Fr. Richard Berg
Fr. Richard Berg

A Portland priest-psychologist has a new book coming out on post traumatic stress disorder.

Holy Cross Father Richard Berg, retired University of Portland psychology professor and longtime pastor of St. André Bessette Downtown Chapel, has written Scars (Corby Books, 11961 Tyler Rd., Lakeville, IN 46536, (574) 784-3482/ The book examines the effects of post traumatic stress on family, relationships and work.

The book is seen as timely, with veterans returning from Mideast deployments. But Father Berg says PTSD affects civilians, too. Some of the low-income and homeless people he met in Old Town suffered from the condition.

The priest, a Portland native, wrote an earlier book on how depression affects families and friends. His hope is that addressing the entire circle of relationships will further healing.

John Riherd, a Vietnam veteran who won the Bronze Star, says the book discharges "rapid fire" love, understanding and compassion.

"I know from first-hand experience that survival is not won from our own efforts; it is won in collaboration with family, friends and professionals who care, and with the love of God that is always present, but not always sought out," Riherd says. He thinks the book will help the general public understand society's responsibility for those who get sent off to war and "return filled with experiences and scars that will forever shape them." He wishes he had been able to read it when he returned from Vietnam 40 years ago.

"This multi-perspective story portrays the impact of combat on hearts and minds with painful realism," says Paula Liddell, a medical social worker in Oregon. "Here we learn to pray as we think of the suffering our soldiers, their families and loved ones endure under the strain and scars of war."

Father Berg has been a priest for 50 years and now serves as chaplain at Mary's Woods, a retirement community built at the site of the Holy Names Sisters' convent in Lake Oswego.