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A Toxic Mix of Tech, Trump and Media Has Created a Monster That's Constantly Traumatizing Us All

January 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Betty Teng, AlterNet

How the internet era and the age of Trump create constant re-traumatization.

Parts of this article appeared in the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (St. Martin's Press, 2017). This material is reprinted with permission from the author and publisher.

I’m a trauma therapist in New York City. I work with adult survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse, and I see in my patients’ struggles with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) the impact of living in a period when the social media era has met the apotheosis of Donald Trump. For those who have been previously subjugated, the volatility and chaos coming from the White House via the internet are particularly overstimulating. With their already high anxiety levels and vulnerable senses of security, my patients can be particularly destabilized by the present social and political climate, which can prevent them from cultivating the mental stability essential for healing from trauma. From worries about what will happen to their health care coverage to concerns about race relations and the fears of nuclear war, survivors of trauma—who desperately need to rebuild an internal and external sense of safety—can lose ground the moment their newsfeeds buzz.

This is a problem, not only for my patients, but for many of us. It manifests as a kind of deep-seated fear, anxiety and/or preoccupation with the news online. Recognizing a common thread between this and how all kinds of media impact my patients, I see trauma survivors as canaries in the coal mine of the internet, their sensitivities markers of the potential toxicity of such exposure. Whether we are previously traumatized or feel newly so, the internet era—which now feeds the age of Trump—can spur us to engage in a series of subtle, if significantly destabilizing, behaviors. We would be well served to raise our awareness about such provocations and how they can stir us, so that we can do our best to control them rather than having them control us.

Media's Impact on the Traumatized

“I almost didn't come today,” my patient …read more


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