In the past two weeks, I have posted twice about trauma and addiction on our blog. One article focused on addiction developing in response to psychological pain and quoting Gabor Maté, and the other on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and quoting Dr. Vincent Felitti.
I now want to take this opportunity of reminding you about the Healing Trauma section of our website. In addition to posts relating to the above articles, you can find other articles in this section that I have written relating to work focused on trauma and the healing of trauma by world leading experts.
In the first of two articles relating to the work of Judith Herman, I provide a quote where she describes the core experiences of psychological trauma as disempowerment and disconnection from others. ‘Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections.’
In the second article, I point out how Judith emphasises the damaging impact trauma has on human relationships. She also stresses the importance of safety for people affected by trauma. ‘‘Trauma robs the victim of a sense of power and control; the guiding principle of recovery is to restore power and control. The first task of recovery is to establish the survivor’s safety.’
I describe how Bruce Perry emphasises the importance of relationships: trauma can shatter human connections. ‘As a result, recovery from trauma and neglect is also all about relationships—rebuilding trust, regaining confidence, returning to a sense of security and reconnecting to love… healing and recovery are impossible—even with the best medications and therapy in the world—without lasting connections to others.’
In another article, I describe how Bruce Perry is ‘concerned about poverty of relationships in modern society. In our work, we find the best predictor of your current mental health is your current “relational health”, or connectedness…. Simply put, modern life provides fewer opportunities for relational interactions.’
Bessel van der Kolk emphasises the importance of connection and safety in my article Safety and Reciprocity in Mental Health. ‘‘Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives….
Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart.
For our physiology to to calm down, heal and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love: These are complex and hard-earned capacities.’ [My bold and paragraphing]
In another post, Healing Trauma – Overlooking Fundamental Truths, I point out that ‘psychiatric medications have become a mainstay in our culture, with dubious consequences…. The reality is that there is little evidence that mental illness is caused by specific chemical imbalances (the brain disease model), or that psychiatric drugs are actually beneficial to people in the long-term.’
The impact of trauma is not solved by drugs: ‘practitioners are just ameliorating the symptoms of a problem, rather than addressing its underlying causes.’
I quote from Bessel van der Kolk, who says that the brain-disease model overlooks four fundamental truths, which he describes. He goes on to say: ‘When we ignore these quintessential dimensions of humanity, we deprive people of ways to heal from trauma and restore their autonomy. Being a patient, rather than a participant in one’s healing process, separates suffering people from their community and alienates them from an inner sense of self.’
In the above posts, you will see references to books by Judith Herman, Bessel van der Kolk and Bruce Perry (two), which are all essential reading from anyone wishing to know more about trauma and the healing of trauma: