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

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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.

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The Long March Part 2 (3/4)

July 29, 2010

Mao’s troops didn’t want to return through the grasslands and he issued orders to take the pass. The fighting was fierce and Mao’s Red Army took heavy losses.

Mao stopped the direct assaults and sent skilled climbers up one of the canyon’s walls.  From the high ground, they shot down at the Nationalist fortifications blocking the pass.

One volunteer wrapped his body in explosives, leaped from the cliff into the middle of the Nationalist fortifications, and blew himself up opening the pass.

Mao’s First Red Army finally reached desolate and rugged Shaanxi Province. The Long March was over, and Mao’s troops linked up with other Red Army elements that already had a base there.

Of the original 87,000 who started the Long March, fewer than 6,000 survived. These survivors would recruit and lead the new army.

The Long March turned Mao into a leader with a following from the common people throughout China.

Eventually, the Fourth Red army arrived, but two-thirds of this army had been killed in battles.

Chiang Kai-shek planned a new campaign to defeat Mao, but Chiang’s supporters and generals forced him to work with the Communists to fight the Japanese. This uneasy alliance would become a Civil War in 1945 when World War II ended.

Return to The Long March – Part 2/2 or go on to The Long March Part 2/4

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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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The Long March Part 2 (2/4)

July 29, 2010

There is no drainage in the grasslands. As it rains, the water saturates the soil and turns it into a swamp.  Beneath the flowers and grass were hidden bogs that could swallow men and animals whole. 

The temperatures were slightly above freezing. Food became scarce and was rationed.

When there was no food, the troops boiled the grass and added a touch of salt. Everyone was weak. Those who collapsed were left to die, because the survivors were too weak to help.

They could only cry.

The Red Army lost more troops in the grasslands than from the Snowy Mountains.  A Nationalist army followed the Communists into the grasslands but turned back because of the difficulty and risks.

One reason the Nationalists turned back was that Chiang Kai-shek suffered from a lack of loyalty among his troops and generals. He even feared that one of his generals might kill him.

On the other hand, the loyalty of Mao’s troops was unquestioned. 

However, the general of the Fourth Red Army argued with Mao and the two armies split. 

Mao’s army was weak and still had hundreds of miles to go to reach safety. One obstacle remained—the dangerous Lazikou pass, which was also fortified by waiting Nationalist troops. Mao’s troops would have to fight to take the pass or return through the grasslands.

Return to The Long March – Part 2/1 or go on to The Long March Part 2/3

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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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The Long March Part 2 (1/4)

July 28, 2010

In June 1935, eight months and over three-thousand miles into the Long March, Mao’s Red Army moved into Western Sichuan Province.  For a time, Mao’s troops were safe from Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists. 

Meanwhile, the Japanese launched an attack on another northern Chinese province.  The Japanese now occupied most of Northern China and the Chinese there knew little about the struggle between Mao and Chiang Kai-shek. Feeling abandoned, they were alienated from the Nationalist government.

However, the Red Army had to cross the Snowy Mountains with peaks as high as 15,000 feet.  Because these mountains were so rugged and dangerous, the Nationalist Army stopped the pursuit and waited for the mountains to kill Mao.

Some historians believed crossing these mountains was a blunder, but Mao had no choice. Only defeat waited behind him. There was no turning back. 

The thin air and the steep, snow-covered mountains exhausted the troops. A shortage of food, lack of firewood, snow blindness all contributed to the challenge. While crossing the mountains and linking up with the Fourth Red Army, thousands were lost. Once joined, the combined armies number 100,000 troops.

The next challenge was the deadliest obstacle of all—a high-desert grassland. There was no choice. All the easy routes were controlled by Chiang Kai-shek’s troops. Then heavy rains came, which turned the grassland into a swamp.

Return to The Long March – Part 1/6 or go on to The Long March – Part 2/2

______________________

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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The Long March Part 1 (6/6)

July 27, 2010

In the race to the bridge, advanced elements of the Red Army arrived first.   The bridge was about 100 yards long and nine feet wide.  Thirteen chains held up the side supports along with the bridge’s flooring. The troops for a local warlord guarded the bridge, and they had removed the flooring.  Only the chains were left since the local people refused to cut them.

The battle for the bridge began.  Volunteers from the Red Army started to crawl along the chains while covering fire was focused on the warlord’s troops on the other side.

The warlord’s troops used mortars and machine guns shooting at the Red Army volunteers as they crawled toward them. After fierce fighting, Mao’s troops took the bridge and the Red Army crossed. The Nationalists had made a mistake by not cutting the bridge’s chains.

However, The Long March was not over.  The Red Army was heavily outnumbered, and they had some of the highest mountains in the world to cross before reaching the Fourth Red Army and safety deep in Western China.

Return to The Long March – Part 1/5 or go on to The Long March – Part 2/1

__________________________

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. 

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Mao Zedong, the Poet

July 27, 2010

Many outside China think of Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976) as a brutal dictator. Yet, he was fifty-six when he became the ruler of China and seventy-two at the beginning of The Cultural Revolution.

In fact, while commanding the Red Army during The Long March (1934-1935), we see a man who respected China’s peasants proving he was more of a nationalist than a Communist. Then there was the move away from Communist Russia after Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, when Mao said, “Our common old friend, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, doesn’t approve of this.”

In 1935, Mao’s poem, “The Long March”, reveals an awareness of the sacrifice and the willingness to suffer to accomplish great things.

The Red Army fears not the trials of the March,
Holding light ten thousand crags and torrents.
The Five Ridges wind like gentle ripples
And the majestic Wumeng roll by, globules of clay.
Warm the steep cliffs lapped by the waters of Golden Sand,
Cold the iron chains spanning the Tatu River.
Minshan’s thousand li of snow joyously crossed,
The three Armies march on, each face glowing.

Mao was a complex man, and it wasn’t until after the failure of the The Great Leap Forward (1958 – 1961) that the fatal attraction and power of leadership corrupted him leading to the horrors of The Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), which Mao’s critics in the West use to define him.

Anyone who follows all of Mao’s life instead of relying on his last decade would understand that he cared deeply about the common people while punishing the landowners and wealthy, who abused them.  On the other hand, his foe, Chiang Kai-shek, supported the landowners and wealthy while crushing the peasants and workers.

There is a post on About China.info that says, “Mao’s poetry exhibits a spirit of boldness and power, weaving together history, reality and commitment… Bold transformation of myth and literary quotations are a distinct feature of Mao’s poetry.”

At Mao Zedong Poems, Two Birds” A Dialogue (1965), reveals what Mao may have been thinking about as President Johnson increased America’s involvement in Vietnam. Was Mao also warning us of what he was about to do in 1966, when he launched The Cultural Revolution?

Two Birds: A Dialogue (1965)

The roc wings fanwise,
Soaring ninety thousand li
And rousing a raging cyclone.
The blue sky on his back, he looks down
To survey Man’s world with its towns and cities.
Gunfire licks the heavens,
Shells pit the earth.
A sparrow in his bush is scared stiff..
“This is one hell of a mess!
O I want to flit and fly away.”
“Where, may I ask?”
The sparrow replies,
“To a jewelled palace in elfland’s hills.
Don’t you know a triple pact was signed
Under the bright autumn moon two years ago?
There’ll be plenty to eat,
Potatoes piping hot,
Beef-filled goulash.”
“Stop your windy nonsense!
Look, the world is being turned upside down.”

Through Mao’s poetry, we learn more about the man—not the modern emperor.

Discover China’s Privately Passionate Poetry

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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.

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The Long March – Part 1 (5/6)

July 27, 2010

Mao’s army began to win more battles. One of Mao’s battalions marched 85 miles in one day and night to seize a Nationalist fort without firing a shot. The fort commanded an important river crossing. When Chiang Kai-shek discovered what Mao’s forces had done, he was furious. Meanwhile, Mao was gaining new recruits and support from the peasants.

Chiang’s KMT army did not have the support of most peasants since his army supported wealthy landowners. The KMT also had a reputation for dishonesty, corruption, and heavy taxation—all the wrongs that had collapsed the Qing Dynasty.

Most peasants trusted the Communists, who treated them with respect and refused to take any food while the Nationalists confiscated all the food and supplies they wanted without paying.

One challenge stood in Mao’s way—the Yi minority, who had stayed free of Chinese rule for decades due to their fierceness. Mao sent an envoy to negotiate and an agreement was reached. In fact, many Yi warriors joined Mao’s army.

However, there was another river to cross and Chiang’s army was moving to trap the Communists. A bridge built in 1701 was the key. The race toward this bridge would lead to the most important battle of the Long March.

Return to The Long March, Part 1/4 or go on to The Long March – Part 1/6

________________________

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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