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"Becoming a Trauma-conscious Society"

is slow, but we are moving in this direction. What do I mean by a trauma-conscious society? The phrase, coined by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk in his book The Body Keeps the Score, has to do with understanding that many individuals are suffering from trauma due to conditions and situations of all sorts and that punishment of trauma-related behavior is not the answer. Education, compassion, and treatment are key.

Society is aware of PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), a condition which can result from trauma, in veterans and victims of terrorist acts; in survivors of natural disasters, such as tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes; and in people who live in war zones, are refugees from war or are victims of crime. There seems to be an awareness that car accidents, and other types of accidents that cause injury, can cause PTSD. 

Generally though, society does not associate PTSD with a host of other causes, for example: rape and sexual assault; incest, including exposure to pornography; domestic violence; poverty; medical trauma; and preverbal trauma. Witnessing domestic violence and medical trauma can also cause PTSD. And what about trauma resulting from bullying? In a society that discriminates against LGBTQI folks, women, people of color, and a host of others, the accumulation of countless incidents day after day must also be considered. 

Note the following facts provided by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, internationally known trauma expert, from his book The Body Keeps the Score: “Since 2001 far more Americans have died at the hands of their partners or other family members than in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. American women are twice as likely to suffer domestic violence as breast cancer. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that firearms kill twice as many children as cancer does” (348). Trauma is one of the biggest threats to the health of our society. It’s time we paid attention to this fact.

Schools are brimming with children, teen-agers, and adults who are coping with triggers. People act out, often inappropriately, to deal with misunderstood, unconscious, or puzzling emotions. Many of us do not understand that our behavior is the result of unresolved trauma, so we hurt ourselves and others. Punishment is most often the way we cope with those who disrupt society. But is this approach effective?  

“We are on the verge of becoming a trauma-conscious society” (347). We are not yet there though. Let’s do all we can to bring our understanding of trauma into our work places, schools, and other institutions. Let’s share what we know with others. Let’s pay attention to and heal our own wounds; as a result, we can better help others manage theirs. Let’s demand that our institutions and the services they offer do more than punish those with trauma–treatment, compassion, education, and healing are in order. 

The Attack of the Great White Shark: A Trauma Trigger Strikes

As I lay in the dark in bed recently trying to sleep, the fear of death paralyzed me. My stomach was tight, my mind raced with fears: Has pyloric stenosis finally gotten me after all these years?   The week before, I had been pulling oil, i.e. chewing coconut oil, an ancient prescription for reducing inflammation in the… Continue Reading

In EMDR, Butterfly Sends Away Moth : Good-bye, Death

Here is Moth Baby, my colored pencil drawing, 1997. The feathery antennae, the bulky body, wings folded, no legs, pink face of a human baby. The lines across her segmented body mirror the stitch-marks of my scar from my surgery at 26 days old for pyloric stenosis, a stomach blockage. For me, moths have always been… Continue Reading

Are Your Symptoms due to Infant Surgical Trauma ?

The following material is taken from psychiatrist Dr. Louis Tinnin’s former blog. The material was removed from the Internet after his passing last year, but I think it’s important for the public to have access to it. I called Intensive Trauma Therapy, Inc. in Morgantown, West Virginia (ITT) and asked the staff to repost the material. I… Continue Reading

EMDR and Preverbal Infant Trauma: My Experience So Far

In talking to a fellow pyloric stenosis survivor about EMDR, she wondered whether it could help folks like us who experienced such early trauma–stomach surgery for pyloric stenosis, typically 10 days to 6 weeks after birth, without anesthesia or pain control. She understood that EMDR helps people reprocess memory connections in the cortex, that part of the brain… Continue Reading

Profound Quotes from The Body Keeps the Score

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk’s new book, The Body Keeps the Score, is filled with wisdom, compassion, brilliance, and profound understanding. PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) has never been made SO clear. PTSD has never been presented as passionately and humanely. Read one, two, or all of the quotes below that I’ve chosen to showcase this… Continue Reading

Want to Really Understand Trauma? Read Bessel van der Kolk's New Book

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is my new hero. In The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, he delivers  the latest research and understanding about trauma and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in an emotionally sensitive way, making the information understandable and accessible to all readers. Kudos! I can’t… Continue Reading

EMDR on the Horizon: Wish Me Luck!

This coming Friday, I will be doing EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).* Don’t ask me what it really is–I’ll tell you after my first session. As I understand it though, from reading an interview with the trauma expert Dr. Van der Kolk and hearing people’s reports over the years, it’s a way of desensitizing… Continue Reading

Thank You, Dr. Louis Tinnin–Pioneer in Treating Infant Trauma

Dr. Louis Watson Tinnin, a man who has been a friend to all those who suffer trauma, especially preverbal infant trauma, died back in February, 2014. I was shocked that I hadn’t heard about his passing until last week and recently had wondered why I hadn’t received posts from his blog for quite some… Continue Reading