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Making Sense of Trauma – Moving Away from the Disease Model and Embracing Cultural Responses to Stress

Reblog from Mad in America



Noel Hunter recently wrote on Mad in America about how the ‘trauma-informed trend often falls short’. In this article, she argues that while there are more and more mental health professionals who are becoming ‘trauma-informed’ and though the trend is moving in that direction, many of them have not moved beyond the disease model of trauma and are yet to embrace the holistic understanding of trauma and recovery. 

She writes about the problem of ‘invisible trauma’ – trauma which does not check off the traditional, DSM led understanding of how, why and what trauma should look like and be caused by. She argues that trauma is highly subjective and “what is considered to be life-threatening to a two-year-old is very different than to a 22-year-old”. She argues compellingly that being ‘trauma-informed’ for most mental health professionals is limited to that trauma that is easily “identifiable and measurable” otherwise it “apparently doesn’t matter”.

She goes on to write about the export of Western and Global North (American) models to understand mental health and stress, often leading to far larger and graver systemic problems. She uses the example of the import of a foreign model in Africa by the missionaries which led to the eradication of age old African customs and the implementation of apartheid. She argues that “It is time we started embracing diversity, difference, complexity, and humility. Mental health professionals would do well to consider that we are a tiny speck among the history of healers, believers, story-tellers, philosophers, charlatans, snake oil salesman, lovers, judges, and ideologists. No checklist or questionnaire will ever change that.”

Read the full article here.

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