recovery.

But OMG! He gives THE MOST RIDICULOUS, OFFENSIVE DEFINITION of the difference between regular PTSD and C-PTSD.

Holy crap! I am actually embarrassed for him, it is so bad. Sure, the features he lists are in fact, very troublesome features of C-PTSD which are not features of regular PTSD. But to claim that those are the only differences?!?!?! Wth?!?! Maybe he had a bad editor that added the bold print title at the top of this section - Definition of Complex PTSD

Because what he goes on to describe is NOT the definition of C-PTSD. It is *descriptive* of one piece of it. It is absolutely ONLY one portion of C-PTSD.But it is certainly not an inclusive definition.

Uh oh. Here comes my Ball of Fire.

That dude was never *****. He never suffered ******** at the hands of a caregiver. He was never tortured or sold or drugged. He was never told sweet nothings and then ******* by a father or uncle or grandfather. And he thinks he can DEFINE C-PTSD? Not for me! ****** no. And most likely, not for any of us! That’s for damn sure.

His book will be extremely helpful to me, and I respect his experience and the abuse he suffered, but just who in the heck does he think he is to re-define C-PTSD? AND GET IT SOOOOO WRONG?!?!?

Phewf. Good thing I had a heads up on this one, because in the end, I think this book will be an amazing tool in my healing. He seems like a fabulous intuitive writer and really nails the abandonment stuff. But I feel lucky I was warned, otherwise this book would be in the trash.

Just my two-cents……
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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 Progress »

ST for one of my angry rants - language

“A learned set of responses”?!?!?! Shut the front door!

Mad! This makes me soooo mad. Seriously, wtf?!?! Wtaf?!?!?

Pete Walker’s book. I was skipping around at first but decided to go back and start on page one. Right there on page one.

Boom. It’s my fault. C-PTSD is my fault, is it really now!?!?! “Learned responses”?!?! As in, I thought about what was happening to me, and I learned and chose the best way to protect myself?!?! Silly old childish me, I guess?

Sorry Charlie. When my mind broke into a thousand pieces THERE WAS NOTHING “LEARNED” about that. Like as if I had a trial and error phase of “learning” what techniques would work best to help me hide the pain from myself??? Seriously??

Sorry but no. My mind shattered into a thousand pieces when I was so small. That moment with my grandfather, sitting on that wooden table. I didn’t “learn” that response. My mind no longer accepted reality. I didn’t “learn” that and I didn’t choose it.

Just like the weakened glass mixing bowl in my cabinet that I barely touched the other day with another bowl. And KA-BOOM. It shattered everywhere! Shards cut my hand in three places. I ended up holding a small piece of the handle between my ring and middle finger somehow. I stared in shock at shattered glass that somehow flew out and then back onto the shelf below it. How? I mean. Physics. Right??? This defied the laws of physics! It made no sense. And then shards were all over the original shelf, the counter, the floor, on me, inside the Tupperware inside the BOTTOM SHELF. How could the pieces be so…everywhere?

No logic. Just a bizarre explosion of shattered glass. It got on EVERYTHING.

I got cut, I was bleeding, I was in shock, and I was confused. And I held onto a random piece of the handle with my non-dominant fingers of my non-dominant hand. I stared at the piece of the handle in between my fingers. Huh???

So symbolic. I mean right? The glass mixing bowl was like my mind.

And then the clean up began. I had so many other things to do, but cleaning up the broken shards was the priority so myself and no one else got hurt any further. Clean up so that there weren’t pieces in the sugar bowl and in the Tupperware and measuring cups and little mini banana bread bakeware thingys.

I got cut a few more times. It was painstaking. I mean this thing SHATTERED like I’ve never seen glassware shatter before. Tiny little minuscule pieces got stuck in my fingers. They were everywhere.

I didn’t “learn” to shatter this glass mixing bowl, and I sure as hell didn’t “learn to not shatter it” because it was OUT OF MY CONTROL. I should be able to touch a glass mixing bowl with another bowl, without a massive explosion and huge mess and injury to myself! Just like childhood me should be able to be around the people who take care of me without being abused, without my mind shattering into a thousand pieces.

Dude needs to stay in his lane. That’s all I’m saying. I found page one to be quite damaging and triggering. Like this, this C-PTSD is MY FAULT. Like I screwed up and now I have to fix it. Yeah, fine, I am stuck having to fix it, but saying I “learned” it?!?! Offensive. That’s offensive. I’m mad that he made me feel shame and sadness. Like an idiot. Like I’m supposed to be sorry for choosing survival skills that are so damaging to me as an adult.

Maybe Pete Walker and I don’t hold the same meaning of the word “learn”. Eh. No. He’s just completely missing a huge component of C-PTSD.

So there.

Phewf. Ok anger released. Maybe I’ll get a highlighter for the good parts (yes there are good parts!!!) and a pen to cross out the stupid parts. Hmph. Good heavens- triggered into shame and dissociation by a C-PTSD book. Eye roll.

Thanks isurvive for letting me rant.

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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 Progress »

Geez, I just can’t let it go, can I?

Ok, so PW is trying to say that if we have C-PTSD- great news everybody! It’s not an inherent character flaw! Wheee! It’s not an inborn disability! It’s not written in our DNA! (Ha. Or is it?) Play the marching bands and start the parade! We can fix it! (Ok fine, that’s sort of a fair point, that we will be responsible for our own healing.)

But to say our symptoms are “learned”. Ouch. Yeh, yeh, I certainly “learned” some ways to best cope with my parents’ emotional and psychological abuse. But even if I contain my thoughts to the categories of emotional & psychological abuse, I didn’t “learn” depression. What am I supposed to think? That I can “unlearn” depression?

And then, “Unlearn” DID? Unlearn de-realization? Unlearn flashbacks of sa? Preposterous. Asinine. Ridiculous.

I’m still triggered. Still foggy. Still sorting this trigger out in my head. Still dysfunctionally trying so hard to make PW right and me wrong.

I had bad dreams, woke up fighting off a migraine, thought reading would be a good idea (I’m so dumb sometimes). I guess I was in a bit of a weakened state when I read this stuff on page one.

Maybe I really am missing something. I’m misinterpreting it. Projecting.

But no! It’s not me! Right out of the gate he says C-PTSD is a disorder caused by nurture (or lack of it) not nature.

Um, C-PTSD is caused by repeated physical and sexual attacks in childhood often by a “trusted” caregiver. And yes, additionally by emotional and psychological abuse.

If anyone were to give me advice right now, it would probably be- time to do something else. Stop fixating. :-)

Ok, ok, I have dishes and laundry to do! Some physical activity will get me going.

My rant is *really* over this time. (Is it! Hehe- I hope so!)

Take care everybody! And if anyone ever makes you think in any way that C-PTSD is your fault. Heck no. Just, no.

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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 »

Hi Progress,

I guess I started out with Judith Herman. So, you know that broad emancipatory, socio-historically and clinically based view compared to some useful but some harmful things in Pete Walkers anecdotal treatise on (C)PTSD .... needless to say there are huge discrepancies. What made me mad essentially, like you, is he more than once misses the point of the DX - ie no more victim blaming, let's talk about why people are in distress and what happened to them to cause that, and why we as a society/culture don't stop this from happening to people, and well some honesty about psychiatry's complicity in oppressing people not healing them, and trying to change that. That was Hermans mission - it is thus very wrong to appropriate the DX to do anything other than this, and especially to work against that very mission.

I am now in the mill of the psychiatric world, and I have come a lot into contact with the idea that next to trauma being traumatizing, there are "innate" aspects of a person that make them less able to be trauma resilient. I reject this. I still hold more to what Judith Herman explained, that it doesn't matter how tough or resilient you are, there are circumstances that break everyone, and she basically backs this up with a lot of evidence.

What she also goes into, is the social dynamic of victim blaming. And you know a brilliant decolonial psychiatrist Fanon also touches on this, our very vulnerability socially makes us more vulnerable to traumatization and compounded trauma by mistreatment. And I think this also extends to sensitive people, the response to people who feel or show feeling, can often be dehumanizing and aggressive. This in itself is traumatizing - repeated punishment and suppression for just being who you are. Being sensitive or neuro-diverse is not a personal or inherent fault per se, it's just you are literally punished a lot for not conforming, if you are born this way. And in my view that is not the sign of anything wrong with that person, but everything to do with doing wrong to other people. Many people with ADHD for instance, also have PTSD, even if they had relatively "safe" childhoods.

It's tough for your daughter to have that BPD DX. I am glad she has a wonderful mom like you. I hope she can own it to truly get the help she wants or needs, but that if at any moment it doesn't fit or feel helpful any more that she feels free to seek at least a second opinion or to critically dismantle the DX itself and reject in favour of something that is more helpful.

Always loving your style,

"One kind word can warm three winter months"
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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 Progress »

Omg, what kind of a sinister backlash do we have brewing up NOW?!

If we were born weak, we are more prone to being damaged by trauma? Whaaaaaat?!?!

What kind of blasphemy is this now?!?!?! RIDICULOUS! Sooooo hurtful and shame-inducing! So, apparently I started out broken? Faulty? Even before I was abused?

Well damn, if only I was born a better human, I could’ve resisted the damage from the abuse and trauma. Like the better type of humans out there. Who were born resilient and strong and capable.

What kind of Sam-hell bleepedy-bleep-bleep-bleep is this????

There is no end of well-educated MORONS who will find ways to victim blame, I mean right??? I thought it was 2022!!! Oh please, who am I kidding. Our society is medieval at best when it comes to victim blaming! Why is this field so prone to such imbecilic theorists??

My sibling is one of the most amazing people on the planet. No joke- they’re the type these experts would say are far more resilient than “weak” trauma victims like me. My sib’s trauma is deeply contained and completely hidden from consciousness. This has allowed them to function on an outstanding level.

However, my gut tells me that one tiny crack in that armor could be more devastating than what the rest of my siblings are enduring in our journeys, in which we have some awareness of our trauma. I hope beyond hope my sib’s walls stay up.

For the damn record:


At the same time, I admit to myself and others that my MDD is back. :-( I will not be able to function well.
This is not my fault. It is not because I am weak. It is because evil monsters brutalized me throughout my babyhood and childhood.

This new theory is right up there with False Memory Syndrome. Or maybe up there with Freud devolving his csa research into that weird stuff about children having weird sexual desires.

Ugh. Sooooooo stupid. It’s all sooooo stupid.

Medals of Valor for us all, for the work we do.

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