Sharing Culture blog: Recovery from trauma

511+Nl1uNdL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I am now blogging on my new website Sharing Culture and here is a recent posting.

‘Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery is a classic. Judith starts the recovery part of her book, in a chapter entitled ‘A Healing Relationship’, with some important insights into recovery and healing.

‘The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections.

Recovery can take place only within then context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connection with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological facilities that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience. These faculties include the basic operations of trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy.

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‘Want to reduce mental illness? Address trauma. Want to save the world? Address trauma.’ by Laura K Kerr

ScapegoatIt’s time we spent more time reflecting upon the role of trauma in mental health problems and addiction. Here’s a thought-provoking blog from Laura K Kerr.

‘Different explanations have been given for the increased number of people suffering from mental illness. Some have claimed the increase is the result of ever-expanding diagnostic criteria and syndromes that risk medicalizing normal emotional reactions.

Others argue the increase is the result of the pharmaceutical industry financially courting the medical establishment as well as using advertisements to attract potential users of their medications.

While both these arguments seem correct, they nevertheless fail to address that an increasing number of people regularly experience despair and anguish and are struggling to make a meaningful life, if not keep themselves psychologically, socially, and financially afloat.

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‘Healing from trauma (or from a psych diagnosis)’ by Monica Cassani

Monica Cassani of Beyond Meds has just uploaded an excellent blog and link to a film relating to trauma in young people. I couldn’t resist putting it up here. Here’s what Monica had to say:

‘There are people out there that get it. This video shows something that is just wonderful. We need to create more safe places for kids and adults both where they might heal from the trauma in our lives.

As I’ve often pointed out the tragic reality all to often is that the current mental health system further traumatizes rather than heals. For those of us who have been harmed by the system it becomes that much harder to find safety as the capacity to trust is further challenged.

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‘Unraveling the Mystery of Personal and Family Recovery: An Interview with Stephanie Brown, PhD’ by Bill White (Part 3)

Unknown-4Bill White: In 1999, you published a book with Virginia Lewis that virtually transformed my own understanding about family recovery from alcoholism. Could you share with our readers how the book came to be written and some of its major conclusions?

Stephanie Brown: The book came at the end of a ten-year research project that Virginia and I undertook in 1990 to study the process of recovery for the family. I had always wanted to know what happens to the whole family when the drinking of one or both parents stops.

We asked the same main question I had asked previously: is the process of recovery for the family similar to the process for the individual, and do the stages of active addiction and recovery I identified for the individual hold true for the family? We discovered pretty quickly that these stages do hold true and that they are a good guideline for understanding what happens with recovery growth following abstinence.

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‘Mental illness, addiction & most chronic physical illness is the result of childhood loss & trauma’ by Monica Cassani

UnknownI love Gabor Maté. He’s one of my favourite people working in the recovery field and you can find a number of blogs referring to his work on this website. And I’m not the only person who loves his work. Here’s the latest blog (slightly modified) from Monica at Beyond Meds.

Here, Gabor Mate tells us the medical profession are the most difficult to speak to about what he’s learned in his work because they don’t recognize that so-called mental illness and most physical chronic illness is the result of childhood loss and trauma.

We don’t need anymore research he says. We know the cause of these issues.

He points out that the barrier to the health professionals is that they’ve not cared for their own trauma. This is clearly true. Many professionals are afraid of their own darkness. This makes it impossible for them to correctly recognize issues in their patients and clients.

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Trauma and Recovery

511+Nl1uNdL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_My good friend Christina found a photocopy of a chapter of Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror which had the following in:

‘The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections.

Recovery can take place only within then context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connection with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological facilities that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience.These faculties include the basic operations of trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy.

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‘The healing journey revealed (trauma and transformation)’ by Monica Cassini

rsz_51rm8b-t6hl_sy344_pjlook-inside-v2topright10_sh20_bo1204203200_I want to introduce to a wonderful blog, Beyond Meds, by Monica Cassini and a highly recommended book which I am just due to start reading. Here, Monica talks about Peter Levine’s book ‘Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma’:

‘I finally have the book Waking the Tiger, in my keep. It’s been on my list to read for a long time. I’ve read other works by Peter Levine and have posted about some of it on this blog, but I’ve not read this classic by him yet. I posted about his new book on Friday.

Quite wonderfully and like a good omen, when Waking the Tiger arrived in the mail a few days ago, I flipped the book open and landed on a page with no thought whatsoever. I read from the first place my eyes fell. It made me cry tears of relief as some of what he speaks of is already happening (see below), the rest of the healing I await, knowing in my heart that this is how it works and that, yes, there will be a gift in all of this pain I’ve been experiencing. The deep validation I got from reading his words was much appreciated. Like a signpost along the dark  and unclear jungle path.

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‘Trauma Change Resilience’ by Dr. Megan McElheran at TEDxYYC

 “If, on a day-to-day basis, we as individuals and as members participating in our communities are better able to operate from a position where all experience is valued, I think we will be healthier and better able to address the challenges in our lives from a place of being willing and able to have an experience whatever those challenges should entail.”

As Canada begins to assimilate its soldiers from Afghanistan, Dr. Megan McElheran’s undertaking is an important mission. The Stanford-educated doctor of psychology is one of a team of 13 at the federally-funded CareWest Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic tasked with diagnosing and treating psychologically-injured soldiers returning from the fields of battle in Afghanistan, as well as previous conflicts and peacekeeping missions.

Megan’s work also includes addressing the burgeoning awareness of the impact of operational stress-related injuries on current serving and veteran members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Roots of Addiction – Dr. Gabor Maté

‘It is critical to understand that although addiction is a problem it is also an attempt to solve a graver problem, that is, unbearable psychic pain. To understand addiction, we need to understand human pain and that takes us to focus on childhood experiences.

One of the outcomes of childhood distress is addiction and the more adversity an individual experiences in his or her childhood the higher their risk of resorting to addictive behaviour to sooth their pain, even temporarily. In other words addiction (alcohol, drugs, shopping, Internet, etc.) is an attempt to seek something from the outside that the individual is not able to generate from within.

What makes childhood experience significant is that the circuitry that modulates the brain’s reward chemicals is underdeveloped in traumatized children thus making them more susceptible to addictive behaviours and conduct disorders.

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On Healing: Mary

rsz_jimn_jim_falls‘You know, I don’t think most Murri people have idea about healing. A lot of people I know think healing is just going to the doctor and getting fixed up – getting some pills or something like that. Faith healers – religion – stuff like that.

Saddest thing is they don’t even realise that they’ve got all the coping mechanisms, and they’ve been healing themselves all these years. If it was pointed out to them, things would really start to happen. They would build on it, because they know things are wrong, but they just don’t know what to do about it.

What I’ve learnt is, healing is facing up to the fact that you’ve got choices, and there is no need to live your life in this pain. You can always get out of it.

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On Healing: Lorna

rsz_aa10‘The word healing – it means to me [that] I need to look at all my pain. Feel the pain and release it. Work with it, talk about it, and let it go, rather than hold on to it, locking it up inside myself.

I need a safe place where I can talk about my pain, all the pain that I have had in my life, my drinking in my marriage, my childhood, to to be able to sit and feel free enough to talk about it to get it out of me. I had it in me for so long, too long.

I believe that’s when the healing takes place, when I can feel well enough in myself to talk honestly about how I feel, what happened to me, what it was like for me. It is action healing. That it what I found for myself. It is action.

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Expectations in Early Recovery

rsz_prop-img-full-f3y0fv91-1i4rrdkllxwjkOne of the problems in early recovery is the person not knowing what to expect. And then not being able to deal with the ‘unexpected’ when it happens. Here’s some reflections from Stephanie Brown in her book A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation.

‘Sharp feelings
New recovery is painful on several levels. Firstly, new recovering women must deal with the normal feelings that most women have but which they have buried under addiction.

Second, they have to face the ambivalence they feel as they bring their own recovery needs  into balance with meeting the needs of others.

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Strategies to Face Adversity: Humour

Humour for most participants was an important coping mechanism used to deal with the many adversities they had to face on a daily basis.  It was also used to help deal with stressful and painful traumatic events suffered by some participants.

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Stress, trauma and addiction: the role of society

410dgJSNaQL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_“Addicts are locked into their addiction not only by their painful past and distressing present but equally by their bleak view of the future as well. They cannot envision the real possibility of sobriety, of a life governed by values rather than by immediate survival needs and by desperation to escape physical and mental suffering.

They are unable to develop compassion to wards themselves and their bodies while they are regarded as outcasts, hunted as enemies, and treated like human refuse.

As we have seen, a major factor in addiction that medical and social policies must take into account is stress. If we want to support people’s potential for healthy transformation, we must cease to impose debilitating stress on their already-burdened existence.

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‘Helping Yourself to Recovery’ by Bill White

Helping Others ImageHelping others has been an integral part of the folk wisdom about addiction recovery for more than 250 years. 

From early Native American recovery circles, early Euro-American recovery mutual aid societies and the 20th century advent of 12-Step recovery through the ever-widening menu of religious, spiritual and secular recovery pathways, the message has been clear:  help yourself by helping others. 

The helping prescription is based on two core ideas.  The first is the concept of wounded healer – the notion that people who have experienced and survived an illness or great trauma may have acquired unique perspectives that allow them to offer assistance to others in similar circumstances. 

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An educaring approach to healing generational trauma in Aboriginal Australia

Shouting recovery from the rooftopsI was away this weekend in the country at an aboriginal healing retreat, which was an amazing experience. I felt peace in a way that I have not experienced in a very long time. I will blog about this later in the week.

Prior to going on the retreat, I started to look for content on historical trauma, something that I have been thinking more about recently. I have become increasingly aware of the inter-generational trauma which has been experienced by Aboriginal Australian peoples (and indigenous populations of other countries)  and which has resulted in social dysfunction, violence, addiction and mental health problems.

It seems to me that far too few people in Australia are aware of the role of inter-generational trauma in producing the above problems.

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‘Stuck not broke’ by AntiHero79

IMG_1870Hello, as this is my first entry I’ll (try to) keep it short. I am two and a half years into my recovery. I’d love to say that it’s all plain sailing, but in fact has been the darkest and most confusing time of my life up to now.

“I always knew I was different”… Well it’s true, I did. Always felt apart, weird, somehow isolated from even my closest friends. I had a rough childhood, no doubt about it, and when I found drink and drugs it was like I was liberated.

My first round of addiction (to cannabis, from age 14 – 15) saw me walking round school in a virtual coma. In retrospect, it must’ve looked like there was something severely wrong with me. There was, I know now. As a nine year old, I was molested by a family ‘friend’. It was reported to the police but stopped there. Lack of evidence.

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