The Long Shadow of Trauma: One-on-One with Bessel van der Kolk


Today’s conversation between Bessel van der Kolk and Rich Simon, regarding van der Kolk’s thoughts on trauma, was a really interesting follow-up to Mary Sykes Wylie’s article, “The Long Shadow of Trauma” in the March/April issue. See her article here.

Van der Kolk continued to make his case that people who suffer from trauma are not being well-served by the therapy community. He thinks that right now, we have no language or terms that justly describe people enduring trauma.  Van der Kolk described those suffering from trauma as having difficulties with affect regulation, that they have extreme anger and anxiety, trouble concentrating, paying attention, and staying organized.

“The most important thing is to use methods that help people stabilize, to keep going, and to get them even keel,” he recommended, “There are many different ways of doing that and almost none of them have been systematically studied.”

It’s so shocking to me to hear that he thinks that America’s number one public health issue is child abuse. If someone had offhandedly asked me my opinion on the most serious public health issue countrywide, child abuse would not necessarily be the first thing I might think of. Van der Kolk explained that each year, 3 million children are reported to Child Protective Services for abuse or neglect.

Part of the reason that child abuse is such an issue in America, he said, is that we just don’t have a clear understanding of how to help those suffering from trauma.

As van der Kolk is quoted in Wylie’s article: “We don't seem ready to acknowledge that the largest danger to our women and children isn't Al-Qaeda, but the people who are supposed to love and take care of them."
04.13.2010   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Psychotherapy Networker
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