The Foundation: 005

The Body Keeps The Score

“One day he told me that he’d spent his adulthood trying to let go of his past, and he remarked how ironic it was that he had to get closer in order to let it go.”

The Body Keeps The Score
I haven’t read a more comprehensive or instructive piece of work touching the topic of trauma. This book is a nuanced, in-depth accounting of the ways in which our body reflects our life experiences. I already bought a copy for a relative. One classmate remarked they were on their sixth copy, having given away their first five when encountering someone who would benefit from a better understanding of trauma. (I plan on giving my copy away too - Erin bought one a few years ago, trying to understand the things I didn’t quite have the language for.)

I have a lot of notes and I’ll excerpt more but what hits me the most is the idea of child abuse as something that’s within our control, able to be addressed to some degree and something that is a great burden on our society. Not just abuse, but neglect and failing to provide safe and loving environments for children.

Basically: neglecting or abusing kids leads to negative health and behavioral outcomes and both are an incredible drain on society. This much, at this point, is fact. You can debate causes, merits, solutions all you want, but it starts by recognizing that early childhood adversity causes later life problems.

Child Abuse: Our Nation’s Largest Public Health Problem
(Section head, p150, paperback)

-The CDC researcher who first presented the ACEs study could not hold back tears during its first presentation.
-Calculated that overall costs of early childhood adversity exceeded those of cancer and heart disease.
-Calculated that eradicating child abuse would reduce rate of depression by half, alcoholism by two-thirds, suicide, IV drug use and domestic violence by three-quarters.

ACE study results and two key points:
The results are housed under “violence prevention” on the CDC website. Seems noteworthy. See “Major Findings.”

“Almost 40% of the Kaiser sample reported two or more ACEs and 12.5% experienced four or more.” (SAMHSA)

ACEs have a dose-response relationship with many health problems. As researchers followed participants over time, they discovered that a person’s cumulative ACEs score has a strong, graded relationship to numerous health, social, and behavioral problems throughout their lifespan, including substance use disorders. Furthermore, many problems related to ACEs tend to be comorbid or co-occurring.” (SAMHSA)

“Dose-response describes the change in an outcome (e.g., alcoholism) associated with differing levels of exposure (or doses) to a stressor (e.g. ACEs). A graded dose-response means that as the dose of the stressor increases the intensity of the outcome also increases.” (CDC)

Then this:
“... these countries have already made a commitment to universal healthcare, ensuring a guaranteed minimum wage, paid parental leave for both parents after a child is born, and high-quality childcare for all working mothers.

Could this approach to public health have something to do with the fact that the incarceration rate in Norway is 71/100,000, in the Netherlands 81/100,000, and the US 781/100,000, while the crime rate in those countries is much lower than in ours , and the cost of medical care about half? Seventy percent of prisoners in California spent time in foster care while growing up. The United States spends $84 billion per year to incarcerate people at approximately $44,000 per prisoner; the northern European countries a fraction of that amount. Instead, they invest in helping parents to raise their children in safe and predictable surroundings. Their academic test scores and crime rates seem to reflect the success of those investments.” (The Body Keeps The Score, p 169-170)

Erin sent this. :-/

Aside from the three courses in trauma, I’m in a writing course where we read a couple essays or articles each week, have a short writing assignment, and then each class a few of us read our writing assignment and we discuss the required readings.

The first four short assignments: write about a childhood obsession, interrogate about a compulsion or dependence, write a character, and write about a body part in the spirit of Nora Ephron’s “A Few Words About Breasts.” (That was as fun an exercise as you’d expect it to be.)

This is to build toward a longer piece of writing of our choosing. I volunteered to go first when the time came to submit my writing to the group for critique. For me, that essay was due last week, and it was a consuming experience. I set aside other coursework to try and squeeze extra time into the assignment.

In class on Friday morning, we had dedicated time to discuss strengths and weaknesses of the submitted work. Having it off my chest and with my colleagues, to a *tiny* degree, was a bit of a relief.

When you work with the same people for so long, it’s only natural that you would start shaping your work toward their criticisms. But in this workshop, it was an opportunity to have ten critics from ten backgrounds (and I think three continents) all with different ideas, in a place where we had spent six weeks getting to know each other through personal free writing. I found it helped me strengthen what I wanted this work to be.

It made me wonder whether that’s able to be replicated in a newsroom setting. A group of six to twelve professionals, writing just to write, discussions facilitated by someone from the outside who could create an environment free of deadlines and other notions of daily journalism where people could feel free to be vulnerable and see what could follow.

Erin read my draft before I turned it in and said it didn’t read like my normal writing, which means I’m growing, and I need that.

I’ve been walking 20-25 miles a week with headphones, so. Music.

Dem Atlas - Bad Loves Company (“I love it when the drums sound like that”)
Atmosphere - Delicate  (“We all have the capacity to take it there”)
Atmosphere - Anymore (“Another morning in my mirror with my self-righteous - remind myself that you ain't the first that felt like this”)
Zero 7 - Mono (“But I've been dreamin' of this fear of flying, and it's real violent”)
Zero 7 - Red, Blue and Green (Dub Copy)
Run The Jewels - Legend Has It (“Copping of uppers and downers get done - I'm in a rush to be numb”)
Atmosphere - Graffiti (“I wrote this one when I was still alive.”)
Florence + The Machine - 100 Years (“I believe in love and the darker it gets, the more I do”)