Health

Journalist Mac McClelland Cures PTSD by Staging Her Own Rape

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Journalist Mac McClelland staged her own rape as a way to get over PSTD she'd suffered while working in Haiti.

McClelland, who works as a civil rights reporter for Mother Jones, suffered trauma when she covered the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. After a harrowing experience where she took a rape victim to the hospital and encountered one of the woman's attackers, she couldn't stop thinking about rape. She sunk into depression and anxiety, enduring nightmares and daymares about rape, and having flashbacks.

When traditional therapy for PTSD didn't work, she decided that what she needed was sex - extremely violent sex. She told her therapist, who said it might help, and suggested she find someone she trusted to be her partner. McClelland said that this violent rape roleplay helped cure her PTSD.

In an article for Good magazine, she gives an account of the sexual experience. "It was a way for me to deal in a sort of simulated, but controlled situation. I could say "stop" at any time. But it was still awful, and the body doesn't understand when it's in a fight.

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"My mind stayed there, stayed present even when it became painful, even when he suddenly smothered me with a pillow, not to asphyxiate me but so that he didn't break my jaw when he drew his elbow back and slammed his fist into my face. Two, three, four times.

"My body felt devastated but relieved; I'd lost, but survived. After he climbed off me, he gathered me up in his arms. I broke into a thousand pieces on his chest, sobbing so hard that my ribs felt like they were coming loose."

Some readers blasted McClelland for making her Haiti experience all about her, instead of focusing on the real victims. Others said she was brave and that she made them feel less alone in their own PTSD suffering.

"Whether people say I'm insane or not, it's tough enough to do this job," McClelland said. "If I didn't have any feelings, that would be scary. It's a human response to duress."