Monthly Archives: October 2013

Is there a gene for forgetting? Is this a potential treatment for trauma victims?

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version. Thank you! 

A gene for forgetting?  Quote from this website…

“A new study from MIT reveals a gene that is critical to the process of memory extinction (when older memories are replaced with new experiences).

Enhancing the activity of this gene, known as Tet1, might benefit people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by making it easier to replace fearful memories with more positive associations, says Li-Huei Tsai, director of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.”
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This is a fascinating subject to ponder, “a gene for forgetting.”  As a trauma victim memory loss has been very much a subject of interest and concern to me.  I have significant memory loss between the ages of 5 & 10.  I also experienced a total memory loss during a 6 month period in 1965 while serving in the US Navy.  I was aboard the USS Coucal (ASR8) as a temporary assignment while being treated for what was diagnosed at the time as (pre PTSD) severe depression and anxiety… The idea was to put me somewhere with little or no stress to see if it would help my condition.  I have virtually no memory of being aboard the USS Coucal during this period of time…
 
I wonder about memory loss in general to this day, especially early childhood during the “too terrible to remember 50’s” as coined by me.  I also think about the 6 months referenced in the US Navy when my memory failed.  What occurs to me is a debate on whether it is good for a trauma victim to not remember certain traumatic life events.  Most of the conversation with mental health professionals and others suggest that not remembering certain events for a trauma victim is a good thing.  I tend to agree, but still have trouble rationalizing memory loss in the context of the value of healing.  My question is always, “how would remembering help the process of healing?”  Would remembering “what happened to me” during these periods help bring more peace of mind?  Were these events so terrible that remembering would be counter productive?  All I know is that my own journey of healing at this point has proven very positive with relative peace of mind a reality for the first time in my life.  I wonder where we want to go with research on the subject of manipulating genes that may help trauma victims to forget?  I remain curious and hope to learn more as the research continues.  My readers and followers may want to comment on this subject.  I would very much appreciate more conversation.
 
Steve Sparks
Author

Honoring Military “Brats” with the BratPin! Military children and families serve too!

BratPin

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version. Thank you! 

http://www.bratpin.com/  Quote from this website…

“Simple, yet elegant. I wanted a dandelion showing the seeds as they begin to leave the ‘puff ball.’  I thought this would symbolize us as we leave our Military childhoods. Some leave, others are left behind for a while. Might even look upon it as a graduating senior class – scattering to the winds.
Then a Brat suggested using a ‘dog tag’ chain as the border! How cool is this? So, in the end, we came up with this, the BratPin!  Simple, yet elegant. Visit The BratPin Store to purchase yours.”
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When I first left my military childhood at age 17, I had no idea how important this experience would be in my life, especially now as an aging boomer and US Navy veteran.  The discipline and structure of our military home culture was very difficult at times and made us kids feel different than others.  It was tough making friends because we didn’t stay long in any one place.  Dad was a US Navy WWII and Korean War Veteran who spent more than his share of time in combat and suffered dearly in life after war. 

We “Brats” became caregivers as well.  We felt the pain of our parents struggling with military life and the emotional challenges connected with the horrors of war Dad lived with long after the wars were over.  I often remind my readers that military children and families serve too!  The war never ends in the home of countless military families long after parents return home from deployments in combat.  We “Brats” along with our loved ones live with the memories of post war life for our entire life.  We know how to make adjustments and learn how to take ownership.  We all survive and thrive and most often become better Americans and parents for the experience.  Being a military child does include adventure and travel around the globe and a unique learning experience.  Unlike the life experience of typical kids, however, military brats carry the responsibility of making lots of adjustments and growing up fast.  So, it is my pleasure and honor to help share the stories of military children and families using this blog platform and in publishing my book.  I am proud of my military child experience that provided me with a special understanding and awareness of the huge cost Americans pay to protect our freedoms.  As a US Navy veteran, I was also proud to serve America honorably during the Vietnam era.  As an aging veteran and boomer, I continue to serve America and my local community by helping others become more aware of the cost of freedom and the importance of making a difference in the lives of others…especially children in my work with Neighbors for Kids.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Survivors of extreme abuse can become the very best healers…It is a result of their own journey of healing…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version. Thank you! 



George Frink
@gwfrink3

Recovering journalist, software/network tech junkie (java, lisp, c++, SQL, etc), cook, writing those novels, blogger

Raleigh, N.C. 27605 ·          

“The overwhelming majority of victims of extreme child abuse grow up to be compassionate, loving people & never abuse anyone.”  George Frink… Facebook…


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I have not emphasized enough that we survivors often become the best healers on the planet.  Although many of us live with the emotional challenges of child abuse and emotional neglect, it does not mean that we become abusers ourselves.  In fact, most of us who “survive and thrive” do quite well in the spirit of healing others while we embark on the journey of healing ourselves.

George Frink, a journalist who follows my blog, was kind enough to give me feedback this last week on one of my posts…”Child Abuse Kills a Kids Soul…PTSD: The War Within” by Ginger Kadlec.  George simply took exception to the characterization of becoming “soulless” implied in “kills a kid’s soul.”  He further stated that the “overwhelming majority of victims of extreme abuse grow up to be compassionate, loving people and never abuse anyone.”  I definitely agree and would never intentionally suggest that abuse actually kills the soul.  My research, personal experience, and in hearing so many stories over the years, shows that when given the opportunity, those who experience extreme abuse as children often become healers themselves.  In fact, what we achieve through more awareness and in conversation has the potential to empower survivors of abuse to be healers and make a difference in the lives of others…

It is a proven fact, however, that extreme child abuse causes emotional damage in young children as they observe and live with toxic conditions at home early in life and through the teenage years.  And in the context of “emotional neglect” of children living in a home with parents who suffer from PTSD, adequate treatment is critical in helping a young adult move forward to achieve a long term healthy and happy quality of life.  Otherwise, the damage hangs on and can transfer to the next generation as it often does with the symptoms of Secondary PTSD and Complex PTSD.  We also discuss treatment in the context of “moral injury” and “soul repair.”  Abuse can compromise an individual’s moral compass and consequently confuse the sense of right and wrong.  It often takes a lifetime of treatment and support to repair the damage of moral injury from experiencing traumatic events, including combat stress in the case of warriors.

I don’t believe we humans ever become “soulless” as a result of prolonged traumatic experiences or events in life.  I do believe from my own childhood and young adult experience living in a highly volatile and scary home, that the soul or the sense of right and wrong can be damaged and in need of repair.  It took me many years to get my soul back on track.  It would have taken much less time to begin my own journey of healing if there was awareness and treatment much earlier in life.  But it is never too late!  Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the latest alternative treatment strategies available that can make a huge difference in your life and in the lives of those you love…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

“If not treated correctly “your” (PTSD) experience will be transferred to the next generation.” Children will “inhale” the parental pain and they will store it.” by Rob Sentse

Is “shame” at the root of PTSD survivors avoiding treatment?   Quoting from my recent post…

“Even to this day with all the research, awareness, and knowledge of PTSD along with treatment strategies, most folks are still ignorant and in denial, especially family members.  Consequently, we survivors must also learn the skills of thriving during our life long journey of healing.  You do the best you can to engage in outreach and treatment strategies that are effective.  But you must also keep in mind that we are a long way from becoming a society that is more completely intelligent and compassionate toward others who live with mental health challenges…  Acceptance of others plays a big part in the process of healing.  It isn’t easy but it is critical in living a healthy, happy, and productive quality of life after trauma…”  Steve Sparks

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OR PROVIDERS, COMBAT VETERANS & THEIR FAMILISES

LITARY MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS POST DEPLOYMENT F

 

 
 
The tyranny of other people’s eyes
 
Is it shame or is it more a lack of mutual empathy, honesty, credibility, trust and reliability?
Don’t judge people (very safe to do as you only have to agree with yourself) …. take care of them (challenging as now you need to address your social and emotional skills)

Within government organizations such as army, police, fire brigade and ambulance; staff execute their profession mainly because of intrinsic involvement, motivation and because of community involvement.
Especially within the Army, Police force, Fire services and Paramedic organizations the time has come to create an open working atmosphere and more emotional safety in the work-environment and by that creating more space for self-reflective and self critical feedback.
This will also lead to more job satisfaction, more feedback and less “feet in the back.”

Having said that, the following might be the very reason to lose the shame because (your) children do feel the intra-personal difficulty parents suffering from traumatic events.
Children have the intrinsic need for role models and exemplary behavior. Children appear to store the pain in their subconscious, they will suffer along becoming traumatised at the end. The intra-personal instability can result in (inter-personal) deviant behaviour with a traumatic outcome.

Suffering from traumatic events and experiences is not an exclusive personal problem.
If not treated correctly “your” experience will be transferred to the next generation. When one of the parents is traumatised, children will “inhale” the parental pain and they will store it.
Sons and daughters will copy the lack of self control and they will integrate the pain and powerless feelings into their system and their future life.

The challenge here is how to shape the conditions to create a safety net, or even better, a society without any shame in which a social network / safety net at micro-level surrounds traumatised persons to deploy, maintain and support a positive and healthy personal future.

Healthcare, looking after each other …. just some of the the indications for a civilised!! and developed!! society.

By Rob Sentse, Bc.
 

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version. Thank you! 

“Growing Old is a Privilege Denied to Many. Says WWII Veteran…”

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
“WASHINGTON, March 12, 2001 – “Don’t regret growing old, it’s a privilege denied to many,” reads a sign on the wall of 87-year-old Bertha “Birdie” Gelfer’s small, tastefully decorated room here at the Soldiers’ and Airman’s Home.”
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My Grandson, Joey, gave me a book sometime ago entitled, The Elder Within, the Source of Mature Masculinity, by Terry Jones. Jones dispels the belief that our final years should be either of self-indulgence in our motor homes and on the Florida beaches, or of sitting around wondering why we can’t be young. He provides all sorts of ways to be in truly enjoyable service, and suggests that our indulgence can come in the form of sharing our stories and watching as our mentor-ship makes a difference in the earth, our community, or in the life of a men-tee.”

I was also reminded this past week that we boomers have the “privilege” of growing older that so many have not, including the warriors and 1st responders who have given the ultimate sacrifice fighting to protect our freedoms during the 20th and early 21st Centuries…  Thinking about my own demise is a tad scary as a normal human reaction, but when taking into account the joys and rewards of growing older, I am mindful once again of living in the moment.  I am especially grateful for having the opportunity of making a difference in the lives of others.  When we focus on mentor ship as aging citizens we can reinvent ourselves with new purpose and freedom to do the job we were set out to do in the first place, to be the source of leadership and inspiration to others who count on us being present and proactive in our community at large.  

My own work with Neighbors for Kids, publishing a book, writing this blog, and public speaking, has transformed my post retirement life completely, giving purpose to the reality of aging and growing older.  We boomers have much to offer with our many years of education, career experience, and wisdom.  We are a welcome addition to any team of community service and business leaders when we continue to contribute in life following retirement at any age.  We also have the freedom of influencing positive change without the worry of being fired.  It feels great to be an independent thinker.  What we do and say is mostly well received and non-threatening to most as aging team members with the potential of making a huge difference.

When the worry of aging starts to get in the way, get out of your comfort zone, and become engaged in something larger than yourself.  There is nothing more rewarding than to discover your true value in making a difference in the lives of others and your community.  Besides, when engaged in a proactive ways with others each and every day, the aches and pains of getting older seem to magically disappear!  And remember, “do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many.”

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…



 

Food for the Soul! Paul McCartney – Elton John – Sting “Hey Jude” Live

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version. Thank you! 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hey_Jude quote from this website…

Hey Jude” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The ballad evolved from “Hey Jules”, a song McCartney wrote to comfort John Lennon‘s son, Julian, during his parents’ divorce. “Hey Jude” begins with a verse-bridge structure based around McCartney’s vocal performance and piano accompaniment; further instrumentation is added as the song progresses. After the fourth verse, the song shifts to a fade-out coda that lasts for more than four minutes.

“Hey Jude!”  click for this rare video clip experience…

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Take a “live for the moment” break today and listen to this gem of a song!  Remember to practice “mindfulness” each and every day…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

“America is traumatized over the dysfunctional behavior in the US Congress.” Although we will recover in the short term, it is healthy to take some time to heal…by “living in the moment…”

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version. Thank you! 

Sunny Morning  “Live in the Moment”

Practice “mindfulness” today and everyday…  Click to see video clip.

“Feelings of unworthiness, shame, and self-hatred seem to show up all too often in daily life – we see it in our work, our families, and maybe even experience it ourselves.

But there’s at least one person in the world who’s not especially familiar with such feelings. In fact, he didn’t even know the meaning of the word self-hatred.

Jack Kornfield, PhD, reveals more in the video below, and shares two strategies that can help people heal a negative self-image and learn to love themselves.

Take a look – it’s just over four minutes.”
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I have written about the practice of “mindfulness” often on this blog.  After all the lunatic behavior from the US Congress the last two weeks, we should take a little time to heal and recover.  One of the best solutions is “living in the moment” by allowing yourself to be reminded of the best in life right now.  I looked out my living room window on this beautiful sunny morning and observed all the amazing birds of all kinds, including squirrels, dancing together in the tall fir trees and in the variety of flowering bushes and maple trees turning color right now.  I am also getting ready to take Skai for a walk out to the coastal trail to smell the refreshing salty sea air, watch the waves breaking on the basalt cliffs, and look for the spray of a gray whale in the distance.  The Central Oregon Coast where we live is one of the perfect places on the planet to practice mindfulness.  You can find your own escape or retreat anywhere just by taking a second look or turning a new corner for a walk to the closest park or water front in your community.  Take a little time right now, practice mindfulness and make your day the best it can be…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

 
 

Neighbors for Kids (NFK) students take over “Kids Zone” newsletter as an after-school project…

 
 
click doc for larger view…
“Kids Zone” Newsletter (click newsletter doc for larger view)

Neighbors for Kids, Lincoln County Oregon After-School Program… Quote from this website…

“Neighbors for Kids (NFK) exists to serve the children and youth of Lincoln County with a quality after-school program.  Since 2003, NFK has provided a safe place for students to come after school, where they can be supervised by caring adults in a fun, learning environment.

Our after-school program, Kids Zone, is open Mondays through Fridays from 3:00 to 6:00 pm on all regular school days.  We provide a healthy meal, accompanied by nutrition education and hands-on practice preparing and cooking food.  Our students get help with homework and tutoring in math and reading, as well as the opportunity to participate in enrichment activities such as art, music, computers and science.

Neighbors for Kids started as a grassroots, community effort to give Depoe Bay youth the best chance to succeed.  Because of ongoing community support and collaborations with local government and vibrant, dedicated community partners, NFK continues to thrive.

We welcome visitors to Kids Zone.  Please contact Executive Director Toby Winn at 541-765-8990 to schedule a tour at your convenience.  We love to share our program with parents, individuals, interested volunteers, businesses, and potential donors!”

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I was reminded again yesterday why Neighbors for Kids is my life’s work making a difference for kids and our community.  I was interviewed on BlogTalkRadio hosted by Debbie Sprague, Author, Stranger in my Bed, discussing domestic violence challenges and the consequences of emotional neglect of military children.  This is a highly sensitive and difficult subject to discuss and is the subject of my own book and this blog creating awareness for children and families suffering from the symptoms of PTSD.  Through awareness and education we have the best chance to discover a path to healing for families to thrive…in life after trauma…

How do we mitigate the toxic conditions at home resulting from a parent readjusting to civilian life following the traumatic circumstances and horrors of  the combat experience?  How do we help family members, especially children, live and cope with the challenging conditions that can cause emotional damage.  One such solution that can make a difference is taking advantage of after-school programs in your community similar to Neighbors for Kids (NFK) in Lincoln County, Oregon.

Providing kids with the opportunity to be in a safe place following the regular school day offers a value added extended school day of educational and personal enrichment.  The 3 hours between 3pm and 6pm can make a huge difference in helping kids thrive in a positive environment with peers and caring adults.  There are academics, arts, recreation, literacy, and technology programs to fit the individual interest and needs of each student.  Kids learn best when they love what they are doing and are nurtured by caring adults and mentors in a positive setting.  NFK has been a very successful after-school model, which can be duplicated in most communities.

I am very proud to highlight the NFK “Kids Zone” newsletter above as an example of students taking ownership and learning new skills at the same time.  With a little coaching the Kids Zone newsletter team writes and produces each monthly issue using the latest information technology resources provided as a key component in helping kids become workforce ready.  You can imagine how proud the kids are when they are able to achieve the goal of publishing their very own newsletter each and every month!  As adult mentors and parents we are equally proud of the success of our kids and the extra edge that comes from a fulfilling after-school program experience. 

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

Vice Chair
Neighbors for Kids

Steve Sparks speaking about “Surviving & Thriving” in life after war & trauma at the Palm Springs Air Museum on November 3rd, 1pm…

Palm Springs Air Museum

Palm Springs Air Museum… Quote from this website…

“The Palm Springs Air Museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of flyable WWII aircraft; and our air-conditioned hangars have no ropes to keep you from interacting with our exhibits. Our extensive library and our crew of trained volunteers can provide you details on the aircraft and a sense of the experience of flying them.”

The Price of Freedom 2013-2014 Commemorative Program Season

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version. Thank you! 

SUNDAY 3 NOV– 1 PM –  Reconciliation: A Son’s Story Author, Steve Sparks will share his military family’s post WWII experience.   Steve’s father, a US Navy veteran, served in extended combat duty during all of WWII, including later deployment during the Korean War. This was a time during the 1950’s & 60’s when there was little or no understanding of the painful symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or treatment strategies for warriors and the children and families affected in life after war.  Steve’s topic includes both military and 1st responder families who live and cope with PTSD.   The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in the discussion as time permits.

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I am honored to have the opportunity to speak at the Palm Springs Air Museum on November 3rd at 1pm.  I will talk about “Surviving and Thriving” as a military child growing up in a post WWII and Korean War home.  We survivors of traumatic events in life learn to live with the symptoms of PTSD and more importantly “thrive” while on a lifelong journey of healing.  Research and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story along with the joy of writing a blog, Families Living with PTSD and Moral Injury, and speaking, provides me with the personal rewards of making a difference in the lives of others…  I love to engage with the audience in a most informal way to learn from each other about our own life experiences.  I can also speak as a US Navy veteran serving during the Vietnam era, and from a long career in the corporate world, including community service during these later years in retirement.

I want to extend my appreciation and thanks to the Palm Springs Air Museum for this opportunity to share my story with the goal of helping children and families become more aware of living and coping with PTSD.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

Surviving and Thriving! Shame is at the root of stigma in reaching out for treatment…and support, especially from loved ones…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version. Thank you! 

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D., Ph.D. is a Founding Faculty Member at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles, and at the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity, New York City. He is the author of World, Affectivity, Trauma: Heidegger and Post-Cartesian Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2011) and Trauma and Human Existence: Autobiographical, Psychoanalytic, and Philosophical Reflections (Routledge, 2007) and coauthor of eight other books. He received the Distinguished Scientific Award from the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association in 1995, the Haskell Norman Prize for Excellence in Psychoanalysis from the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis in 2011, and the Hans W. Loewald Memorial Award from the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education in 2012.

Family shame and “heads in the sand…”  Quote from this website article…

The Shame Family

Many emotional states have shame at their core.

Published on October 4, 2013 by Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D. in Feeling, Relating, Existing


“Many psychological disturbances have a double-layered emotional structure consisting in a first-order painful feeling combined with a second-order feeling about that first-order feeling. For example, so-called “panic disorders” consist in escalating cycles of anxiety coupled with shame about exposing the anxiety (= flawedness) to viewing others. The anxiety-shame combination is so unbearable that the anxiety must often be somatized such that it only shows up as physical symptoms. Many phobias embody efforts at avoiding shameful exposure of anxiety. Similarly, some clinical depressions consist in escalating cycles of natural depressive feelings (sadness, grief, etc.) combined with shame about exposing the depressive feelings (= flawedness) to viewing others. Like the anxiety in panic disorders, the depressive feelings too must be somatized, showing up mostly as vegetative symptoms.”

Widow mourns loss of husband to PTSD…  Quote from this website article…

JACKSONVILLE — Jamie Hoots could tell something had changed after her husband returned from his second deployment to Iraq.
“He was a completely different person. Sometimes he was still there; other times it was like, I don’t know,” she said. “It would make him cry every day because of the things he had to do over there, the things he saw.”
His sleep was restless when it came at all. There were times he awoke and “thought, ‘I was a bad guy,’” Hoots said.
After years of struggling with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, Marine Sgt. Travis Hoots died of a drug overdose. Family members say they believe his death was accidental, rather than an intentional suicide.
But five other members of his unit did take their own lives before Travis died.”
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It is not difficult to observe that family members and loved ones are often at the root of the stigma and emotional pain connected with PTSD and mental health issues in general.  Suicide is becoming a regular news event or “accidental” death as in the above story of Jamie Hoots’ husband, Marine Sgt. Travis Hoots.  Family shame is the beginning of denial that comes from the person affected by traumatic events in life. 
In my life experience, the symptoms of PTSD in myself and in others was not understood and most embarrassing, especially to me while hiding from severe anxiety and panic attacks.  I thought my behavior was compromising in achieving personal and professional goals.  My family distanced themselves and would never speak of the challenges connected with “abnormal” or “dysfunctional” behaviors.  It was easy for me to assume that the distancing reactions from loved ones and denial would have to be considered while working toward living a successful adult life and maintaining close friendships.  We made fun of each other at home, and made fun of others who behaved in “shameful” ways.  We were completely ignorant of my father’s PTSD as a US Navy combat veteran of both WWII and Korean War.  We were also less than aware of the secondary effects of PTSD on children and families that often resulted in “emotional neglect” or child abuse.
Even to this day with all the research, awareness, and knowledge of PTSD along with treatment strategies, most folks are still ignorant and in denial, especially family members.  Consequently, we survivors must also learn the skills of thriving during our life long journey of healing.  You do the best you can to engage in outreach and treatment strategies that are effective.  But you must also keep in mind that we are a long way from becoming a society that is more completely intelligent and compassionate toward others who live with mental health challenges…  Acceptance of others plays a big part in the process of healing.  It isn’t easy but it is critical in living a healthy, happy, and productive quality of life after trauma…
 
Steve Sparks
Author