C-PTSD and Me

Michael was the one who put me on to it.  “C-PTSD“.  Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on it:

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma in the context of either captivity or entrapment (i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim) that results in the lack or loss of control, helplessness, and deformations of identity and sense of self. C-PTSD is distinct from, but similar to, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), somatization disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and borderline personality disorder. . . .”

” . . . Forms of trauma associated with C-PTSD include sexual abuse (especially child sexual abuse), physical abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence or torture — all repeated traumas in which there is an actual or perceived inability for the victim to escape.”

Note that the key phrase here is: “The inability to ESCAPE.”  Wouldn’t that define anyone’s childhood?

Because we rarely rely on a single source of information for confirmation of ‘the facts’, here’s a quote from another source: Out of the FOG – a great site for those who have, or knows someone who has personality ‘disorder’ diagnoses*:

“Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological injury that results from prolonged exposure to social or interpersonal trauma, disempowerment, captivity or entrapment, with lack or loss of a viable escape route for the victim.”

Okay, what else is a kid to do? Especially a military one – an Army brat, caught up with his brother in the system.  Only there is no system.  It just is what it is, day in day out and “you’re gonna take it!”  No questions, no saying ‘no’ – no escape in our mind.

Read this: “Nowhere to Run, Nowhere To Hide“.  I was about 6 or 7 years old.  Where was there to go? Nowhere. Who could we call? No one.  Where could we hide? No where that I knew of that would keep us safe and fed and dry when the rains came.

And so we gave up right then and there.

Signs of a Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder if I ever heard of one – the one they keep mentioning:  “loss of a viable escape route” for the victim.

Now imagine this:

You take this child and move him overseas.  Isolate him either further. Warn him of the Russian menace just across the border; educate him on all the horrors of nuclear war; train him so he remembers – hell, go ahead and train these youth to be young warriors.  Because hanging on their backs will be the ability to survive – no matter what is done.  They will keep on fighting you and fighting you and fighting you . . . until they are dead.

And for that, ladies and gentlemen, there is no escape, too.

Teach the child, make him read them well: all those military manuals. The ones on the weapons of war. The ones about how to survive – not just thermonuclear detonation, but the hordes of enemy that will be swarming; in a biological / nuclear environment . . .

the poor child hasn’t got a chance.  And he knows it.  And feed him the warnings; the statistics – how “we’ll be overrun; then outnumber us ten to one – and that’s a conservative number”.  Nukes will be used; they used to warn us.

No escape.

“Head for Rhein Mein,” they said, then added: “Though it’ll probably be a glowing crater.  In that case, turn left (we’d be coming up from the South) – and head for the ocean. Try and get a boat across.  Your parents will be dead, most likely; expect to be separated from them . . . collect like children; fight the war – you’re gonna have to fight your way to the border; avoid them glowing holes . . .”

This was the kind of thing we heard.

And then there was the abuse.

Let me tell you . . . no, let me ask?? – what were we to do?

I think we fit that definition of “no escape”.  How in the hell were we supposed to escape when it was all around us?

And then there was the household.  If you read “Come And Get Me” you will find that by 3 I wanting out of this thing.  This family.

However, lets look at the very real things that went on.

The father was often absent due to his career (Army)
We moved around.  A LOT.  As a result:
You never had a friend long; never more than a few years. The only exception was the ‘Hood.  In there we all were like family – the entire neighborhood.  It was a ‘good’ thing – but gave rise to some issues later on. And even that was for 4 years, 1 year away, 1 year back – then gone 3, back for .5 – gone again. Only the last time forever.  I never wanna go back there again.
Sexual abuse, emotional abuse, ‘social’ abuse (if you include our social isolation while overseas, plus the personal isolation sometimes (read “The Room” for more on that); physical abuse at an early age ending somewhere around 11 for me; 13 for my brother (okay, not totally ending – but the severity fell off quite a lot once we were living in the military apartments with neighbors all around – it was always ‘shhh! stay quiet!’ back then . . .) . . .

There was other stuff as well . . . psychological stuff my father did.  I won’t go into that.  Lets just say he was experimenting on me and my brother, and in one “I” got the training and he (my bro) didn’t – severely affecting his lifestyle as well.

Lets move on with this thing.  I’m going to Bold the symptoms that apply to ME. (Tho’ I hate ‘bold’ – it jumps out too much to me.  Sorry. This is for ME as well as you – and I need it more than you do – maybe.  LOL.)

According to The Propose Diagnostic Criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., DSM IV), the symptomology, factors, and symptoms are (but in my opinion may not be limited to):

1. A history of subjection to totalitarian control over a prolonged period (months to years). Examples include hostages, prisoners of war, concentration-camp survivors, and survivors of some religious cults. Examples also include those subjected to totalitarian systems in sexual and domestic life, including those subjected to domestic battering, childhood physical or sexual abuse, and organized sexual exploitation.  ((Personal note here: could we include the MILITARY as a cult, considering my experiences – for over 26 years – from birth on??  I most STRONGLY think so, considering my experiences as a child (I’m wanting to say ‘children’, though . . . considering . . .)

2. Alterations in affect regulation, including

3. Alterations in consciousness, including

4. Alterations in self-perception, including

  • sense of helplessness or paralysis of initiative
  • shame, guilt, and self-blame
  • sense of defilement or stigma
  • sense of complete difference from others (may include sense of specialness, utter aloneness, belief no other person can understand, or nonhuman identity)

5. Alterations in perception of perpetrator, including

  • preoccupation with relationship with perpetrator (includes preoccupation with revenge)
  • unrealistic attribution of total power to perpetrator (caution: victim’s assessment of power realities may be more realistic than clinician’s)
  • idealization or paradoxical gratitude
  • sense of special or supernatural relationship
  • acceptance of belief system or rationalizations of perpetrator

6. Alterations in relations with others, including

  • isolation and withdrawal
  • disruption in intimate relationships
  • repeated search for rescuer (may alternate with isolation and withdrawal)
  • persistent distrust
  • repeated failures of self-protection

7. Alterations in systems of meaning

  • loss of sustaining faith
  • sense of hopelessness and despair

And I wonder if under the ” Alterations in relations with others” shouldn’t include the inverse of one of the symptoms (repeated search for rescuer) – to read “NEEDING to rescue others” – because so many of us survivors (or at  least the ones I know) – are BORN rescuers (or they were made that way by what happened to them).   As if by saving them we are justifying what happened to us . . . or simply doing the right thing. Probably a combination of both – along with a bunch of other things.

Anyway, this concludes my initial research into this diagnosis.  By the experts definitions and conclusions, I “got” it.  In more than one way – meaning intellectually I can see where I ‘got it’ – in while not being ‘professionally diagnosed’ with C-PTSD, non-professionally, I’d be kinda hard pressed to doubt it.  And I ‘got’ that I need to do some more research on this (as well as some Attachment Disorder ‘diseases’) in order to better understand my selves, especially the one called “13” – and perhaps gain some better understanding into Matthew, my teenage alter, and the ‘mystery one’, the one that (thus far) calls ‘himself’ “21” – we’ll see. . . .

A little bit at a time, my dears, a little bit at a time . . . that’s the way to go.  Baby steps – big ones for me – and hoping none are falling behind. (big smile).  We’re all moving on, in some way.

It’s just knowing in which direction . . .


About jeffssong

JW is an adult childhood abuse survivor with DID*. He grew up in a violent family devoid of love and affection. He is a military brat and veteran. He no longer struggles with that past. In 1976 JW began writing "The Boy". It took 34 years to complete. It is currently on Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3IVKK ), or if you prefer hard copy, on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Boy-J-W/dp/1461022681). JW resides somewhere in the deep South. He is disabled and living with family. Note: Please feel free to take what you need; all is free to all. With that in mind, keep it that way to others. Thank you. We have 3 Blogs - One for our younger days, 0-10 (The Little Shop of Horrors); one for our Teen Alter and his 'friends' (also alters) with a lot of poetry; and finally "my" own, the Song of Life (current events and things)
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10 Responses to C-PTSD and Me

  1. Marty says:

    My dad was a violent critical narcissist for my whole childhood.

    I am symptom free and help others improve from complex childhood PTSD. Our childhood develop,EMT was not normal. We do not even know normal for a childhood anyway.

    My blog has people healing and sharing their experience.

    My blog is different is has specific concret tools to,practice daily.

    maybe check my blog, would love to have in our healing family.


    Ps, here are two topics a healing model and a breathing track model.


    Good luck on your journey



    • jeffssong says:

      Thanks Marty! And thanks for the links. We will indeed check them out – as well as your blog. Already gave it a “Follow”. Any info is good info; intel is the name of the game.

      Hopefully I am fortunate enough to be down the road enough to have healed somewhat; tho’ not perfectly. We’ve still got a long way to go (obviously; just used ‘we’ again). But that’s okay, too.

      We were really lucky in a way: our father gave us an education. We started on ‘his’ psychology degree (he was getting his Masters; minor in Sociology) by 7th grade (if not sooner; we tend to recall some studies when we were just 10). Our parents insisted that if they were going to college, we were going to learn it, too. Or at least me. (I got interior decorating, the psychology education, and sociology thing – all ‘informal’ but inforced. Had to read the books – but he got the degree. LO dry L’s).

      Glad to hear/see you are doing well and have reached out to others to help and heal. 🙂 That’s what us survivors do. 🙂 Thanks!


  2. Michael says:

    I am not arguing with you here.

    The CPTS is closer than other definitiions. Now imagine you are dealing with this in 1980. Then there is not even a PTSD definition. Agumentium ad Verycondiem. “An expert is never wrong.”

    The point is if you limit yourself to experts understanding you are limiting yourself. Even with the experts you have to deal with there not understanding what is already known. 1 % of the cases DID all the other cases are PTSD/DID. There is no designation DID/PTSD. Many experts do not understand that there is almost always PTSD with DID.

    I think I understand what you are saying about every childhood being not being escapeable when you ask that question. There is a difference in some childhoods.

    What answers that were available to me were not from the experts. Pretty much if this was a logic problem I would have solved it in the 4th grade.

    I believe that what is known about CPTSD is to much about the left brain as those that try to define it are left brained that it has to be tempered with the right brain. Actually I feel it is best defined by the right brain and tempered with the left.

    Any designation that tries to define me with out extreme physical conditions perpetrated by others not in extreme physical conditions, long periods of malnutrition, long periods of solitary confinement and deaths before age three is not credible.


  3. Marty says:

    Try reading Buddha’ Brain, through functional MRI’s the mechanism is known. Trauma is stored in the amygdala whi ch is not accessible consciously.

    The discussion on which hemisphere and what heals us is fact not conjecture.

    Youncan heal,wihtthout a diagnosis.

    Good luck


    • jeffssong says:

      Thank you, Marty! I’ve never felt a diagnosis means anything; only ‘what is going on’ (the effects) and becoming happy does. Most times we are 🙂 But it’s been hard, and we are far from through.


      • Marty says:

        Your welcome, we all can improve and I think we are the quarterback of our healing.

        Only we know if we are doing our best.

        Good journey



    • Michael says:

      I pretty much have designed my own way to heal my body which includes my brain. It is all discovery and staying away from the concept a body that developed in any conditions is the same and has the same needs.

      The ole lets pretend there is a norm and identify differences as a way to define.


  4. jeffssong says:

    I hate labeling myself with labels; as you say, they restrict and don’t actually define what “I” am. They just come close; approximations, if you will: like a dream might be to reality, and not a very lucid one at all.

    I think that anyone with trauma induced DID must, by the definition of what it takes to induce DID, have some variety or combination of CPTS, PTSD, C-PTSD symptoms, though those symptoms may be slight or unnoticeable in a normal sort of environment, or may manifest themselves in some secretive way – or perhaps something as common as ‘hoarding’ (something we’ve got to be careful with, growing up poor and all that sort of thing.) It may manifest itself in many ways; many expressions; some of them can go on to be productive; some nonproductive, some just downright destructive to the overall being.

    It would be easier if we were one being; then we could sort out this trauma and be done. But with so many – each makes for its separate case, each with their own issues going on. And ‘we’ve’ gotta deal with them – one at a time.


  5. I so understand what you are saying. I guess, because after reading your message, I realized you described my childhood and even some of my adulthood. People who haven’t experienced these feelings can’t relate as well, although they have sympathy. Please know that my heart knows. Understands. Feels. And know that you are in my prayers and thoughts. Be encouraged that you have reached out through your writing to others who have suffered, letting us know that we are not alone. Be blessed, my friend. Sharon


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