It seems more and more obvious to me that one of the most profound implications of trauma research is that the language of 'mental health' needs to give way to the language of justice. Mental health assumes that problems are fundamentally in individuals: in your brain, in your behavior, in your genes, in your way of thinking.
Trauma is not intelligible apart from a social-political context. The most severely 'mentally ill' in our society are the most consistently traumatized: women, people of color, trans and gender non-confirming folks.
The writers who have made this most clear to me are Bessel van der Kolk, Resmaa Menakem, Judith Herman Lewis, Mark Fisher, and currently Gabor Mate. We have to stop talking about individual pathology and start making sense of the social determinants of human suffering.
What stands in the way of recognizing these implications of trauma research? I answer: the fusion of governmental domination, behaviorally-medically oriented psychology, and a larger philosophy of scientific materialism.
Our current ruling paradigm, bio-medical-behavioral psychology, came to prominence in conjunction with the principle modern political institutions. Fisher and van der Kolk both write explicitly about this: psychopharmacology has triumphed. It is the most favored solution to 'mental health' issues, and it produces billions of dollars every year. The logic of psychopharmacology, in turn, depends on basic assumptions about the chemical-physical nature of life processes. I have been convinced that life processes have to be understood in their own right, and cannot be reduced (experientially or philosophically) to chemical-physical process.
I'm trying to understand more thoroughly the way that these various institutions came to constitute each other's legitimacy, how it is that bio-medically oriented psychology became so deeply intertwined with governmental institutions of domination, and how all of this is contingent upon philosophy that preaches the primacy of physical stuff, and the reducibility of experience.
The challenge I'm still sitting with is how to articulate this intertwining of political and philosophical dimensions.
But I'll say it again: Trauma, properly understood, poses fundamental challenges to how we understand the meaning of human distress, and how we understand nature in general and human nature in particular.
All this, I think, as the world seems to move closer to death on most fronts.