Since I began my work with those labeled mentally ill it’s been clear that trauma plays a large part in the lives of most of those with psychiatric labels. This blog covers this reality again and again. This simple observation that many of us have made and many others want to deny is beginning to be largely supported in the literature and science. We deny it at a cost to everyone in our abusive and traumatic culture. By bringing it to light we might change it.
From PlosBlogs, Speaking of Medicine:
It’s almost common knowledge that many people who experienced trauma as children have a harder time in adult life. Indeed, over the past few decades, well-designed studies have verified this impression by finding that a great number of such people really do have a greater chance of depression, anxiety, or other psychological disorders, behavioral and social problems, and poorer health outcomes.
Less well known is that trauma – even in the absence of physical trauma- can have negative impacts on the brain itself that last into adulthood. read more
This doesn’t mean there need be anything permanent about these changes. The brain changes in childhood, yes, but it can change again via (the same) neuroplasticity later in life. We can always heal. I posted a brief post on neuroplasticity that included links to more info yesterday: The Brain Benefits From Persistent Sensory Experience: there is always hope for healing and recovery
A few articles from Beyond Meds that explore the nature of trauma and what is often labeled mental illness:
PTSD versus a post traumatic response — So the second half of the title of this post refers to what I’m calling a post-traumatic response. I think that many so-called mental illnesses are the result of a post traumatic response. Because they do not all have the hallmark signs of PTSD, as currently clinically described, it’s worth making it clear that I absolutely think that what is labeled schizophrenia, bipolar, depression and other forms of anxiety, are often indeed also post traumatic responses. The reason I’m making a distinction is only because of the current clinical understanding of PTSD which is limited to ONE form of post traumatic response at this time which is characterized by extreme forms of anxiety.
Psychosis, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Story as a Vehicle of Healing — My descent into “madness” began when my mother died. Within days of her death I would experience the first eruption of what I now call unconscious content, manifest as intense, unexplainable fear. I didn’t know what to do with that kind of fear. It felt foreign and overwhelming to me so I pushed it away and pretended it wasn’t there.
“Uneasy in good times and overwhelmed in bad. This is the legacy of childhood trauma.” — Too many of us grew up in families wracked with pain. Emotional wounds accumulate in settings of neglect, abuse, bereavement, molestation, violence, and misery. As adults, these ancient injuries undermine our happiness. We often choose poorly in relationships, careers, and pastimes. Even if we don’t make gross mistakes, we lack the confidence to endorse our own choices. We feel uneasy in good times and overwhelmed in bad. This is the legacy of childhood trauma
Not Crazy: you may not be mentally ill — a book on the trauma that is routinely misdiagnosed as illness and how the so called treatment of said illness, pharmacologically based psychiatry, is in turn another trauma. Psychiatric drugs too, are agents of trauma.
Trauma, Psychosis, and Spirituality: What’s the Connection? (part 2) — It is not always clear what sort of experiences are best called “psychosis” and seen as bad, or what kinds of experiences are best called “spirituality” and seen as good. Instead it seems there is a realm of experience that is outside of our cultural norm, that we might call mystery, where people have experiences that are challenging, with a possibility of being seen as either bad or good, and of resulting in life outcomes that may be either bad or good in the conventional sense.