Trauma and Health: The Human Condition

Spring 2022

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Anna Kharaz & Emily Lapolice

WHEN WE EXPLORE ANY INQUIRY INTO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF TRAUMA—in the fields of medicine and mental health, as well as public policy and advocacy, we are talking about the human experience. The human condition. We are talking about how the experience of living impacts individuals, communities, cultures, and societal norms and practices—and subsequently how we collectively respond, or more often, react to the lived manifestations of those impacts. The “experience of living” varies considerably based on privilege, positionality, access to resources, and where in the world you call home. There are multidimensional intersections that impact the human experience, which also includes exposure to traumatic and oppressive systems. There are also numerous different clinical and humanitarian perspectives and vantage points on these dynamic topics. Here, we offer just one. If you’d like, you’re welcome to consider some of these reflections with us.

As we write these words, many of us around the globe are glued to our phones, televisions, newspapers, and many other media outlets, trying to understand the events unfolding in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the way we each interact with these events will vary based on a myriad of factors and conditions. Many of us will turn toward the suffering happening in Ukraine—our hearts will hurt for the Ukrainian people and its nation under attack—just imagining the horror of unjustifiable violence, whether we have lived through similar experiences or not. And, many of us will turn away from those experiences of suffering for various reasons. It’s possible that some people may have no interest in what is happening in this foreign land with a foreign invader. For others, it may seem all too overwhelming to navigate the complexities of daily life while simultaneously having the capacity to hold the collective experience. [Continue]…