13th November 01:02
N. Y. Times Article Reposted with Splattering and Spoilering (psychotherapy)
Our apologies for not splattering and spoilering our previous post. We do
believe in spoilering an splattering cause it has made a great deal of
difference for us personally a number of times. So thanks to Ravensong's good
catch we've gone back and done this for people who would like to read the
article. We may not have caught everything and in some places we over did the
splattering ~ but we did try to catch everything that people have felt
triggered by in the past. For people who dislike splattering and spoilering
the origional article was posted here on Sept. 10, 2003 titled "New York Times
First is our response to the article in the New York Times
called "Is Trauma Being Trivialized?" by Felicia R. Lee. We would greatly
appreciate any feedback you have on this and you can reach us here or on
RESPONSE: by Anita L. Cape
Trauma parallels depression in it's prevalence. Almost every person can
admit to having had a feeling of sadness or even depr*ssion at one time or
another in their lives, particularly after the loss of something meaningful to
them. But does every person suffer from Major Depr*ssion? No. The
important thing though is that any person who experiences depr*ssion
deserves a chance to heal that depr*ssion whether it's from a lifelong
chemical imbalance or from the loss of a love one. And people heal
depr8ssion in different ways. Some just go to ch*rch and pr*y about it.
Others work harder in the work place. Others attend support groups. Often
people who experience depr*ssion need medication to help balance their
Likewise almost every person at some time or another in their lives has
something really overwhelming and life-threatening happen to them. People
with a single instance of trauma deserve to heal just as much as anyone and
to be in control of that healing process. And just like Major Depr*ssion there
are individuals who've experienced severe profound trauma and are severely
affected by it. People who grew up being ab*sed and neglected for the first
18 years of their lives are most likely to suffer from PTSD. People who
experienced prolonged life-threat in a war are also likely to suffer from
PTSD. What we need are some new terms for sorting out the needs and most
appropriate ways to help people heal from trauma.
For one we now know that depr*ssion is not caused by a person's
laziness but by a chemical change that occurs within the mind ~ anyone with
that altered chemistry would most likely experience it. Likewise, Post
Traumatic Stress is a resulting response, not a disorder. It's PTSR ~ Post
Traumatic Stress Response. And we need several different classifications for
PTSR; Acute PTSR for a single instance of PTSR that has recently occurred.
Military PTSR for those returning from combat. I've advocated for Familial
PTSR for individuals who've been victimized long term by someone they've known
~ usually a caregiver. And Judith Herman has long argued for the term
"Complex" PTSD for a similar constellation. But Familial/Complex PTSR
would also be accompanied with an array of symptoms, for instance, with
Dissociation, with anxiety, anger, and/or depression, with a Poly-Identity
Framework (i.e. having a variable identity in one's identity set), etc.
And certainly how people appraise their trauma and heal varies. I
remember seeing a story of one of the f*reofficers who threw himself into
very hard work almost aound the clock with his fellow fireofficers after 9*1
and who seemed to feel that he had no effects from the trauma. An interview
with his wife showed a different picture ~ that of a person suffering from
many of the classic signs of PTSR including sleep disturbances and
relationship problems without any awareness of it. No one would have said to
any of the victims of 9*1 "oh, just get over it". Indeed an army of people
from across the country would have gladly gone there to help people struck
by a single instance of trauma on 9*1 if they'd wanted it. Yet that is often
what we tell people who did experience prolonged life-threatening tort*re. One
thing we know is that a support system is a key ingredient in helping people
to heal from trauma. Being able to control the things we will do to return to
a "normal" (for that particular individual) way of life is another. And not
having to hide the trauma because of stigma or being called a liar for talking
about the trauma is another. Certainly there are people who lie about having
depr*ssion or a heart attack or a drug addiction or trauma but anyone
wanting to heal trauma deserves to be evaluated for it, to be told about
options available in their community, and supported appropriately for their
work in overcoming the challenges that cripple their lives.
Anita L. Cape, Coordinator
Family Trauma Survivors' Network
Below is our spoiler for the origional article which quotes what some
professionals have said about Trauma and Trauma Survivors. There is also some
talk of the kinds of abuse some Trauma Survivors have experienced and some
mention of rel*gion. This portion is splattered as well but please read with
O.k. nuf spoilering we hope. Please take these people with a grain of salt an
be careful if yu'r triggered by hurtful stuff.
Is Trauma Being Trivialized?
By FELICIA R. LEE
Fl*shbacks. Nightmares. Feeling disconnected from your body. Whether
it is the anniversary of Sept. 11, the continuing threat of
terrorism, ***ual abuse by the clergy, school shootings or any one of
many other causes of angst, Americans have been inundated with the
language of trauma and information about how to cope.
But as mental health experts continue to fine-tune our understanding
of how the body responds to catastrophic events, some skeptics have
been questioning whether terms like "trauma" and "post-traumatic
stress disorder" (known as PTSD) are being misused by victims,
lawyers and health professionals.
"We've dumbed down PTSD," said Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and fellow
at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. There is a false
assumption, she added, that "if something bad happens, people are
damaged unless they talk about it."
In a society that glorifies confession and victimization, experts are
sticking medical labels on people coping with ordinary stresses or
misusing them for compensation in lawsuits, said Dr. Satel, who is
also the author of "PC, MD.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting
Medicine." As examples, Dr. Satel cites Paula Jones's claim that she
suffered PTSD as a result of her encounters with Bill Clint*n and a
recent campaign by some therapists, reported in The Boston Globe, for
recognition of a new diagnosis - post-traumatic slavery disorder.
And after Sept. 11, Dr. Satel added, New York City was overwhelmed
with therapists urging people to talk about their feelings when in
fact most people did not need therapy and were not suffering from
Such claims have incensed many experts in the field. If anything,
they argue, r*pe, child ab*se and shoot*ngs are not properly
diagnosed while the victims are denigrated and not treated for PTSD.
"Post-traumatic stress disorder is a good diagnosis," said Bessel van
der Kolk, director of the Trauma Center in Boston, which is
affiliated with the Boston University School of Medicine. "I see a
lot of kids mol*sted by pr*ests, people tort*red, people beginning to
come back from Ir*q. Maybe in some circles it's used for political
reasons or misused, but it's a useful diagnosis."
"We may not all agree with all the criteria in the diagnosis, but I
think in the current debate we're dealing with backlash," he
continued. "There was backlash against Vietnam veterans when PTSD was
first used. In the late 80's and early 90's there was backlash
against research on ****al ab*se, and in the 90's there was
controversy about fals* memory. There are cycles of trauma and then
cycles of denial."
Mental health experts like Dr. van der Kolk say the term
post-traumatic stress disorder is narrowly and conservatively
defined, at least by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the b*ble
for psychologists and psychiatrists that officially lists mental
disorders. The diagnosis and its treatments are supported by decades
of thorough research, they add, even though clinicians can rightly
debate just what constitutes trauma.
PTSD was first officially diagnosed by the American Psychiatric
Association in 1980 after trauma symptoms were seen in returning
Vietnam W*r veterans. Before that, terms like shell shock and battle
fatigue were used. The acceptance of that diagnosis - like many
others - reflected broader social concerns. Homos*xuality, for
instance, was once officially considered a disorder. And only
recently have the severe mood swings associated with some women's
menstru*l cycles received an official diagnosis.
Yet Richard J. McNally, a professor of psychology at Harvard and the
author of "Remembering Trauma" (Harvard University Press, 2003),
argues that the definition of trauma is still being molded by
"political and social forces."
"One unintended consequence of peace and prosperity is a liberalized
definition of what counts as a traumatic stressor," Mr. McNally
writes. "The threshold for classifying an experience as traumatic is
lower when times are good. In the absence of catastrophic stressors
such as w*r, specialists in traumatic stress turn their attention
elsewhere, discovering new sources of victims or hitherto
"Remembering Trauma" cites studies that sound alarms about the use of
the PTSD diagnosis in civil litigation, with lawyers coaching clients
on symptoms and people going to court claiming PTSD from fender
benders, being fired from a job or living within a few miles of an
explosion, even though they were unaware that the explosion took
And in an interview, Mr. McNally said that while 30.9 percent of
Vietn*m veterans met the criteria for PTSD, only 15 percent of the
men who served in Vietnam were in combat units.
As for Sept. 11, he derides a RAND Corporation survey that concluded
that 44 percent of Americans had "substantial symptoms of stress" in
response to the terror attacks. He says other clinicians have rightly
argued that such surveys medicalize "expectable human reactions by
failing to discriminate between genuine symptoms of disorder and
normal distress reactions."
Ross E. Cheit, an associate professor of political science and public
policy at Brown University, is dismissive of Mr. McNally's evidence,
saying it is too anecdotal and fails to establish an objective
criteria for overuse of PTSD. A specialist in the law and politics of
child ****al ab*se, Mr. Cheit said that while the legal definition of
abuse has become broader, dayc*re scandals and controversies about
recovered memory have weakened child victims' credibility in court.
And, he said, if claims associated with trauma have really become
excessive, why have so many families associated with Sept. 11 failed
even to ask for government compensation?
To many experts, the PTSD diagnosis is still relatively new and the
understanding of the condition naturally evolving. "There's no
question that there's a debate, but it's more complex than some
people make it out to be," said Frank W. Putnam, a psychiatrist who
is the director of both the Center for Safe and Healthy Children and
the Trauma Treatment Replication Center at Cincinnati Children's
"I think the debate is about what constitutes traumatizing
experiences," Mr. Putnam continued. "At one end, people would argue
that r*pe is a traumatizing experience. At the other end, some argue
that overhearing a remark is a traumatizing experience. Ultimately,
there's a subjective element to this. But there's no question in my
mind that I routinely see people who have PTSD."
Any broad categorization is bound to have difficulties. John Briere,
an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University
of Southern California and director of the Psychological Trauma
Program there, said recent research suggested an answer to what
constitutes trauma. It lies, he said, in a complex interaction
between the magnitude of the trauma and victims' own background and
personality characteristics (are they normally calm, have they
suffered abuse?) as well as factors like social support and cultural
beliefs. It is, he said, "a judgment call" as to when a given amount
of distress becomes a disorder, just as experts must distinguish
between ordinary sadness and clinical depression.
"Trauma is a huge issue in society right now, and no doubt it is
sometimes misapplied or overused," Mr. Briere continued. "I don't
think this is a fad or a sad example of people's gullibility. I think
it is a valid cultural response to a profound sense of insecurity in
our society, as well as representing a growing awareness of the real
effects of violence on its victims."
The definition of PSTD has changed since it was first used. That,
said Edna B. Foa, the director of the Center for the Treatment and
Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania, is an indication
that professionals are not stuck with any single way of viewing the
Dr. Foa, a psychologist, helped change the definition of PTSD for the
fourth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1994. Now the manual
defines trauma in part as a response that involves "intense fear,
helplessness or horror (or in children, the response must involve
disorganized or agitated behavior.)"
She said that as experts ac***ulated more knowledge about trauma,
they realized that most people had experienced one trauma in their
lives and moved away from the original definition as an event
"outside the range of normal human experience."
Indeed, Kaethe Weingarten, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard and
the author of "Common Shock: Witnessing Violence Every Day" (2003),
argues that trauma is not solely a medical condition. She says that
it is pervasive and common, and that family- and community-based
programs can help as much as biomedical approaches. Although much of
the funds for victims of Sept. 11 went to programs with traditional
models of psychotherapy, she said, many people found consolation in
mourning rituals, creating local shrines, volunteering.
"I specifically wanted to use another term than post-traumatic stress
disorder," Ms. Weingarten said. "By naming these responses as
pathological and requiring medical care, we undermine the capacity of
people to console each other."
As for Ms. Foa, she said that while experts like Mr. McNally raise
some provocative questions about the social construction of mental
illness, she is most worried that PTSD is being underdiagnosed and
people are going untreated. She pointed to a raft of research showing
that the disorder is implicated in cancer, heart disease and
"In a society where there is a lot of support for going to court and
getting compensation for many things, there is no reason people would
not try to use PTSD to get compensation," Ms. Foa said. "I don't
think the issue is scientific. If we change the definition, it won't
solve the problem. It's a social problem."
13th December 21:53
N. Y. Times Article Reposted with Splattering and Spoilering (nail)
Professor Cheit's work is suspect in more ways than one, apparently.
In the "when you're carrying a hammer, everything looks like a nail"
department, here's a peek into an interdepartmental conflict by
somebody who knows him, apparently. It's pretty embarrassing:
Excerpted from http://www.thomasscoville.com/borderlands.htm :
[the context is an account by the spouse of a colleague of professor
Cheit's who was falsely accused of domestic abuse, whom Dr. Cheit
subsequently dropped like a hot potato and refused communication,
presumably for reasons of tenure politics.]
"The silence is so, so telling. Ross, for instance, is an extremely
vigorous crusader for the rights of the ***ually abused, and for the
validation of Recovered Memory Syndrome. A lawyer by training, he
raves about political corruption in his home state, and sends graduate
students on research missions to dig up evidence on corruption and
malfeasance in the state legislature.
"During this dark chapter , I'd secretly hoped that Ross would
similarly try to disambiguate [the] scandal and advocate for his
colleague by trying to dig up any dirt on me to support the hypothesis
that I'm some horrible sociopath ? I mean, that's his M.O. and metier,
right? Surely there would be court records, arrests, restraining
orders, or people in my past who would come forward with accounts.
Surely Ross could find them ? casually, in fact; he's accomplished at
"My hope still stands. Ross, if you're out there, come after me. Do
your worst. Otherwise, I'll take your silence as an admission you 
were wrong, until you assert otherwise. Because your silence is way,
way out of character. It certainly looks curious, doesn't it? ? that
you're wildly vocal and vigorous in your advocacy of people who have
made difficult-to-prove claims of ***ual abuse victimhood and
recovered memory, while being agnostic and silent on the
difficult-to-prove claims of those falsely accused of abuse.
Apparently, not all forms of abuse are created equal in your
psychological cosmology. It makes me think that your academic work is
tainted ? purely the working-out your own issues around your ***ual
abuse and recovered memory, re-labeled as ?scholarship.? "