June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects veterans disproportionately and California has some 1.8 million veterans. It also disproportionately affects minority women and their children.
Dr. Shaili Jain, is a psychiatrist and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder specialist with Stanford University School of Medicine. She talks to KPIX 5’s Emily Turner about her book, a comprehensive trade book about PTSD called ‘The Unspeakable Mind: Stories of Trauma and Healing from the Frontlines of PTSD Science.’
She talks about her compelling personal story of how she came to the study and treatment of PTSD. Her family history is one of incredible violence: her grandfather was brutally murdered during the Partition of India and that trauma affected her entire family’s trajectory.
As such, Dr. Jain can also personally describe how a trauma can be passed down through the generations, inherited, and infect even those not yet born.
As both a student and an expert in trauma, Dr. Jain is also an advocate for mental health. She explains why it is so hard to treat PTSD, how it permanently changes our brains.
Dr. Jain shows how trauma is more than just a trigger for pain – she shows how PTSD is a disorder of memories. In other words, trauma causes the human mind to rearrange memories for recovery and relief, but this method of protection often leads to catastrophic results.
Trauma survivors are able to exclude specific memories from their consciousness, but when fragmented details of the past involuntarily return, the multitude of such pain can be all-consuming.