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I'm so happy for you, congrats on that big accomplishment! I'm so glad you found the way through.

I wish my grandmother had been able to do that work. She took the trauma from her and her siblings' experiences with her father's abuse and buried it deep within her. She hated gay men because of her father abused her brothers as well. I knew she wasn't pro-LGBT and she was a very distant person, so I avoided her. It wasn't until after she passed that I knew about what had happened to her. In a way I wish I had known, because her views really kept us from having a real relationship. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered in the end, but I will never know. I will pick up that book, it looks interesting. Thanks!

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Very well said. These trends are both baffling and alarming.

The great majority of people who go through potentially traumatic events do not, of course, go on to develop PTSD.

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From what I've read recently, the factors that make a person vulnerable to developing PTSD overlap substantially with those for developing depression or an anxiety disorder. In the social currency, a trauma diagnosis is supposed to render one blameless for their state and suffering--something just *happened* to some very normal and good person, and if it had happened to you you'd be in much the same state, the thinking seems to go, so they deserve 100% sympathy and 0% blame. Whereas people do often judge others negatively for having a mental disorder like OCD or MDD; whether or not they'll admit it, it's widely understood to be an undesirable thing to be known to be. PTSD can't do the social magic it's supposed to and create blamelessness if it gets knocked down to the "maybe kinda your fault even if just bad genes?" tier of mind/brain problem.

Another factor in whether you develop a trauma disorder is what you do in the aftermath, the story you start to tell yourself about it, the kinds of supports you seek... this is one case where I do think a mild "re-stigmitization" is in order, as it would be correcting the false understanding that developing PTSD has nothing to do with the person and everything to do with the event. If people come to think that PTSD is not inevitable, that they can impact their own trajectory, and that recovery is a signal of some underlying mental robustness, then fewer people would be pleased with (others viewing them) having a long lasting psychiatric syndrome as a result of their trauma, and ideally fewer people would experience those problems. (This wouldn't help, and might worsen, the currency of experiencing the trauma in the first place though. "Brushing it off" could return as the socially lauded posture.)

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I’m not sure about “re-stigmatizing”. I think it’s enough to combat any romanticism around trauma, but active stigmatization would probably be counterproductive.

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Isn't there a class element here? Just as with mental illness chic the people who actually suffer the least seem to be drawn to the concept like moths to a flame.

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Yes because working class and poor people who experience trauma just tend to ruin their lives with opiate addiction.

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Yeah, but they're just deplorable and not picturesque or the right sort of victim, so who cares?

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Perhaps that's what the "online influencers" expect Julia. However, working class people I know, work through their trauma. Out of necessity.

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Call it "self-medication".

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Common, but nowhere near as common as the experience of trauma. Not remotely close.

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To be clear I know both kinds of people.

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Oct 2, 2023·edited Oct 2, 2023

Damn straight. Tell an actual war refugee about how bad you have it because someone didn't refer to you by the politically correct name and they will look at you and think you have no clue, kitten.

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"...we have to be willing to say no to young people who are spreading bullshit about this [any] topic."

This is a key statement here that can be applied to all sorts of modern issues. I know a few university administrators who really need to do this.

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Except we have now fostered a culture where those very Administrators, to say nothing of teachers, parents, caretakers, are ALL kowtowed into placating and pandering to the very concepts that are anathema to a free, open and HEALTHY Society. Simply put, you cannot heal wounds by utilizing poison as treatment.

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I'm not on Tiktok and have no intention of joining it. But if this trauma discourse is in any way similar to how social justice bullies operate as you say, then it sounds awful and we need to get it under control quickly.

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Completely unrelated but good on you for reaching out to a different (mostly unreceptive) audience with that free press post. The comment section was bugging out that Bari Weiss let a self-proclaimed Marxist post a column.

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"He's a Marxist!"

"So fucking what?"

One, I don't understand why people want to tar and feather somebody based on their political beliefs (or religion, or whatever) with the implication that whatever they say is somehow disqualified. Just because Hitler says that the world is round are you going to go around arguing that it's flat?

Second, this is the kind of tribalism that infects the right and the left currently. You see it in the responses to comments here where posters question why somebody who's clearly conservative would read a self described Marxist. Maybe because what he writes is interesting and insightful?

Like it or not neither side of the political debate has a monopoly on intelligent people (or for that matter people with principles and morals). If you accept that then axiomatically you will understand the value of listening to the other side.

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I am on that thread and in the "so what" crowd. Maybe constantly identifying as Communist is counterproductive. It is an unnecessary distraction.

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With deBoer I get the idea that he's constantly hoping for a dialogue that goes "You say you're not sure what a Marxist is? Well, happy to explain" followed by a business card and an invitation to show up to meetings.

In other words, he walks the walk. I can't blame him for that. I belong to a shooting club and I am always happy to bring people in to learn how to shoot. My rationale is that somebody who owns a handgun is less likely to vote for a ban.

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Maybe. I dunno. In this particular case, I think it's more of TFP saying "Hey, even this Communist thinks the woke are fucked up!" And how many subscribers does FdB get based on this same angle.

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Michael Lind, Michael Shellenberger, etc. have all issued calls for both conservative and liberal allies to form a coalition to defeat wokeness. Weiss, I think, falls into the center left range of that bloc.

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And?

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"Just because Hitler says that the world is round are you going to go around arguing that it's flat?"

There are days that's precisely what our political culture feels like: oppose whatever those other guys say, because they are the ones who said it.

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If FDB is a Marxist, I'm a primitive arthropod.

Marxism has nothing to do with free speech or civil rights or any other liberal concept. Sorry, FDB can call himself anything he wants, but at some point you have to assign meanings to words. I've been thinking about this for a long time, but didn't want to bore anyone in the comments here, and I like FDB and think he's a net force for good. Accept my apology for what follows.

I have a degree in Political Science and my advisor wrote his dissertation on Rosa Luxemburg. He had the same take on her FDB does, but I did some digging around in the library because I liked my advisor and he was enough of a heavyweight that he could tolerate questions and debate.

What I found is, however she is portrayed now, her support for ideas of free speech and democracy was completely tactical while the Communists were out of power. There is no reason to believe that if the German Communists had somehow succeeded in taking over that she would have retained the beliefs attributed to her. Very likely, party discipline if nothing else would have led her to support violence against anyone who didn't like their new leaders. We know she joined the attempted revolution in 1918 (launched against her advice), and one of the first things the communists did was burn down a newspaper they didn't like.

If you accept that Social Democrats are Marxist (I don't), then FDB is clearly one of them. He's much more of a Eduard Bernstein revisionist (who modified the theory so much that it's not Marxism anymore.)

The idea of natural rights like free speech and civil rights is not a Marxist concept. Marx specifically rejects them. The idea of reorganizing society with gradual change is also not Marxist, which requires a revolution to change society. I mean it- requires. No other way. The working class has to seize power and take it away from everyone else. This is completely incompatible with democracy, civil rights, free speech, non-violence, or constitutional limits.

Sorry for the pedantry, but I believe that words should mean something and it bothers me that someone like FDB can be called a communist, even by himself, when he clearly isn't. I just ignore this most of the time, but FDB is clearly educated enough to know all this and I have to assume he has some reason for what he says.

I'm entirely prepared to be corrected on any of this.

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Both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were ardent civil libertarians

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Elizabeth Gurley Flynn too! (I just wrote a book about her civil liberties activism.)

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For instrumentalist reasons or on principle? Disliked minorities are usually civil libertarians by necessity. Genuinely curious.

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Marx and Engels believed very strongly in and explicitly supported the suffrage of women, universal suffrage, freedom of the press, and free love, among other things. Their sincerity has never been, that I know, questioned.

They truly believed that once the proletariat took power (which would be violent only if the bourgeoisie violently opposed it, which was of course unavoidable) a golden age would follow of amity and harmony. They believed that the source of all social evil was man being alienated from his work -- and this was not true for the proletarians alone, but for the other classes as well. Revolution was not meant to bring about the dominance of the proletariat, but the disappearance of all classes, and not through physical elimination but because all would be equal in a classless world and would see the light, and be happy. And the state would not be needed anymore, and the means of production would not be at all in the hands of the state, but in the hands of the workers who worked at this or that enterprise or project: decisions taken together, profit shared together. (This is of course a very broad illustration of a much more complex theory, but it is what the communist dream of Marx adds up to).

It was a dream with a lot of religious nuances. But it was not a plot with a further goal. Marx and Engels believed in the world to come and the things they predicted -- we have literal tonnes of their private writings as well as the public treatises and we know what they thought.

And one must remember that this all was before Leninism, before the attempt at building that perfect society was done in the most dysfunctional country of all, and before it showed the depths of horror that were the price of it. Marx and Engels did never get a whiff of the Russian revolution. They both died well before the turn of the century.

It is only afterwards that Communists became occasional dissemblers, knowing where their path led but concealing it, and pretending that liberties would be maintained when they well knew that they would not be, could not be (In the same way as Khomeini dissembled, making the whole of France believe that he had no intention of establishing a Theocracy in Iran)).

But Marx and Engels expressed all their true beliefs openly and in detail.

Nor did they actually belong to a disliked minority, though they had opponents and enemies. They had a following both in the upper classes and among the working class, as well as among philosophers, though they competed with a vast number of other thinkers on the same lines. But they were not extremely famous in their time: in the latter half of the 18th century they were two among many.

It has been the events of the future that made them so pre-eminent, like it happens... there were many playwrights more famous than Shakespeare at the time of Shakespeare :)

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They both also lived 150 yrs ago...a long 150 years ago, culturally speaking. And they were also both quite daft, Marx significantly moreso than his buddy, imo, as has played out since their time.

I honestly don't get why that stuff still gains traction, other than being the stuff of youthful dreams, etc.

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A really long 150 years ago, yes, in so many respects -- and yet ideas that strike the human mind and soul (in both the good and the bad) have a much longer persistency. People are still killing one another today over religious dogmas, for example, which were established two thousand years ago. The Greece of Plato has long disappeared under the landslides of other civilizations that conquered it, Roman, Christian, Barbarian, Byzantine, Islamic -- but the ideas of Plato echo throughout the entire history of Western thought and still influence the mental categories of people who have never read a single line of Plato.

Marx and Engels were indeed quite daft personally (and Engels, who was an industrialist and never gave away his factories, although he treated his workers better than many, loved the good life, grand dinners, balls, and fine society). But so, in the eyes of our modern age used to see thought leaders as authoritative and serious, were most of Victorian intellectuals.

As for why that stuff gains traction -- if you mean the political stuff as I surmise -- well, it is because humanity has never met a redemption dream that it did not like and held on to for dear life even against massive negative evidence. It is not a juvenile thing... it is something that gets humans of whatever age when they see the glimmer of salvation, a promise of perfection and the gift of feeling righteous, pure, better than <choose name>. Ever heard the phrase "being on the right (wrong) side of history"? It is a concept that comes from Hegel through Marx, the teleological idea that history inevitably progresses from worse to better until the attainment of perfection -- and it will, by proving true the predictions made, vindicate those whose theories have been doubted. And of course everybody wants to be right and good and saintly.

That is why it gains traction. Again, religions, anybody?

It is harder than it may be thought to stick to common sense, doubt, the quest for evidence, and the readiness to abandon cherished ideas that prove false. It is so much easier to grab a certainty that shines to us and hold on to it no matter what..

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This misassignment of labels drives me slightly nuts too. Social democrats calling themselves socialists and insisting it doesn't mean the literal definition in your political science textbook. Do you want the government to take over all the means of production? No? Oh, you just want a stronger social safety net and more redistributive economy? Then why are you calling yourself something that is both incorrect and politically suicidal? I don't get it.

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The two of you must be new here. Freddie is a fairly textbook Marxist Communist. He literally does want the government to take over the means of production on the path to the creation of a communist society. Why do you think otherwise?

He also has a grasp on our current reality and knows that there is zero chance of it happening in America anytime soon. So in the meantime he advocates for policies that have a chance of being enacted.

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Oct 3, 2023·edited Oct 3, 2023

Dear Leora, it seems to me that calling oneself a socialist while being a democratic socialist is both incorrect and politically suicidal only in the US.

I am not sure about US political science textbooks (across the pond, the standing of American undergraduate schooling on political science has an abysmal reputation), but in Europe and the UK, both for political science and philosophy, there is this very clear awareness that the socialist movement is far from a monolithic entity. There are so many kinds of socialism as there are Christian denominations, plus subgroups. And the differences are immense.

Do bear with me while I blather at length to see if I may help you to "get it".

I am old, and I have been a member of the UK Labour Party (a founding party of the Socialist International) for 50 years. I spent my youth fighting against the propaganda of Communists and Trotskyist (two different strains of Communism, as it happens). They were not our comrades. They wanted the end of capitalism in any form, and yes, the nationalisation of industries and the end of private property. We wanted reforms and a more equitable distribution of wealth, and check and balances over what can be done in the name of profit. They dreamt of revolution. We dreamt of winning the constituency of Stratford at the Bow through canvassing and getting to have less sewage in the river (at the time, the Thames was a cesspool).

Yes, Communism and Socialism have a common history and a partially similar philosophy, risen out of the conditions of society following the French Revolution and the highest expansion of the Industrial Revolution. Both have bits and pieces of Marx in their toolbox.

Yes, the dream of salvation that both movements shared in the beginning is possibly best expressed by Marx. It was typical of 19th century thought to create all-explaining world-redeeming theories, and Marx (who yet is not by far the unanimously adopted thinker of the socialist field) was after all a disciple of Hegel. The political thought of Marx is dated and frozen in his time, for it is the dream of the salvation of humanity through the building of a Celestial Jerusalem on earth, a Christian end-of-times parable dreamed by people who thought to have rejected Christianity. But the economic theories of Marx (who remains primarily an economist) have advanced the understanding of economics as a science and provide many tools that still work today, even if many others are obsolete or proven useless. Then, Marx also had general theories of history and social development that focus on economic conditions, and therefore on classes identified by economic functions, as the prime agent of the history of mankind. And this is what most serious scholars who call themselves Marxist mean with it, when they work in different fields than politics or economics, like for example in history, my own field.

Socialism and Communism, in reference to Marx, take both some of this, each in different ways.

A number of political/philosophical movements were born in the early 19th century in the Western world in response to the emergence of the industrial working class. Among them were since the beginning many different strains and positions, broadly the socialists, the communists, the anarchists and scores of subdivisions of the same. What they had in common was an aspiration to better lives for the workers and the poor and an end to the brutal exploitation typical of the age. This aspiration included lots of fighting for freedom and liberties, along with a rather credulous vision of the proletarian as the good natural man of Rousseau, who, once freed of chains and exploitation, would live in peace and harmony without exploiting others.

What they did not have in common was a lot more, and they did not have any general uniform theory of society beyond those generic aspirations; they vastly disagreed, in fact, about almost every step of how to bring about the better society that they envisioned. But since that was mostly a problem of the future, and meanwhile they had to struggle for things like a working day of 10 hours, child labour, and the right of workers to not lose limbs in the workplace and to organise, they could struggle together for the while; on a few things; by bumps and lurches.

But every time there has been an uprising or revolution (to name a few: 1848 all over Europe; the Paris Commune in 1870; and finally the Russian Revolution in 1917) Socialists and Communists have drifted further and further apart - the Anarchists went their own way first.

One of the fathers of French Socialism, Proudhon, as back as the 1840s rejected the idea of state property and saw private property as a counterbalance to the power of governments. The Fabians, along with several Trade Unions the most eminent founders of the Labour Party in Britain, were Socialists and even in the 1880s supported gradualism and regulated capitalism together with a welfare state. Kerensky was a Socialist, the first Prime Minister of the Russian Republic in 1917 -- he was ousted by the Bolsheviks and so was Socialism in Russia.

Up to the conclusion of the Russian Revolution, many socialist thinkers and parties still flirted with the idea that a proletarian revolution would be beneficial and a good thing. But two things happened. First, the Second International broke apart over the support of most socialist organizations for their respective countries' efforts in the First World War. And second, a few years later, the establishment of the Soviet Union disabused the socialists of that notion, as it proved beyond a shadow of doubt that such a state and its practices were incompatible with socialist ideals of freedom, equality and justice.

Unfortunately, Lenin set up the Third International, which he named, appropriately, the Communist International (Comintern) aimed at directing the movements and organisations that looked up at the Russian Revolution as an example to follow. And with that, Communist parties came up everywhere working under the direction of the Bolsheviks and then the Soviet state, pursuing a goal of proletarian revolution or in any case the seizure of power and the institution of a Communist totalitarian state (many in Western Europe did not directly work for a violent revolution, but the goal of that "day to come" remained in their discourse.

Because of that unsurmountable disagreement, the majority of Socialists, who reconstituted the Socialist International after the Second World War, have always been firmly anti-communist. Gradualness of reform, civil liberties and parliamentary democracy have always been there, but for the last 70 plus years they have been the explicit tenets of the Socialist movement.

So if you please, Social Democrats is not a contradictory label at all. First because they uphold parliamentary democracy. Second because some felt the need to specify the fact that they stood for democracy in the face of the USSR continuing to self attribute the name of Socialist. Many others just kept calling themselves Socialist and repeating that Communism was a betrayal of Socialism.

Moreover, since there is no way to prevent people from self-attributing a label, there are parties and movements today around the world that call themselves socialist without belonging to the socialist tradition of the Socialist International -- after all, Hitler's party chose that name too, and Mussolini militated as a socialist before finding out that his hunger for power and violence could not be satisfied in reforms. And such is true of many other political traditions... there are people around the world calling themselves Conservative that most Tories would not touch with a punting perch and would take umbrage at being put in the same bucket with.

In conclusion: if that is truly what you learn about Socialism in US political science textbooks, I despair of your country. If it is a statement born of having heard a few too many backyard revolutionaries call themselves socialists, well, I can only advise: if someone call themselves Socialist do ask: "What kind?" Because a name is easily appropriated. Principles and actions speak for themselves.

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I wish I could go to the pub and have buy you a pint.

I don't agree with Social Democrats on economic policy, but because they support democracy and elections and civil liberties, that's fine. Communists by definition do not. If they did, they wouldn't be communists anymore. If people want to vote for policies I don't like, oh well. Communists won't let anyone vote.

Which is why I wrote the original comment about FDB not being a communist. If you want to change civilization by convincing people to vote your way, you aren't a communist.

The older I get the less I care about policy than the process that enacts it.

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Maybe one day that I travel back to Old Blighty (I do that several times a year, usually), you can buy me a pint. But only Guinness.

Old age is a blessing unless we do not properly develop wisdom with experience... and unfortunately the ability to learn is not a given. Many of my spikes have blunted with age, but I have become less tolerant of arrogant ignorance and general stupidity driven by unquestioned beliefs.

I tend to prefer Labour, but never unquestioningly, and now less unquestioningly than ever. I will judge policies by what makes more sense to me and by the results that they are likely to obtain, and choose consequently. I have not yet seen any working system that can replace Capitalism and preserve both the individual freedoms and standards of life that I care for, with room for improvement. Inclining Social Democrat today in the West means just having a range of ideas about what should be an equitable redistribution of wealth, such as reducing severe imbalances and making things fairer for everybody, while supporting a healthy and competitive market. It does not and should not mean to have pledged to a church of politics.

I believe that most equity and equality goals are things that most people can agree on. And I believe that reasonable people can, through honest discussion, come to points of agreement on how to fix what does not work and adjust what is skewed.

But these are times in which, my friend, the number of reasonable people seems to be darn low.

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The Free Press comment thread is almost un-readable. It's all, "those icky people on the left are the cause of all my problems and leftists make me sad and angry." Funny thing is B.W and co. seem mostly center to center-left.

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Victim status earns social.cachet and, as you alluded, offers its acolytes a "get out of jail free" card and also an easy means of attacking critics.

Therefore, humans carefully cultivate their traumas, curate amongst the many cultivars and lovingly nurture those traumas to create an identity.

The irony being that people whose lives are far harder than WEIRD citizens who didn't get enough affirmation, for the most part, could give a shit.

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I am a new psychotherapist at 47 years-old, and I find the pop-psychology use of concepts in the field quite annoying. I have heard some baffling things throughout my grad school training and now, in consultation groups in the field. Trauma is one of those hot spots, although there are many more. Thank you for giving voice to these issues.

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Oct 2, 2023·edited Oct 2, 2023

I dropped out of a graduate counseling program. I couldn't take the nonsense.

What was interesting to me was that almost everyone in the program had close family members who were either disabled or addicted.

I remember reading that the vast majority of people do not develop PTSD as the result of a traumatic event.

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TikTok has been an unmitigated disaster for a certain segment of young generation.

I saw a teenage girl faint very gracefully in the bathroom of a theater after a showing of Barbie this summer. While her mother poured water onto her mouth saying baby please wake up. It struck me as extremely fake, so I set out to TikTok and watched other girls gracefully faint in front of the camera multiple times a day.

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I support this but just because i love to lay down

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How did that work? So, for example, people milling about at cocktail hour, and some guy blurts out something unsafe, say, that there are only two sexes. Does everyone around him panic and head to a bank of couches along the wall if the room?

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Hey, deBoer absolutely forbids discussions of trans stuff here and bans people who talk about it.

I think he should have a warning somewhere to let people know, but until it's like a hidden stake trap for the unwary.

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I thought the fainting was due to women wearing insanely tight corsets and way too many layers for the weather. I wouldn't last long in one of those getups.

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I'm coming at this as an LMSW that's now done talk therapy for over two years.

The article kinda goes back and forth on this, so its hard for me to get an exact read, but I reject the binary notion of trauma where the answers are "Trauma becomes my entire identity" and "Trauma should be gotten over entirely".

You shift a bit later on in the piece, talking about how people can incorporate their experience to trauma in various healthy ways and that is more what I agree with. In my experience, its an unfair and unrealistic burden to put on a person that we are going to solve your trauma to the point where its just gone. Part of what makes trauma tricky is how easy the traumatic moment can be triggered by any sort of cue. It can be crushing to think you got your trauma wrapped neatly in a box in your mental attic only to discover its been lingering free this whole time.

Building a relationship with that trauma, placing it in a healthy spot within your life and having it be a constant back-and-forth dialogue between yourself and what happened to you as part of a lifelong relationship is the most effective approach.

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What you're describing is the thankfully rare condition PTSD. If every severe negative emotional reaction let to permanent trauma issues as you suggest, we would be unable to survive as a species.

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You are right about PTSD being rare, 3.5% year and 6% lifetime rates for the population. I'd argue there is a decent chance those rates are low due to mis-diagnosis or under-diagnosis but even at 10% we are talking 1 in 10.

I think what I'm getting at is less of a binary around trauma. Permanent trauma sounds spooky, but in my opinion its a spectrum. People carry all sorts of mental baggage from past experiences, some result in almost a complete inability to function and others are more like brief uncomfortable reminders. Along that spectrum (I'm someone who subscribes to the "Big T" and "Little T" school of thought with trauma), I do think there are people who wouldn't necessarily qualify for a PTSD diagnosis but do experience a kind of trauma that sticks with them for a large period of their life and never quite shake.

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I very much appreciate Freddie's main argument, but I also think Mr. Amory's approach is realistic. The concept of healing as "gone forever without leaving a scar" may apply to many cases (in practical terms), but in others there is, I think, an enduring residual effect that may manifest in uncomfortable ways.

I don't see this as necessarily negative. There are ways in which coming to terms with enduring discomfort over a manageable range can build personal resilience and create a ground for empathetic mentoring of others in various stages of distress.

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For what it's worth, I have similar thoughts to Mike Armory's, and I have similar reactions to Freddie's OP. For one thing, Freddie has a tendency to say or imply "always" and "never" when he means "almost always" or "almost never." He doesn't do that quite so much in this OP, but I've noticed him do that elsewhere.

For another thing, even a "simple" car accident, with no injuries, can be hard for a person to recover from. Whether that would merit a diagnosis or looking at it as an identity-changing and identity affirming event is a different question. On that question probably side more with Freddie, though not completely.

I've personally been told by a mental health professional that one of my problems may be that I'm dealing with "trauma." However, it's definitely little-t trauma and not big-T trauma. And it's mostly sub-clinical, or at least now it is, (For a long time it was less sub-clinical and caused significant problems. Whether the "it" was some trauma reaction or whether it was better described as something else.)

I recognize the dangers of "share what ails you" culture. One of those dangers is that sharing may lead to valorizing or over-/self-diagnosing in a way that's unhelpful or at least eye-roll-worthy. I'm definitely a person of privilege who has the resources to "explore" those things, and because I do, and especially because I share them online sometimes (as in this comment), I probably contribute to the problem. It's probably also true that I could "deal" with whatever it is well enough without those resources and maybe even be a stronger or even better person for having done so.

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Thanks for this. I think that many adult survivors struggle to overcome childhood trauma for various reasons including but not limited to the nature of the abuse, variations in innate resiliance and personality, the maturity/quality of their peer and social groups, whether they have access to resources to pursue therapy, etc.

Freddie didn't really cover child abuse as a source of trauma in his piece, but I am guessing it is one of the most ubiquitous forms of trauma in humans and definitely one of the most challenging to recover from. And you are correct - you can heal a great deal from the trauma of abuse and still have specific triggers in certain areas that seem insurmountable even decades later.

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I suffered from an act of adult aggression committed against me by a high school teacher when I was 15. Not only was the PTSD acute, nobody was treating for it much at the time it was committed. Traces of the PSTD lasted 5 years, and I still suffered nightmares from it 20 years on. I am not a pampered princess, either.

Real cases of PTSD are legion, but banal exploitation of trauma is also legion. What we should be looking at, perhaps, is policing the 'counselling' industries, particularly where vulnerable young adults are lodged, e.g., colleges; and carefully defining diagnosis and treatments. I also think that physical trauma is (probably) only loosely related to trauma from real abuse. Finally. REPEAT abuse is going to produce life-long psychological trauma and must be treated separately.

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Repeated abuse - exactly. Not all trauma is single instance like a car accident. Thank you for highlighting this.

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Straw man. Actually in many ways I think "trauma" - I would much prefer a more informative term, such as psychological reaction that has negative psychological consequences for the individual - may very well be adaptive in all sorts of ways.

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Oct 2, 2023·edited Oct 2, 2023

"psychological reaction that has negative psychological consequences for the individual " can mean smelling raw fish as a kid, or a powerful cough medicine, and never going near either of them again. Exactly how does that advance the treatment of psychological trauma?

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I’m not a psychotherapist. My point is that it seems clear that there are psychological experiences that affect us in important ways that fall short of the concept of trauma in the sense of deep-seated, punctuated events that can cause PTSD. And that it’s worthwhile to understand and address those things, if we can look at them rationally and carefully

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All thoughtful and arms-length readers would agree with that, William. Labels like trauma are exploited and become excuses to gin up the counselling business... or the sadness claims. But we must be careful before dropping them into the unusable bin. Think how descriptive the term 'manic-depressive' was until someone decided it was too descriptive for the clientele and the social environment, and it was outlawed.

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Axtually, the whole thing too often reminds of of self-absorbed human kittens throwing a tantrum about how their life is ruined! Ruined! because Mom wouldn't let them go on the class ski trip after they brought home a report card full of "Ds".

In each case, the response is to "grow up".

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Poor little kittens, they lost their mittens...

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PTSD is one of the more treatable mental health disorders through evidence-based CBT methods. But like anything else, you have to want to recover. You learn to take responsibility for your own condition, manage your triggers rather than avoiding them, and not project your PTSD into obligations on other people. Things like trigger warnings are counter-therapeutic.

I was raised in a community with a lot of Holocaust survivors. They definitely had baggage, but they somehow functioned better than a lot of supposedly traumatized 20-somethings today. And they never, ever felt sorry for themselves. Human beings have been through an awful lot - outside of the contemporary West, it's quite normal to go through war, famine, disasters, and a lot of premature death. Sometimes this perspective is valuable.

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Dr. Edith Eger, a Holocaust survivor herself, in her book The Choice discusses healing by shifting the question from "Why me?" to "What now?" She was a friend of Viktor Frankl.

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Yes, exactly. Don't force other people to deal with your problems. That's a good rule for life.

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I have recently encountered (against my will!) social media content about "anti-carceral" therapy, which claims that traditional therapy results in lifelong trauma for the patient. The practitioners also charge high hourly fees to explain how white supremacy and capitalism have created the patients' mental health problems. There is pushback in the replies, but the original posters respond that they will not do the labor of arguing in the comments. There is a lot of bullshit floating in the ether of mental health professions right now.

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The comparison to physical trauma is interesting, because there is a slightly comparable overlap. Many folks who have experienced physical trauma, like traumatic injury, deal with chronic issues even after the "healing" is done. The term "Maximally Medically Improved" exists for such cases.

A key difference is physical medicine readily differentiates between trauma, understanding the complicated and extreme nature of certain cases. There are varying grades of hamstring tears, fractures, brain injuries and so on. Two people may have both broken their fibula, but medicine will differentiate how the injury happened, the degree of the fracture, and fracture type. There is an understanding that while one of these individuals will be back walking within 6 weeks, another may be dealing with 6 months of physical therapy and a lifetime of complications.

There seems to be a resistance to doing so within popular mental health discourse, where everything is treated the same. Attempting to grade psychological trauma like this in popular discourse will land you in hot water.

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founding

Great post. The idea of "Complex PTSD" or C-PTSD seems to be expanding to include everyone who wants the diagnosis. I'm sure the original definition was intended to be more narrow, but on social media it can mean almost anything. You don't need a traumatic event in your past, just a relationship that made you feel bad.

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Tiktok is like twitter in that it turns anyone who uses it regularly into a loser.

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