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The book The War at Home: One Family’s Fight Against PTSD by Shawn Gourley describes the problems of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the family. In my opinion, the book is undoubtedly worth reading as it reveals complex relationships in the family as between husband (vet) and wife as well as between parents and children. The book is based on real events and is written in a simple and understandable language unlike plenty of other books and textbooks on psychology.
I believe that the book would be useful for veterans and their family members, and it would help them to realize themselves and their behaviour. In addition, relatives can also learn a lot of useful information about the PTSD. I consider that the book is required reading not only for those people who find themselves in this situation, but also for ordinary people because nobody knows what can happen, and it is a good chance to learn how to react to PTSD.
The story depicts a military culture in which Justin spent some years. Being an Operation’s Specialist, he coached men to see death and do not notice it. Every day, he saw hundreds of corpses and severed limbs. His responsibilities also included reassuring the military and ensuring their protection. Although, he was an expert Machinist Mate, too.
Finally, when Justin came back home, Shawn was expecting that everything turns as it was. However, Justin became irritable and torn between work and family, and those rare evenings they spent together ended in a quarrel. Sometimes Justin threatened to “shoot this whole fucking house up” (Gourley, 2015, p. 48). It was the first warning sign. As one of the manifestations of his disorder, Justin was “yelling in his sleep and kicking and hitting things” (Gourley, 2015, p. 32). Shawn realized something was wrong first and asked for assistance in getting Justin the necessary psychological help or treatment.
Comparing Justin’s behaviour with four main characteristics of PTSD that include intrusive memories, negative changes in thinking and mood, avoidance, and changes in emotional reactions, I can note that it coincides with the most features (Friedman, 2012). For example, a feeling of emotional numbness and emotional blunting haunted him all the time.
In my point of view, Justin’s turning point occurred when he found someone to talk about the military, someone who went through the same obstacles. It was a counselor, who precipitated the harmony in the family explaining both husband and spouse the fact that their life could not be the same as before. Nevertheless, they still have a chance to be happy together accepting each other in a new perspective.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that it was a great struggle within a man resulting from his previous experience in the armed forces. Justin thought he never copes with what is happening, or would never return to the normal life. However, the treatment and the family support became a decisive factor. Knowing that he is not alone, gave him the strength to survive. Reading this book, I have learned a substantial truth about post-traumatic stress disorder on the example of Gourleys’ family. I understood that in spite of difficulties of PTSD, it is possible to handle them with the help of family, counselor, and own efforts, and begin a new life full of emotions and joy.
Friedman, M. (2012). Post-Traumatic and Acute Stress Disorders. (5th edition). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Gourley, S. (2015). The war at home: One family’s fight against PTSD. Colorado Springs, Col.: Grumpy Dragon.