The importance of decisive action

Sometimes I’m frustrated that my body needs every freaking thing in little bits! Evidently I’ve overused my hands and wrists messing with clay. And I’m driven to make one more niche.

But my body says stop. So I need to focus on other things for a day or two. AUGH!

Well, the default has become “when I’m angry, frustrated, furious, distressed, or grieving, take a step toward accountability and justice for those in positions of power and privilege who enjoy the sport of harming those who have less.”

“Reality unfolds like stepping stones across a river. ” – David Bohm, physicist

One baby step in the right direction and then another…

“Focused attention is our superpower. ” – Dr. Dan Siegel, neuropsychiatrist

Decisive action is the antidote to despair, hopelessness, helplessness, and rage.

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Psychology’s pathologizing terms, evidence of a shame-based paradigm

Psychology’s pathologizing terms hint at the underlying toxic paradigm, which says the therapist is the Great Healer and the client/patient is the Broken Thing That Needs Fixing. Some of the worst pathologizing and shaming terms:

“Disorder” presumes there’s something wrong with a person that needs to be fixed.

“Maladaptive” is a shame-based word for what are actually Survival Adaptations.

Perhaps worst of all, “treatment-resistant” is psychobabble that means “We don’t know how to help you since we don’t know how to do anything than what we’ve already done that didn’t work, but we don’t want to admit it so we’re going to blame you.” 

Mainstream Western psychology has greatly contributed to my suffering by pathologizing my normal and natural responses to abnormal lived experiences, generally by the cruelty and contempt of those with more power, including those entrusted with my care. It is harmful, and humankind needs it to stop!

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How to save your own life

How to save your own life when the medical system is designed to kill you*:

First, you get really pissed off. You must be determined to keep looking for new avenues and pick whatever seems the most sensible from where you are. You make a commitment to move in that direction, even one baby step a day. Take as many baby steps as you can, especially what you can do regularly. If you can do one thing per day, every day, do that.

You keep focusing on the next close-in small thing you can do. You turn toward the things that generate a sense of goodness inside you, a feeling of well-being, and safe connections. You turn away from the things that cause you to feel defensive, contracted, and protective.

The more you do this, the more you build that goodness into your nervous system. You understand that if you don’t take care of your nervous system by supporting it, you will get old early, die young, and be miserable on the way.

You make this nervous system work as your practice. You know you don’t have to remember all the horrible things that happened to you or even know that something horrible did. You learn that trauma is not necessarily a Big T event; it may be an early abandonment issue or lack of sufficient and attuned parental attention.

You come to think about and try to feel in your body what makes you feel safe and connected and loved. You focus on and move more toward those people, places, things, or memories that feel integrative. When people, places, things, or memories make you feel the other way, you do what it takes to let them go. It can be difficult to “give up” family members and friends because they’re just not good for your nervous system. You send them off with love.

You understand you can tune your nervous system toward safety and connection instead of threat detection, and protection, and that will set you free.

*The mainstream corporatized Western left-brain-oriented “healthcare” system is so ignorant of human neurobiology that it harms trauma survivors, and even kills them. A trauma-uninformed medical system is potentially deadly.

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I asked for help and they gave me hell

Five years ago today I walked into a satellite office of the mega-hospital here in Upper Delaware and asked for help with severe Developmental Trauma from extreme Adverse Childhood Experiences. The embedded psychologist must have thought I said I wanted “hell” instead of “help,” because that’s what I got. Protracted hell! The standard treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in America nearly killed me. Yet, the system says it’s okay because it’s the standard treatment for PTSD in America.

The psychologist repeatedly blew off my concerns about the increasingly intense suicidal ideations I described, which I thought were from the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) prescription, a black box medication. He did not speak with the prescribing physician, tho he had initially talked big about the “team approach” in the hospital and reiterated that he would communicate with the doctor. By the time I spoke with her, I was in Week 5 and the ideations were terrifying. The prescribing physician, a resident, listened and told me, “Do not ever take that pill again, go to the ER, and tell them your doctor wants you to have a psych evaluation.” I was terrified into obedience. 

The doctor didn’t tell me that in the ER I would be separated from my clothing, belongings, phone, and contact with the outside. I had no clue that I would spend the night warehoused in a cold room with nothing but a chair and coerced into believing that “a few days” at Rockford Center for Behavioral Health would be “a gateway to services” I had not otherwise been able to access. Nor could I know that the staff at the mega-hospital’s psych ED would be so abysmally lacking in training that they would intentionally escalate an incident with another patient so they could call security, subdue, and sedate her, then look at me like I’m crazy when I said it triggered me. 

The psych ER person, who convinced me to go to Rockford, assured me that it was not a Cuckoo’s Nest. But it was! At that residential facility, they deprived me of my rights, and abused, neglected, drugged, and further traumatized me. They threatened patients with commitment if they wanted to leave before their insurance benefits ran out. There was no individual counseling and the group therapy was crap. The place was riddled with cockroaches, smelled like old fryer grease, was sorely understaffed, staffed with unqualified personnel, was overcrowded, and employees were pressured to hoodwink people into coming there and bully them into staying.

This was not an isolated incident. This is the standard “care” In America’s largest mental health hospital chain, and apparently pretty much the same across the country.

I was effectively incarcerated for 8 days without medical necessity, without my rights, without actual care, only abuse, when all I needed was to get off their toxic f****** pill and go to a friend’s house for a few days. Somebody who would actually give me some care and real food and all without roaches, bullying, coercion, abuse, and drugs.

But that wouldn’t make money for CEOs and investors! So I got trapped in the Cuckoo’s Nest until my insurance ran out. By the time Universal Health Services was done exploiting me, I was in far worse shape than when I walked in the door.

Is it possible that psychology adds to the stigma by treating traumatized people like animals? Seriously, who’s going to go in for treatment like that? Who is going to go for treatment if they know that’s how they’re going to be treated? I sure wouldn’t have.

I don’t suffer from a mental illness, I suffer from the way supposed caregivers have treated me, including doctors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, some of whom have caused deep, egregious, irreversible harm. Because I have PTSD I must deserve to be treated like crap. Otherwise, why would they keep treating me like crap when I asked for help? What kind of a system is this? What kind of a culture?

The kind that sparked me to initiate #TraumaAwareAmerica

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The importance of safe environments

Every child deserves to grow up in a safe environment that encourages connection. That’s our human birthright, what we’re designed for, and what we need in order to reach our potential.

Too many kids experience a lack of safety and connection. That puts them on a trajectory of additional trauma, dysfunctional relationships, mental health problems, social issues, school unemployment problems, substance abuse, and the onset of chronic disease followed by early death. That’s the silver lining, the relief.

Without the necessary help to resolve the trauma, abused children grow into greatly disadvantaged and vulnerable adults. Traumatized people are easily retraumatized. The most traumatized often are the most despised by society; they end up on the streets, in rehab, in prison, or dead. Their relationships are a mess because they learned poor attachment from their parents. They have more health problems than the unabused population and may have seemingly bizarre symptoms and are easily misunderstood by medical personnel, most of whom have no training in trauma-informed care. 

When an adult with unresolved Developmental Trauma walks into a doctor’s office they are often already on red alert because of the power differential. They are hypervigilant about being abused by someone in power again. This can cause problems in the doctor-patient relationship, particularly if the doctor holds the common medical system view, “I am the healthy doctor who can heal you and you are the sick patient who needs to be fixed.” That’s bad medicine, especially for people whose neurophysiological processes are beyond the practitioner’s severely limited comprehension.

A trauma expert once quipped that if Complex PTSD (most often rooted in Developmental Trauma) were in the DSM the volume would be quite thin because almost everything else would fall under it. Trauma experts say most of society’s persistent ills, most of a person’s ills, stem from unresolved developmental trauma. 

The trauma is unresolved because the person lacks the resources to recover. A person can’t recover unless and until they feel safe. How does a person feel safe when on the street, addicted, in prison, or enduring abuse by yet another narcissistic boss? They don’t. They spend their life in a continuing struggle against the cruelty and contempt heaped upon them by caregivers when they were innocent children. Most often, they unwittingly pass along the trauma to their own children, multiplying and perpetuating the cycle of cruelty and contempt. This is normal in a world that lacks trauma awareness and trauma-informed care. We must do better. The future of humankind depends on it.

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In an actual HEALTH CARE system…..

My symptom log shows I’m more than ready for SGB #13. I hope the next two nights aren’t as bad as the past two. This gets old really fast. I need the shot with pulsed Radio Frequency Ablation (pRFA), which lasts me 8 months.

In an actual health care system I’d be able to get the simple, quick, low-cost, highly effective procedure every 8 months with ease, from a trauma-aware team.

But lack of access to necessary care is one of the costs of Complex PTSD. Unfortunately, so is being harmed by the system I turn to for help. It’s practically a given. This system ain’t about health and it ain’t about care.


#CRPS #ComplexRegionalPainSyndrome #complexPTSD #CPTSD #hypervigilance #StellateGanglionBlock #SGB #SGB4PTSD #anesthesiologist #painspecialist #traumarecovery #prfa

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People don’t “attract” abusers relationally or karmically

Some have tried to convince me that my experiences of cruelty and contempt have to do with karma, “laws of attraction,” or some other subconscious or spiritual desire or need on my part for a Kozmick Lessin of some kind. This is bunk!

I have not “attracted” the cruelty and contempt I endured. Rather, I tolerated them because my early environment taught me and built my neural pathways to tolerate awful things. I didn’t know the difference because I didn’t have the experience of the good things. Naturally, this had a great influence in adulthood.

For instance, I worked for a heavy construction company for 3-1/4 years. People who had a healthy childhood environment would not have even taken that job. They would have certainly left after or even during the federal workplace raid. But I didn’t quit. Certainly, a big part was the failing economy, sexism, ageism, and the lack of opportunities for someone who had spent adolescence and early adulthood struggling so hard to survive that she couldn’t focus on study. I saw wages go down and requirements go up, and I no longer qualified for the job I previously had.

But I also stayed because the highly abusive environment was familiar. Others would have run, and rightly so! But it was like working with my mother, father, or abductor. Familiar. So I couldn’t recognize the depth of their insanity and the extent to which it harmed me.
I don’t “attract” predators narcissists and dark personality types, though I understand they do recognize me as a potential target. They look for nice people and hone their crosshairs on those who are also compliant and vulnerable.

I did not “attract” my abductor in adolescence, nor did I need to learn any lessons about systematic suffocation torture to make my soul complete. The predatory man took advantage of a convenient vulnerable child who was effectively groomed for him by her parents and society. It’s not my vibration, karma, or some kind of cosmic connection. It was a predator doing what predators do. He would have done it to anyone in my place.

Do I currently make choices rooted in my trauma? Of course! My capacity to make choices is affected by the changes trauma made in the architecture of my brain. Systematic suffocation torture generally affects a person for the rest of their life, especially in a culture that tells them they somehow had something to do with making it happen. Furthermore, our culture leaves the victim to figure out for themselves how to survive and recover.

Nor did I choose or need a lesson from the recent non-consensual surgery on my genitals. It is not my karma, it’s just what some monster did to me because I was available and he thought I was like his other victims, incapable of fighting back. Oh, yes, and the hospital had let him do what he wanted despite complaints.

Layers of protection for predators who wear white coats allow them to get away with their crimes for years or decades before they are stopped. Most likely you won’t know if yours is one until it’s too late. Then there won’t be a whole lot you can do about it.

Our cruel and contemptuous culture is the real source of the f***** up s*** that happens to us. Trauma and PTSD are about our environment. Our mainstream culture is a highly neuro-negative environment for human beings and other living things.

Let’s focus on holding responsible those who are actually responsible, hey? If we did that there be a whole lot fewer innocent people wrestling with how they supposedly brought upon themselves their experience of cruelty and contempt and a lot fewer malignants in positions of power. Wouldn’t that be nice?

#TraumaAwareAmerica #karma #LawOfAttraction #predators #victimblaming #NewAgeBS #NewAge

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Psychology is a domination system

The mainstream / domination psychology system pathologizes normal human responses to abnormal experiences. It also presses us to fit its definition of humanity and valid human experience. Not to mention, it completely denies oue neurobiology.

For instance, it uses the term “maladaptive behavior” in reference to our brilliant survival skills. An honest psychology would call them “survival adaptations.” It would also say “we don’t know how to help you” instead of labeling us “treatment-resistant,” which puts blame on us when their knowledge is limited. 

According to one of the world’s most respected trauma experts, Dr. Gabor Mate, virtually all mental health issues can be traced back to trauma, particularly Developmental Trauma, the number one health crisis in the world. 

Dr. Arielle Schwartz notes, “PTSD is never the fault of the individual but a failure of their environment” this particularly includes the lack of necessary and vital psychosocial support.

Trauma expert Deb Dana says “it’s all about how we are welcomed into the world,” because that early environment sets the trajectory of our lives. When a child is unwelcome this arc is extremely difficult to bend, particularly in a culture that ignores Developmental Trauma. 

The correlation between developmental trauma and all manner of social ills is shockingly high. This includes substance abuse, homelessness, violence, criminality, incarceration, and the onset of chronic disease at midlife followed by early death. That is the common trajectory of the unwanted child.

Fortunately, the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPBN), also known as Relational Neuroscience, can help us resolve all of this. It shows us that the brain, mind, and relationships integrate and alter one another. Relationships can change our brain and mind for better or worse. 

So, safe and kind relationships can heal trauma, prevent and heal PTSD, and create a more cohesive and compassionate society that can focus on human flourishing. We may find such relationships in therapy, but most likely, not. Too few providers even know what they’re looking at with trauma; they don’t even recognize and tolerate their own. 

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Harness the Power of Connection and Community

As human beings, connection and a sense of belonging are essential for living and thriving. Sadly it’s not always easy to get these needs met – or not optimally. Enjoy this short video to learn:

Why are connection and community so fundamental, and what elements are necessary to create safe connection?

What are the differences between fitting in and true connection?

With a little basic information, we can all share the magic that Interpersonal Neurobiology brings to communities where we feel safe and secure to be ourselves.

Imogen and I co-teach Foundations of Regulation, an online course for people dealing with trauma and chronic stress.

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Humans as social animals

Human beings are inherently social animals, but, unfortunately, the ability to properly function as a social organism takes a certain set of resources, of which many of us were robbed or never allowed. Proper human functioning is nearly impossible for those who grew up in abusive environments. Their resources are necessarily focused on the very basics, as I too often have.

At age 20 I struggled mightily with the weight of two decades of cumulative and compounded trauma from extreme child maltreatment and numerous near-death experiences at the hands of caregivers who threatened to kill me. 

This, combined with a total lack of psychosocial support that could have helped me recover, put me on an almost unbendable life course of struggle, pain, misery, relationship problems, difficulty with authority, mental health issues, homelessness, joblessness, and high risk of turning to addictive substances, engaging in self-harm, and committing suicide.

I had little capacity to choose anything. I was in survival mode.  Indeed, preeminent neuroscientist Dr. Robert Sapolsky asserts humans actually have very little free will; our choices, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are driven by instinct, history, genetics, and our environment. We tend to forget about the latter. 

As shown by Sapolsky’s baboon research, the problem is our social structure, not us as individuals. We need a culture that promotes widespread human functioning as social organisms, not the domination system that destroys this and only serves the greed of those at the top. This is the choice society must make. It’s life or death. 


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