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Gift From Within - Questions & Answers with Frank Ochberg on PTSD

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Questions & Answers
Joyce Boaz & Dr. Frank Ochberg

Read "Survivor Psalm" by Frank Ochberg

Recovery: Rebuilding Self Esteem.

Q: Dear Frank, many PTSD survivors talk about their lack of self esteem. What suggestions do you have on how to start rebuilding one's self esteem after a trauma?

A: Dear Joyce, many PTSD survivors struggle with issues of self-esteem. Sometimes the difficulty stems from issues dating back before the trauma that caused PTSD. Having family members, particularly parents, who were abusive and demeaning and deflating leaves an echo of self-rebuke. One of my patients realized this and said, "I'm going to kick my mother off my board of directors (she was talking about the chorus in her head that evaluated her with merciless criticism). She added, "I'm going to replace her with Arlo, my gay brother. He likes me!" I thought this was a wonderful advance.

PTSD itself includes anxiety and emotional anesthesia and a desire to avoid intimacy. These feelings and behaviors result in a loss of friendship. It is difficult to be your own friend if you are not a good friend to others.

Gift From Within is all about friendship. One of the best ways to recover self-esteem after PTSD is to share stories of losing esteem, and to do it in a way that encourages growth and self-respect. And if the obstacle is a voice of authority from the past-- sounding like Tony Soprano's mother-- try to replace that voice with a different authority. One who cares.

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Page created on 9 Febrruary 2010
Last updated by on 9 May 2013