Video: “Psychiatry Must Stop Ignoring Trauma, with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk”


In this video for Big Think psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk explores his field’s long, complex, and stubborn history with trauma. “Psychiatry is still too focused on abstract diagnoses” he argues “and not cognizant enough of the traumatic experiences that lead to them.”



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  1. Dear Dr. Bessel van der Kolk:
    Don’t you agree that it isn’t so much that psychiatry “ignores” trauma, as it is that psychiatry INDUCES trauma? Sure, as you say in the video, even the writers of the “bible” known as DSM think trauma is a “niche” problem. That’s an example of the DENIAL that psychiatry engages in. If you really want to HELP, then you must first acknowledge the very real harms that psychiatry inflicts, with those $18BILLION/year DRUGS that are being given out to kids like candy.
    ~Bill Bradford

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    • Psychiatry doesn’t want to even entertain any kind of real discussion about trauma period, that which they cause especially but they don’t want to discuss any other trauma. It’s like trauma doesn’t even exist in the world that psychiatry creates for itself. They live in some kind of fantasy world. But don’t you ever bring up anything from your life in front of one of them because most of them will tell you that what you’re describing or talking about never happened, that you’re just making it up to get attention or to manipulate, and it’s all a sign of how really “mentally ill” you truly are.

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      • Fact is that most psychiatrists don’t want to even go near another person’s pain let alone discuss it. This is one huge reason that the drugs are so very convenient for them because the drugs numb the pain so that people quit talking about it. But it doesn’t go away if it’s never talked about.

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      • I’ve actually heard a seemingly rational psychiatrist argue with me that trauma doesn’t cause PTSD, because not everyone reacts that way, so SOMETHING must be different (implied meaning: WRONG) with a person who develops PTSD symptoms. I was pretty stunned that a seemingly rational person would try to make that argument. I pointed out that, while their reaction might be different, they wouldn’t have had any reaction if there were no trauma, hence, I saw the trauma as the major causative factor, even if different people reacted differently to the trauma. Not much progress was made.

        Commitment to medical explanations is very much like a religion. Speaking against it is heresy, no matter how much sense you’re making or how little they are making.

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  2. Let’s be clear here: I’m sure that Dr. van der Kolk is a well-meaning, decent man, who has worked and studied hard, to get to the position he holds in society. I don’t begrudge him anything. And, of course, no, I haven’t met him personally. So my criticisms here are directed at the whole entire drugs-racket and pseudoscience LIES of psychiatry. Oddly enough, I actually support what Dr. van der Kolk is doing here. Let’s hope Dr. van der Kolk can support what *I* am doing! I clearly remember my first trip to a “State Mental Hospital”, in 1977, at age 18. Yes, I was VERY psychotic, from several years of psych drugs, a lot of alcohol, cannabis, and a small variety of “street drugs” such as LSD & mescaline. And stress and trauma which I did NOT understand. At the “hospital”/SNAKE PIT, I was first put on some drug which gave me a grand mal seizure. OOPS!….
    On other typical psych drugs a few days later, I was non-functional, until I learned the trick of “cheeking&pouching”, or NOT actually taking the drugs they THOUGHT they were giving me. Once off the psych drugs, (without the Staff knowing….), my condition improved dramatically. After only 1 month, and 2 weekend-long “home visits” , I was released with my condition “much improved”.
    My “entry diagnosis” was “acute paranoid schizophrenia~psychotic episode”. My “exit diagnosis” was “immature personality disorder”. Gee, I went from SCHIZO to PUNK, just by getting off the psych drugs! But you see the problem….The whole experience was VERY TRAUMATIC. It’s called “iatrogenic harm”, and IATROGENIC TRAUMA. My story is NOT unique…. And that was not the last time the LIES of the DRUGS RACKET PSEUDO-SCIENCE of psychiatry almost killed me…*AND* my FRIENDS…. _________________

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    • Was it the primary trauma that made you seek release in drugs? Or did you just do it for fun? Your experience is a good reason to argue to never start use of illicit drugs, and thus never be roped into the psychiatric system. Illicit drug use feeds psychiatry and gives it so much of the business, but what if people had the coping skills to never go to drug use in the first place? This comment does not excuse the use of these psych drugs because the psychiatrists need to wait and first stabilize the psychosis before even assessing if there is an underlying problem.

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      • Psychiatry is a pseudo-science, a drug racket, and a means of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology with potent neuro-toxins. Psychiatry has done, and continues to do, far more harm than good. Psychiatrists can NOT “stabilize psychosis”, as you suggest. So-called “psychosis” is an almost always transitory, transient state of mind. Psychiatry continues to be part of the PROBLEM, not the solution….

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