Monday, 3 June 2013

Patrick Stewart on domestic violence and PTSD

Many of you may remember watching the episode of Who Do You Think You Are not too long ago which featured the actor Patrick Stewart, star of Star Trek, the X-Men films and a great deal more. In Stewart's episode we got a real sense of just how important a person's family history can be to their own development - in Stewart's case, his mother had suffered horrendously from domestic violence when he was a child, an unforgivable situation which had led to a distance between himself and his father, to whom he had always apportioned full blame. The programme shed a new light on his background by revealing the 'shell shock' his father had suffered from in the Second World War - or rather, the as yet undiagnosed condition of post-traumatic stress disorder. It was news to Stewart, and was an emotional watch as he slowly uncovered the fact that despite the treatment of his mother being unforgivable, there was perhaps a new understanding as to what had led to the situation in the first place.

As a follow up to that, I've just watched something on my brother's Facebook page which I thought may be well worth passing on. It's a clip from YouTube featuring Patrick Stewart at a recent convention in Texas, where he discusses his background and his discoveries at the Imperial War Museum about his father, as well as the campaigning work he now does through a UK charity called Refuge ( to oppose violence towards women, and his role as a patron of another UK charity called Combat Stress (

Here's the clip:

You will find some of the original episode of WDYTYA featuring Patrick Stewart on YouTube, which I have also embedded here. The clip shows how Stewart discovered his father's story from the Second World War.

(With thanks to Robert Paton)


My new book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, is now available from Pen and Sword. My next Pharos Scottish course, Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the Old Parish Registers, starts May 15th - see Time to smash a few brick walls...!

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