Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love

The Fall and Rise of a Physician Who Heals Himself

Non-Fiction - Memoir
266 Pages
Reviewed on 10/14/2015
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Author Biography

CHRISTOPHER E. PELLOSKI earned his medical degree from the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago in 2001. He was accepted into the Radiation Oncology Residency Training Program and eventually joined the faculty at the University of Texas – MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, one of the top cancer centers in the world. After his recruitment to the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2010, he ran a full clinical practice, supervised his own basic-science research laboratory, and served as his department’s Residency Program Director and as the Director of Pediatric Radiation Oncology.

Pelloski is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and subsequently suffered throughout most of his life with undiagnosed and untreated Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, with Dissociative Features.

In the summer of 2013, his personal, public, and professional life came to a painful reckoning.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love: The Fall and Rise of a Physician Who Heals Himself by Christopher E Pelloski, MD is a powerful story of a man who overcame all the odds. Dr. Pelloski was a leading oncologist, treating children for ravaging diseases. But he has a secret, something he has never fully told anyone before. That secret comes to light while he is away at a conference. Dr Pelloski has been viewing child pornography on the internet and now he’s been found out. Is he a pedophile or is there a deeper reason? This book is Dr Christopher Pelloski’s story of the sexual abuse that he suffered as a child. It is his story of how that abuse spilled over into his daily life, of the legal battle he endured, and of the lessons that he learned so harshly from it all. It is his story, a story that will blast apart any preconceived notions you may have before you open this book.

Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love: The Fall and Rise of a Physician Who Heals Himself by Christopher E Pelloski, MD was one of those “wow” books. This really is one of the most powerful books I have ever read; it is raw and it is harsh but it is real life and that never runs smoothly. Dr Pelloski has written a very open, honest and deeply revealing book, a book he didn’t have to write. We read stories all the time about this person or that one who has been arrested for looking at child pornography and we all automatically act as judge and jury. We never ask ourselves, “why?”

This book shows that nothing is ever as cut and dried as it may seem from the start, that sometimes there just may be a deeper reason why something has happened. This is a story that is written from the heart. It was easy to read in terms of flow and the way it was written, just a difficult subject to get to grips with. Dr. Pelloski has clearly taken a great deal of time and much effort to write his story; it must have been gut wrenching to relive it all again on paper. I take my hat off to Dr Pelloski for baring his soul and I wish him well on his road to rebuilding his life.

Mamta Madhavan

Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love: The Fall and Rise of a Physician Who Heals Himself by Christopher E Pelloski MD is a thought provoking memoir which exposes the fall of a successful doctor after being caught for viewing taboo pictures online. The insights into the world of a sex offender raises a lot of questions on how to deal with child pornography and internet offences. The author speaks about the trauma that can be caused by physical and sexual abuse and also shares with readers the demons that he battled in his life, brought on by childhood sexual abuse. It's a touching story of a man's struggle to come to terms with his past and his fall from grace after his damaging behavior.

The book reveals the complex mind of an individual traumatized by his childhood sexual abuse, and how he comes across child pornography pictures while searching files on the internet. I admire the author for baring his soul to the world as it takes a lot of courage to come out in the open with something like this. The pain and the humiliation felt by the author is palpable throughout the book. The author's story will both depress and infuriate readers, but it is also a story of healing and redemption. It is a difficult write for a person who has undergone so much pain, humiliation and disgrace, but the author's opening up to the world is more like a catharsis to his wounded soul.

Lisa BrownGilbert

Although sexual abuse and pornography of children is nothing new within this society, each time it is discovered and reported there is an accompanying knee jerk reaction of anger, disgust and distrust that follows so much so that it becomes hard to see the many facets of the whole truth about the situation such was the case with Christopher E. Pelloski M.D. In his book, Trauma, Shame and the Power of Love, which is a biographical work, he bares his soul and shares his experiences from arrest to trial as a non-productive participant of child pornography.
From the outset reading, Dr. Pelloski’s stark memoir, created an intense paradox of emotions within me, especially because I am a parent of six children. On the one hand, he was a Pediatric Oncologist whose job and intention was to help children at their most vulnerable moment and he made great strides in doing so. But on the other hand, he also participated in the very vulgar and harmful activity of online viewing of sexual abuse involving children, a sickening activity brought on by his own efforts to come to terms with his own sexual abuse as a child.
Initially, I was infuriated how could a doctor who is also a father, be so crude, so vicious, so sick when it comes to our young? He was supposed to help them not find them sexually alluring. However, once I became more deeply embroiled in the book I began to see more clearly the other side of that scenario that the perpetrators of child pornography, whether producers, actors or vicarious viewers could also be victims of childhood sexual abuse and are sorely in need stringent monitoring and psychological help. Don’t get me wrong, while my heart goes out to author Pelloski, in regards to his appalling experiences as a victim of sexual abuse as a child, I am tremendously glad that he got caught and is getting the help that he needs.
Overall, the quality of the book was well done; author Pelloski’s narrative was well written, and thoughtfully organized. His inclusion of related sex offense laws, the presiding judge’s sentencing statement, medical and psychiatric statements related his particular disorders made this book a cogently expansive read especially when it comes to understanding the punishment of the perpetrators. While reading this book was not a pleasure it was a genuinely illuminating reading experience that I found deeply affecting and stayed with me well after completing the book. However, I did find that at times within his narrative there was a narcissistic bent that I did find somewhat off-putting considering the nature of the book, but ultimately understood as that seems to go along with the mental disorders that he suffers from. It is a shame that Dr. Pelloski’s great work in the oncology field, including the many patients he helped are now largely discounted by his criminal actions and ensuing punishment. Unfortunately, the war against cancer is real and he was a warrior in his field albeit, a broken one.
Summarily, Dr. Pelloski’s work within this book has forever changed my personal viewpoints about child pornography/child sex abuse the applicable the laws, the punishment, the victims, the perpetrators and their varying levels of participation. This is a tumultuous read, but I do recommend it to adult readers with the intestinal fortitude to handle the strong subject matter.