Psychiatry Must Stop Ignoring Trauma, says Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Yes, please, and thank you for saying so! Of course psychiatry must not just stop ignoring trauma, it must stop retraumatizing the already traumatized. It’s clients. The very vulnerable people who seek help and end up being harmed further. Not only are hospitals and a lot of standard treatment horribly abusive the medications have been found to be further agents of trauma. It’s also true that coercion, subtle or otherwise, is the rule in psychiatric care and that the United Nations has also declared forced treatment to be a form of torture. … [click on title to read the rest]
Survivors of incest or molestation, and/or extreme neglect often talk about how they are evil or damaged or worthless. When we tell them that is not true, it can make them feel even worse, more alone and misunderstood – despite our good intentions, we have just told them again how wrong they are, even about their own reality. They need for us, as their therapists, to get how ugly they feel about themselves, how ugly their core self map really is.
We need to help them go inside themselves with an adult ego and notice what happened to them without dissociating or avoiding. There is no need to relive the memories, only to witness them as an observer (the reliving of a memory is known entering the memory field). If they bring adult awareness to wounded child-part of themselves, it becomes easier to regulate the core brain stem functions. [This is the foundation of self compassion training.] … [click on title for the rest of the post]
Even when trauma is long past, it replays itself in the body through pain, anxiety, depression, illness, digestive issues, and so on. We must help the client learn to tolerate the physiological trauma symptoms while remaining in their bodies – since nearly all PTSD is dissociative in some way. …
As I heal my brain/body I lose the capacity to dissociate … it’s excruciatingly painful. Both physically and emotionally. …
Only an intellectual Luddite would deny the enormous benefits that have accrued to humankind from the scrupulous application of scientific methods. But not all essential information can be confirmed in the laboratory or by modern statistical analysis. Not all aspects of illness can be reduced to facts verified by double-blind studies and by the strictest scientific techniques. “Medicine tells us as much about the meaningful performance of healing, suffering, and dying as chemical analysis tells us about the aesthetic value of pottery,” Ivan Ilyich wrote in Limits to Medicine. We confine ourselves to a narrow realm indeed if we exclude from accepted knowledge the contributions of human experience and insight. … [click on title for the rest of the post]
As one opens up to the pain of the past one heals so that one can move into the future.
By Will Meecham
Bessel van der Kolk’s 2014 book, The Body Keeps the Score, reminds me of how strongly both my physical and mental condition have been shaped by trauma. Spinal arthritis, abdominal pain, chronic muscle aches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and many other problems combine to form an inner ledger of the abuse, bereavement, and neglect of my childhood and the uproar, frustration, and terror of my adult experience. Why should this be? Why should trauma have such profound effects on body and mind? It’s useful to remember what it means to live as a human organism. There are many ways to explore this, but let’s try an outside-in approach. … [click on title for the rest of the post]
Van der Kolk draws on 30 years of experience to argue powerfully that trauma is one of the West’s most urgent public health issues. The list of its effects is long: on mental and physical health, employment, education, crime, relationships, domestic or family abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction. “We all want to live in a world that is safe, manageable… predictable, and victims remind us that this is not always the case,” says van der Kolk. When no one wants to hear about a person’s trauma, it finds a way to manifest in their body. … [click on title to read and view more]
I’ve posted several times now about Bessel van der Kolk’s work. Below are some quotes from his book ” The Body Keeps the Score,” that Laura K. Kerr selected. She is currently reading the book. I look forward to her writing on her thoughts about the book when she completes it. She writes wonderful posts on […]
“Trauma really does confront you with the best and the worst. You see the horrendous things that people do to each other, but you also see resiliency, the power of love, the power of caring, the power of commitment, the power of commitment to oneself, the knowledge that there are things that are larger than our individual survival. And in some ways, I don’t think you can appreciate the glory of life unless you also know the dark side of life” … [click on title for the rest of the post]