Walking with Aletheia: A Survivor’s Memoir equates to taking a profound advanced psychology course
Reading Jean Hargadon Wehner’s Walking with Aletheia: A Survivor’s Memoir equates to taking a profound advanced psychology course, one focused upon world-shaking damages which the trauma of betrayal wreaks. Though she withstood the worst assaults—mind-numbing, intentional attacks against the innocent child she was—she somehow retained an impressive dignity, and though she necessarily kept her full self hidden even from herself for decades as the awesome power of the mind to protect itself through repression did its precious work of blocking unimaginable abuse by other human beings, she’s here and with quite a story of survival.
Dr. Leon Wurmser once mentioned that most don’t understand the time-frame in psychology, that understanding the mind and what occurs in therapy proves akin to grasping the subject of nuclear physics. Difficult, if not impossible, terrain for many, territory which often gets abandoned—with devastating results for our society’s mental health, as victims, suffering for reasons they don’t understand, seek the surface treatment of distraction, usually through counter-productive addictions or other puzzling behavior.
Jean Wehner helps illuminate this often bewildering territory via sharing her own case history of abuse and recovery. Jean survived. She put herself back together after predators in authority tore her into shreds. She amazes not only with the tale of terrors she suffered alone, but also with the gifted awareness of therapeutic techniques provided the open-minded, the still-vulnerable.
With the complexity of our society’s woes regarding not only the future but also the current angst of so many, caught in webs of denial which create both self- and other-destructive lives, we must muster the concentration and strength to hear of lives lived such as Jean’s. Reading this book—taking this class, no matter the difficulty in absorbing the lessons—can help prevent others from suffering excessively because of widespread ignorance in what creates troubled lives.
German author Alice Miller, in appraising the huge problem of widespread child abuse globally, observed that the reason behind its prevalence is that “we suffer from an absence of enlightened witnesses.” As you increase your psychology wisdom, do travel alongside one of the wisest: Jean Hargadon Wehner. Join her on the path she offers to counsel the rest of us regarding the extraordinary damage wrought by those doing wrong to children (and adults), as well as the extraordinary healing sought by those determined to restore a self, torn apart by malicious humans.
Jean’s power as witness casts brilliant light, light needed to invite us to the table of community healing. See you there!
Reviewed by Mitzi Mabe
Author of “Dealing with Trauma in the Classroom” in Simple and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Strategies for Comprehensive Treatment in Clinical Practice, Editors: Mary Beth Williams and John F. Sommer (The Haworth Press)