Cover image for The evil hours : a biography of post-traumatic stress disorder
Title:
The evil hours : a biography of post-traumatic stress disorder
Author:
Morris, David J., 1971- , author.
Publication Information:
Boston ; New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.
Physical Description:
xii, 338 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
"In the tradition of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Noonday Demon, a moving, eye-opening exploration of PTSD. Just as polio loomed over the 1950s, and AIDS stalked the 1980s and '90s, posttraumatic stress disorder haunts us in the early years of the twenty-first century. Over a decade into the United States' "global war on terror, " PTSD afflicts as many as 30 percent of the conflict's veterans. But the disorder's reach extends far beyond the armed forces. In total, some twenty-seven million Americans are believed to be PTSD survivors. Yet to many of us, the disorder remains shrouded in mystery, secrecy, and shame.Now, David J. Morris -- a war correspondent, former Marine, and PTSD sufferer himself -- has written the essential account of this illness. Through interviews with individuals living with PTSD, forays into the scientific, literary, and cultural history of the illness, and memoir, Morris crafts a moving work that will speak not only to those with the condition and to their loved ones, but also to all of us struggling to make sense of an anxious and uncertain time"--
General Note:
"An Eamon Dolan Book."
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780544086616
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Searching...
Audubon Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Clarence Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Eden Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Hamburg Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Kenmore Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Orchard Park Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Searching...
Eggertsville-Snyder Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Fiction Biography
Searching...
Lake Shore Library RC552.P67 M68 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

In the tradition of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Noonday Demon , a moving, eye-opening exploration of PTSD Just as polio loomed over the 1950s, and AIDS stalked the 1980s and '90s, posttraumatic stress disorder haunts us in the early years of the twenty-first century. Over a decade into the United States' "global war on terror," PTSD afflicts as many as 30 percent of the conflict's veterans. But the disorder's reach extends far beyond the armed forces. In total, some twenty-seven million Americans are believed to be PTSD survivors. Yet to many of us, the disorder remains shrouded in mystery, secrecy, and shame.

Now, David J. Morris -- a war correspondent, former Marine, and PTSD sufferer himself -- has written the essential account of this illness. Through interviews with individuals living with PTSD, forays into the scientific, literary, and cultural history of the illness, and memoir, Morris crafts a moving work that will speak not only to those with the condition and to their loved ones, but also to all of us struggling to make sense of an anxious and uncertain time.



Author Notes

DAVID J. MORRIS is an author, former Marine infantry officer, and journalist who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for Slate, Salon , the Los Angeles Times , Nation , and other outlets. He is also a frequent guest on NPR.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Former marine infantry officer Morris (Storm on the Horizon) blurs the line between clinical and creative literature in a lucid etiology of a "species of pain that went unnamed for most of human history... now the fourth most common psychiatric disorder in the United States." Morris draws from his own traumatic Iraq War experiences and ancient "historical antecedents" such as the Sumerian Lamentation of Ur and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. He moves on to postbellum America, reminding us that many of the Wild West's most famous gunslingers were Civil War veterans, then to WWI, the "first conflict where war neuroses were officially identified and treated," and finally the Vietnam War, the "single most important event in the history of psychological trauma." The book's second half describes and assesses the various ways in which PTSD is currently treated, using Morris's own treatment as an example (he found yoga most effective). Morris offers balanced criticisms of the VA, and though he's focused on American veterans, he attends to "rape, genocide, torture, and natural disaster" as other causes of PTSD in civilians. Well-integrated autobiographical elements make this remarkable work highly instructive and readable. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Choice Review

A widely known but rarely spoken idea about war is central to this volume: the sustained terror of imminent death permanently damages people. Morris is a former Marine and war correspondent, and his narrative, which illustrates how war lives on in the minds of soldiers, is woven between combat and civilian life and through past traumatic events as they fuse with the present. This mirrors the broken sense of time, highlighted as a key component in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As Morris describes his experience of being blown up in Iraq, he integrates universal themes of psychological trauma found in early and current scientific, medical, military, political, and religious writings and ideas from philosophy, literature, and poetry. He includes a review and critique of current approaches to treatment and describes controversies among mental health practitioners, particularly those within the VA system, regarding psychotherapies, pharmacotherapies, and alternative approaches to treatment. Correctly identifying Judith Herman's Trauma and Recovery (1992) as the seminal text in the study of traumatic stress, Morris suggests that individuals suffering with or heavily impacted by PTSD can hope for meaningful post-traumatic growth. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers. --Linda J. Rubin, Texas Woman's University


Booklist Review

Morris brings not just experience but insight to a topic of grave relevance. With an estimated 28 million Americans afflicted including nearly one-third of returning military personnel post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is likely to at least tangentially affect the life of everyone sooner or later. Old as human history, the disorder has only recently been clinically recognized as a mental illness by the psychiatric profession, and treatment alone now costs the government in excess of $3 billion per year. Yet it is not confined to those in the military who have seen combat. Victims of domestic abuse and rape and anyone else who has survived a traumatic event can also develop PTSD. Drawing on wisdom from his own experience, conversations with other sufferers, and such literary sources as Homer and Hemingway, Morris assembles a compendium of signs, symptoms, and interventions that gives context to an illness that literally annihilates a person's sense of perspective. The takeaway is a durable resource for both those with PTSD and their loved ones.--Chavez, Donna Copyright 2015 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Former Marine infantry officer and war correspondent Morris (Storm on the Horizon) here traces how clinicians, scientists, poets, and historians have tried over the years to understand how horrific combat can result in psychological trauma that can impair veterans many years after military discharge. Commonly referred to by military physicians as "soldier's heart" during the American Civil War, "shell shock" in World War I, "battle fatigue" in World War II, and "operational exhaustion" during the Korean War, the disorder began to attract intense professional attention when Vietnam vets exhibited symptoms. Now well into the second decade of the U.S. global war on terror, professional mental health clinicians estimate that PTSD affects 20 percent of veterans and 27 million family members. Morris reviews findings from his many interviews with former military with the disorder and his extensive research into clinical and scientific literature, war memoirs, poetry, history, and anthropology. He carefully and objectively discusses the differing clinical views of PTSD, the imprecise quantification of those with the diagnosis, and how various noncombat traumatic situations can also result in PTSD symptoms. Helping to connect the material to lay audiences is the author's sharing of his own struggle with the disorder. Mike Chamberlain's clear, crisp narration maintains steady, respectful interest in this material. VERDICT Recommended for all psychology collections.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Prologue: The Warning Have you ever been blown up before, sir? Everything was fine until it wasn't. Apophenia: finding patterns where there shouldn't be patterns These were the words I wrote in my journal on October 9, 2007, the day before I was almost killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. The last line I wrote in the days afterward. Later, I went back and underlined it in a different colored ink, as if to emphasize that I had come back to it in a different state of mind. As if I were leaving a clue for some future version of myself. I was in Iraq for my third reporting trip and had gone out on a patrol with some soldiers from the First Infantry Division into Saydia, a neighborhood that seemed, at least on the surface, to be relatively peaceful. On our way back inside the wire, one of the soldiers asked nonchalantly if I'd ever been blown up before. I considered the question for a moment, and then, as the silence deepened, I sensed that something was amiss. The words came awkwardly as I explained that while I had spent the summer before in Ramadi, at that point the deadliest city in Iraq, I was still a virgin in that particular area. It was like my fate had been spoken: I had never been blown up before, but everyone in the Humvee knew that was about to change. According to the laws of grunt superstition, I was the injured party, but somehow I managed to feel bad for the kid who'd asked the question. As it happened, the soldiers in the Humvee were from all over Latin America -- Peru, Mexico, Guatemala -- and they began pummeling him in a variety of languages and accents for what he'd done. At the time, I felt embarrassed more than anything else and just wanted the moment to end. I didn't like being the topic of conversation, and it took everything I had to avoid thinking about being blown into tiny red pieces. This, in fact, was one of the first head tricks I'd learned in Iraq, to systematically ignore the obvious: you were always just about to die -- get over it. I was wasted, too, and my mind wasn't right. I had been in Iraq for a total of nine months by this point, and even though I had seen people killed by roadside bombs, I'd never been hit myself, and somehow I'd come to feel that I had my luck under control. But in posing the question, it was as if the soldier had stolen that control, thrown me over to the forces of chance that I had worked so hard to insulate myself from. Later, I interviewed a prominent psychoanalyst, who told me that trauma destroys the fabric of time. In normal time, you move from one moment to the next, sunrise to sunset, birth to death. After trauma, you may move in circles, find yourself being sucked backwards into an eddy, or bouncing about like a rubber ball from now to then and back again. August is June, June is December. What time is it? Guess again. In the traumatic universe, the basic laws of matter are suspended: ceiling fans can be helicopters, car exhaust can be mustard gas. Another odd feature of traumatic time is that it doesn't just destroy the flow of the present into the future, it corrodes everything that came before, eating at moments and people from your previous life, until you can't remember why any of them mattered. What I previously found inconceivable is now inescapable: I have been blown up so many times in my mind that it is impossible to imagine a version of myself that has not been blown up. The man on the other side of the soldier's question is not me. In fact, he never existed. The war is gone now, but the event remains, the happening that nearly erased the life to come and thus erased the life that came before. The soldier's question hangs in the air the way it always has. The way it always will. Have you ever been blown up before, sir? Introduction Over the past four decades, post-traumatic stress disorder has permeated every corner of our culture. A condition that went unacknowledged for millennia, and began its public life with a handful of disgruntled Vietnam veterans "rapping" in the offices of an antiwar group in midtown Manhattan in December 1970, has spread to every nation on the globe, becoming in the words of one medical anthropologist a kind of "psychiatric Esperanto." A species of pain that went unnamed for most of human history, PTSD is now the fourth most common psychiatric disorder in the United States. According to the latest estimates, nearly 8 percent of all Americans -- twenty-eight million people -- will suffer from post-traumatic stress at some point in their lives. According to the Veterans Administration, which spends more annually on PTSD research and treatment than any organization in the world, PTSD is the number one health concern of American military veterans, regardless of when they served. In 2012, the federal government spent three billion dollars on PTSD treatment for veterans, a figure that doesn't include the billions in PTSD disability payments made every year to former servicemembers. Since the attacks of 9/11, when public awareness of the disorder gained momentum, PTSD (a condition characterized by hyperarousal, emotional numbness, and recurring flashbacks) has, to the dismay of some international aid experts, supplanted hunger as the primary Western public health concern when a war or other humanitarian crisis hits the news. PTSD is one of the newest major psychiatric disorders to be recognized, and yet today it has entered the public lexicon to the degree that it is not uncommon to hear journalists describing entire countries as being stricken with it and writing lengthy articles debating whether or not Batman might be suffering from it. Consumers who are so inclined can now go online and purchase a commemorative patch for $5.99 that reads P.T.S.D.: NOT ALL WOUNDS ARE VISIBLE. As any trauma researcher will tell you, PTSD is everywhere today. And yet, like many mental health disorders, there is broad disagreement about what exactly PTSD is, who gets it, and how best to treat it. There remains a small but vocal cadre of researchers who argue that PTSD is a social fiction, a relic of the Vietnam War era foisted upon the global community by well-meaning but misguided clinicians, and that by, in essence, encouraging people to be traumatized, we undermine their recovery. A condition born of strife, PTSD is dominated by conflict in its scientific life as well. There is, however, little disagreement that survivors of rape, war, natural disasters, and torture -- the events that are generally recognized to lead to PTSD -- experience profound, even existential, pain in the aftermath of such events. This brand of suffering has become so widely recognized that it has in fact permanently altered the moral compass of the Western world and changed our understanding of what it means to be human, what it means to feel pain. Pierre Janet, a French neurologist writing in 1925, observed that emotional reactions to traumatic events can be so intense as to "have a disintegrating effect on the entire psychological system." This book is about that effect and what it looks and feels like from the inside. Over time, PTSD has changed not only the way humans understand loss but also how humans understand themselves generally; I am interested in it both as a mental condition and as a metaphor. How people respond to horrific events has always been determined by a complex web of social, political, and technological forces. For most of human history, interpreting trauma has been the preserve of artists, poets, and shamans. The ways in which a nation deals with trauma are as revealing as its politics and language. The ancient Greeks staged plays that were written and performed by war veterans as a communal method for achieving catharsis. Today, for better or worse, we deal with trauma and horror almost exclusively through a complex, seemingly arbitrary cluster of symptoms known as post-traumatic stress disorder. In the classical world, the ancients in the wake of trauma might look for answers in epic poetry, such as The Iliad or The Odyssey. Today, we turn to the most current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This fact alone is worthy of further exploration: most of us no longer turn to poetry, our families, or the clergy for solace post-horror. Instead, we turn to psychiatrists. This is, historically speaking, an unusual state of affairs. Excerpted from The Evil Hours: A Biography of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder by David J. Morris All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Warningp. xi
Introductionp. 1
1 Saydiap. 21
2 In Terror's Shadowp. 41
3 Toward a Genealogy of Traumap. 60
4 The Haunted Mindp. 103
5 Modern Traumap. 132
6 Therapyp. 166
7 Drugsp. 213
8 Alternativesp. 231
9 Growthp. 252
Epilogue: Counterfactualsp. 268
Acknowledgmentsp. 273
Notesp. 214
Selected Bibliographyp. 317
Indexp. 328

Google Preview