book response: Autopsy of War by Parrish (2012)

The book description of Autopsy of War suggests this successful dermatologist, John Parrish, will look at his four decade struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a topic I've grown more interested in as I've read ever more soldier memoirs. But after reading more than two-thirds of it, I returned it to the library. I think there is a line between unflinching and exhibitionist, and only the second leaves me feeling slimy after experiencing it. He starts with his parents' childhoods and the awful upbringing of his father, his born-again conversion to Jesus, and his adult life as a successful, hypocritical, mentally ill, narcissistic, philandering preacher. The author repeats his father's example, but adds a few chapters of his time in Vietnam, and finds success in dermatology instead of preaching. I do not deny his reality of living with the stress of flashbacks to the war, his nightmares, his fear of helicopters, his emotional disconnection, as a result of PTSD, but he was a philanderer before the war, during the war, and when he returned from the war. I read up to the part where he talked about finally agreeing to be monogamous again with a woman in his field with a similar warped childhood, who understands him and accepts him with all his faults. He writes about his grief in how he hurts those he loves, but his writing makes sure that the injuries will never be forgotten. Again, he's not like his own father who also left an autobiographical manuscript behind, that the author is hurt too much by to finish. How does he think his own children will feel with this manuscript?

He reports that his own therapists consider him depressed and narcissistic. He tells story after story of impulsive, obsessive and compulsive activities. He includes a letter from the only was colleague he stayed in touch with, who tells the author that he keeps his Vietnam experience alive to use as an excuse for his ugly behaviors. This book certainly feels that way.

I'm grateful for Parrish's service to our country, and I applaud his success in the field of dermatology, but I wish he never wrote this book.
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