Jessica Stern

Readers Respond to “Denial”

(The letters are posted with permission from the letter writers.)

August 16, 2010

Dr. Stern,

Just finished your book and I am still astounded by your findings. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that I myself might have PTSD. I was born in 1957 in Transylvania/ Romania into the German minority group and grew up as the only daughter of a government official who owned (and tortured) the three generations of women in his household (mother-in-law/wife/daughter).

I defected in 1983 at the age of twenty-six and experienced from then on most of the symptoms you are describing in your book. Outwardly doing well: Assistant Prof at the
University of Maryland/European Division Heidelberg; brought mother and grandmother to freedom (illegally; grandmother wrapped in a tapestry) . . . despite PTSD?! Even tried to write a book about my experiences.

I’ve been in treatment for depression for a long time . . . Prozac, then Paxil silencing most of my symptoms—but it helps to understand why I might feel/act the way I do, i.e. charity work for my village of birth became almost an obsession.

Thank you for a very well documented, well written and insightful memoir. And I am flabbergasted about not only your honesty, but your willingness to invite us into your life.
You are one of those special women—so intelligent, educated and beautiful—who lifts the rest of us up!

** 1 of 7

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