For those of you who have never heard of PTSD, it is a disorder that occurs when people experience either a single, overwhelmingly terrifying event in their lives, or when they suffer a series of disturbing events. In both cases, the person’s brain becomes overwhelmed and becomes unable to process, or make sense of, the disturbing events. The brains of people with PTSD become stuck in the past, or obsessed with preventing any additional trauma from occurring in the present. The tragedy of PTSD is that it prevents people from enjoying life in the present moment, and keeps them from moving forward with their lives.
Michele Rosenthal’s story takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotions as we shudder at the terrible pain and disfiguration she experienced as an adolescent, feel the hopelessness and frustration she felt for many years, and finally share her triumph at learning to experience and embrace joy and optimism in her life. Her gift as a writer comes shining through in her ability to describe with astonishing clarity how she learned to dissociate as a way of transcending her pain, and how she struggled with a fragmented self-identity for over twenty years. But most importantly, she gives a brilliant description of the exhilaration she felt at rediscovering the connection between her mind and body through learning how to dance!
As a therapist, my reward comes from seeing my PTSD clients become survivors of PTSD as Michele Rosenthal did. It is such a joy to see them learn to recognize and embrace the inner resiliency and resourcefulness they have always had inside them, and to disconnect from their past traumas. It is a thrill to see them reconnect with the present and to enjoy living their lives fully again!
Michele’s book demonstrates how she finally managed to disconnect from the traumatic memories of her past, by immersing herself in a present day activity that helped her to feel a sense of joy, mastery, satisfaction, and inner peace. It shows us how important it is for people with PTSD to stay active in, or to find new activities that allow them to generate positive emotions that can replace the anxiety in their lives.
As a therapist, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Michele’s book! I highly recommend reading it for anybody who is struggling with the effects of trauma, for their families who are struggling to understand what their loved ones are going through, and for the rest of us who are inspired by the inner resiliency and resourcefulness of survivors like Michele.
You can find links to Before the World Intruded, and to Michele Rosenthal's website, YourLifeAfterTrauma.com, plus other suggested readings and websites at the READING LIST and LINKS tabs at the top of this page.