The “Angry Heart: Overcoming Borderline and Addictive Disorders” made me angry. In a “how dare they” kind of way.
Many parts of this book have been helpful, could be helpful, for anyone with a traumatic history. It has excellent techniques for stress reduction and taking responsibility for yourself. It also at times trivializes my life by trying to quantify my trauma. Some things don’t need numbers or comparisons.
I started to fill out the PTES (psychotraumatic exposure scale) on page 70. Rather I read the first line, and said “What?? Seriously??” out loud. I did not actually fill it out, but then skimmed the rest. I don’t want to figure out why my scanner is not working or figure out if I’m violating copyright laws anyway, so I’m just going to write a few examples here.
|yes or no| how many months | Score
Level V – Sexual and physical abuse (from parent, peer, sibling, other); X 1=
– Sexual abuse only (from parent, peer, sibling, other) do I add parent/sibling separately?; (16 x12= 192); X 1=192
Level IV – Physical abuse only; do pets count? ; X .8=
– Viewed physical or sexual abuse; does porn count?; X .8=
Level III – Parents emotionally belittled you on a regular basis; yes; (most of 192) ; X .6=100
– Parents emotionally manipulated you on a near daily basis; yes (18×12=216) ; X .6=130
– Parents went through a bitter harsh divorce ; yes 36 ; X .6= 21
Level II – Same-sex parent avoided close relationship with you ; yes; 216; X .5= 108
Level I – Very little hugging, kissing, or other types of healthy affection; yes ; 216 ; X .4=86
OK, so you are supposed to only count abuse under age 18, because according to this book we were responsible for the abuse in our early adulthood since we were in fact adults and could have chosen different situations by then. So I stopped my numbers at age 18, but the emotional abuse continued until I attempted suicide at age 25. Anyways, then you are supposed to add up your “scores” (isn’t that the most terrible word ever? Does this make you angry too?) and divide by 12 to get the years. If your ahem, score, is higher than your actual age, basically you are screwed. OK, the book didn’t say screwed, it says “If your total PTES score exceeds your actual age, you are probably experiencing some of the more severe borderline symptoms . . . urges to hurt yourself or serious addictions, trouble completing school or keeping a job.
So, if you’re good at math like me, you can see my score is way over my age, and I did not include every item here. The book also tries to prepare you for the terrible scale, by saying “If you find you cannot manage your feelings (for example you feel very angry as you recall unpleasant memories) take a time-out and relax with some music or a soda. I didn’t even read the scale, but was angry at that sentence telling me to chill with a soda if I can’t manage myself.
I can’t stand books that presume they know how I feel, and then trivialize those feelings with a scale and asinine suggestions. Oh, a soda, if I had only ever thought to just have a soda, I wouldn’t have any troubles. Thank you for the soda cure to managing my feelings.
So, if you remove large, insensitive portions of this book, some sections actually do make sense and provide some useful strategies to balancing energy, reducing stress, and putting things in to perspective. I really liked the self-diagnostic on page 200, to check why you had a mood swing.
And the PAS (positive affirmation slogans) are a great tool when stuck in a negative spiral. Here’s a few examples:
I can trust without fear
Feeling loved fills me with joy
I am safe. I am secure. I am good.
All my resentments are fading away.
I am calm and relaxed.
I will let fear pass over me and through me.
Stress is only temporary; I will prevail.
I will not hurt myself.
I will care for myself.
I do not obey my impulses.
I will keep my body and mind healthy.
Other inventories can be used to gather a person’s history, but I have never seen one rate my life events quite like this PTES. Here is a link to a survey http://www.info-trauma.org/flash/media-e/diagnosisToolkit.pdf. That one was uncomfortable, but did not make me angry, no ratings, no scales.
- Psychological abuse of children as harmful as physical abuse (thesunnews.typepad.com)
- Q&A: Valuing Sexual Abuse Claims Not Simple (insurancejournal.com)
- Psychological Abuse: Common & Harmful (pdresources.wordpress.com)
- Study: Psychological, Emotional Abuse As Detrimental To Kids As Physical Violence (stlouis.cbslocal.com)