What is Medical Trauma?
It’s not something that we talk about a lot, if at all. In fact, even in my 15+ years working actively with clients on trauma, I wasn’t all that familiar with it. Or rather, I didn’t think of it as a unique subset of trauma, but it is.
I give thanks to working with a particular friend who awakened my consciousness to this, a few years back. And since, I have witnessed various examples.
It’s a pretty new thing, in the mainstream world, to talk about the relationship between trauma and health outcomes—like an increase in rates of heart disease, cancer, etc., due to experiencing childhood trauma.
But, sometimes the trauma itself is caused by an interaction with a health professional, or moving through a particular health crisis.
Medical trauma can take different forms:
- You are hospitalized against your will (think mental health situations)
- You are treated with disrespect (mild to severe) in a medical environment (symptoms are dismissed, racial or cultural bias, gender or LGBTQIA bias)
- Having your health issues repeatedly dismissed or downplayed by family/friends
- As a child, you underwent a surgical procedure that you did not understand, which resulted in fear, anxiety, powerlessness, etc.
- You experienced neglect or a medical error at the hands of a doctor
- You experienced a difficult medical procedure that although it went logistically smoothly, created a lot of emotional distress
- Your Will was not honored in a medical situation (this often happens surrounding birth)
- You were under-anesthetized and therefore experienced pain during a surgery without the ability to speak to it (extreme powerlessness)
- You have underwent many surgical procedures
- You have experienced a medical emergency or illness without emotional or logistic support (lack of finances, lack of friends/family)
- PTSD from illness
The list is really endless, but these are the ones that are at the top of my head.
If you, or someone you love, have experienced Medical Trauma, it is important to address these wounds in a therapeutic way. The tricky thing, of course, is that if we experience trauma at the hands of a medical provider, we will be less inclined to get supportive care from the medical community, which rules out various therapies. Please know that there are other options—practitioners who administer trauma informed care, such as myself, in a less triggering environment.
May you get the care you need to help you heal these wounds.