Psychiatry Must Stop Ignoring Trauma, with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

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Acclaimed psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, explores his field’s long, complex, and stubborn history with trauma. Dr. van der Kolk explains how psychiatry as a whole avoided progress, often misdiagnosing trauma as hysteria or, in the case of shell-shocked soldiers, malingering. The experiences of abused women and children were more or less ignored for a century. They’re still being ignored in ways, he says. Psychiatry is still too focused on abstract diagnoses and not cognizant enough of the traumatic experiences that lead to them. His latest book “The Body Keeps the Score” (http://goo.gl/0xyBfp) was written to draw attention to how traumatic disorders can be avoided.  Read the full transcript here.

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In the video above, Bessel van der Kolk says:

“So now we live with weird diagnosis like Oppositional Defiant Disorder where people don’t ask why did these kids become defiant or cold and dark disorder where these kids behave strangely, Bipolar Disorder; kids being mentally unstable; going up and down on their emotions. And people don’t really – psychiatry doesn’t really want to look at what’s behind there. And as a consequence instead of looking at social conditions as being at the origin of these disorders, these kids get drugged up. Last year in the U.S. kids got $18.1 billion worth of psychotropic drugs and these drugs actually do calm people down, but they also work on the reward system in the brain and decrease curiosity, openness, experimentation, engagement with people. And I am extremely concerned that all these medicated children in America are likely to grow up having a deficit in the capacity to engage, a deficit in the capacity to learn, to be original, to be engaged, to be a useful member of the workforce. So the neglect of the issue of trauma in the U.S. in particular is a very serious public health issue.”

 

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