I have done a profile on him before and so it may seem redundant to talk about him once more but I wanted to focus less on his specific role in the book and more on the inspiration behind him as well as interactions he has with the rest of the support group in Sharing Strength.
As anyone that has been with me for awhile knows I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known as PTSD. I was diagnosed when I was twenty two though it is assumed I actually experienced the initial trauma when I was in my teens. I survived a physically and even more so psychologically abusive relationship and because of the destruction of my self worth went on to several other incidents I have never totally recovered from.
I have gone through treatments over the years. I have done one on one sessions and been in a support group briefly. I went through a number of different forms of treatment meant to rebuild my self esteem while also helping my find an outlet for my frustrations but very little helped until about seven years ago. After losing my father I decided to go back and finish my degree in college. The satisfaction of completing that gave me the confidence to do something I had never dreamt of since my diagnosis, I went overseas alone to do volunteer work.
Every treatment I had was supervised by a therapist of some sort and I even thought of the counselor in Australia where I went to volunteer as a kind of therapist. She was the one there the day I had my breakthrough. I had been destroyed mentally to the point I was afraid to do anything in case it was wrong. I couldn't think, go anywhere, pick out my own clothes, eat or even enjoy a movie without someone else telling me it was alright. I couldn't make a mistake. Well within the first few days of my trip I managed to slip off a moving cart and get run over by it in a sheep pasture. I was mortified. Strangers had witnessed my humiliation and I mentally shut down.
That is until our leader and a few of the other volunteers stepped up to help me. They didn't make fun of me. They didn't harass me about not being perfect. They instead assisted me all day and even hung out with me later when no one was making them. I had suffered a public fall and they became my friends anyway. Everything all of the therapists had been working on with me clicked. I began to recover.
Dr. Kurtsman is a mesh of all of the people I have worked with over the years from the doctor that had lost a significant other and had to retire from personal depression to one dealing with a cancer diagnosis of his own. Taking pieces from the support group leader and the hands off friends approach of my leader and friends from overseas I have melded a man that makes me smile anytime I write about him. He is kind and caring. He sees the group as a tiny family and is far more emotionally effected by their goings on than a regular therapist would be. He is unable to maintain that professional disconnect and objectivity but that is part of what makes him human. He is their leader but in his own way he is one of them and experiences their grief and triumphs every step of the way.