9/11, the war in Iraq, the London bombings, now Afghanistan . . . Thousands died, and in their aftermath many more became prisoners of their own devastated minds – their only hope a small number of dedicated pioneers working to piece together the crumbled fragments of their lives.
The Ancient Greeks called it ‘trauma’. And yet, almost three thousand years later, what was identified as shellshock during the First World War is still mistaken for cowardice or lack of moral fibre. Only since Vietnam have we begun to understand the symptoms and the causes of what is now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Professor Gordon Turnbull recognized PTSD as a serious clinical condition from the start of his career as a psychiatrist in the RAF. It afflicts people hit by violent tragedy, injury or shock, and, directly or indirectly, it can affect us all. Andy McNab and Johnson Beharry VC are just two of the hundreds who have benefited from Gordon’s care and counsel. He conducted unprecedented debriefings of British prisoners of war and British hostages released from the Lebanon, including John McCarthy, Jackie Mann and Terry Waite. Trauma explores the stories behind the headlines, and of those much closer to home. It describes how Gordon treated them, how this treatment often flew in the face of accepted ‘knowledge’, and how it was, at times, several steps ahead of current scientific discovery.
Overwhelmed by anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares and a terrible feeling of isolation, many sufferers think they will never again find the comfort of normality – but in 80 per cent of cases Gordon Turnbull and his team have helped them rebuild their lives. How they achieve this lies at the heart of his fascinating and inspirational story.
Gordon Turnbull is one of Hostage UK’s Professional Advisors.