Distress, Not Disorder.
The “medical model” was introduced to the realm of mental and behavioral health as a means of being able to establish a standard diagnostic criterion amongst medical providers. According to the research I’ve done, this was created as a standard by psychiatrists (who are trained as physicians, not strictly mental health providers), but not psychologists or clinical counselors.
As a result, pathology became attached to the notion of mental health. Certain mental and behavioral health concerns were slapped with the label of “disorder,” to which I have difficulty as someone rooted in Positive Psychology and holds the desire to divorce ourselves from labels.
When it comes to trauma, I view it as an emotional and psychological injury.
There is nothing wrong with you for thinking/feeling the way you do after an experience that shook you to your core. There is nothing wrong with suddenly developing a sense of distrust or hypervigilance after what you have been through.
Instead, your brain is doing what it does best: attempting to protect you.
When you experience any type of traumatic event, your brain encodes the event and stores it away in your Amygdala (found in your limbic system).
In addition to being encoded, traumatic events hold both a strong emotional charge and the feeling of “inescapability”—perceived or actual. Thus, creating a sense of helplessness (real or not) and feelings of being handicapped or trapped.
Telling someone to “shake it off” or “forget about it” is a lot like asking someone who has broken both legs to walk a mile or go up a set of stairs.
The idea of labeling a natural response to an event as “a disorder” creates stigma.
If you have ever experienced anything you consider to be traumatic, understand that you are a disorder. You are a human being who has been through an unfortunate event, someone who deserves to have that experience validated.
You are not your diagnosis. And recovering in the aftermath is possible.
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