In Reggie Ford's bold reassessment of the Black experience in America, he demonstrates that a new understanding of PTSD is required. PTSD, Perseverance Through Severe Dysfunction, as Ford defines it, underlines the darkness of mental health illnesses and behaviors that impact young Black men and have plagued Black Americans for generations.
But his reassessment is not doom and gloom. Instead, Ford implores that we turn pain into peace. His uplifting message shows that by realizing, accepting, and treating mental health with grace, kindness, and appreciation of the backgrounds of those needing support, we can reduce the significant impact of PTSD and other mental conditions on not just Black, but all people.
Ford uses his own traumatic experiences to inform his call to action. He takes his impoverished and scarred childhood and turns it into a life of promise and abundance. His memoir shines a light on the intergenerational impact of unaddressed mental health issues, showing how the power of a familial network can help or severely harm an individual's battle with mental health illnesses. He writes searingly of the overwhelming odds and systemic racism that must be overcome by Black Americans in order to reach the heights he has scaled. Ford's own heartbreaking story is yet an optimistic one, intended to show that mental health has a real and demonstrable effect on Black Americans, but that it can be overcome.
PTSD places one man's experiences in the realm of the broad sociopolitical issues that affect so many Americans. Ford emphasizes that the trauma of society creates situations of mental health issues and behaviors that hold back so many. But he also believes there is room for hope, that his own experiences of overcoming so many hardships and difficulties offer a path for others to follow. Immense suffering, Ford believes, can lead to improbable success.