it’s about relationships – even ptsd

This is a NY Times article on PTSD that shares some important and perhaps surprising research.   Turns out the cure for even PTSD is talk therapy.  The innoculation against it – some 75% of people who are traumatized never show any PTDS symptoms – is in the quality of their early relationships.

Notice that although my book is “Stop Lying”, this article points out a well known – among researchers – quirk of lying:  A little, properly used, actually helps.  (I never said all lies were destructive.)  This is similar to something that’s been seen in couples – those in successful long term relationships often have slightly (or not slightly) distorted views of their partners.

The author also talks about grieving, overcoming the trauma, and how a large part of it is in the creation of a story.  I agree.  Sort of.

We seem to need stories but often that need drags us into creating lies.   In the book I have coming out soon – by Christmas, they tell me – I’ll talk about the destructive lies at some length.  But here’s a quick excerpt about the more mundane ones.

Too many times I have read accounts in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal of something I either witnessed or participated in, and found that I scarcely recognized the event.  It had been tarted up to make a good story, given a good humorous buildup and punchline, or treated with reverence that wasn’t there, or given a zing that it didn’t have.  I’ve seen thoughtful, observant people do this.  I suspect, at least in my less cynical moments, that the writers of those stories were not always aware of altering them in the telling; that is, I think they were unconsciously distorting things.  The playwright and performer Alan Bennett was talking on camera about Sir Alec Guinness the actor, and he said that “what strikes me is that there’s never been a convincing imitation of him”.  In that same documentary on Guinness, the author John le Carré did a priceless and dead on impression.  When a cast member of Star Trek: The Next Generation took over the direction of one of the movies, Patrick Stewart who plays the captain talked enthusiastically in an interview about how there has to be a Star Trek veteran at the helm to do a successful Star Trek movie.  Two of the Star Trek movies that were the greatest critical and popular successes were written and directed by Nicholas Meyer, a Shakespeare scholar who at the time had never even seen Star Trek.  I mention these stories because I do not believe that the people involved are stupid, reckless, or unreasonable.  Yet the lies come so naturally!  The celebrated novelist Saul Bellow wrote in one of his most famous books (Adventures of Augie March, 1953) “One day’s ordinary falsehood if you could convert it into silt would choke the Amazon back a hundred miles over the banks”.


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