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

August 8, 2011

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

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 alone 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.

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. 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 government. 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 KMT.

To judge Mao by today’s Politically Correct Western values is wrong, since 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.

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” and wasn’t treated. 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. The more combat a veteran was exposed to, the higher the risk.

Discover Mao Zedong, the Poet or start with Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 1


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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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 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.

Keeping Mao Alive in the West – Part 2/4

June 30, 2011

Another fact that The Economist left out of Boundlessly loyal to the great monster was that Mao was not in charge of The Cultural Revolution. He started the movement to retain power then put his wife in charge. While she was busy dismantling the nation, Mao was hanging out inside the walls of The Forbidden City.

His wife put students in charge of the schools and made teachers victims.

Before that, Mao turned butchers and peasants into doctors without any medical education to guide them in the healing arts. These untrained doctors were known as bare-foot doctors with little to no training, which I wrote about at China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time.

However, as crazy as it may sound, the bare-foot doctors worked.  Life expectancy was about 35 when Mao launched this program and by the time Mao died, life expectancy had increased by twenty years.

The people that Mao liberated from feudalism know that Mao Zedong was also a poet long before he ruled China. The years of Civil War from the early 1920 to 1949, assassination attempts and broken promises by Chiang Kai-shek , and fighting the brutal Japanese during World War II must have changed Mao. For sure, The Long March was a bloody influence that possibly led to a bad case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which tends to make one paranoid.

After all, fighting a Civil War for almost 25 years and living in caves had to have an impact on Mao.  If US soldiers come home with PTSD after one tour of combat, imagine more than two decades living a life of combat.

The Maoists that The Economist mentions mostly want to have the power back but not necessarily the purges and/or denunciations of The Cultural Revolution.

With nostalgia, this minority of Maoists remembers a different time from a different perspective since they may have been the peasant leaders of the adolescent Red Guard.

Many in the West probably do not know that the Red Guard and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were two different forces and the PLA for the most part was not involved in The Cultural Revolution.  In fact, several times the PLA stopped the rampaging Red Guard from some of its destruction of all things old in China.

Continued on July 1, 2011 in Keeping Mao Alive in the West – Part 3 or return to Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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.

Pain, Pollution and People

February 14, 2010

It’s difficult to write when I’m gasping for air and blowing my top. When I was still teaching, walking into a classroom in the morning made me sick—and no, I wasn’t allergic to my students, but I should have been.

Then I retired and for five years, I have been free of wheezy lungs and sinus infections that always arrived with the start of each school year when I worked in those old buildings at the high school where I taught. Have you heard of sick building syndrome? I lived it. The last time I was sick from air pollution was in Shanghai.

This new, peaceful world changed several weeks ago. Workers came with power tools and mud-caked boots. I should have fled, but I stayed at my computer as a stupid, stubborn, former United States Marine would.

covered office furniture

My office has three doors. One that leads toward the other rooms and one that opens to the outside. Then there is the door that opens to the space under the second story and the foundation. That crew drilled, pounded, cut and tracked dirt from room to room—always in my office. I had trouble concentrating. I suffered from memory loss. Plastic tarps covered most of the furniture, and I couldn’t find things. When I left the office to find a moment of peace, I covered the computer and printers with a bed sheet. The noise reminded me of combat but worse, because I was nineteen and then twenty when I was in Vietnam—noise did not bother me as it does now.

Concrete dust floated through the air and my sinuses and lungs rebelled, so I put on a 3M mask with two pink HEPA filters attached. The last time I wore a mask like this was when I was teaching. I searched the garage and found the noise suppresser to help mute the pounding and drilling.  I looked like an explorer to Mars or a survivor of trench warfare struggling to write while the frigid air froze my fingers.

The crew had arrived to bolster the foundation against future earthquakes that might never arrive. Even if a hard tumbler did visit, I doubt that all that work would hold our sixty-year old hillside house together. It still might slide down the hill into the middle of the street blocking traffic.

I could have moved, but I didn’t want to disconnect all the cables and cart the equipment to another room for a few days to escape the dust and noise—something (I soon discovered) that would have been impossible without checking into a hotel.

Even with a noise suppresser covering my ears, muted sounds intruded and the last place I wanted to be was in this chair writing about China, the Vietnam War or being a teacher in the tortured American public schools. I stuck with it for days as my suppressed anger fueled by PTSD started to simmer and fume.

It was a relief when the workers finished. I thought I was going to have the tranquility back where the only noise would be the click of the keys as my warmed hands flew across the keyboard meeting my Blogging goals.

But the workers left something behind.

I started sneezing. My sinuses ran hundred mile marathons. I went to the doctor and he prescribed medications that didn’t work. The sneezing went volcanic—like Mt. Saint Helena blowing its top.  One time, I sneezed so bad, I blew the 3M mask off my face—so much for a mask that’s supposed to protect you from every gas and plague Islamic terrorists can brew. Upstairs or outside, I was fine. But in my office, I was a goner. “Blam, blam, balm,” my nose exploded like rapid shots from a fifty-caliber submachine gun.

I could have opened windows, but it’s been raining for weeks.  The sky has been overcast.  The air breezy and cold.  Then today, the sun came out and I finally let the outside in and the sneezing stopped—I’m crossing my fingers and knocking on wood. I’m afraid to close the windows, but night will come and with it lower temperatures. I fear that whatever industrial poison is haunting my once tranquil office space might return.

The First of all Virtues – Part 4/9

January 31, 2010

I am sixty-four. I served in the United States Marines and fought in Vietnam. For more than four decades, I have lived with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

I spent close to a decade attending universities to first earn an Associate-of-Science degree and next a BA in journalism. The remainder of those ten odd years was spent at night in a variety of universities earning an MFA in writing. I spent my weekdays working as an English teacher. For a few years, I even taught journalism working some days from six in the morning until midnight.

I also held a number of odd jobs like being a maitre d’ for a Southern California nightclub called the Red Onion or as a supervisor for Pacific Motor Trucking. I worked for forty-five years starting at fifteen washing dishes nights and ended a thirty-year career at sixty as an overworked and underpaid, ‘often verbally abused’ teacher in California’s public schools.

Strange, I searched for a Blog that talked about teachers being abused by students and found thousands that did nothing but bash teachers. Then I found Who’s to Blame …  (a dim light in the wilderness). It seems that few in Western cultures care what happens to teachers. We are the one to bask or kick when you want to bash or kick something.

Go to The First of All Virtues Part 5 or return to Part 3


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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