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Irritable Hearts

A PTSD Love Story

by Mac McClelland

Irritable Hearts by Mac McClelland X
Irritable Hearts by Mac McClelland
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  • Published Feb 2015
    320 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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There are currently 18 member reviews
for Irritable Hearts
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  • Beth C. (Sioux Falls, SD)
    Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland (Memoir)
    This is a remarkable book for several reasons. First, Mac McClelland is an excellent writer and pulls the reader right into her story. Second, McClelland very bravely shares her own worst moments as well as some of her best times. Third, she delves deeply into the causes, symptoms, and effects of Post- Traumatic Stress Syndrome in a way that is both highly readable and easily understood by a non-psychologist lay person.

    Mac McClelland is a journalist who lived in New Orleans and wrote about the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. She also wrote about the Gulf oil spill that happened soon after that. Then, she went to Haiti to research and right about the effects of the devastating hurricane that struck that very poor country. In Haiti, she saw many horrific sights, and was suddenly sent spinning into a downward spiral of PTSD without really understanding the condition and with little recourse but to try to learn more about it.

    This was not an easy book to read although the writing is excellent. In fact, it may be that very excellence that had me setting the book down and walking away more than once. I didn't walk away intending to abandon the reading, but because there was only so much disturbing material that I could handle in one sitting. Nonetheless, I continued to read and learn from McClelland's experiences and her research into the PSTD among military veterans and their families, as well as other trauma victims.

    This book would be an excellent choice for a book group that is willing to tackle a tough subject. There are many points that are well worth discussing. It also could be a good choice for a reader who knows someone with PTSD or who is dealing with it personally. For someone who is in therapy, I would recommend discussing it with a therapist before reading the book alone, as it could bring up unresolved or upsetting issues
  • Bink W. (Sopchoppy, FL)
    Post Traumatic Stress
    Excellent first person description of complex PSTD, along with reviews of treatment options in the field as they have developed over the last couple of decades, especially. Educational and moving. I would recommend to anyone suffering from this widespread and often misdiagnosed syndrome and to any therapist who treats clients or patients with related signs and symptoms.
  • Carolyn L. (Summerville, SC)
    Irritable Hearts
    This is a powerful book, not for the squeamish. The language is often raw, and the author is frank about her sexuality and experiences. The reader learns much about PTSD, its causes and treatments (of which there are many), and how widespread it is, not only among veterans. The factors which make someone more susceptible to PTSD are very interesting.What particularly saddens me is the way so many people are quick to judge whether someone "really has PTSD" or question the ways in which they try to deal with it. I think this well-written book would foster some good book club discussion.
  • Marion C. (Litchfield, NH)
    A PTSD Love Story
    Mac McClelland, a well-known human rights journalist, writes about her experience reporting on the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. The horrific atrocities she sees and hears, leaves her sick. McClelland becomes fearful and extremely vulnerable to the conditions violating all human rights. The slant of her reporting changes when she develops PTSD at the completion of her Haitian assignment.
    She writes in-depth about the Haitians battle with PTSD while battling her own symptoms. McClelland meets a French soldier Nico in Haiti and is attracted to him even with all the chaos. One side effect of her illness nearly destroys Nico and their relationship.
    I found this book very enlightening about PTSD and McClelland writes this compelling memoir suggesting our Government fund more programs and new treatments for veterans and families with this affliction.
  • Kelli R. (Birmingham, AL)
    A Journalist's Powerful Account of Her Struggle with PTSD
    "No one says that unresolved trauma can kill you. If anyone did, maybe people would take it more seriously. Serious as cancer." Mac McClelland is an American journalist and author that reports on domestic and international human rights stories. She has seen and heard a lot of nasty stuff through the course of her work, but it was a particularly violent sexual incident that she personally witnessed on the streets of Haiti in 2010 that ultimately led to her diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mac adamantly refuses to describe that Haiti incident in detail for the reader, but instead focuses her memoir on the physical and mental after affects that she has now come to realize may be with her for a lifetime. Towards the end of the book, Mac spends some time contemplating secondary traumatic stress disorder (STSD) which can affect spouses, children, and caretakers. This was an important question for Mac because she also fell in love on that fateful trip to Haiti. My question: Is it possible to exhibit minor symptoms of STSD from just reading a raw, well-researched account of someone else's PTSD? I literally had to put this book down at times when my pounding headache and racing heart made it impossible to proceed. For me, that is evidence of the strength and impact of this book.
  • Maggie A, New Jersey
    A startling and valuable book
    "Irritable Hearts" is a nonfiction autobiographical book by the award-winning journalist Mac McClelland. It describes the author's harrowing, two-year-long struggle with PTSD following a frightening experience that occurred when she was on assignment in Haiti. The first part of the book is rather rough going, for the following reasons: 1.) McClelland declines to describe the experience that set off her PTSD, providing only oblique and confusing hints, 2.) Her account of her visit to Haiti is one-dimensional and disturbingly negative, 3.) McClelland's "love at first sight" encounter with a young Frenchman seems improbable, and 4.) Early in her struggle with PTSD, McClelland was surprised to discover that she could ease some of her symptoms by engaging in violent sex. However, after the first few chapters, I actually came to like this book quite a lot. It evolves into a frank, honest, and affecting account of McClelland's journey toward wellness with the help of a somatic therapist and the support of her partner. The author provides information about the range and variability of the symptoms of PTSD, reveals how common it is among people who have been abused, and discusses the effects of the disorder on family members. There's a good balance between the carefully-researched information that she presents and the intimacy of a very personal story. I had known almost nothing about PTSD before I read this book, and I am grateful to the author for opening my eyes though this account of her dark but ultimately inspiring journey.
  • WDH (Florida)
    Mixed Feelings
    My feelings about this book are mixed, mostly because the book was a struggle for me to read. The author was open about what she's been through, and I learned a lot about PTSD and have an improved understanding about the impact it can have on someone.
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