A Book Review of Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One’s PTSD by Cynthia Orange.

Minnesota: Hazelden, 2010, ISBN 978-1-59285-856-9

Shock Waves is a gift for those struggling to deal with the strain of supporting a loved one through the aftereffects of trauma. It distils much of what is understood about PTSD and brings to life the disturbing personal and family dynamics it creates. Above all it offers the experience, hope and practical wisdom of those who have faced the problems and overcome them.

Cynthia Orange has created a valuable resource out of her own and other’s direct experience. The use of stories normalizes trauma responses and the surrounding behaviours in a way that humanizes the more academic information provided. It also brings to life the natural sense of loss and grief experienced when a loved one changes. The combination gives permission to family members to honour their own feelings and learn to take care of themselves as a necessary step in their loved one’s recovery.

Shock Waves makes explicit the links between trauma and addiction in an easy and accessible way. This opens up the possibility for the reader to identify and feel less ashamed about addictive acting out within their family and offers practical ways of tackling it head on.

This is a book I will offer to clients struggling to live with trauma and addiction in their family. It offers direct, practical suggestions that hold out the hope of transforming what can seem like a hopeless situation.

Reviewed by Barry Smale, a Trauma, CBT, Addiction and EMDR Therapist at Nightingale Hospital.

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