Corporate capitalism, defined by the cult of the self and the ruthless exploitation of the natural world and all forms of life for profit, thrives on the fostering of chronic psychological and physical disorders. The diseases and pathologies of despair — alienation, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, depression, morbid obesity, mass shootings (now almost two per day on average), domestic and sexual violence, drug overdoses (over 100,000 per year) and suicide (49,000 deaths in 2022) — are the consequences of a deeply traumatized society. The core traits of psychopaths — superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance, a need for constant stimulation, a penchant for lying, deception, manipulation and the inability to feel remorse or guilt — are celebrated.
The pervasiveness of trauma in American society is intimately linked to the ubiquity of sexual violence in our culture, and ultimately, the politics that buttresses this reality. In the second installment of a two-part discussion, acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. Judith Herman returns to The Chris Hedges Report for a discussion on the political implications revealed by her medical expertise: the need to confront the violence of our present system by reconstructing society itself. Dr. Judith Lewis Herman is a psychiatrist who studies trauma and developed the diagnosis for complex PTSD. She is the author of several books, including her most recent, Truth and Repair: How Trauma Survivors Envision Justice.
Violence is ubiquitous in American life, and so is the trauma that follows in its wake. From the domestic sphere to the public sphere, interpersonal violence, particularly of a sexual nature, is all-too-common in the US. How does the resulting trauma manifest, and how does this trauma shape everything from our personal relationships to our politics? Specialist Dr. Judith Lewis Herman joins The Chris Hedges Report for an in-depth discussion on how trauma distorts the mind and the body politic alike. Dr. Judith Lewis Herman is a psychiatrist who studies trauma and developed the diagnosis for Complex PTSD. She is the author of several books, including her most recent, Truth and Repair: How Trauma Survivors Envision Justice.
Former Reuters journalist Dean Yates’ career has taken him around the world and up-close-and-personal with some of the century’s worst tragedies and atrocities. From the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, to the frontlines of war in Lebanon and Iraq—Yates’ experiences have taken a deeply personal toll. The killing of two Iraqi journalist colleagues by a US Apache gunship finally pushed him over the edge. After years of dealing with PTSD, substance abuse, and psychiatric hospitalization, Yates has written a new memoir about his journey, Line in the Sand. Dean Yates joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss his new book, his career, and his healing journey.
Newark, NJ - We know the story. The absent father who leaves when his son is five-years-old and moves back to Puerto Rico. The single mother, rarely at home because she works long hours to keep her three children fed and pay the rent. The poverty. The crime. The instability. Later, the stepfather who drinks, uses drugs and beats his stepchildren. The child acting up. Dropping out of school. Joining a gang. The robberies. The one that went wrong and left a man dead. Prison. The students I teach in prison have variations of the same story. They are funneled into the maw of the prison-industrial-complex, the largest in the world, and spat out decades later, even more lost and traumatized, to wander the streets like ghosts until most, unequipped to survive on the outside and without support, find themselves back in the old familiar cages.
I used to think trauma was something that only applied to people exposed to extreme situations like war, genocide, abuse or crime. Yet, living on planet Earth pretty much guarantees you some trauma. Trauma comes from the Greek “traumat,” which means “wound.” It is an emotional wounding that results from experiencing or witnessing a highly stressful, horrifying event or series of events where one feels a lack of control, powerlessness and threat of injury or death. This sounds disturbingly similar to what humans are increasingly living through with climate change.
New York City, New York - Inside a renovated locker room-turned yoga studio, Harlem elementary school children view pastel-colored walls with butterflies and a ceiling full of twinkling stars. The smell of peppermint infuses the room, and they can hear a softly splashing waterfall. A poster of former President Barack Obama reads, “Our destiny is not written for us, but by us,” and another reminds the school kids: “I am beautiful.” Guiding the fourth graders through a weekly, 50-minute yoga and meditation class is Demetrius Napolitano, who draws on his experience gleaned from a childhood in foster care. “How is your mind, body and heart feeling?” Napolitano asked the students who live in this majority Latino and Black Manhattan community, one of New York City’s most under-resourced.
August Wilson wrote 10 plays chronicling Black life in the 20th century. His favorite, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, is set in 1911 in a boarding house in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. The play’s title comes from “Joe Turner’s Blues,” written in 1915 by W. C. Handy. That song refers to a man named Joe Turney, the brother of Peter Turney, who was the governor of Tennessee from 1893 to 1897. Joe Turney transported Black prisoners, chained in a coffle, along the roads from Memphis to the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville. While en route, he handed over some of the convicts, for a commission, to white farmers. The prisoners he leased to the farmers worked for years in a system of convict leasing — slavery by another name.
How does living in a consumer society at war with basic human needs affect our minds and, ultimately, our bodies? In his new book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, Dr. Gabor Maté and his son Daniel argue that our culture’s standards of normalcy are destructive to the health of human beings. In a society where profit and personal attainment are the highest values, traumas abound, and everyday people are left to endure their pain and shame in silence. The consequence of this dark ethic, Dr. Maté illustrates, plays out on our bodies, severely damaging our psyches, and pushing us towards individual and social self-annihilation. Dr. Gabor Maté joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss his new book.
On a clear night in February 2016, a group gathered in downtown Oakland for a candlelight vigil. The attendants were dressed in black; one wore a t-shirt that read “The Black Woman is God.” At the vigil, held in honor of the survivors of human trafficking, people spoke about the trauma held in Black women’s bodies. Six miles away, girls strode in stick-thin heels on a strip of International Boulevard in East Oakland known as “the walk” or “the blade,” where hundreds of teenage girls are trafficked each year. Though sex trafficking happens across the country, Oakland has been identified since the early 2000s as a hub for the exploitation of girls; that exploitation is especially visible on the strip. But the vigil called attention to a fact that’s less widely discussed—Black girls are far and away the most common victims.
Native Americans don’t just live on reservations, we live in cities, and we live internationally. I grew up in the Silicon Valley of California. I was born in the city and have lived here my whole life, as an “Urban Native.” My grandfather moved to California from Mohawk territory in the 1950s after he served in Korea, and we have all lived in Sunnyvale ever since. The challenges I grew up around were different from my Oyaté (family) out on the reservations. It is easier to lose our sense of culture living among so many established settler communities.
As we head into what may be the most chaotic election in our lifetime, many people on all sides of the political aisle are reeling from anxiety and responding from a place of panic. With many of us on the left organizing for mass mobilizations and actions in the post-election season, we must make sure that we are doing so from a grounded place to ensure that we are not adding more panic to the world. To ensure this, we have to have some understanding of how panic and trauma work in our own bodies, and then see what we can learn from that about how trauma is working in our collective body...
By Claire Bushey for Crain - From 61st and Cottage Grove, above still-leafless trees, you can see the complex where University of Chicago Medicine will house its future trauma center. It didn't exist when Damian Turner was shot at the corner almost six years ago. The random victim of someone else's vendetta, the 18-year-old was hit shortly after midnight on Aug. 15, 2010, just three blocks south of U of C's medical campus. He struggled to his sister's apartment, his back bleeding, and collapsed in front of his young nieces and nephews. A neighbor called 911.