S11: Trauma and Recovery

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By September 29, 2023 No Comments

Authors: Roger Gurr, Haley Peckham, Marianne Wyder & Sharon Williams

Year: 2023

Event: 2023 The MHS conference - Adelaide

Subject: Trauma and Recovery

Type of resource: Video

Presentation 1: Psilocybin versus Neurofeedback - what do we know and implications for treatment.
Author: Roger Gurr
While psilocybin and NMDA have been approved for use by the TGA, and available in Australia from July, for treatment resistant PTSD and depression. Psilocybin particularly disrupts brain functioning, creating a psychosis like state, and it can cause acute anxiety and fear, but the recovery phase may stimulate positive functional changes in the brain.
Another mental health treatment that has proven results in many case studies, with no side effects, remains largely ignored by psychiatry, psychology and the media. Neurofeedback calms the brain and changes brain functioning for the better through gentle training, and improves a wide range of brain disorders, including treatment resistant PTSD and depression.
The two approaches will be compared with the evidence available at the time of the conference.
Learning Objective
To be able to advise clients on the choices available for treating resistant PTSD and Depression
No comprehensive references available at the time of writing.

Presentation 2: The Neuroplastic Narrative: A non-pathologizing biological foundation for trauma-informed and Adverse Childhood Experience Aware approaches.
Author: Haley Peckham
Trauma-informed approaches lack a biological narrative linking trauma and adversity to later suffering. In its absence this suffering is diagnosed and treated as a mental illness. The Neuroplastic Narrative is a neuroecological theory which fills this gap, conceptualizing emotional and psychological suffering as the cost of surviving traumatising and adverse environments.
The Neuroplastic Narrative privileges lived experience and recognizes our experiences embed in our biology through evolved mechanisms that preserve survival in the service of reproduction. Neuroplasticity refers to the capacity of neural systems to adapt and change. Our neuroplastic mechanisms epigenetics, neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity, and white matter plasticity allow us to learn from, and adapt to, past experiences. This allows us to better anticipate and physiologically prepare for the future experiences that (nature assumes) are likely to occur, based on past experiences. Neuroplastic mechanisms embed experience regardless of the quality of that experience, generating vicious or virtuous cycles of psychobiological anticipation, to help us survive or thrive in futures that resemble our privileged or traumatic pasts. The etiology of suffering that arises from this process is not a pathology (a healthy brain is a brain that can adapt to experience) but is the evolutionary cost of surviving traumatizing environments.

Learning Objective
The Neuroplastic Narrative is an intuitive, non-pathologizing, biological explanation for the emotional and psychological suffering and an alternative to the Medical Model. The Neuroplastic Narrative recognizes that experiences shape brains. What experiences from the past have lead to suffering, (validate) and what experiences are needed to alleviate that suffering (treat)?

Peckham, H. (under review) Introducing the Neuroplastic Narrative: A non-pathologizing biological foundation for trauma-informed and Adverse Childhood Experience Aware approaches. Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Presentation 3: From loss to recovery: touchpoints in the journey of mental health carers and family.
Author: Marianne Wyder
While much needed attention has focused on the unique recovery journeys of individuals, there are increasing concerns that this individualistic perspective of recovery fails to capture the experience of both individuals and families and that a more relational view of recovery is needed.
Furthermore, there is still limited understanding of the recovery needs of families and how these may change over time. The current presentation will present the results of different qualitative studies which were undertaken with families of people experiencing mental health distress and the lived experience carer workforce. The different studies focussed on different aspects of the relational recovery at different times in a carer/family journey. The different studies identified important moments (or touchpoints) in these journeys and explored the feeling and difficulties experienced during these times. They also explored what was considered helpful during these times and what helped families to cope.
All studies were co-designed and included a research academic as well as family members with lived experiences of caring for people with mental health distress. A greater understanding of the recovery experiences of families would allow a more nuanced response from mental health care services to address their needs.
Learning Objective
Delegates will gain an understanding of family and carers experiences and needs at different times of their carer journey.
Wyder, M, Barratt, J, Jonas, R, Bland, R, Relational Recovery for Mental Health Carers and Family: Relationships, Complexity and Possibilities, The British Journal of Social Work, 2021;, bcab149, https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcab149
Wyder, M, and Bland, R. (2014) The recovery framework as a way of understanding families’ responses to mental illness: Balancing different needs and recovery journeys. Australian Journal of Social Work. Vol. 67 (2) pp 179-196

Presentation 4: ‘Chemical Lobotomy’? Leaving People Open to Abuse: A Consumer’s Story.
Author: Sharon Williams
‘Chemical lobotomy’ was coined in medical journals in the 1950’s and is sometimes still used to draw parallel between lobotomies and the effects of some psychiatric drugs. My consumer experience of long-term chemical restraint was of being semi-catatonic and later happened across the term ‘chemical lobotomy’. While prevalence is unclear, chemical restraint is potentially being used as an alternative to physical restraint and seclusion. In Victoria, the regulation of chemical restraint is just beginning. In this presentation, I reflect on my experience and explore the human rights implications and far-reaching detriment associated with ‘chemical lobotomy’. It breaches our human rights to freedom of expression and freedom from inhumane treatment and, as in my case, the right to not be arbitrarily deprived of property. I was chemically restrained by injectable anti-psychotics over a period of five months. From being an intelligent and astute person, I was made vulnerable to abuse. I was financially controlled by a family member, leading to heavy losses. Overall, I advocate that ongoing chemical restraint can be more dangerous than temporary chemical restriction, more limiting of human rights, and should be avoided. Being rendered emotionless, mindless, and voiceless may make us ‘compliant,’ but is not safe.
Learning Objective
Long-term chemical restraint created my agonising experience of ‘chemical lobotomy’. I was concurrently financially controlled by a relative. Thus, I argue this practice makes people vulnerable in dangerous and inhumane ways. These human rights implications stemmed from the mental health treatment and care I received and failed to receive.

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