One of my favorite bloggers posted a link to the science-a-go-go outcry (now on my blogroll) that advances the theory of trauma as cause of mental illness. He noted, correctly that this view harkens back to the 1960s and is regarded as bullshit today, which made me retreat abject and in sorrow. I spent all day yesterday thinking, am done now and will post my reply here then, share something of my own perspective:
This post of yours has left me with some hurt feelings, your blog means a lot to me, you know that, right, and you want us to share our truth here, so I’m back and will just say for now that the trauma model of mental illness is very much alive, though I realize it’s considered bullshit by some.
It’s worth asking who considers the trauma model bullshit, and what interests are served in its devaluation. I spent over 20 years in therapy, with an emphasis on working through an abusive history so undeniable, documented and concrete that there was never any question of what the therapeutic approach would be. We did trauma, by god, it’s about grief, day in and day out but I know it’s what I needed to come alive and I do praise my therapists for knowing where we had to go. They were all mainstream, Rogerian humanistic treaters, and evidently a dying breed.
Today it saddens me to know of so many people, and I do, who grew up in similar conditions that I did, who get psychopharm shoved down their throats, slapped with a personality disorder and taught CBT error correction as the solution to their psychological problems, and no one to tell them these problems are the ordinary and intelligible consequence of growing up horrified. It’s utter authoritarian garbage, amounting to re-victimization of a guilt-ridden and docile population of trauma survivors.
My treatment was not anything like what is gaining ground today, and because I am still officially mentally ill I often personally bump up against the new paradigm, and when that happens I rebel. When I seek social services today and am stigmatized, labeled, and grilled on medication compliance I stop everything and analyze the dynamic, protest the adversarial set-up and language that demeans my personal agency and denies my human dignity. Therapy taught me how to do that. It’s an abomination that anything less would be happening in the name of mental help.
But it is happening and it has to stop. If not for 22 years of currently unfashionable humanistic psychotherapy I’d have no other orientation and no leg to stand on, as coming generations will have no such experiential reference point. But, as science-a-go-go indicates, the trauma model will not go away, and the current “bio-psycho-social” buzzword speaks to that need for inclusion. There is at least due lip service but bullshit’s probably the right word, in reality little clinical practice and even less residential training in anything but the “bio” postulations–which remain merely postulations, accepted without proof–well, sweet Christ on a cupcake top is no one concerned that we’ve come to this.