The myth of self-regulation

Healing from trauma requires co-regulation with regulated nervous systems, particularly for those who experienced Developmental Trauma, which most often occurs in relationships. We are MADE to co-regulate. Wired for it. Co-regulation is a biological imperative. That means we cannot survive without it. But our culture tells us there’s something wrong with our character if we can’t override our own biology and self-regulate. It’s not what’s wrong with us it’s what’s wrong with the culture.

The Myth of Self-Regulation: How Our Inner Community Supports Us Every Day
A FREE Video Learning Session with Bonnie Badenoch, PhD, LMFT
In this video, we’ll be exploring:
What every therapist (and human) needs to know about themselves
Why our well-intended tools and plans can often fail to help clients
How to encourage a safe and nurturing “inner community” in others


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America’s “standard treatment” for childhood trauma: more abuse and neglect

If you had “good enough” parents you were blessed with a fairly regulated nervous system, integrated brain, and secure attachment style. These contribute greatly to a sense of well-being from which health arises and a good life can unfold.
If  your parents were not good enough, according to the mainstream narrative, you are supposed to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, let it go, put it in the past, forgive and forget, let go let god, look for the silver lining, be thankful it wasn’t worse, and give up your victim mentality!”
You may experience emotional extremes or numbness, flashbacks, intrusive memories and thoughts, suicidal ideations, depression, anxiety, or any of a wide variety of so-called mental health conditions.
You will be naturally more vulnerable to additional trauma, and it will come. As a trauma-trained child, you grow into an adult who experiences a sickening repetition of abusive situations and dynamics. This in part because you were taught abuse is normal and you should accept it.
As an adult with Developmental Trauma, you will also very likely experience the onset of chronic disease at midlife. The chronic stress hormones generated by your unresolved trauma will erode your health and express as symptoms like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, sleep apnea, bone loss, sleep problems, and much more.
In addition, your capacity to form and maintain healthy relationships is so thwarted you don’t have a clue what that feels like. This is a serious disability.
According to the dominant culture you are on your own to fix the part of yourself that can’t be repaired except by the biological imperative of safe interpersonal connections. That’s absurd!
It’s a setup for failure. Especially if you ask for help. The “standard treatment” for Complex PTSD is more likely to cause you harm than help you heal. Psychology will make you play Russian roulette with pharmaceuticals, many of which will clog your brain. Others may even make you suicidal. If they do give you suicidal ideations and you ask for help with that, you will be heavily exploited.
The standard treatment is to hoodwink you into thinking “a few days” in the local mental hospital will be kind of like a vacation, but it will actually be a week at Cuckoo’s Nest Jr. They pitch the mental hospital as “a gateway to services.” Why is there no “gateway to services” before incarceration in the Cuckoo’s Nest?
If you live here in Delaware you end up in Rockford or Dover Mental hospital and you’ll be horrified by the experience. They deny you your rights before they even take you through the first locked door. (I recommend you turn around before then.)
After you go through that locked door you give up all your unsanctioned belongings including your phone and purse. Then they strip search you. After that, you get a crummy room with who knows what kind of roommate, and no privacy. You meet with a very uptight psychiatrist who puts you on multiple psychotropic medications without much regard to your neurobiology or needs. It’s more about what they “feel” you need.
In the clinker, you learn that if you try to leave before your insurance runs out they will threaten you with commitment. Or they will find other ways to keep you longer. “We changed your medication so you have to stay another 48 hours!” (I recommend you have a lawyer on standby.)
You’ll get a crappy diet and if you meet with the dietitian they’ll tell you the kitchen staff is not here to meet your dietary needs. The kitchen serves mainly fried food, fatty meat, and starch. The roach population will take care of the crumbs.
As part of your process of getting out of there, they scare you into signing up for the outpatient program. And then a creepy intimidator guy stands over you at the point when you’re allowed to write out what you thought about your stay.
After what you’ve been through, you are so afraid that they can do whatever they want to you that you call a lawyer to find out if you have to go to that outpatient program.
If you don’t like this treatment and you complain to The Powers That Be, they will treat you like you’re the problem. Because you are! When you speak the truth you are the problem.
So, that is what it’s like to have parents who weren’t “good enough.” Whose own lack of nervous system regulation and resources prevented them from helping their children regulate, grow an integrated brain, and develop secure attachment. That is intergenerational relational trauma. Developmental Trauma, the number one health crisis in the world.
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How Do Predatory Physicians Get Away With Their Crimes for Years or Decades?

Imagine All The Predators In PrisonWithout my knowledge or consent, a surgeon cut an approximately 2″ x 2″ piece of healthy tissue from my genitals while I was unconscious. This surprise disfigurement of my body caused deep and lasting harm. No unintentional deviation from a general standard of care, it was gross moral, ethical, and criminal misconduct. His was a premeditated act of deception intended to rob me of autonomy. 

Evidence shows this doctor is a known repeat offender. As in the infamous Earl Bradley case and too many others, the predatory physician typically gets away with their crimes for years, if not decades. Despite numerous complaints, authorities neglect to take appropriate action. The system protects the physician at great peril to his patients. 

More pathological than the previous predatory doctors exposed, the butcher-surgeon who cut me sexually assaults anesthetized women with sharp instruments, removing healthy tissue in a kind of female genital mutilation.

This is not a questionable “he said, she said” accusation. There is no doubt the offensive touching occurred. He took a piece of flesh and left me scarred. The record clearly shows I consented to two procedures and the surgeon performed four. This doctor is a predatory surgeon and must be stopped.

Due to institutional protections, sex offender Earl Bradley eluded investigators as colleagues called him the ‘pedophile pediatrician” for 15 years before he was stopped. This is the same reason the butcher-surgeon had the opportunity to premeditatively remove healthy tissue from my genitals. He was a known problem. When I cried spoke with a staffer about his gross and intentional violation of my bodily autonomy, she said, “I believe you,” which told me I was not the first. The nurse didn’t call it “The Dr. _____ Special” for nothing. [Doctor’s name omitted for my protection, not his.] How many repetitions does it take to build a reputation? My unofficial poll of a variety of healthcare workers says “a lot.”

As an anesthetized patient, I was completely at the mercy of the person operating on me and it turned out that person is a serial predator known as a problem in the organization. Why was he allowed to continue cutting on women?

According to a series of investigative reports by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, not surprisingly, predatory doctors typically operate unfettered for years or decades. This is not because nobody knows or complains, but simply because “administrators may be unwilling to rock the boat unless allegations of abuse are undeniable,” to the extent they will even threaten those who complain.

Hospitals have fiduciary incentives to protect the predatory physician above assuring patient safety.

This massive investigation exposed layers of protection that allow predatory doctors to get away with their crimes unfettered:

1. Golden Opportunities

Narcissists gravitate toward professions that guarantee plentiful and continuous provisions of narcissistic supply. 
“Doctors…often have golden opportunities to abuse that other abusers may not: a private examination or treatment room. Doctors may medicate a patient, which the patient accepts without question—only that “medication” may be a drug to render a patient unconscious or affect her memory. Other doctors sexually abuse patients while they are under anesthesia for a legitimate procedure.”

2.  Layers of Secrecy, Systemic Failure

“Layer upon layer of secrecy makes it nearly impossible for the public, or even the medical community itself, to know the extent of physician sexual abuse.” (“License to Betray; A broken system forgives sexually abusive doctors in every state, investigation finds,” by Carrie Teegardin, Danny Robbins, Jeff Ernsthausen and Ariel Hart, Atlanta Constitution Journal)

“’There is a web of protections in place within the profession and within the law so that this type of behavior can be detected and acted upon, and we allege that they have failed in every regard.’”  (“After Years of Sexual Abuse Allegations, How Did This Doctor Keep Working?” by Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times, Oct. 11, 2021)

3.  Predator Blindness 

“Institutions, governments, and individuals are greatly unaware of the existence of predatory personalities in medicine and in general.  A great lack of understanding exists regarding the depths of depravity a malignant narcissist can exhibit so these pathological behaviors often go unrecognized.” (How To Spot Narcissistic Doctors?” April 2013, in The Narcissist Life)

“Other doctors may not have so many victims, or so many willing to come forward, or be as well known. But they share one trait in common with Larry Nassar: a willingness to violate the ethics of their profession and harm innocent patients who trusted them.”(When Doctors Sexually Abuse Patients,” Huegli Fraser Law Firm)

“You can never assume that because you have a respected physician in the community that everybody thinks the world of, that person can’t do something terrible.” Jeffrey Fried, President and CEO of Beebe Healthcare after the Earl Bradly pedophile pediatrician case. (“A generation heals from Earl Bradley,” by Margie Fishman, The News Journal, September 15, 2007)

“‘One of the biggest scandals is just how often a person who offends, offends repeatedly, said James DuBois, a bioethicist at Washington University in St. Louis who helped develop recommendations for improving physician training and oversight.”  “License to Betray; A broken system forgives sexually abusive doctors in every state, investigation finds,” by Carrie Teegardin, Danny Robbins, Jeff Ernsthausen and Ariel Hart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Predators are very convincing in the role of dedicated professionals. “They are also authoritative, assertive, and controlling. Their professions are merely covers, a means of concealing their dark sides. They seek to interact with people only from their position of authority, advantage, and perceived superiority. In this power position, they are able to elicit automatic admiration, adulation, and affirmation from patients–as well as nurses and staff– or failing that, their fear and obedience.” (Usha Nellore, in “Predatory physician case shows why patients must be vigilant,” The Baltimore Sun, FEB 22, 2013)

Malignant narcissists take pleasure in their aggression and sadism toward others. When they “view people as property the combination of sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism can be extremely dangerous…It most often leads to aggressive behavior and sometimes violence.” (5 Signs You’re Dealing With A Malignant Narcissist)

“Because of the perpetrator’s position, the victim may be even more likely to question whether…anyone will believe them if they tell…After all, many legitimate medical treatments may be uncomfortable or unpleasant, but necessary. Abusive doctors may take advantage of this fact, together with the patient’s trust in her physician, to both sexually abuse a patient and deny the patient’s experience of what happened,“(When Doctors Sexually Abuse Patients,” By Rhett Fraser, JD, January 31st, 2018).  As my attacker did when I confronted him.

When victims of Nassar came forward initially, “their claims were dismissed and victims were told…that the treatments had been medically sound.” (6 Reasons Why Abusers Like Larry Nassar Avoid Detection,” by Susan Sullivan, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, May 02, 2019)

4. Unwillingness to Admit Predatory Doctors Are Not Rare

We want to believe our healthcare system is safe for ourselves and our loved ones. We don’t want to believe some predators go into medicine because it gives them access to countless victims. 

With outright flouting of the law and dismissal of long-established medical ethics, “some doctors, especially male gynecologists, pediatricians and anesthesiologists and psychiatrists, have raped, fondled and molested patients of all ages.” (White Coat Betrayal: Ending Sexual Assault in Medicine,” by Sherry Ross, MD, US News, Jan. 24, 2018)

“A few physicians — with hundreds of victims — are among the nation’s worst sex offenders.” (License to Betray; A broken system forgives sexually abusive doctors in every state, investigation finds,” by Carrie Teegardin, Danny Robbins, Jeff Ernsthausen and Ariel Hart, Atlanta Constitution Journal)

“Serial predators raped or molested patients under the guise of conducting medical exams. Many abusers chose very vulnerable patients: children, the disabled, immigrants, those suffering from mental illnesses, those who were unconscious. Patients may be at their most vulnerable during intimate medical examinations, when their genitals are exposed…Some doctors exploited situations in which patients were unconscious or debilitated by drugs.” (“Repeat offenders often targeted vulnerable patients,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Within the cohort of medical professionals, surgeons expressed significantly higher levels of narcissism.” (“Mirror mirror on the ward, who’s the most narcissistic of them all? Pathologic personality traits in health care,” published in Canadian Medical Association Journal, DEC 2018)

5. Layers of Protections

Colleagues and nurses stay silent, often out of fear of reprisal. 

Hospitals and health care organizations brush off accusations without reporting them to police or licensing agencies.
Physician-dominated medical boards gave offenders second chances. And third!

Prosecutors dismissed or reduced charges, so doctors could keep practicing and stay off sex offender registries. 

Communities rally around them.

The majority of physician misconduct goes unreported,” because “a majority of Americans do not know where to file a complaint against a physician,” according to the Federation of State Medical Boards

A. Institutional Protections

All major institutions protect predators with “a mashup of victim blaming, cover-up, stonewalling, retaliation, obstruction, obfuscation, and even golden parachutes for those in power most complicit in the network. ” (At The Heart Of The Gold: How ‘Predatory’ Institutions Covered Up Child Sexual Abuse Of USA Gymnastics,” by Shari Karney at “Roar as One,” June 17, 2019)

They minimize or ignore complaints from colleagues, nurses, and patients.

Some actively discourage employees from taking it further or even make threats.

“Private agreements, along with legal loopholes and outright flouting of the law, are among the reasons the nationwide repository — the National Practitioner Data Bank — can leave patients and medical staff vulnerable…even when hospitals and medical boards file reports, they may classify violations in a way that conceals the scope of physician sexual misconduct on the very limited portion of the data bank available to the public.” (Dangerous doctors, flawed data, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Doctors who sexually abuse patients go to therapy and then return to practice.” (“Patients violated, doctors rehabilitated,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

According to the AJC report, “if a doctor is providing a benefit to the organization for which he works, administrators may be unwilling to rock the boat unless allegations of abuse are undeniable.” In which case, the organization values the predator’s freedom to prey on patients far above patient safety. It does, in effect, feed him his victims. 

B. Cultural Protections

Culprits know they can rely on social forces to give them cover.

Predators do what they do because they think they can get away with it. We give them that security, with our big, bloated bureaucracies” (“Predatory physician case shows why patients must be vigilant,” by Usha Nellore, The Baltimore Sun, February 22, 2013)

The public is repeatedly fooled by these predators because of social and cultural conditioning and naivete. 

In many of these cases, nobody believed the victims. Everyone believed the doctor. 

When patients do tell of their abuse, those to whom they report it may be unwilling to destroy the career of a “good doctor” over “unproven allegations.” (When Doctors Sexually Abuse Patients,” By Rhett Fraser, JD, Hugel Fraser Law, January 31, 2018)

C. Regulatory Agency Inaction

“Decades of complaints that the physician disciplinary system is too lenient on sex-abusing doctors have produced little change in the practices of state medical boards.” (“AP investigation: Doctors keep licenses despite sex abuse”, by Associated Press, Apr 14, 2018)

“Even when hospitals and medical boards file reports, they may classify violations in a way that conceals the scope of physician sexual misconduct on the very limited portion of the data bank available to the public.”  (“Dangerous doctors, flawed data,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Police can be so convinced that a doctor committed sex crimes that they charge and book him, ready for prosecutors to take him to trial. But that might not be enough to sway state medical regulators, tasked with protecting the public, to prevent a doctor from seeing more patients while criminal charges are pending, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution discovered in a review of disciplinary cases involving sexual misconduct.” (“Under arrest, yet seeing patients,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution )

“Of the 253 doctors reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank for having been sanctioned by their respective hospitals or health care organizations for sexual misconduct, or paid a settlement that stemmed from such an allegation, 170 of them, almost 70%, were not disciplined by state medical boards, even though all boards have access to the reports filed with the data bank.” (“AP investigation: Doctors keep licenses despite sex abuse”, by Associated Press, Apr 14, 2018)

D. State Law Protects Perpetrators

“In most states, patients will have a difficult time finding out if their doctors have been disciplined for sexual abuse or other violations. And no state provides complete and accurate information on every doctor. Some obstacles to that are intentional. They are the result of state laws that tie regulators’ hands, agreements negotiated with doctors’ attorneys, or concerns about harming a doctor’s practice. Other obstacles reflect a lack of resources or carelessness.” (“Gaps, Cloaks, and Barriers,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Legal loopholes and intentional safeguards prevent prosecution. 

“State laws tie regulators’ hands or are ignored out of concerns about harming a doctor’s practice.  (“Gaps, Cloaks, and Barriers,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

A number of Delaware attorneys told me that, although I have a valid non-consent complaint they could not represent me because the settlement would not cover the attorney’s fees. The law is set up this way on purpose. There is no viable legal recourse for non-catastrophic medical malpractice in Delaware. It’s as if serious medical errors and intentional harm don’t exist. The people who built and benefit from the power structure protect themselves and each other from inroads of truth, accountability, and justice. 

E. Court System Favors the Privileged

Survivors are tortured by inept legal proceedings designed to conceal instead of reveal truth and their voices silenced.

The criminal court system operates not under the cold, calculated order visible in legal codes and on-the-record filings, but on a network of relationships, collegial and political, shaping negotiations in private rooms, sometimes at the expense of victims. In a state court system where more than 90% of criminal cases end with plea bargains, the debates and decisions outside the courtroom often carry more weight than the motions, affidavits, and transcripts that the public sees. The result is a two-tiered system of justice that favors those connected to the network. – “A Doctor Admitted To Sexually Abusing Patients And Then Walked Free by Albert Samaha, BuzzFeed News, June 5, 2018

F. The American Medical Association (AMA)

The American Medical Association…”does not favor the automatic revocation of the medical license of every doctor who commits sexual abuse of a patient. It does not expel every offender from its membership rolls. It has never independently researched the prevalence of sexual abuse in clinical settings. Twenty-six years ago it declared sexual misconduct a breach of medical ethics, but since then it has remained all but mute on the issue.” (“Condemnation without action,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

6. Patients Stand Alone

Victims face tremendous barriers to coming forward. “They fear not being believed and being blamed in addition to the shame and trauma of their experience.” (6 Reasons Why Abusers Like Larry Nassar Avoid Detection,” by Susan Sullivan, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, May 02, 2019) Patients know the system is against them.


“The result is a violation of trust, physical and emotional trauma, and a sense of being violated again when a woman works up the courage to disclose her abuse and is not believed. Some women stop seeking medical care because the mere experience of being in a medical setting is traumatizing.” (“When Doctors Sexually Abuse Patients,” Huegli Fraser Law Firm)

“To be violated while in a vulnerable state is highly traumatic, whether registered consciously by a person or unconsciously at the level of procedural memory…Your body can remember things that happen to it while unconscious…Such traumas can be stored in the body for many years and are now known to be correlated with long-term physical and mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sexual dysfunction.”  (The Number of Doctors Getting Away with Sexual Abuse Will Shock You,” by Macaela Mackenzie, Women’s Health, JUL 7, 2016)

Some patients develop Medical PTSD and “stop seeking medical care because the mere experience of being in a medical setting is traumatizing.” (When Doctors Sexually Abuse Patients,” Huegli Fraser Law Firm)

The betrayal of predatory sexual assault from doctors “even pushed some to suicide.” (License to Betray; A broken system forgives sexually abusive doctors in every state, investigation finds,” by Carrie Teegardin, Danny Robbins, Jeff Ernsthausen and Ariel Hart, Atlanta Constitution Journal)

“Deviants who hide behind the label of caring professionals are the most maniacal and psychologically destructive to women. We need to work together, change the culture and make it stop.” (“White Coat Betrayal: Ending Sexual Assault in Medicine,” by Sherry Ross, MD, US News, Jan. 24, 2018)

Q: What is the main factor in how predatory doctors get away with exploiting patients for years? 

A: The complicit silence and inaction of administrators.

The silence is over. The time of undeniability has come. Police report filed.

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“Like Larry Nassar running with scissors”

After almost three years of recovery efforts following a brutal violation, I’m able to speak up and take action regarding the urogynecologist who sexually assaulted me with sharp instruments when he intentionally performed non-consensual surgery to remove healthy tissue from my genitals. This is a huge ethical and safety violation.

Even more disturbing, the butcher-surgeon’s MO aligns with the classic profile of the predatory physician given protection to operate unfettered with the institution’s tacit blessing. Nurses don’t call his surprise package of consensual and non-consensual procedures “The Dr. ___ Special” for nothing. [Name omitted for my protection, not his.]

 The idea of a Mengelesque surgeon who derives pleasure from his power over his incapacitated victims and gets away with cutting women’s genitals as a surprise seems too outrageously perverse to be real. But not all monsters are make-believe.

Experience with previous grievances tells me the mega-hospital will treat me as if I’m the problem. However, I trust that, as with the infamous Earl Bradley and Larry Nassar predatory physician cases, the truth will win in the end.

This malignant surgeon’s heinous act caused my development of Medical PTSD. I cannot undergo needed major surgery. Since this predator used a scalpel and a pair of scissors to remove healthy tissue from my genitals without my knowledge or consent while I was unconscious, it has been unsafe for me to be anesthetized. Even routine medical appointments are difficult and triggering.

 According to a series of Atlanta Journal-Constitution nationwide investigative reports, predatory doctors typically operate unfettered for years or decades, not because nobody knows, and not because nobody complains. Simply, “administrators may be unwilling to rock the boat unless allegations of abuse are undeniable,” to the extent they will even threaten those who complain. I expect the latter is likely in this predatory surgeon’s case, considering that the corporate legal sabers rattled after I began to share on social media about my experience of previous medical neglect and abuse in its system.

It’s clear the butcher-surgeon has been protected far too long. No more. It ends here. Revealing the facts breaks the spell of corporate privilege for an exceptionally vile predatory surgeon who cuts unconscious women’s genitals without permission, not for medical necessity but for his perverse pleasure in the power to harm and the distress he causes his victims. That’s what predators do. That’s what they feed upon, the harm and the power they have in causing it. For them cruelty is pleasure, and this surgeon’s tissue-chopping genital mutilation is particularly heinous. He’s like Larry Nassar running with scissors. 

My previous interactions with the corporation on any issue were fruitless; corporate stonewalling, obfuscation, and loads of meaningless words only increased my distress. Therefore, I will simply want to know when this predatory doctor loses his privilege to practice and the hospital has fully cooperated with the investigation. Nothing else.

In the meantime, I shall do my part to assure this malignant operator is stopped and held accountable for what he did to me and his other victims.

Here’s to the removal of this depraved predatory surgeon from the halls of medicine, where he is a menace and liability.

The silencing is over. The point of undeniability is here. It is time to MAKE. IT. STOP

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The capacity to make good decisions

The capacity to make good decisions is among many aspects of self that are dependent on sufficient nervous system regulation. Beyond a certain point of dysregulation, we lose our ability to feel love, joy, peace, gratitude, and beauty inside us.

Without awareness, we are in danger of losing these parts of ourselves, particularly under today’s levels of chronic Unpredictable Toxic Stress (CUTS). ✂️

Neuroscience shows toxic or chronic stress reduces access to the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the “make good choices” part of the brain. This is also the region where we plan for the future, manage emotional reactions, and coordinate and adjust complex behaviors. The lessening of these capacities is a handicap. It makes life extra difficult on every level.

For instance, when our stress levels have been too high for too long we are more prone to flip our lids. We do and say things we regret and might even hate ourselves for. But we can’t stop it even when we are aware it’s happening. It feels like we’re driven by something beyond our control. Because we are. Red Alert has hijacked our brain.

When we flip our lids we are driven by entrained neuronal firing patterns in subcortical regions of the brain, particularly the amygdala. Our fight or flight mechanism takes over.

What if, rather than haphazardly lose parts of ourselves due to stress and trauma overload, we were conscious and proactive with preventative measures?

What if we all knew our own signs of regulation and dysregulation?

And what if we all could recognize dysregulation in each other and help each other regulate?

With a widespread basic understanding of Relational Neuroscience, we would enjoy greater experiences of safety and connection. This would foster the sense of well-being from which mental and physical health arise.

In our nation of #Traumerica we would see a decline in the collective distress signals: violence, criminality, substance abuse and addiction, homelessness, mass incarceration, obesity, chronic disease, and an epidemic of mental health conditions.

The basics of Relational Neuroscience are not difficult to learn. Mainly, it’s understanding the concepts and learning the terms for what we already do every day without recognizing. Mindful application of these basic concepts can dramatically improve our lives and positively affect those around us. It’s almost like magic. But it’s science. Beautiful science!

#Science #Neuroscience #relationalneuroscience #interpersonalneurobiology #Ipnb #nervoussystem #nervoussystemregulation #regulation #selfregulation #coregulation #limbicsystem

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My “Patient Story” is up at Patients Rising

my patient story on patients rising

Screenshot of my “Patient Story” at Patients Rising.

“I am motivated by the unconscionable harm I received when I asked for help with Developmental Trauma. I saw the same thing had happened to most of the people in that ward: early trauma in a chronically toxic childhood environment gave rise to mental health issues upon which the predatory system fed without regard for the human lives it serves to destroy in the name of “mental health care.” I need to Make. It. Stop. however I can.

Therefore, became a Trauma-Awareness Activist-Artist. I paint watercolors about my experiences as well as the neurobiology of trauma and other concepts for education. I started the #TraumaAwareAmerica initiative, to inform providers and empower survivors. I spread the word that PTSD is not a “mental condition” that needs fixing by drugs, but a neurophysiological condition caused by the entrained firing patterns of the subcortical brain, particularly the amygdala. That nearly all mental health conditions can be traced back to Developmental Trauma, and we can help each other heal.”

Read the full story here.

Dire Need for Trauma Awareness in Providers

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“Anger is a Secondary Emotion”

"Anger is a Secondary Emotion," by Shay Seaborne. Watercolor and mental hospital pencild“Anger is a secondary emotion,” a watercolor I painted 3 years ago, about 3 weeks after my ordeal in the ER and mental hospital. Anger is often an indicator of a violation. This one was enormous.

Although I painted well earlier in life, I couldn’t even hold a brush after that stint in the Cuckoo’s Nest. Initially, I couldn’t make shapes, only splatter, drip, and smear. The psychology abuse I endured at Rockford Center for Behavioral Health degradation caused such a severe disruption to my nervous system it flattened me back to preschool.

I painted this with my hand. On the back I wrote, “Anger at being abused, at not being able to stop it, even as an adult.” I was still reeling from the outrageous maltreatment I received when I asked for help for Developmental Trauma.

When I asked for help, instead I received an initiation into the world of psychology abuse, in which vulnerable people are subjected to some of the various kinds of neglect and abuse the mainstream medical- psychology- pharmaceutical complex calls “treatment.”
The domination system of modern medicine and the pseudoscience of psychology subjected me to the same predator-prey dynamic in which I had been raised and subjected to severe maltreatment as a child. The system replicated the pattern of abuse from my childhood. It reinforced the damage.

Every provider I encountered was ignorant of Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) training, which is enough to cause severe harm to a trauma survivor, even from a provider with the best intentions.

In my week at Rockford I received no individual therapy and was forced to regularly ingest a pharmaceutical cocktail, one component of which was toxic to me.

I was also deprived of my rights and strip searched, which retraumatized me. I had been strip searched and digitally raped by US Customs as a child after my mother told me to smuggle plants into the country.

Some of Rockford’s abuses are recorded in the parent company’s recent $122M fraud settlement with the DOJ. This includes hoodwinking people into thinking they need to be there, and keeping them there when they don’t.

That alone is egregiously harmful and an outrageous violation of human rights. But this is SOP for Universal Health Services (UHS), America’s largest mental health hospital chain. This is what UHS does to 700,000 patients a year.

Meanwhile, Wall Street and the mental health profits industry applaud UHS for its continued ability to post a 30% profit, double the industry standard. Everybody wants to be like UHS. It doesn’t matter that they grind people into dust, suck the marrow from their bones, spit them out, and wait for them to come back for another round.

The federal government and some states got some of the money back that UHS defrauded. There’s some kind of monitoring to be installed for a few years. and NOTHING for the victims. We don’t even get say in what kind of monitoring should occur or what kind of changes should be made to actually help people instead of hurt them.

This is mental health care and justice in America. This is why I speak up, tell the horrific truth, and punch back however I can.

#UHS #RockfordCenter #psychologyabuse

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Open Letter to A. Snortz, Psy.D.*

Stop Psychology Abuse poster

“Stop Psychology Abuse” by Shay Seaborne, CPTSD. Watercolor, photocopy, mental hospital pencil

I write this on the third anniversary of our final office visit. You probably forgot that day. I have not. To refresh: my GAD was back up to critical, I told you I had increasing suicidal ideations and thought it was from the Lexapro, I’d had a disturbing interaction with one of my abusive parents, I had cut myself again, and I had called to find out what happens to my IRA if I die. Your deeply neglectful and bizarre response was, “Isn’t that a normal question?” 

You neglected a basic professional duty: conduct a suicide evaluation when a person said “suicidal ideations.” Twice! You weren’t curious at all. You blew me off. If you have even a fraction of a soul you should feel tremendous regret and shame for the way you treated me. Your contempt for me impeded your ability to help me. You betrayed my trust in you as a professional, as a psychologist, as a healthcare provider, as a human being. You gave me no care, only the CBT hammer of shame, along with lies and betrayal. You played an arrogant game with my life. 

You are guilty of gross negligence, incompetence, and lack of education, motivation, effort, awareness, empathy, and understanding. You are exceptionally under-qualified for your job. But the system supports you. They even erased scads of emails for you. I bet it feels really good to have corporate and legal support as a benefit of being an educated and well-off white male, lesser beings be damned! Maybe it feels good because you think you got away with something, didn’t have to experience whatever words and feelings I would express to your face to hold you accountable for the harm you did to me. 

Perhaps you experienced a few small repercussions because you had to meet with leadership and take some remedial training or something else totally lame, but clearly, you didn’t suffer. Not like I still suffer 3 years later. If you suffered like I do you wouldn’t be able to work or even enjoy things you enjoyed months before. You wouldn’t have income. You would still be struggling to recover from what somebody did to you out of their ignorance and arrogance. 

I like to imagine my complaint to the licensing board made your butt pucker at least once. I doubt it though because a man who operates like you doesn’t seem to have a conscience. I guess you feel really special to have soooo much white male privilege that the entire system protects you at the expense of those you harm to the extent it will delete 2.5 years of patient portal emails between me and my providers. (If it smells like a cover-up it probably is a cover-up.) 

To correct the misinformation you put in my record, there was no therapeutic process. There was no rapport. That was your imagination. The definition of rapport is, “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.” It’s not communicating well when you change the treatment plan without telling the patient. Clearly, you had no understanding of my feelings, ideas, or needs.

If you had been capable of rapport you would have been able to understand what I was telling you and would have responded appropriately. Instead, you were focused on whatever was going on in your head. Your unprofessional and secret personal agenda superseded your ability to provide appropriate care. Not just an appropriate level of care, but appropriate care at all

Whatever your motivation and reasoning, one thing is for certain: your piss-poor effectiveness as a practitioner of psychology is driven by your own brokenness. Your behavior is a clear indication of your own lack of safety and connection within yourself and your inability to connect or provide safety for others. In that regard I pity you because you’re pathetic, don’t even know what’s bothering you, are so cut off from yourself you have no clue why you do the things you do. You really need some trauma therapy yourself, I bet. Truly, a functional person wouldn’t treat somebody the way you treated me. So I pity you for what you are as much as I despise you.

Perhaps you should use your precious “filmstrip metaphor” to recognize where you could have made better choices. If not for your bad decisions I would be sailing my ship instead of writing lots and lots of letters and complaints. I would also not be empowering survivors to spot charlatans like you. 

You don’t have to get your panties in a wad and whine about this letter to your corporate protector, though I expect you will. Mediocre white men are scared if they don’t get all the special treatment to which they believe they are entitled. 

C************* gives you a secure, tho bland and uninspiring office. You’ve paid a price with part of your soul. You’re in a position that harms others, though you ostensibly went into it to help others. That must feel really awful inside. On a deeper level, perhaps part of you feels really bad, too, that you haven’t been able to resolve the issue with the person you harmed. 

This is actually my gift to you, holding you accountable here. Telling my truth released my father from the predator-prey bond on his deathbed. This time telling the truth releases me from a similar bond: the kind of relationship that gave you power over me, power to determine my treatment, power to neglect your duties so deeply that I ended up in the Cuckoo’s Nest, and power to avoid virtually all accountability for your egregious behavior. 

This is most likely my final communication with you. Not because it brings me resolution, but because the lack of resolution brings me to turn my attention toward the tools I have left. That is, telling my story to as wide an audience as possible in every way I can that might help people avoid being hurt the way you hurt me. 

My big mistake was to expect you would actually want to help me and have my best interest at heart. I wish I’d never seen your bland milquetoast face and your ’70s “professor” jackets with elbow patches. I wish I’d understood I was dealing with a highly arrogant and ignorant person. 

If you hadn’t put me on the Trauma Train Express to the Cuckoo’s Nest [Rockford Center for Behavioral Health destruction) and polypharmacy machine I’d have no idea just how f****** awful is our “mental health care” in America. I also would not have learned that Rockford is owned by a notorious company [Universal Health Services, UHS] that harms people for profit. I wouldn’t know what an awful system C************* is for anybody who’s been harmed by it. But I do know. 

I choose to follow Maya Angelou’s advice, “Use that anger, yes. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.” I will never stop talking it. In fact, I use your image as the poster child for bad psychology. Thanks to your egregious neglect and abuse I am now officially a trauma awareness activist-artist. I teach providers how to avoid harming patients, and teach survivors how they might recover from harm by providers. I take pride in what I did with what you did to me. I turned the horror, disgust, and rage into a force for positive change. POW! 

I wish you the best of luck in reconnecting the parts of yourself that are broken off due to whatever trauma you haven’t recovered from, which causes you to so deeply harm others with so little regard or conscience. 


Shay Seaborne, CPTSD


*Name changed to protect the writer from further threats issued by C************* for speaking out about my lived experience. I use “Snortz” because the Psy.D. snorts at his patients instead of listening to them. 

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Follow me on Facebook for more info on stress/trauma/PTSD/CPTSD

When you follow my TraumaAwareAmerica page on Facebook you can receive and find great info, tips, tidbits, insights, art, news, humor, and more about stress/PTSD/Complex PTSD and recovery, neurobiology, and mental health in general. Be sure to join the TraumaAwareAmerica Discussion Group, too!


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Turn Around Your Stressful Triggers with the Alexander Technique

My friend and Alexander Technique instructor, Imogen Ragone, and I share an idea from her BodyIntelligence work and the Alexander Technique has helped me “turn around” one of my most stressful triggers – hyperacusis and synesthesia stemming from trauma. We also discussed other situations in which you can use “the turnaround” and how you can use it yourself.

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