What I’ll be describing to you in this book is the most serious problem on the planet—while also being the least recognized. Remember scurvy and its eventual cure with Vitamin C. It’s important to realize that although Vitamin C is commonplace to us now—available to essentially everyone in all but the poorest nations—only two hundred years ago it occurred to no one, not a single person on earth, that hundreds of thousands of people were dying because of an insufficient supply of a molecule ten million times smaller than an average marble.
In the beginning of the process of discovering Vitamin C, in fact, people ignored the potential cures that presented themselves. As early as the late 1400s, legend has it that during one of Christopher Columbus's voyages, some Portuguese sailors acquired scurvy. Opposed to the idea of dying on board and having their bodies thrown overboard, they asked to be dropped off at one of the nearby islands. After eating the fresh fruits available there, they recovered completely. When Columbus’s ships passed by several months later, the sailors on the island astonished their old crew mates by waving from the shore. The island was named Curacao, meaning Cure.
Apparently someone learned from this experience and others like it, because a century later, in 1601, Captain James Lancaster of the British Navy took lemon juice with him when he left on an ocean voyage with three other ships. Although his crew—the only ones drinking the lemon juice—remained healthy, after three months scurvy began to appear in the crews of the other ships, and by the end of the four-month journey, those men were so crippled by scurvy that they had to be assisted back to port by the men who had been drinking the lemon juice. Captain Lancaster reported this extraordinarily successful method for the prevention of scurvy to the British Admiralty, but they took no action to spread the information.
Not until 1795 did the British Admiralty finally order lemon juice for all the sailors, almost two hundred years from the time they received the first report that the treatment had been effective—three hundred years from the event on Curacao. In all that time—during which so many people died—almost no one could imagine that the cure was so simple. Even after British sailors began to carry citrus fruits on their ships, sailors from other countries made fun of them—hence the term still used today for Brits: Limeys.
Two centuries ago no one thought that the discovery of this molecule would eliminate one of the great ravagers of human health. Nor did we understand the shock wave that would spread through the world of physics when subatomic particles were discovered. But the discovery of both these “invisible” things nonetheless changed our world.
And so it is with Real Love and PCSD. Real Love is so important to our emotional health that we cannot live in a healthy way without it. The absence of Real Love is the scurvy of the soul. In that condition we feel traumatized in a very real way, even if we can’t remember the specific instances of injury.
The pain of insufficient Real Love causes us to be overly sensitized to any potential threat, so then we respond with irritability, anger, avoidance, and more. We over-react to people in terribly unproductive ways, just as Anthony did to the people around him when he returned home from combat.
In any given negative interaction with another person—spouse, lover, child, parent, friend, co-worker—it is the longstanding presence or lack of Real Love in your life that has the greatest effect on how you feel, not the behavior of any one person in that moment.
In any given moment, you’re reacting to the amount of love you feel from everyone, past and present, not just from the person you’re interacting with.
Ask yourself the following questions:
If you answered yes to two or more of the above, it’s quite likely that you suffer from some degree of PCSD. Read more here and explore to a much larger extent how we behave in the absence of Real Love, how this correlates to PTSD, and what we can do to find Real Love and heal the wounds we’ve endured for so long.