How often does an author understand and depict primary and/or secondary traumatic stress of caregivers or public servants in literature or the media? Perhaps the public servants, including the cops and detectives, whom we like best are the ones whose human side are convincingly depicted. Following is a compelling quote from Henning Mankell’s novel SIDE-TRACKED (pg. 29) which depicts the inner traumatic experience of fictitious detective and policeman, Kurt Wallander, after he tries unsuccessfully to rescue a suicidal teen-ager from a horrible act of self immolation:
“Afterwards Wallander would remember the burning girl…the way you remember…a distant nightmare. If he appeared to maintain at least an outward sense of calm for the rest of the evening, later he could recall nothing but trivial details….But they (his colleagues) couldn’t see through the shield he had set up to protect himself. Inside him there was devastation, like a house that had collapsed. He got back to his flat just after 2 a.m. Only then, when he sat down on his sofa…did the shield crumble. He poured himself a glass of whisky…and he cried like a baby. The girl had been a child. She reminded him of his own daughter…During his years as a policeman he had learned to be prepared for whatever might await him…Somehow he had learned to endure what he saw and push it aside. But he couldn’t when there were children or young people involved. Then he was as vulnerable as when he was first a policeman. He knew that many of his colleagues reacted the same way…”