How can re-education help kids growing up in a toxic home?

Following is my response to a question that came up in a forum this week. 

“I believe your “conditioning” question is excellent. There must be a cultural component as well as the reaction to violence causing trauma and the appearance of PTSD symptoms along the way. I know my Dad thought he was doing the right thing by teaching us how to be tough sailors on a ship at war in the Asiatic Pacific Theater. Dad was on the USS Belle Grove LSD2 in seven campaigns, including Iwo Jima during WWII.  His boys at home were seaman to him, so he kicked us around violently at times. But we were not mature enough to understand. I believe you are on to something important that includes “conditioning” and learning behaviors from mentors, kind of like “brain washing” if you will. If you are exposed to this type toxic culture as a little kid and throughout your young life you acquire your parents beliefs until there is an opportunity to learn from others i.e., re-education as you say. My research conclusions include a “lessons learned” and a model for self discovery to aid in the re-conditioning or healing process. Thanks very much for the question. Hope we can continue the conversation. I learned something new.”

The after-school program offered at is an example of a great place for all children to see a more typical and positive mentoring culture and receive the kind of re-education or re-conditioning referred to in the above answer.

“The Secret to You” is a must share video!

 “The Secret to You” video is beautiful and becomes a launching pad to take my work on intergenerational PTSD to a new level.  My book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story is near completion.  Publication and distribution as an e-book is an interesting alternative.’s CreateSpace Self Publishing is an exciting prospect along with Signalman Publishing.   The next step and fun part begins.  Also submitted a copyright registration application to protect my work.  I still feel writing the book has changed my life.

Now that my book is close to publication, there will be fewer excerpts going forward.  I want to start sharing other resources for those interested in this subject.   Check out

“He returned from war a changed man.”

The August 29, 2011 issue of, page 95, “Can Corporal Ian Manning Save His Marriage,” really got my attention.  Corporal Manning received help from Project Sanctuary, for PTSD and a mild traumatic brain injury.   While it is encouraging to see that our combat veterans returning home can get help, it is sad to be reminded of how PTSD and brain injury can change a person’s life completely.  It is also clear that spouses and other family members “serve” too!  This is a must read for those interested in this subject and helps to motivate me to make a difference with my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.

The “Me, I” Culture

Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.

In a toxic family where PTSD symptoms persist as a result of prolonged abuse and trauma, there is no real family unit.  In this environment there is the perception that no one has your back.  You are basically alone protecting and defending your turf and position.  There is a high level of anxiety and insecurity that grows out of a motivation to survive rather than growing and thriving together as a team with common goals and parental leadership.

I learned something highly important very early in my professional life that was not translated to interactions with family members until many years later.  While learning and getting some good coaching in the sales business, the word “I” was considered poison in verbal and written communications.  My early career mentors and bosses jumped on me often for using the word “I” as a team member and in working with customers.  It was clear from the start that the word “we” carried so much more weight and generated significant positive response once it became a habit to avoid using “I” to reference almost anything.  When using “I” it was deliberate and most appropriate at all times.  My world changed very quickly in terms of leadership qualities and success in selling once “we” became my favorite word.

In all the years of fighting and arguing with family members and in trying to make my marriage work, including relationships with children, it has been a relatively recent discovery that “we” is most definitely appropriate in building strong relationships at the personal level, especially with family members.  It is most noted that when family members focus on themselves in solving problems, nothing constructive ever happens.  All my siblings, including parents, and myself have not been team players for most of our lives.  I hear the word “I” and “me” far too often, still to this day.  It is my sincere opinion that the sooner all of us make the family relationship bigger than ourselves, we will all be on the road to healing and recovery in a more expedient manner.  It is so much easier to communicate with people in general when “we” is in context at all times.  We are making good progress and in writing this story, it is beginning to become apparent that my brothers and sister think about the value of “we” more now than ever.  I definitely dislike hearing the use of “I” most of the time.  The reality is that for most things in life it is “we” who develop unconditional love together as a family unit.  Unconditional love is not possible in the context of “I.”

PTSD and Anxiety Treatment Helps Soldiers Returning Home from War

Following is a quote and excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.

“Alpha-Stim cranial electrotherapy stimulation is a technology cleared by the FDA and the DOD/VA for use as sole or complementary treatment for anxiety, insomnia, PTSD and more. The technology is showing promise with soldiers returning home from war with tons of information at
Mineral Wells, TX, March 31, 2011 –(– 3 out of 4 veterans are now choosing a new technology for the treatment of anxiety, mood disorder, stress and PTSD. Alpha-Stim technology by Electro-medical Products International, Inc. is a pocket-sized device with electrodes emitting from it that go onto the ear by the way of ear clips. A low level current in a precise wave form is then delivered into the brain for twenty to sixty minute sessions at a time.

The technology is cleared by the FDA and the DOD/VA as a standalone or complementary treatment for a variety of ailments. The costs of the treatment are minimal and each Alpha-Stim device comes with a five year warranty. According to Daniel L. Kirsch PhD, Chairman of Electromedical Products International, the company that designed the Alpha-Stim technology, side effects are rare, minor and self limiting. The side effects the doctor mentions include headaches and skin reactions at the electrode sites.

Recently, Alpha-Stim technology has shown promise with members of the armed forces. In 2005, Alpha-Stim was included in the Federal Supply Schedule for the DOD/VA and the US Army is currently using Alpha-Stim technology in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder and for chronic pain. In fact, according to the manufacturer, more than 63 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers have ordered the devices for the treatment of various ailments and 3 out of 4 veterans choose the technology for their treatment over 4 other choices in a VA study.”

How does it feel when healing is in motion?

Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story

“I know from my own experience as a survivor of inter-generational PTSD that the pain at times is overwhelming and highly challenging to treat and mitigate.  In my case, life has felt like a race to get somewhere fast, but never fast enough.  If I slowed down for just a moment, the knot in my gut would return bringing on anxiety and the drive to get back into the race to nowhere.  I did not know how to relax and be at peace until later in my life.  It was not until I could spend most of my time in retirement thinking about others and helping others that the anxiety started to subside.  Admittedly, medications to relieve anxiety and depression if used correctly have been a huge help to me over the years.  I can well understand how brain chemistry can be adjusted to bring relief to symptoms.  Having an exercise regimen all my adult life has been a natural medication for relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression as well.  The one bad medication to stay away from is alcohol, period.”

It is extremely difficult and risky to reveal any kind of mental disorder, even in my day and anytime.

Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.
“Before moving on with the story, it is healthy to again acknowledge my “big secret.”  I decided when not getting the job at General Telephone in 1965 and the reason of “emotional instability” on my Navy record would never ever come up in any discussion.  My story would center on getting a “hardship discharge” due to severe family issues at home.  It was far too risky at the time to share this kind of perceived damaging information with anybody anytime, even those close to me.  I felt that my entire life and career, including earnings potential would be compromised if this got out.  Consequently, I learned how to compartmentalize the diagnosis, put it away for good, and pretend there was never any mental problem on my part.  On the surface, this worked as long as my ego was fed appropriately and adequately with my life moving along at a rapid rate, including an abundance of positive, ego building stimuli.  As a leader, even observing and experiencing the success of others working for or with me provided the same ego building fuel.  I thrived in a team environment working around professional people with lots of intensity and a drive to succeed.  The down times, although not often, considering work, school, falling in love, etc., were difficult.  Sleep was hard to come by, relaxing was difficult, and there was always a throbbing sort of uncomfortable feeling in my chest.  It was always there, and never went away until later in life.   Moderate use of alcohol was helpful, and occasional marijuana use was cool as well.  My priorities of work and school were so strong that I needed to be in control of everything all the time.”

The gift of unconditional love is a blessing and critical to healing from mental or physical wounds.

This excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story,  honors my wife Judy on this day, her birthday, and the gift of unconditional love.  I’m a very lucky man!
“When Judy looked at me in the eyes and said that she would leave me if I didn’t stop drinking, I was shocked.  From that point 11 years ago on August 12, 2000 to this day, our 27th anniversary, April 21, 2011, alcohol has not been part of my life.  There was no way I would give up the best thing that ever happened to me in my life.  And the days ahead got better and better.  Medications worked to help me with pain for severe arthritis and were also beneficial to address PTSD symptoms.  I kept my promise to Judy and to Sarah not to drink alchohol anymore.  They both have supported me 100% and helped me through the early part of the transition.  Fortunately, I just quit and received some therapy and did not have to deal with the addiction problems that can make a recovery far more difficult.  I was lucky.  I do think unconditional love has been a strong enough motivation to give me that extra strength to recover and to stay strong.”

Living with the feeling that life will be cut short anytime can be both troubling and exciting.

Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.
I’ve always had this feeling that my life would be cut short somehow along the way, and had a sense of urgency to move fast and make it big news.  Cutting my career short and moving to the beautiful mountains surrounding Leavenworth, Washington in 1990, was a monster move!  During the late 80’s my career with Nortel Networks in the information technology industry was at an unbelievable high point.  I really didn’t deserve all this success.  I was born and raised in a “second class” home for starters.  Why did I deserve to become a vice president of sales of a Fortune 500 company making well into a six figure income, living in a 5000 square foot home near the Atlanta Golf and Country Club in Duluth, Georgia?  Well, I worked my ass off and pushed people around and out of the way to succeed.  I finally graduated from college with a BA in Management from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Ca.  I was married to Judy, a beautiful blue eyed, petite, sexy, athletic and adventurous lady who loved to take a calculated risk with me.  I was fortunate to have another chance at being a father with the adoption of our little girl, Sarah, who changed our lives completely.  I was on the fast track and had to somehow get the hell out and take advantage of our dream to build a log home and live in the mountains before life ended.  This was the kind of sense of urgency and PTSD symptom that moved me for many years; until starting life over and learning how to slow down in a small town tucked away in the beautiful Icicle Valley about two miles from town.  And life begins again with a surreal feeling of being someplace very special to share with my family.