Monday, June 27, 2011

In London

Well, today is the big day.  Today I tell people in the House of Commons why a multidimensional program of healing is necessary for those women coming out of prison.  Few people consider it, but people in prison have suffered lives of excessive trauma.  Studies are showing that 70-90% of the women in prison have suffered sexual abuse.  One study from University of Pennsylvania demonstrated that of 120 violent inmates, over 90% had pathological neurologic findings. When researchers looked at what this meant, they found that a substantial number of these prisoners had been hit so hard that they had lost consciousness.  In other words there was abuse related brain damage.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a big topic among those treating soldiers returning from war.  We are finding many soldiers with TBI and it often co-occurs with PTSD.  What we have not yet considered is that so many in prison also have a history of TBI.

It is human nature to blame, to make some people good and others evil.  Yet to progress in our civilization and to fix what ails us (prison overcrowding, economic pitfalls, healthcare burdens) we need to address what truly ails our citizens.  We must find a way to look more deeply at PTSD, TBI and the ways they manifest in people in both sympathetic and unsympathetic ways.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


After having passed the hurdles of agents, publishers, initial editing, rewrites and title, The Trauma Toolkit: Healing PTSD From the Inside Out is in line editing, the final stage of editing where all i's are dotted and t's crossed.  Very exciting. It's been a long journey.

Ever since I took my very first job in mental health, working with severely autistic young children, I have been working with traumatized populations: staff and clients alike!  Traumatic stress is the unifying field that links all fields of mental health.  Some people are disturbed because they are traumatized.  Some people are traumatized because they are disturbed.  And all human services staff become traumatized at some point in their career.  (I actually left the field twice! But I couldn't stay away.)  But many people with traumatic stress appear to be completely "normal", whatever that is.  A friend of mine says that normal people are those we don't know very well.

Anyway, after 35 years in the field, 20 years as a therapist and 20 years of my own healing, the time was ripe to put all the tools I have learned out in the world for all to know. And so, the book.

A funny thing happened on the way to publishing.  A reader friend of mine in England recently launched a proposal for rehabilitative group homes for women coming out of prison.  She decided to use Trauma Toolkit as her model.  One thing led to another and lo and behold I am heading to London this weekend to make the case for restorative justice and more rehabilitative models for prisoners, the vast majority of whom have been traumatized long before they were sent to prison.  England has long been a leader in human rights (since at least the 1600's) so I'm hoping they are ready to embrace their role again as a progressive force in moving humanity forward.  In a few short days I will make my case to a group of leaders at the House of Commons.  

With recent research and a burgeoning understanding of the cause of social ills and the technology to remedy them, imagine the possibilities!  You know that song:  I'd like to teach the world to sing.... well, I'd like to teach the world to heal from traumatic stress! Wish me luck.

Blessings and thanks for stopping by, Sue