Get Trauma Information! - Trustworthy information about psychological trauma and recovery

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Psychological trauma has many consequences. The most common one is for the brain to process the trauma memory into a mere story, with no triggerable elements. When this does not happen quickly enough - or at all, there are now research validated treatment options with a high success rate. Except for the gravest diagnoses, the treatment is, at most, moderate in duration.

Deeply disturbing things do happen to people of all sorts and ages, and in all places. This has always been the case. What happens next is our subject here.

We offer here credible information about psychological trauma and dissociation disorders, as well as the mental health problems commonly associated with them.

Why credible? Because here you will find careful source citations, utilizing primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Our sources are reports of empirical studies, when available, and theoretical models having high internal validity when such studies have yet to be done.

Close attention to the now considerable body of research available on the origins, characteristics, and treatment options for recognized trauma-related mental illness is our commitment. This is the golden age of research in mental health, and there is much to learn and discuss.

Recent additions…

mother and young child



If you did not get the mother you needed ^ OUR MOTHERS MADE US, and that can be a mixed blessing, or almost none at all, for some people. For those dealing with an unresolved psychological trauma, the relationship with “mother” can be especially troubling, and for many reasons. (…more)





child walking, holding parents hands

Childhood influences adulthood ^ “The task as a grown-up person is to realize what garment you knit for yourself to survive as a child, in the winter of your childhood. But when you’re in the summer, so to speak, of your adulthood, you’re boiling hot and you can’t figure out, “Why am I so f–ing hot all the time?”

“And it’s because you can’t take off this garment that you knitted for yourself as a child that you no longer need. You can’t realize, you don’t realize that this way of behaving, this functional way that your brain taught you to behave, to survive, it gets in your way now.” (…more)



woman holding her head in distress

Memories of trauma are unique because of how brains and bodies respond to threat ^ Most of what you experience leaves no trace in your memory. Learning new information often requires a lot of effort and repetition – picture studying for a tough exam or mastering the tasks of a new job. It’s easy to forget what you’ve learned, and recalling details of the past can sometimes be challenging. But some past experiences can keep haunting you for years. Life-threatening events – things like getting mugged or escaping from a fire – can be impossible to forget, even if you make every possible effort. (…more)



book cover

Book review - 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery - Babette Rothschild ^ Living with persisting trauma memories is tough. Involuntarily triggered by events, or people, or places, or thoughts, or feelings . . . well, anything can be a trigger, actually . . . these intrusive, searing memories will turn one’s life inside out. Recovery from traumatic experience is tough as well, and achieving a sense of safety is essential to successful recovery. Rothschild’s brief, personable, and accessible book directly targets safe, successful recovery in a way that compels and convinces the reader.

If trauma memories impact your life or that of someone you know or treat in a healthcare setting, you need this book. Because of the importance of this material, and because I want this to be a bit more than a mere review, I will be discussing this book in a two-part post. My format is both book review and a discussion of key concepts central to Rothschild’s book in the context of my own clinical experience. - (…more)



woman partially hiding face


Feelings - is there more going on than you know? ^ When someone asks “How are you today?”, it can be a casual, ritualistic way of starting a conversation. Sometimes, it’s much less, as when we meet an acquaintance on the street and they ask us this question without actually stopping for our answer.

But what if the question is for real—what if it actually matters? When I begin a counseling session with a client I do usually ask “How are you doing?” It is not unusual for people to have a lot to say in response. It is somewhat less common, but hardly unusual, for the person I’m with to reply “I don’t know.” Often, that is simply the truth. - (…more)


crying child


Parental violence against children has consequences ^ Expert opinion is clear: physical punishment of children is ineffective, and has pervasive, long-term negative effects. This expert opinion is disrespected, ignored, or simply not known by much of our country. Children pay the price for this, and when some of them grow up and become misbehaving social deviants, we all pay the price. Our lack of a clear cultural position on violence against children, irrespective of context, is dysfunctional, shocking, and depressing. Such cultural backwardness has huge negative consequences. We can do better. We must. - (…more)


girl staring out window


Young children who are survivors of sexual abuse are not being heard ^ Many survivors of sexual violence have spoken out in public through social media movements such as #MeToo and, in Québec, via “Dis Son Nom”, since 2017. These movements have allowed society to hear the voices of survivors. They have also drawn attention to a common phenomenon that has long been kept in the shadows.

Although we can only applaud women for speaking out, and the positive impact their actions have had in various domains — such as sports, culture and post-secondary education — these initiatives exclude children who are the victims of sexual violence.

Child victims of sexual abuse, particularly those of preschool age, are poorly represented in research on the impact of this trauma. Most studies explore the consequences of sexual violence in adults. - (…more)



Body keeps the score - cover


Book review: The body keeps the score - Bessel van der Kolk ^ - Psychiatrist, professor, world-class researcher, and traumatologist Bessel van der Kolk MD requires no introduction to trauma psychotherapists. My enduring impressions of him over many years is one of relevance, cogency, frankness, and accessibility - served up with a subtle dash of impishness. He tends to be a bit disruptive - something of a provocateur - and everything of his I have ever read has taught me something, confirmed something important, or pushed my thinking in a new direction. When he has something to say, I want to hear it. But, I almost didn’t buy this book: I was put off by the title. Familiar with major reviews of PTSD psychotherapy outcomes research, I know that research support for body-oriented approaches to treating psychological trauma psychopathology is thin at best, and such treatment models simply do not have the research validation of either EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and PE (Prolonged Exposure), neither of which are especially body-focused. - (…more)


Sun rising over mountain lake


Mental Health and treatment - American views are becoming distinctly more positive ^ - In the past decade, American views toward mental illness interventions and promotion of mental health have grown distinctly more positive. This trend can be seen up in attitudes, expenditures, utilization, social policy, and consumer supportive court action. Compared to the attention and investment given to physical health, that given to mental health has long been meager almost anywhere one looks in the USA. But, “…recent steps in spending, policymaking and litigation offer three reasons to hope the United States is starting to take behavioral problems as seriously as medical ones.” - (…more)


writing desk, with open notebook


Journaling as trauma therapy - New research validates the effectiveness of expressive writing ^ - Writing expressively (detailing events, thoughts, and feelings) about what troubles you, when well-focused on the experience that is the origin of your present distress, has been shown by considerable research to effectively reduce and even eliminate distress associated with memory of the experience. In the research reported in this article, an expressive writing procedure was experimentally compared to an established, well-researched trauma therapy - “prolonged exposure” (PE) - which has received considerable support from the Department of Defense. The writing procedure was as effective as PE, but had the advantage of having fewer individuals drop out of the process. Client dropouts have long been a major problem with PE. (…more)



young woman looking directly at us

Deepening self-awareness in the early stages of psychotherapy ^ - In the beginning stages of psychotherapy, one is often invited to become more aware of certain aspects of one’s life. This increased awareness is a key part of the personal growth that characterizes successful therapy. When you know more, you can do more, and real change becomes more likely. It all begins with increasing self-knowledge by increasing awareness.

Although increased awareness could occur in several different areas of one’s life (objective behavior and social relations being two of the most important), probably the most critical area of increased awareness is that of internal process, of “feelings”, specifically. Feelings begin with a certain type of brain energy “output”—a response to stimulation by other parts of the brain. When we become aware of this energy response the result enters our awareness as a “feeling”. (…more)


Woman walking by group on street


Calling prostitution "Sex work" makes the problem worse - It’s cover-up language ^ - We need to fix this: “sex work” is a cover-up term for a lot of bad stuff. Stop using this term. Covering up abuse, slavery, pain, degradation does not make it go away, it just distances us from it. That is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. We need to call it by its true names, and fight to bring it and the conditions that promote it to an end. (…more)



wary student at window


School shootings: At least 377 have occurred since Columbine - Well over a quarter of a million children have been exposed to this violence since 1999 ^ - “There were more school shootings in 2022 — 46 — than in any year since at least 1999. Beyond the dead and wounded, children who witness the violence or cower behind locked doors to hide from it can be profoundly traumatized.” (…more)


woman's eye close up, with tesrs


Rape - it’s effectively decriminalized in England and Wales ^ - Today in England and Wales, an estimated 300 women will be raped. About 170 of those cases will be reported to the police. But only three are likely to make it to a court of law….As a former senior police detective, now criminologist, I regard the rate at which rape cases fall by the wayside at every stage of the criminal process as the greatest scandal facing our justice system. As public confidence continues to plummet, leading to ever-greater reluctance to report sexual assaults and rapes, I want to explain what’s going so badly wrong. (…more)


book cover


Book review: Resolving the anxiety dilemma - Dylan M. Kollman ^ - Anxiety is your friend…until it isn’t, at which point you will do well to have this book at hand. Think of anxiety as a kind of global watchdog. When it barks, you do well to pay attention. Storm coming? Better close the windows. Knock at the door? Better consider who it might be before opening. This just makes sense.

But how exactly do we “pay close attention” in a way that is helpful? Psychologist Dylan Kollman offers a highly readable, practical, evidence-based answer to that question. But what if you are anxious simply because the weather is variable, or because your house has a door? This dysfunctional anxiety achieves no useful purpose. You have two choices at this point: suffer or address the issue. (…more)




woman using laptop


Essential Internet resources ^ - The emergence of the world-wide Internet in the past 30 years has utterly transformed communication for all who have access to it and know how to use it. At the same time, it presents many people with a serious problem: how to tell reliable information from unreliable and clearly erroneous information. When one’s need for information is urgent, this problem is all the more critical.

On this page you will find resources that have been rigorously screened for reliability - as much as this is possible. The final screening must be done by the individual information seeker. Blind trust is never advised. Be cautious and thoughtful in considering any information offered to you by someone else, regardless of their intentions or reputation. (…more)



people in group therapy

Finding a good therapist ^ - The key to finding a good therapist is YOU - what you know about yourself, what you want to do about it, and how you act to bring about personal change. While we cannot offer any “sure-fire” formula to solve this problem, there are things you can do that will probably help you significantly in your search. Your quality of life is the central concern here, so it’s only sensible to proceed slowly and deliberately.

A good therapist is one who helps you get the changes you want in your life. It’s that simple. Finding that therapist may NOT be simple, however. To help you solve this problem, we discuss here some of the difficulties you will face, and some ways people we know have found to work through these challenges. (…more)

Frightening dark figure

Threat detection can be an automatic, unconscious brain activity ^ - New research indicates that a crucial part of our brain detects faces expressing fear without our conscious awareness of them. There are obvious adaptive advantages to possessing this skill, but for individuals struggling with trauma and dissociation disorders this indicates an additional source of stress that needs to be managed intelligently.

While previous research has shown that a key part of the mid-brain - the amygdala - is activated when there is unconscious perception of fearful faces, there has been no real-time observation of this activity until now. (…more)


A calm group of objects to look at

Ground yourself, to stop dissociation and emotional pain ^ - You can eliminate emotional disturbance and dysfunctional dissociation by creating and enhancing calm awareness of your surroundings. This simple “conscious orienting” procedure is quick and reliable. It will teach you a lot about how feelings work in our brain.

Use this simple procedure to shift your focus to harmless things in your environment. This will calm you and increase awareness of your present surroundings when you are having troubles with being “spacey” (dissociative).

This happens because if you do the procedure right it moves your attention away from something that is bothering you - perhaps something traumatic to remember or think about - to a series of things that are real and yet harmless, and which demand your full awareness. The result will be that your attention will become attached to “right here — right now”. You can then get on with living the life in front of you. (…more)

LGBTQ parade


LGBTQ in America? That’s dangerous! ^ - In our recent analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey, we found that the odds of being a violent hate crime victim for LGBTQ people was nine times greater than it was for cisgender and straight people from 2017 to 2019. There were an average annual 6.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 LGBTQ people during this three year period. In contrast, there were 0.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 cisgender and straight people. (…more)


Person working through a checklist


Organic rule-outs ^ - When we feel bad, we may tend to look for psychological causes of our distress - focusing on our current relationships or problems in our personal history. We too often forget that our mind is easily influenced by the condition of the body it lives in. The concerns listed below address this problem quickly and can lead to an appropriate improvement or solution to our mental distress. Only after working through this brief list of possible organic causes of mental dis-ease is it appropriate to consider possible psychological factors. (…more)


brain neurons affected by childhood

Children must be protected in their earliest years ^ - More than one-third of the population experiences adversity in childhood — including abuse, neglect or family violence — leaving hundreds of thousands in need of treatment. Predictably, as clinical psychologists, we both recommend psychotherapy to minimize the consequences of adverse childhoods. However, an even greater concern is how, in addition to reducing the suffering it causes, chronic childhood adversity can be prevented from flooding our health-care system.

Recent advances in research on human development, and brain science in particular, have revealed that traumatic childhood literally changes the human body. It affects brain development, the programming of our stress response system and is even passed on to the next generation. (…more)


This public health hazard hides in plain sight. ^ - Every day we are exposed to things like pollution and ultraviolet light which increase our risk of illness. Many people take on additional risks — due to tobacco smoke, fast food or alcohol, for example. But there is a less-recogized exposure that is even more common than smoking and increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic lung diseases, sexually transmitted infections, chronic pain, mental illness and reduces one’s life by as much as 20 years.” ..more


pink water lily


Anxiety and mindfulness meditation ^ - Mindfulness meditation has been suggested by a variety of sources for some time as a way of reducing or eliminating anxiety. We now have published the first randomized clinical trial comparing mindfulness to a common antianxiety medication (Lexapro). Results indicate that the two interventions produce equivalent results. Mindfulness meditation can have an immediate effect due to its refocusing one’s attention away from anxiety-producing thoughts and in the direction of harmless things like body sensations and breathing. However, the full effect often takes some time to emerge. (…more)


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page author: Tom Cloyd | reviewed 2024-0510:1714