From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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New Books on PTSD

By Ray Parrish (Reviewer)

The PTSD Workbook:
Simple Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms
By Mary Beth Williams & Soili Poijula

(New Harbinger Publications, 2002)

Circumstances force many veterans to deal with their PTSD alone. Some vets, especially Guard and Reserve, don't live near VA clinics. Others won't admit to others that they have a problem. Now, with so many stressed-out vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the current programs are being overwhelmed by the demand. These vets can help themselves using this workbook

In addition to PTSD, this workbook discusses Acute Stress Disorder (ASD), which describes problems during the first few days or weeks after a trauma, and "complex PTSD," for people who have experienced prolonged, repeated or extensive exposure to traumatic events. Although "complex PTSD" isn't a recognized diagnosis yet, after doing the exercises veterans will see this distinction and appreciate the fact that half of the book addresses the symptoms of complex PTSD. The book is designed to be used by survivors of all types of trauma, so combat vets may be tempted to skip some of the exercises and chapters related to rape. Don't! Uncle Sam's true nature is revealed!

"The PTSD Workbook" helps vets to address their PTSD symptoms through a series of questions and exercises designed to reveal how the trauma changed us and how we can change ourselves. The exercises in the first half of the book help vets find the courage to begin self-therapy and motivate them to seek outside help if necessary. Some vets will be unable to do the exercises since many of them may be difficult or painful, but just making the effort may help the vet understand how severe their problems are and why therapy may be needed.

Advances in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Cognitive-Behavioral Perspectives
By Steven Taylor, Ed.

(Springer Publishing Company, 2004)

I cannot overstate the importance of this not-too-academic book. This book is essential for veterans' advocates lobbying for systemic changes. The book's 14 articles by international experts have extensive footnotes and pointed recommendations. This provides the necessary credibility to show how extensive and severe PTSD really is and the ineffectiveness of current treatment programs. It also enables the reader to pursue more in-depth research.

The "Military Populations" article, written by Australians who pulled no punches, is invaluable for counter-recruiting as well as for therapy. Various PTSD treatments are compared. There is the first case study using "virtual reality" technology. It enabled a Vietnam veteran to repeatedly relive the combat traumas, reexamine his "blame" and put an end to thirty years of nightmares. VA doctors report their success using the "readiness to change" approach, useful in addiction recovery, to overcome the problem of PTSD "treatment failure." There are valuable insights in the articles on how a veteran's social support, anger, anxiety, pain and other physical and mental disorders influence and are influenced by PTSD. Get your library to order a copy.

Ray Parrish (Sgt., USAF, 72-75) is VVAW's military counselor.

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