More than two decades ago, two respected researchers, clinical physician Dr. Vincent Felitti and CDC epidemiologist Robert Anda, published the game-changing Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. It revealed a troubling but irrefutable phenomenon: the more traumatic experiences the respondents had as children (such as physical and emotional abuse and neglect), the more likely they were to develop health problems later in life—problems such as cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. To complicate matters, there was also a troubling correlation between adverse childhood experiences and prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, and poor diet. Combined, the results of the study painted a staggering portrait of the price our children are paying for growing up in unsafe environments, all the while adding fuel to the fire of some of society’s greatest challenges.
However, this very same study contains the seed of hope: all of the above-mentioned risk factors—behavioral as well as physiological—can be offset by the presence of one dependable and caring adult. It doesn’t need to be the mother or the father. It doesn’t even need to be a close or distant relative.
More often than not, that stable, caring adult is a teacher.
It is here, at the crossroads of at-risk teens and trauma-informed care, that Paper Tigers takes root. Set within and around the campus of Lincoln Alternative High School in the rural community of Walla Walla, Washington, Paper Tigers asks the following questions: What does it mean to be a trauma-informed school? And how do you educate teens whose childhood experiences have left them with a brain and body ill-suited to learn?
In search of clear and honest answers, Paper Tigers hinges on a remarkable collaboration between subject and filmmaker. Armed with their own cameras and their own voices, the teens of Paper Tigers offer raw but valuable insight into the hearts and minds of teens pushing back against the specter of a hard childhood.
Against the harsh reality of truancy, poor grades, emotional pain, and physical violence, answers begin to emerge. The answers do not come easily. Nor can one simply deduce a one-size-fits-all solution to a trauma-informed education. But there is no denying something both subtle and powerful at work between teacher and student alike: the quiet persistence of love.
Chief executive of Walking with the Wounded, Ed Parker, has said that the notion of PTSD is being wrongly overused in fundraising appeals. This one disorder, he says, “has become the headline of veteran mental health but actually it is a very small part of the problem”. Charities have, Mr Parker warned, become fixated by the condition so that marketing obscures the “bare facts”. He has met veterans who wanted a PTSD diagnosis “because it sits alongside being an amputee”. It’s a status.
Libby Purvis has commented on this statement with a deeper look at what returning veterans do need – read article here
If you take the time to read the article, you may also want to read the comments – some very valid points are made. I like this comment, from Sue, on Libby’s article – just to remind us of the facts of this diagnosis:
summary of Sue’s mental health nursing recovery programme for veterans who have been on active service:
PTSD Post traumatic stress disorder
Crimean War: Soldier’s or Irritable Heart
Great War: Shell Shock
WWII: Concentration Camp Syndrome, Combat Stress Reaction
Previous labels hardly describe the inability of the mind to process and integrate a traumatic memory which causes a dissociative or splitting off from conscious awareness leading to symptoms now known as PTSD. The separation of memories of horrific events witnessed or exposed to from conscious thinking, because they are too extreme to be processed in the subconscious mind to then be rationalised and contained in the conscious mind simply as past memories, can cause specific stress symptoms such as:
·extremely vivid and realistic flashbacks during sleep and when awake
·a reliving of events triggered by sights, sounds, smells, words, etc., in daily life are played out in a film in which the sufferer is the star actor
seeing as if in a video a replay of events experienced or seen
·hyper vigilance, startle response as if still in war zone
·suicidal thoughts and plans
·avoidance of possible trigger situations in order to minimize stress reactions
·feelings of fear, dread, terror, horror, paranoia associated with traumatic events and subsequent flashbacks
·grief for loss of comrades or comradeship, depression, lack of motivation, helplessness, hopelessness, suicidal thinking and acts of deliberate self- harm in response to dissociation.
·anger, violence, destructive behaviour in response to triggers or flashbacks, often leading to criminal conviction and a prison sentence
·psychotic or psychological responses to perceived reality of flashbacks
·dependency in order to find comfort, security, alleviation or numbing from psychological pain
·relationship and family breakdown
SYMPTOM HEADINGS INCLUDE:
This is achieved by photographing your virtuous meals, containing expensive ingredients from niche shops, posting them online and adding a wall-punchingly smug comment such as: “Such a treat to re-energise wholesomely after a great workout at the gym. #lowcarb #delicious #detox #eatclean #yum.”
The clean-eating brigade lead the way in what Nigella Lawson calls “food to self-congratulate”
Meet Bella Younger, or to use her comedy character’s name: Deliciously Stella.
Stella is a parody riposte to the righteous foodies, mostly (although not all) white, middle-class, attractive, privileged young women who … photograph their perfect salad lunch in their beautiful kitchen before calling themselves “blessed” and adding an insufferable hashtag such as #gettheglow.
… she deftly mimics their self-satisfied tone and terminology
An ACE score is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of a rough childhood. According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, the rougher your childhood, the higher your score is likely to be and the higher your risk for later health problems. You can take the test HERE
The long line outside of Shine, a booze-free event that combines food, water with “Australian flower essences”, meditation and “enlightertainment” (music, a talk and a film) is full of people who either do not drink or are trying to cut back. Since 2014, when the gathering was first launched in LA, Shine has spread to New Yorkand now regularly sells out to crowds of more than 100 people, who the founder describes as “mindful tastemakers” and “spiritually curious”.
“Substances are becoming culture not counterculture,” she says, twisting the cap on a bottle of “Kalefornia” green juice. “You see the culture going towards one extreme and you’re going to have the other extreme. Like, actually the real rebellion is to not do this stuff.”