Trauma and the Goldilocks zone…

Are you traumatized enough?
…too much?
… or just the right amount?

…”to qualify for services”

“…to qualify for inclusion” in a study being conducted into into a new therapeutic approach advertising itself as “trauma informed therapy”.

What it means…

… for me and my way of understanding trauma.
… for me and my bag of treat[ment]s for people who have been traumatized.
… for it to be worth my while sitting listening to you and your pain.

What it meant personally to a friend who’d tried many times over a decade and a half to “qualify”,  and who had for the for the fifth time found enough strength to subject themselves to undergoing the ritual humiliation of applying for such treatments and being told, again…

“You’re not worth it.”

“Trauma informed” my ass.

Posted in Crazy World, sh!t is f#cked, what's going on? | Tagged ,

Remembering is not required – Babette Rothschild

From Babette Rothschild…

No3 in Series from the book:  8 Keys to safe trauma recovery.
This below is from the series of short videos summarising the book.


#3 Remembering is Not Required

“One of the holes we have in offerings from professionals and in self help books books is that every process requires that we process revue, revisit the memories of whatever the horrible thing [or things]  was that happened to them as part of a trauma recovery program.

And, more and more I think it’s being recognised that for some people that is not a good strategy. There are several reasons why it might not be…

The first reason, maybe the most important reason is that not everyone wants to do that. And there’s no reason why someone should be forced to revisit  memories if that does not appeal to them.

An other very important reason is some people become worse rather than better from revisiting, reliving, trauma memories. It doesn’t serve everybody well.

And so I wanted to reinforce and maybe introduce for some people that is not necessary to remember and relive and revisit in order to recover.

For some people its useful.
For others its not, and they need other options.
For the people who don’t want to, they also need other options.

In general, people who recover from trauma on their own don’t flood themselves with memories again and again.
They may review for short periods of time or review in bits and pieces
but they go on..
and their memories naturally drift  into the past.

Often people who are still struggling will obsess with trying to figure out,
and then the therapy models reinforce that obsession with tracking down details and reviewing.

We can celebrate our survival and move on.

This is about options from which people can choose
I want a big smorgasboard  I want to add more dishes to the table.”



Posted in Emancipate yourself..., Healing, Trauma, woundedness | Tagged , , , ,

Bodies with voices, and voices without bodies

It is not the case that some people with bodies are “voice hearers” and some are “not-voice hearers” .

The categorization is false –  #fake, made up.

Are you an “air breather” or a not-air breather? Its similar.

Everyone can hear voices. And not all voices have bodies – especially human bodies.

Most people with bodies will hear a voice without a body at some point in their life. How they experience that is very individual, and intimate, even intensely personal, and it is as varied as the whole gamut of human experiences.

Every person you meet will leave some kind of “impression” in/on you.
As too, you will leave some kind of impression in/on them.

Sometimes its subtle, sometimes bloody obvious, sometimes it feels helpful, supportive, sometimes it feels downright scary.

Whether you acknowledge it or even notice it [and not saying you’re required to], it is there.

Some might call that “spirit”.

The difference in how we might experience what we experience is within what it all means to the person hearing what they hear, especially how it relates to ideas about self and how we fit with the culture we find ourselves immersed in,  surrounded by.

If we have meanings imposed upon us by our culture that we find unhelpful then we can find ourselves trapped, isolated, powerless, called all kinds of names, vilified, discriminated against, etc etc….

As Dr Marius [and Intervoice] puts it “the problem” is not hearing voices, but that some people struggle and are left to deal with it alone, offered no opportunity to explore and make sense of whatever they do experience and no opportunity to learn ways of living with difficult experiences in ways they can be ok and live their life…

…this renders the person more powerless, more isolated.. etc
trapped in a vicious cycle.

It’s not really about the voices, or about hearing them – it’s about how some people are separated off and rendered powerlessness by their culture /society
– and one way we can experience the pain of that.

So how about we make a choice and stick with it
– to stop separating people off, categorizing them, calling them names and rendering them powerless,


Posted in Healing, Ideas | Tagged , , ,

you are not alone…

This post is, in part, a response to an excellent article in Asylum magazine in which Akiko Hart expresses some concerns about the nature of the discourse in “mental health”, and makes a call for less concern with being right and more concern for offering vulnerable people who struggle more choice.

You can read Akiko Hart’s article here:

I’m with you Akiko.

The way out of this mess is not going to be more of the same: fighting about who’s right and who’s wrong. All that does is dig a deeper hole.

It might just be that we can find a way out by offering options and choice – real choice – and then letting people exercise their right to choose whatever works for them.

Simply replacing one single story – “that your struggle is caused by a chemical imbalance and that needs to be fixed with drugs”  – with another: ” Trauma, innit?” is not much help – and is for some itself  traumatising and disempowering.

Especially when the currently held notion of trauma is limited to a narrow single story orthodoxy that was generated to satisfy the needs of a triumvirate of powerful institutions namely, the US Military, the US  Veterans’ Association and the American Psychiatric Association  especially it’s DSM-III task force headed by Elliot Spitzer that designed and bestowed upon us the new diagnostic disorder.

That single story – that orthodoxy – is harmful too.

Trauma is not a list of horrible, bad things that happened to us – it is the pain we live with now. Trauma does not mean “bad things done to me by evil people”. “Trauma”  means “wound”.

It is also entirely possible that we could look at the DSM as chock full with descriptions – about three hundred-or-so ways that trauma or as I nind more useful: “woundedness” can be observed to manifest in humans. I don’t see why we need that many, but there you go.

A diagnosis is a [partial] story too
A “diagnosis” is also a story -usually a pretty thin story and, for sure, incomplete.

The first part of a diagnosis is some description of some observable pattern of noticeable “symptoms”. At least since DSM III, this has been designed to obviate need for clinical judgement so be observable by pretty much anyone in a couple of minutes, meaning they are necessarily superficial.  They are also for the most part, basically made up on the back of a golf scorecard and then voted for round a table: that is often the  “evidence” they’re based in so they don’t really amount to anything much that has any solid claim to be scientific if that’s important to you.

What it’s worth is what it means to you
A diagnosis is supposed to be useful. The test is whether a diagnosis  [or more] means something to you, as a description, a partial story [if you like]  of what you experience, and if that helps you find your way to live your life then t can be useful. And only you get to decide if it is useful to you.

And it is possible to find common ground here.
This pattern of struggle can be read as manifestation of a person living with pain and struggle struggle.

What of those who believe in a lie ?
It woudln’t be the first time politicians large corporations- institutions of state including “independently regulated  institutions have lied to us, or have have colluded to lie to us- it kinda is what they kinda do.

The “lie” part – not so secretly embedded within most psychiatric diagnoses – is with regard to the why- why you struggle – that “single story” referred to by Akiko in her article – because there’s something wrong with YOU.

Typically that’s embellished with a tale that you have a chemical imbalance and therefore you need chemicals- drugs – to fix what’s wrong with you and you need take them for the rest of your life.

That is some pretty big-time telling of big porkies.

And that’s why you’ll find hardly any doc saying it in a way they believe it but instead say it something like my doc did “they say…”
It’s one of those things where no one takes responsibility for saying it but is happy to report how “they” say it…
Part of why they do this is that for many years they’ve been at serious risk of being sued for malpractice  if they don’t.
On the other hand, another is that it takes longer to give a fuller explanation that empowers people to make their choices- but not that much longer.

I know…eh?

Its not about drugs
Like anything else a psychiatric drug will “work” somewhat some of the time for some people.
Not there a “work” is whatever effect you happen to be looking for.  Whether or not you find a particular drug helpful to you is down to you to decide- because only you know what its like living in your body, inside your life.

We’ve made it all about drugs.

We need to make it about people.

Lies, lies, lies
As for what it means for an individual  person that they believed an elaborately constructed lie, seriously where have you been?

We live in an age of high on its own mendacity, in which pulling-the-wool over people’s eyes is celebrated and rewarded almost as much as the ability to strike a ball. We’re at the point where politicians no longer even pretend that they’re not lying, and instead constantly push boundaries of what is the biggest lie they can tell today.

If you have never believed a lie then you are alone.

Human history is a story: of people telling and believing-in lies.
It’s hardly a new thing.

And if you have ever believed in a lie then you are not alone.

I doubt though if there is a person alive who does not believe now in some story they intuit or well know to be untrue.

What any of us believe is always our personal choice – and no one else has any right to tell us they know better about what we do with our own body.

Each of us has that right to choose. And if we want to retain our own right we honor the right of others to make their choice too.

Shot by both sides…
I  really don’t know who or what is served by the locked-in-false-certitude nature of the discourse with each side seeking to dominate, have its single story be yhe one accepted as ”The Truth”, The One Truth, and the only truth.

If we strip away whatever content there is in each side’s argument and focus on the dynamic of how the arguments are made, then they look and sound much the same. There is a horrible, moralising, holier-than-thou ugliness to it all.

It is tiring being yelled at by both sides. It is tiresome that there is more yelling than listening.
And it is suffocating us all by sucking the air from the room.

And whom it ill-serves the most are those who are already hurting and those diagnosed, de-humanized and discarded by our society and left to deal with their pain alone.

Stuck in suckingness
For me it is this very attitude that underlies the stuck-in-suckingness that we’re in and have been in now for decades – and it is the exact same attitude displayed on both sides of the divide.

“I’m right you’re wrong and you have no right to speak.”

I would -only half-jokingly – like to propose that the two sides got suited up in giant Sumo-wrester suits and bounced each other right off the mat so we can get on with co-creating a better world together without them.

I’m right there alongside Akiko Hart, I want people to be offered choice: more choice and real choice- and that necessarily includes real information that allows and enables them to make their choices.

Part of providing real information includes making personal choice to not repeat lies- and that means for every person who works in MH and social services. What is sad is that it is too often too rare.

I know it’s possible because I’ve seen I’ve it and seen its effect – I was offered just this when I needed it most.

Your opposable brain…
We humans are blessed with having opposable thumbs so we can hold a coffee cup but also other less advisable activities like texting while driving.

We are also blessed with opposable brains – it is entirely possible for us at one and the same both time challenge and hold to account those powerful institutions and individuals members of those institutions for using their power to lie to us and cover up lies made to vulnerable people –  and also at the same time – allow individuals to believe whatever they choose with regards what works for them and do what they choose with their bodies and their lives.

That is their right – and it happens to be the same right that you enjoy too.

It is entirely possible that we can do both,
and it is entirely necessary that we do do both.


Go on, you can do it,  give it a try. Today

Your opposable brain is waiting for you to let go of needing to be right and the different future that can emerge if you do is waiting for you too.


Posted in Healing, Ideas, shit is f#cked | Tagged , , ,

Beware “The Thing”

That thing…

When we find the thing, that thing, the thing that “works for me” it can be liberating, freeing.
It can also hold us in a trap.




“We’re caught in a trap.”


No thing will be The Thing…

Whatever it is, and no matter how much it does work for you it will not be the only thing you do or find you need do.

-because no thing can be the only thing: The Thing.

More, we can find ourselves slipping into the thought-trap that says because it works for me then that’s what others also need. We can find ourselves pushing the thing – our thing – on others, even evangelizing about the thing that became The Thing.

The thing becomes a hammer we see the world through hammer-tinted-glasses and every other thing looks like a nail that needs us to hammer it.


Its not about the thing

Thing is, important as it is to you now,  is not about the thing. There will be other things too.

Thing is, it’s never  about the thing.
It is about you got to find your thing and you got to decide, and you get to say  “this is my thing”, “this works for me”.

And, especially when it comes to supporting others its not about your thing – its about the fact you found it, that you got to decide “this is my thing”, “this is the thing that works for me”.

And they don’t need your thing just to hear that you found your thing – and space to find their own thing and decide for themselves.
No matter what their thing turns out to be, it their thing, not yours.

Posted in Emancipate yourself..., Ideas

Talkin’ Talk – D’Sound


Talkin talk is not just talk
being there is half the walk..

Lyrics: Talkin Talk – D’Sound

Talkin-talk is not just talk

Being there is half the walk
If you wanna know yourself / stay with me
You gotta do the talkin’ talk

I try to reach you
Get right
Down to the issue
We’re not
Happy with how it is today

Sure, there are happy days and
Good things to dwell upon but
When you are mad you walk away

You call me baby and I
Just shrug my shoulders because there’s
Something important on my mind

Don’t wanna pick a fight but
We don’t see eye to eye and
We really need to get things straight

So what! If we disagree
Don’t wanna change you
I don’t want you on your knees

Are you afraid your loving
Will fade away
Whenever deep talk is released?

Communication, baby
That’s what I claim today
It don’t have to be bad

I wanna know your mind
And you to be into mine
So we can get ahead

Can we talk?

Posted in music

Children Separated From Their Parents at the Border Show Signs of Trauma

WNYC News reports how children separated from families at the US border are being brought to public hospitals in NYC showing signs of trauma – having been wounded by their experiences and showing “symptoms of psychosis”. 


Given that being separated from one or more parents has been plentifully demonstrated in research to lead a person to  later being given a diagnosis of “psychosis” then this surely is a policy and practice of generating “serious mental illness” by design.

The UN too has spoken of out how meting out such treatment might also amount to torture.

Elsewhere even a manager of one contractor organisation run camps temporarily housing some of these kids has spoken out against about the practice. If those making money out of it are saying its wrong, then we’ve a prime cut case of: wtaf?…

And, so, the US Govt reaches yet another new nadir in a long, long tradition of depravity and utter disregard for other human beings it regards as being not enough like them – and placing them in the place Franz Fanon termed the  “zone of nonbeing” so it can rationalize to itself doing whatever the f#ck it likes to get rid of them.

Way to lead the world and [ab]use your superpower.


Children Separated From Their Parents at the Border Show Signs of Trauma

 In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 file photo, an ambulance departs Bellevue Hospital in New York.
In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 file photo, an ambulance departs Bellevue Hospital in New York.
( Mark Lennihan / AP Photo )
Posted in Colonialism, Difference and Diversity, Trauma | Tagged ,

How we can bring about mental health support to refugees – Essam Daod-

Essam Daod shares a story of  one way we can bring brief, important support to refugees at critical times.

And also offers us a window of insight into how any of us might support any other of us  midst potentially traumatising experiences in ways that enable us to emerge not traumatised but potentially stronger.


There is much guff ‘n’ gumph and self-agrandising bluster about,  professing to be “trauma informed” but much is not really informed at all. Trauma is not the events we endure but the effect left within us from adverse experience of those events – so leaving us powerless, disconnected and dehumanized – and finding it difficult to feel safe in the world.
As Peter Levine puts it:

“Trauma is not what happens to us
but what we hold inside in absence of empathetic witnesses.”

Whether a person is left traumatised by an event has less to do with the event itself than how we experience it – and especially how we are treated by those around us after the event.

Essam Daod offers inspiration and insight into this with a simple story, one example and how a simple short human ‘intervention’  can change how we experience even the most trying and terrifying events in ways that enable us to come-through not unscathed but with some good chance we can emerge with resilience, strengthened and live fully our lives. 

And he’s a psychiatrist too so he also offers hope for a profession so often seems to have sold it’s own by showing us an example of what it really means to work as a  “soul healer”.

Link below- note that links to embed vids from tend not to embed properly, I’ll add it in when it goes up on on the TED youtube channel.

If it doesn’t embed right now on your browser then clicking the link will take you there.

Essam Daod:

Transcript  [available at in seven languages]

Let’s not forget that what distinguishes us humans from machines is the beautiful and the delicate soul within us. Let’s try harder to save more Omars.

Posted in Adversity, Crazy World, Emancipate yourself..., Trauma, woundedness | Tagged , , , ,

We Fight – Dashboard Confessional

And there’s still a kid somewhere that needs to hear this
That somebody cares, that somebody knows

We Fight
Dashboard Confessional

We were the kids that left home probably too young
But we took our share and maybe then some
Tired of beatings and battles and being sewn up
But that made us grow up, and that made ’em scared

Cause we never learned to keep our voices down
No, we only learned to shout
So we fight our way in (we fight our way in)
And we fight our way out
And we earned what we could from the ground up
And tried to lift the whole damn crowd up
So we fight our way in (we fight our way in)
And we fight our way out

(We fight our way in)
We fight our way in
(We fight our way out)
And we fight our way out
(We fight our way in)
We fight our way in
(We fight our way out)
And we fight our way out

And there’s still a kid somewhere that needs to hear this
That somebody cares, that somebody knows
Who’s tired of bleeding and battered and being torn up
Just pick yourself up, it’s time to go

Cause we never learned to keep our voices down
No, we only learned to shout
So we fight our way in (we fight our way in)
And we fight our way out
And we earned what we could from the ground up
And tried to lift the whole damn crowd up
So we fight our way in (we fight our way in)
And we fight our way out

(We fight our way in)
We fight our way in
(We fight our way out)
And we fight our way out
(We fight our way in)
We fight our way in
(We fight our way out)
And we fight our way out

Maybe we found a way to make some tracks
We didn’t snicker and turn our backs
We just kept digging in, and digging in, and giving back

Cause we never learned to keep our voices down
No, we only learned to shout
So we fight our way in (we fight our way in)
And we fight our way out
And we earned what we could from the ground up
And tried to lift the whole damn crowd up
So we fight our way in (we fight our way in)
And we fight our way out
Cause we never learned to keep our voices down
No, we only learned to shout
So we fight our way in (we fight our way in)
And we fight our way out

(We fight our way in)
We fight our way in
(And we fight our way out)
And we fight our way out
(We fight our way in)
We fight our way in
(And we fight our way out)
And we fight our way out

Posted in music

Way down we go – Kaleo

Kaleo – Way down we go. Lyrics

Father tell me, we get what we deserve
Oh we get what we deserve

And way down we go
Way down we go
Say way down we go
Way down we go
You let your feet run wild
Time has come as we all oh, go down
Yeah but for the fall oh, my
Do you dare to look him right in the eyes?
‘Cause they will run you down, down til the dark
Yes and they will run you down, down til you fall
And they will run you down, down til you go
Yeah so you can’t crawl no more
And way down we go
Way down we go
Say way down we go
‘Cause they will run you down, down til you fall
Way down we go
Oh bab-bab-yeah
Wow baby
Bab, down we go
And way down we go
Way down we go
Say way down we go
Way down we go
Songwriters: David Nils Olof Antonsson / Jokull Juliusson / Daniel Aegir Kristjansson / Rubin Pollock


Posted in music