The influence of Complex PTSD on Mao as China’s Leader: Part 2 of 2

December 4, 2013

Mao (born 1893) grew up during a period of madness in China. To learn more, I suggest reading The Roots of Madness, which shows that world.

Then the Chinese Civil War lasted from 1926 to 1949 with a few years out to fight the horrors of the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

The Long March experience by itself was enough to cause PTSD in all 6,000 of its survivors from the more than 80,000 troops that started the year-long journey of retreat, battle, and severe suffering that was surrounded by death on a daily basis.

After Mao was China’s leader, there was an assassination attempt by one of his most trusted generals, Lin Biao, a man Mao had named as his successor after he died.  In addition, during China’s Civil WarChiang Kai-shek ordered more than one failed assassination attempt on Mao.

However, the threats and violence that shaped Mao’s life began before The Long March and before he was a leader in the Chinese Communist Party.

As a child, he grew up among farmers and peasants with an average expected life span in China of 35 years. In the 1920s, as an idealist and a sensitive poet, he believed in helping the worker and led several labor movements that were brutally subdued by the Nationalist government led by Chiang Kai-shek.

Once, he barely escaped with his life.

In 1930, Yang Kaihu, his wife at the time—Mao was married four times—was arrested and executed. In addition, Mao had two younger brothers and an adopted sister executed by Chiang Kai-shek’s troops. If you had several close calls with death; lost a wife, two younger brothers and an adopted sister in this way, how would that affect you?

To judge Mao by today’s Politically Correct Western values is wrong, because he grew up in a world ruled by a completely different set of values that shaped him to be tough enough to survive and win.

Anyone that survived and went on to rule China at that time would have been judged as brutal by today’s Politically Correct Western values. In fact, Chiang Kai-shek was a brutal dictator who ruled Taiwan—after he fled mainland China in 1949—under military marshal law until his death in 1976. But Chiang didn’t have as many people to rule over so the death count was smaller but no less significant.

The History of Humanitarianism shows us that this concept was born and nurtured in the West and developed slowly over centuries with the result that the individual was made more important than an entire population.

However, in China, the whole is still more important than one person is as it was during Mao’s time. If you were to click on the link to the History of Humanitarianism and read it, you would discover that China was not part of this movement while Mao lived. (Discover more about China’s Collective Culture)

PTSD as a war wound and a trauma was not recognized or treated until well after America’s Vietnam War.  Prior to its discovery, it was known as shell shock. The diagnosis of PTSD first appeared in the 1980s, and Mao died in 1976.

In fact, if Mao were alive today he would not be alone. In the United States, it is estimated that 7.8% of all Americans suffer from PTSD, and among that segment of the population, more than 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans have PTSD in addition to 1.7 million Vietnam veterans.

Return to or start with The influence of Complex PTSD on Mao as China’s Leader: Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. 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.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The influence of Complex PTSD on Mao as China’s Leader: Part 1 of 2

December 3, 2013

Who was Mao? Was he the demon the Western media often makes him out to be, or was he just a product of his environment?

Mao has been judged by a Western value system that did not exist in China or the United States during his lifetime. In addition, it is now known that who we grow up to become as adults is partially due to genetics but mostly from environmental and lifestyle influences.

Mao grew up in a world nothing like most in the West have ever experienced, but he has been judged by Western humanitarian beliefs—also 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 [1949 – 1976].

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.”

And Medicine Net.com 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.”

American combat veterans are not the only people on this planet to suffer from PTSD. Every person is susceptible to the ravages of a violent trauma and if we examine Mao’s life, it could be argued that PTSD may have played a strong role in the decisions he made as he aged.

We will examine Mao’s long history as a victim of violence in Part 2.

Continued on December 4, 2013 in The influence of Complex PTSD on Mao as China’s Leader: Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. 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.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Waking the Unconscious Demon Within

August 21, 2011

Recently, I wrote a post about Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), and provided “overwhelming” evidence that Mao may have suffered from CPTSD. The reason I first thought of this is that I have lived with PTSD since I served in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. I am no stranger to this malady, and I know I am capable of barbaric behavior under the right circumstances.

Now, more evidence suggests that this demon becomes more difficult to manage as we age.

PTSD Forum had a post about the Dragon Brain – The Dark Side of the Lizard Brain, which along with a study at Stanford forty years ago may offer more insight of how Mao, starting out as a young sensitive poet and activist for the poor, was responsible for decisions later in his life that led to the failed Great Leap Forward then The Cultural Revolution.

The PTSD Forum says, “The down side (of PTSD) is a tendency to be more critical … to sense a threat where none may exist, or to sense a bigger threat than actually appears.”

Anxiety Insights.info says,” Post-traumatic stress, a condition that can cause patients to feel physical pain on remembering a traumatic event, is known to have a number of effects on the mind and body.”

In addition, PTSD may get worse as we grow older. In a comment on Veterans Benefits Network, Patrick428 says, “As we grow older there is a tendency to have less control of our frustrations and we anger more easily… This is why I say PTSD is much more problematic at an older age than was at a younger age.”

I suspect there may be a link between PTSD and a piece that I read in the July/August 2011 Stanford magazine — Six Days on the Dark Side -The Menace Within.

Forty years ago professor Phil Zimbardo (retired 2007) of Stanford’s psychology department conducted an experiment that was meant to run for twelve days but was stopped after six.  What the Stanford Prison Experiment (PSE) revealed was that ordinary college students were capable of doing terrible things under the right/wrong circumstances (like what happened at Abu Ghraib where Iraqi prisoners were abused and tortured by U.S. troops).

In fact, in the last decade, after the revelations of abuses committed by U.S. military and intelligence personal at prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, the SPE provided lessons in how good people placed in adverse conditions can act barbarically.

After Mao’s death and during Deng Xiaoping’s Beijing Spring, it was the collective consensus in China that Mao liberated China and was a good ruler 70% of the time. It may be difficult for many in the West to accept that Mao liberated most of the people of China from a worse life, but he did.

Now we may look back in hindsight and see that Mao was a product of his environment. He was not only the leader of the  People’s Republic of China, but he was also making decisions (mostly during the last decade of his life) influenced not only by CPTSD but also what SPE revealed about how good people placed in adverse conditions can act barbarically.

That does not make him a monster. It makes him the victim of an environment he had little control over at a young age, and if you want to discover what that environment was, I suggest reading Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the links provided that reveals some of his life.

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


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

August 7, 2011

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 Net.com 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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.