I’m not being paid to write it. My only reason is personal; the author Jessica Stern rang my bell. The subject of her new book - Denial: A Memoir of Terror -is one close to my heart.
I’m a Vietnam veteran who’s service-connected for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Stern is one of the world’s foremost experts on terrorists and PTSD. So this was a natural read for me:
By Dave Stancliff
Imagine writing down the most traumatic thing that ever happened to you in your life and sharing it with the world. Imagine that this thing that happened to you was so horrific that you somehow blotted it out of your mind. Then you locked it up in a secret room in your brain far from the light of conscious thought.
But your traumatic event throbs in it’s confinement, and you have to learn how to numb that throbbing. Then one day your traumatic event leaks out, unbidden, and your world tilts crazily.
What can you do? If, you’re brave enough, like Jessica Stern has been, then you can confront the issues regarding that event. You can wash them out and hang them up on a clothesline for the world to see. The result is a personal healing that translates to hope for others with PTSD.
Stern shares the most intimate of all traumas; rape at gunpoint. She was fifteen and her sister (who was also raped by the same man the same day) was only fourteen. What happened afterward, in the suburban town of Concord, Massachusetts, was almost as shocking as the rape.
The police thought she, and her sister, we’re lying about what happened. Her only answer to that terrible situation was to stuff it in. She moved on to overachieve in her life and has gathered many degrees and honors for her knowledge on subjects like terrorism and PTSD. It seemed Jessica had overcome her trauma.
That changed 30 years after the crime when a request from a police lieutenant re-opened the festering sore of the rape, and motivated her to investigate what happened. The result is stunning as she discovers who her rapist was, secrets about her own family, and how tricky the mind can be.
Be prepared to immerse yourself in a true life mystery that no fiction could surpass. You’ll learn about the human spirit, and the capacity for denial when terrible things happen in a person’s life. “Numbness and hyper vigilance can keep you alive,” Jessica tells us, “and it can “get in the way of normal life and of human relationships.”
I won’t giveaway who the rapist was, but I bet you’ll be surprised. There’s nothing predictable in this book, which makes it an absorbing read. The underlining message of Jessica’s story is how seductive denial can be.
I picked the book up one evening and read the entire thing. I didn’t mind staying up past my normal bedtime to. It was worth it.
I recommend this book as an easy and exciting read on a complex subject. Look for it in June 2010.