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Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent…

Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World, a Guide for Activists… (2007)

by Pattrice Jones

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Here is why I have complicated feelings about this book

  alittleheadache | Jun 8, 2013 |
I enjoyed this book even though I'm not much of an activist. I found the information on how to cope with trauma and depressing to be useful, even after having dealt with such things. It's a book I'll probably refer to in the future if I ever have any such problems again. I would definitely recommend it to any radical who is or isn't an activist, but especially activists or friends of activists. ( )
  lemontwist | Feb 10, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In many ways, Aftershock is a part of the Eco-Psychology Movement: acknowledging that the wound we inflict on the planet we ultimately inflict upon ourselves. And in this way Jone's book could appeal to a wider audience. However the thrust of the book is closer to Joanna Macy's style of healing those on the front lines, the activist who, seeing much of what is wrong with the world, must take care not to burn out.

Jone's book is written with a deep empathy for activists especiallygiven her own history. She seeks to validate and then alleviate the pain felt by those pushing the envelope for progressive change. The problem with Jone's book is often the problem I've seen within the activist community in general. If you are outside this community, say reading this book for more general reasons, her language can seem off putting, even ridiculous in it's attempts to make sure everyone is included and validated. It makes one wonder how anyone survived the Civil Rights movement or brought down the oppressive regimes abroad. It often resembles the navel gazing mentality that is rampant in the liberal community. It occurs to me that activists suffering from burn out may do better getting away from the whole community and go out into the wider world, see that many people live and even thrive under difficult circumstances. Resiliency, rather than vulnerability, might be a better direction for this type of healing.

Describing symptoms activist might suffer, Jones details PTSD and depression at length but without any real insight. Yes, calling 1-800-suicide when suicidal is helpful, but she is not offering anything new in these chapters. Her tips for organizations does include some good information, here you can sense this is where Jones has the most experience.

In general the book would likely help those it's geared towards and is worth a read, but it's insular language, despite being inclusive, may wind up alienating many more. ( )
  lesleyap | Jun 8, 2008 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was extremely excited to read this book as I cross a lot of subject matter in my activism and worklife; having over 25 years of feminist activism and scholarship myself. The idea of blending a feminist perspective with psychology and activism seemed an idea whose time had come! While much of the book was compelling and informative, it was equally charge with Jones' particular flavor of eco-feminist perspective. If you are in agreement with her politics and are philosophically alligned with her - then this is a fabulous read! However, I found myself disappointed - over and again - thinking that Jones' thesis (as I understand it) relates to the connection between psychological trauma and activism. Her eco-feminist politics so very much overshadow the main thrust of the thesis that at times it felt like reading a self-congratulatory master's project rather than a serious effort to cross bridges of difference in academic and theoretically divergent structural forums. I am loathe to state that I did not like this book when in fact, I really enjoyed it very much! So you can imagine my disappointment when in attempting to describe the work and theory to friends - I was left with a struggle to seperate her overt animal rights politics from the overarching idea that trauma in activism experiences can create long-term effects for activists. I thought about how I could use this text across all kinds of activism efforts and wondered many times (quite honestly - too many) if Jones' politics would 'turn off' some activists who might genuinely need to read such an important treatise on self-care for better and long-term involvement, yet disagree with her radical stance on animalism and human-animal connections.

Overall, I think Jones' efforts to write a politically personal text about the psychological impact on activists is an intriguing and innovative project. Her revelations and connections to theory and practice certainly elicit provocative responses for the reader. Yet I fear that her personalization ultimately taints the overall text in establishing a perfected tool for supporting activists across a lot of leftist communities that will sympathize with her personal experiences to varying degrees. Her accounts in activism and eco-relations were incredibly interesting and poignant read, but I would be hard-pressed to use the text in its entirety for educating activists and that's where I find I am so struck by the seeming overuse of her personal philosophical/political agenda.

I would strongly recomend this book, with the caveat that one should take and use what is best and enjoy the rest. ( )
  mamakats | May 29, 2008 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
in this book, patrice jones aims to provide support for and bring awareness to all activists who witness or directly experience trauma. the book is aimed at multiple audiences, but it will generally be most meaningful to activists themselves or the therapists who work with them.

i found myself most connected to the first four chapters. my work as a case manager brings me into direct contact with trauma, whether first hand or the "aftershock" of it. i have myself felt shaken by what i witness and on multiple occasions thought to myself, "what the hell is wrong with people that they could be so cruel?"

in the book, patrice jones writes of the importance of not ignoring your own feelings and reactions as an activist. the book has helpful techniques for liberating, not suppressing, those traumas that can lead to burn out and eventually harm others. she warns that, as animals, we humans cannot neglect our own needs; even if they are as simple as food, sleep and solitude.

aftershock feels like a type of handbook; you can turn to the chapter or section that you need assistance with at any given time. this isn't to say that the book cannot be read cover to cover, but i found that i skimmed the sections aimed at therapists. i also felt a bit lost in section 3. i had to keep reminding myself of the theme. i personally did not need to be reminded of the reasons that activism is essential and that injustices continue in the world.

overall, aftershock is a genuine and heartfelt guidepost to help all helpers stay healthy and able to continue working for change. ( )
  adrndack | May 28, 2008 |
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