Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 1/2

Today, Mao is judged by a Western value system that did not exist during his lifetime. His world was a place and time that molded him to be a survivor in a brutal world where failure often meant death.

It is now accepted that who individuals grow up to become as adults is partially due to genetics but mostly from the environment and lifestyle one experiences.

Mao grew up in another world nothing like most experience in the West, but he has been judged by Western humanitarian beliefs known today as “political correctness” that did not exist when he was born into China’s collective culture where the reverse was true and the individual was not more important than the whole.

There is a strong possibility that Mao also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and this may have influenced his behavior and decisions during the years he ruled China.

Helping Psychology says, “PTSD victims tend to be in a continuous state of heightened alertness. The trauma that precipitates the disorder essentially conditions them to be ever-ready for a life threatening situation to arise at any moment … But the continuous releases of brain chemicals that accompany this reaction time – and their inability to control when this heightened reactivity will occur – take psychological and biological tolls on PTSD victims over time.”

Before I continue, I want to say that American troops are not the only humans on this planet to suffer from PTSD. Every person is susceptible to the ravages of violent trauma and if we examine Mao’s life, it would be impossible to deny that PTSD may not have played a role in the decisions he made in old age.

In fact, Medicine says, “Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) usually results from prolonged exposure to a traumatic event or series thereof and is characterized by long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning.”

After examining Mao’s long history with violence and war, it is safe to say that he may have been a candidate for C-PTSD.

Before I wrote this two part series, I scheduled The Long March and China’s Great Leap Forward to appear in addition to The Cultural Revolution.

Continued on August 8, 2011 in Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 2


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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2 Responses to Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 1/2

  1. Tarsha Cybart says:

    According to a pilot study published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Healing and Caring, veterans with high levels of PTSD saw their PTSD levels drop to within normal limits after treatment. They reported that combat memories that had previously haunted them, including graphic details of deaths, mutilations, and firefights, dropped in intensity to the point where they no longer resulted in flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of PTSD. The study involved veterans from Vietnam, as well as more recent conflicts. ..

    • I think improving the symptoms of PTSD through treatment depends on how soon the combat veteran has the treatment after returning from combat. Studies using brain scans have demonstrated that over time, the brains of vets suffering from PTSD are permanently damaged due to the increase and frequency that cortisol floods the brain due to the flight or fight response that PTSD triggers in combat veterans especially during flashbacks or any situation the vet sees as threatening. For me just waking from sleep and hearing someone–even a family member–walking through the house triggers the cortisol as my body gets ready to fight.

      For me, I had no idea that I had PTSD or what PTSD was until I retired from teaching in 2005 and starting using the VA as my medical provider—almost forty years after I served and fought in Vietnam. In fact, the study and science of PTSD and how to deal with it did not receive serious attention until the 1980s.

      The 1800’s saw names used such as; Hysteria, Soldiers Heart, Soldiers Irritable Heart, Irritable Heart, DaCosta’s Syndrome, Railway Spine, Traumatic Neuroses & Fright Neuroses.

      The 1900’s saw names such as; Disorderly Action of the Heart, Neurocirculatory Asthenia, Shell Shock, War Neurosis, War Hysteria, Stress Response Syndrome, Combat Stress Reaction, Concentration Camp Syndrome, War Sailor Syndrome, Rape Trauma Syndrome, Battered Woman Syndrome, Vietnam Veterans Syndrome, Abused Child Syndrome and inevitably in 1980, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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