Our community of practice continues with a presentation by Michael Lyles, MD who presented on the problem of trauma in urban settings. [Watch his talk here] He pointed out how we often think about violence and the connection with trauma in international settings but fail to connect the two in American urban settings. We see angry young men and women who seem calloused and do not value life. Yet, often what is happening is that we have hypervigilant individuals who choose to manage their trauma reactions by being alert and on edge and ready to attack before being attacked. When you bring together poverty, violence and a traumatized population, you develop a chronically traumatized person, meeting most criteria for PTSD but never getting diagnosed.
One study mentioned a few statistics about violence prevalence. 55% of urban children have experienced sexual abuse (compare that to about 15% of US population); 39% have witnessed domestic violence. 27% experienced physical abuse.
To highlight the problem he pointed out a 2o12 Philly Magazine report on trauma in our city. Between 2001 and 2012, more than 18,000 people were shot. During that time some 3800 murders. He noted that suicide rates run about 20% and that number goes even higher when you include “academic suicide”–dropping out of life. In addition, he pointed to the connections between trauma and adrenal overload, hypertension, diabetes, and other physical illness. He also pointed to the scarring that takes place in the amygdala.
He noted a good book to consider: John Rich, MD (Drexel University) Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Trauma and Violence in Lives of Young Black Men.
He ended his presentation considering the role of “Chief Musician” as found in the Psalms. These are folks who listen to the story, don’t debate it, set it to words/music that are appropriate.