In this episode of the ReRooted Podcast, Dr. Colin Ross joins Francesca Maximé for a conversation about working with trauma survivors, including combat veterans.
Dr. Colin Ross is an internationally renowned clinician, researcher, author and lecturer in the field of dissociation and trauma-related disorders. He is the founder and President of The Colin A. Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma. Dr. Ross has been running a hospital-based Trauma Program in Dallas, Texas since 1991. He has authored more than 30 books and 250 professional papers. Learn more about Dr. Ross and his work at rossinst.com.
Dissociation and Flashbacks
Francesca welcomes Dr. Ross and they chat about his background in the field of trauma-related disorders. Dr. Ross explains how he defines dissociation, and talks about flashbacks caused by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Francesca brings up how hard it is for people to let go of trauma, and they touch on how the mental health field can cause mental health problems.
“I always say that a flashback flashes back. If it doesn’t have the quality of flashing back, it’s just with you, it doesn’t intrude. So, in order to have the quality of a flashback, it has to be dissociated, disconnected, stuffed inside somewhere.” – Dr. Colin Ross
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The Locus-of-Control Shift (24:40)
Francesca asks Dr. Ross about how he sees shame versus guilt. Dr. Ross brings in his concept of the locus-of-control shift, and gives examples from his work with combat veterans who have shifted the blame about loss of life onto themselves as a way to retain some form of control. He talks about why it might be better to label PTSD as Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“So the locus-of-control shift is the self-blame, which can lead to both guilt and shame, self-hatred, [and] self-punishment.” – Dr. Colin Ross
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A Memorial to Trauma (48:55)
Dr. Ross explores a case where he was treating a woman who was traumatized by sexual abuse. He and Francesca discuss the power of memorials such as the one in Auschwitz, but lament that most trauma survivors don’t have a place like that to put their sorrow and grief. They talk about how addiction manifests as a memorial to trauma, and touch on the ugly history of the mental health field.
“This is what’s missing… Slowing down the empathy, the compassion, holding space, honoring, grieving, having collective ceremony, recognizing one another’s common humanity, that life is precious, that different things are not within our control.” – Francesca Maximé