I am a Narcissistic Abuse survivor & mentor. I set up this site as a tangent to my FB Group & Author Pages to increase awareness & aid in abuse recovery education, empowerment and thrivance.
What is Complex PTSD or C-PTSD? Complex PTSD, first recognized as a condition in its own right by Judith Hermann in her book “Trauma & Recovery” (1992), is a psycho-spiritual injury caused by interpersonal exploitations and prolonged situations of abuse and oppression from which there is no perceived escape. Complex Trauma survivors suffer from many symptoms, all of which can profoundly and adversely effect/affect them on a physiological and psychological/emotional/spiritual level. Below is a short list of symptoms I, as a survivor myself, have compiled.
HOW C-PTSD ADVERSELY EFFECTS/AFFECTS US: *Difficulty sustaining long-term relationships with others for fear of re-experiencing core, original traumas and being ‘pushed over the edge’ *Difficulty sustaining vocational stability due to a keen discernment of toxic workplace cultures which mimic our former traumatizing, oppressive family environments and a refusal to participate in them anymore *Difficulty sustaining a sense of existential fulfillment due to the aforementioned vocational obstacles *Difficulty trusting the flow of our happiness, inward peace, self-assurance and contentedness for fear of being interfered with, triggered or thrown off balance by others much like our original oppressors and abusers systematically subjected us to *Difficulty sustaining a positive, stable and accurate self-image *A lingering and ominous sense of existential and cognitive dissonance and restlessness even in the face of attained security, healing and contentment *A sense of social isolation, alienation, ostracism and persecution, with intermittent ‘ideas of reference’ *A deep shame and embarrassment in the face of dissociative ‘blackouts’ and public ‘outbursts’ in social settings with others who either intentionally or unintentionally trigger us *Autoimmune conditions and other physiological and neurological issues related to enduring high levels of stress chemicals for prolonged periods *Traumatic Brain Injury *A sense of psycho-spiritual dissonance and doom due to having endured the scapegoating projections of our original abuser(s) *And many more…
IS COMPLEX PTSD MENTAL ‘ILLNESS’ OR ‘INJURY’?
There has been much heated debate about the assertion that Complex PTSD is NOT a mental illness but a psychological ‘injury’. The reasons for distinguishing between the terminology is not to derogate or to make comparisons about who is ‘ill’ and who is ‘healthy’, but to unburden survivors of the internalized shame which their original abusers inflicted upon them by the abuse of psychiatric terminology and diagnostics to scapegoat and dominate them. I truly believe in the importance of accurately defining things as they truly are. And in most cases, the ones who are labelled ‘mentally ill’ are actually ‘injured’. Furthermore, survivors of all kinds of social predation and interpersonal trauma are usually the ones who exhibit a depth of character which their abusers lack. The true definition of a ‘mentally ill’ person actually describes someone who is both lacking in moral discernment and self-awareness. Back in the day, they used the term “criminal insanity” or “moral insanity” to describe individuals whom we now refer to as “personality-disordered” or “sociopathic” or “psychopathic.”
Furthermore, even in cases where an individual who has been diagnosed with a trauma condition also seems to show ‘comorbid’ conditions which are classified as ‘mental illness’, this is, in most cases, merely an extension of the abused person’s programming and continuation in a role and a self-identification which is both unjust and inaccurate. Shahida Arabi notes how survivors must learn to develop a ‘reverse discourse’ in response to our oppressors and abusers and reclaim the derogatory, defamatory and scapegoat-abusive words which they have used to control and subjugate us. From my own personal experience, many non-Cluster B people, myself included, have been misdiagnosed and carelessly labelled by Cluster B type personalities as being abnormal in some way. We were programmed by our abusers to think that we are somehow defective and hence, deserving of their abuse. Scapegoating, demonization and pathologization are also, of course projective machinations of character-disturbed individuals. In continuum, I think that most of what gets labelled as spectrum disorders is, in actuality, Complex PTSD. The symptomatology can manifest very similarly between so-called pervasive developmental disorders and C-PTSD. Quite frankly and sadly, a lot of diagnoses could be eliminated and consolidated altogether by the psychiatric profession but probably never will be. Denial and dysfunction run too deeply within our culture. Also, most people that I have met who have been labelled as autistic are developmentally and neurologically affected and damaged due to variant kinds of social predation from sociopathic, narcissistic and psychopathic persons. Symptoms of Complex PTSD such as dissociation and hyperreactivity to psychosocial stressors are often labelled as autism or Asperger’s, but in fact, are TBI from prolonged abuse.
Basically, what it comes down to is: The abusive, exploitative, sociopathic individuals who injured us in the first place are the ones who must be identified as ‘mentally and morally ill’ if deep recovery is ever to be breached for survivors. After all, most of our Complex Trauma is a direct result of being coerced and systematically ‘programmed’ and gaslighted into an interpersonal dynamic which merely sought to ‘scapegoat’ us into being the ‘identified patient’ and the one with the ‘problems’. In truth, it was our abusers who suffered such disorders of personality and character. Of course, this is not meant to discount the fact that many sufferers of C-PTSD and PTSD have not been diagnosed with ‘comorbid’ conditions. However, many professionals and laymen alike have often remarked that if the DSM were refined, many conditions currently being treated as discrete disorders would, in fact, be best served and acknowledged as direct and indirect symptoms of deeper interpersonal trauma. Nevertheless, the importance of, as Shahida Arabi puts it, engaging in ‘reverse discourse’ with our ‘programmers’ and abusers, remains an intractable aspect of full and deep recovery for all survivors. We have earned the right (in fact always possessed the right) to be assessed fairly and pro-socially, in ways that are not merely more demeaning and derogatory, and in ways that do not, at the expense of our well-being, merely reinforce old ‘roles’ and cognitive patterns which predatory and character-disturbed individuals would benefit in keeping us in. There is a moral imperative for each individual to be granted full reign over that of their own self-actualization. There is also a moral imperative for each one to “carry their own load” (and not just physically, but psychologically). We all must do our own ‘Soul Work’, as it has been called, in order to not only stop the cycle of injury which humankind seems to relish and choose indifference towards inflicting upon one another, but to support a healthier, more robust Society for all individual persons to be able to contribute each their own brand of genius and skills to. As within, so without. Healing the Self, is a potential salve for the whole World.
-Valerie Lynn Stephens (2019)