“Women described being misdiagnosed or given painkillers instead of addressing underlying issues. One woman lost her child traumatically. Another had to experiment and eventually diagnose herself because her doctor was no help,” the newspaper noted, regarding Black women in our community.
“Instead of addressing underlying issues” is the motto of mainstream medicine/psychology. If the medical profits industry wanted to address underlying issues, it would have to focus a hella more on Developmental Trauma/Adverse Childhood Experiences, the Number One Health Crisis in the World. Developmental Trauma has a massive and lifelong negative effect that destroys human lives and taints those in future generations. Yet, we all but ignore it, particularly in medicine/psychology.
Developmental Trauma is correlated to a shocking degree with: learning difficulties, problems with authorities, violence, criminality, homelessness, joblessness, substance abuse, incarceration, relationship issues, mental health problems, and the onset of chronic disease at midlife followed by an early death. Add epigenetic trauma atop of this and it’s a wonder anyone survives. A perfect storm of social disaster, this trajectory is nearly impossible to escape and often causes Complex PTSD in survivors.
UNLESS the right kind of help is available. Which is rarely an option in a system that does not even acknowledge the underlying issue, much less, have a clue how to appropriately respond. Most of us are doomed!
Mainstream medicine/psychology is about 20 YEARS behind neuroscience. “Mental health care” widely available to people suffering from Developmental Trauma/Complex PTSD is Antebellum. It focuses on “chemical imbalances in the brain” and “learning to make better choices” when the underlying issue is a nervous system dysregulated by unrelieved trauma. This degrading “treatment” pathologizes and shames people for their normal, natural, desirable, and brilliant neurophysiological response to threat.
This is a travesty! Such a system harms and kills people every day. It also harms the providers, who want to help and think they’re helping but don’t understand why the patient/client is not responding as they’d hoped and expected. They’re actually not “treatment-resistant,” but not getting the right treatment.
As a survivor of Developmental Trauma and subsequent trauma starting before I could speak, I’ve had to educate myself and my providers to avoid further harm. Harm like I found at the #ChristianaCare mega-hospital complex. Their providers: Rx a black box med; denied me the pharmacogenetic test that would have revealed that class of medicine is bad for me; ignored my concerns about suicidal ideations from the black box Rx; secretly changed my treatment plan so I was *not* referred to the specially trained providers I needed; ignored my increased concerns about suicidal ideations from the black box Rx; sent me to their ED for “a psych evaluation” that was not a psych evaluation but a sales pitch for #RockfordCenter for Behavioral Health, a modern era Cuckoo’s Nest; shipped me off to the funny farm; refused to address my grievance and remedy the systemic problems that caused this; and now the hospital tells me I need to stop talking about what happened.
“When it comes to trauma the problem is with reality,” as Dr. Bessel van der Kolk noted. But mainstream medicine/psychology does to trauma survivors as did our abusers: pretend to be beneficent, build the victim’s trust, turn around and exploit them when they least expect and are most vulnerable, act like it’s the victim’s fault.
If this is the kind of obstacles we face, most of us adults with Developmental Trauma are doomed. Few will make it out alive. The rest will be convinced that they are defective. They’ll suffer long and hard before they die young.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. America could become a society that cares about those whose root problem is they were stuck in a dangerous or toxic situation as a child. Their early experiences wired them for fear, danger, grief, loss, pain, and suffering. They’re hurt, angry, and don’t know what drives it, and the antiquated medical/psychology system doesn’t have answers.
Fortunately, neuroplasticity is our salvation. We can learn how to reorient a PTSD-wracked nervous system. We can develop new neural pathways that foster our sense of safety and connection. The Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology, 66 titles and growing, is particularly helpful.
Here’s to the day mainstream medicine/psychology can embrace the neurobiology that saves adults with Developmental Trauma from the typically cruel trajectory. Here’s also to the probable decades between, when We, The People, can learn this on our own and help ourselves and each other heal. No shaming or pathologizing necessary!
“When we understand the biology of fear we don’t’ have to be railroaded by it.” #TraumaAwareAmerica
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