“Recovering the Self” is more than just a journal. It’s only 87 pages long, but these double-columned pages feel like a full-fledged anthology of diverse voices covering multiple aspects of healing, recovery, and human experience divided into departments of non-fiction essays, book reviews, fiction, poetry, and interviews. Although each piece may not appeal to every reader, “Recovering the Self” has something for everyone-most likely a lot for everyone-to enjoy and to help each one of us to grow.
It would be impossible to discuss every aspect of the journal, but I’ll briefly summarize a few of the pieces that stood out for me to provide some idea of the broad definition of recovery involved.
Christy Lowry’s “Forgiveness: A God Thing?” is about a woman who learns how to forgive the man whose car struck and killed her young daughter by speaking to another driver whose vehicle had killed another young girl, and who, seven years later, still felt anguish over the incident. Besides forgiveness, the article spoke to overcoming grief, definitely one of the strongest themes running through the journal and something we must all deal with.
Frank A. Gerbode’s article, “A Theory of Resilience” provided answers and insight into how to deal with traumatic experiences, and the degrees of an experience that result in stress. He writes very clearly, using a personal example of a musical performance he bungled and how toppling over his music stand in practice would have caused less stress than it did during a performance. The article makes a person understand how stress is different in different situations and for different people. Needless to say, I was impressed that this fledgling journal got Frank Gerbode, the expert on metapsychology, to contribute, and it raises my expectations for future excellent issues.
Sam Vaknin provides a very thorough discussion about gender and sexuality in “Sex, Gender, and Personality Disorders” and whether the matter is biological or cultural. While this discussion is far from new, he provided much information to help people form their own opinions, much of the information new to me.
Among the fiction and book excerpts is Christine Bruness’ “The Blue Room” about a lesbian coping with the murder of her partner, and the powerful story “Ten Thousand Francs for a Bullet” by Dicho Ilunga about genocide in Rwanda. What I really appreciated about these and all the pieces in the journal was the variety of voices, including foreign and “alternative” voices. This journal is not written simply for white Americans but for everyone of any color, race, gender, background or sexual preference.
Many of the pieces, such as Sherry Jones Mayo’s “Shadows on the Wall” about a woman attempting to commit suicide because she can no longer cope with being a responder to trauma, will make readers want to search out more works by the author, such as Mayo’s upcoming book “Confessions of a Trauma Junkie.”
The Help Desk section was also useful, this month featuring Dr. Janet Hall’s “Helping Children Traumatized by Disaster,” which was logical and well thought out. I hope to see more of this department in future issues.
The Poetry was accessible and enjoyable to read, and perfectly placed in the middle of the volume to provide a break from the somewhat heavier articles. The book and film reviews at the end of the book were also perfectly placed, recommending additional reading for people that will tide them over until the next issue of this quarterly journal.
I wish I could comment on more of the pieces ranging from near amputations to coping with Lyme Disease. To get some sense of what future issues will contain, the back cover of the journal states that “Recovering the Self” will explore “themes of recovery and healing through poetry, memoir, essays, fiction, humor, media reviews and psycho-education. Areas of concern include aging, disabilities, health, abuse recovery, trauma/PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Contributors come from around the world to provide a mirror of the experiences of peoples of all cultures and beliefs.” If that is this journal’s mission statement, it certainly lived up to it in this volume, making me look forward to the second issue.