Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

It doesn’t take much to scratch the surface of almost any mental health organisation to see that they depend on a resilience approach in their practice and policy, but without being trauma-informed. Trauma-informed here means using interventions, treatments, etc., sensitive to the needs of trauma survivors (Jennings, 2004). The positive psychology movement, which began in the U.S. and has grown over half a century, aims to study “the conditions and processes that contribute to the flourishing or optimal functioning of people, groups, and institutions” (Gable & Haidt, 2005, p.103). This movement is the chief promoter of the notion of resilience…


Lorie Shaull from Washington, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During Donald Trump’s 4 years in the White House, his supporters appeared to remain loyal while the President generated social friction, unrest and incitements, to negatively influence many Americans, emotionally and psychologically. His intention? To create a highly charged political environment, motivate others to take what they believed to be matters into their own hands, i.e., into his hands. And to a certain extent his strategy succeeded, much to the dismay of many onlookers. Trump divided his country by encouraging his supporters to rise up. And yes, some were encouraged to openly express anger even if it meant being violent…


Photo: Gage Skidmore

On 22nd July, 2020, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio presenter, Fran Kelly, asked US President Donald Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, the following question: “As a psychologist, can you understand Donald Trump’s appeal to those many hundreds of millions of [supporters]?” Mary admits: “It’s a really good [question] and I think we need to answer it”.

Some answers to this “good question” might be found in trauma knowledge, but I have yet to find any attempt to view Trump supporters through an appropriate trauma lens. This may be partially due to trauma knowledge being grossly under-recognised in the US (e.g…


Photo by: Streetsblog Denver

Some view young climate activist Greta Thunberg as a victim, others as a heroine. For example, according to Quillette (Neuding, April 23, 2019), some adults are enthralled, like former US ambassador and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who said: “You go, girl”. Others see Greta as a victim of exploitation, with one commentator saying: “It is time we stopped to ask if we are using her, failing her, and even sacrificing her, for what we perceive to be a greater good” (Quillette, Neuding, April 23, 2019). Both The Atlantic (Meyer, 23/09/19) and VOX (North, 12/12/19 Dec 12) report that…


Photo: Joshua Clay

Grief over an illusion of a functional upbringing

In an earlier article entitled A ‘psychological death’: Absent parents and the sense of loss” (Misrachi, 2019), I discussed ‘psychological death’ (Kaplan, 1995), i.e., where a parent is simultaneously physically present and psychologically absent in the context of mental illness. Here I specifically address a type of grief which tends to follow and accompany the witnessing and experiencing of a psychological death of a parental figure. …


Image by Flashcurd, Creative Commons

Imagine trying to get through to your parent whom you care about and from whom you want or need some kind of meaningful engagement. Yet despite all of your sincere efforts over the bulk of your lifetime all has come to nought. Perhaps they were or are somehow psychologically and emotionally unavailable to connect with you. That is, physically present but otherwise absent. In this article, I specifically address this type of loss — a ‘psychological death’ — in the context of parental mental illness.

“Psychological death” coined by Kaplan (1995) is where a person is simultaneously physically present and…


Photo by: Darkhan Zhagiparov

Those who ascend the social ladder and attain great power are often sculpted by shame. The looming fear of being socially humiliated hangs over them, as they have much more to lose living in the public eye. As the saying goes: ‘the higher they climb, the harder they fall’.

As we trace the shadow of parental abandonment, we will look at how a national leader and a medical professor handled their fear of shame and the threat of humiliation. …


Resilience, commonly defined as “the ability to adjust to, and/or recover from calamity” (Edery, 2016, p.2), and widely embraced by the positive psychology movement (Gable & Haidt, 2005), is in essence the capacity to bounce back. But from what are people urged towards resilience bouncing back from and why do they need to bounce back? Unless the what and the why is explored and understood — what the context or their circumstances were — then notions like “strengths”, “competencies”, “skills”, “coping”, and yes, “resilience”, on their own don’t really mean too much. Questions like “what kind of resilience and for…


We grapple with shame in various ways, but we’re not always aware of the various aspects of this powerful emotional experience. Some people might not even be aware of what shame is, or whether it is shame that may be affecting them. We may only identify it in retrospect, once the experience slows down sufficiently for us to know that it is shame we are feeling.

Shame is a non-verbal, emotional and self-conscious focus on the self (Tangney & Fischer, 1995). Because certain social conditions promote shame in the individual, it may mean a person will disengage or have a…


Photo: Jadelui

Parentification is when children under age eighteen assume care-taking responsibilities for parents, or other family members at the expense of their own developmental needs and pursuits (Earley & Cushway, 2002). First conceptualised by Boszormenyi-Nagy and Spark in 1973, parentification can also be viewed more broadly as a “construct”. That is, outlining behaviours within a range of contexts that fit into “ever-widening systems of influence and meaning involving individual, interpersonal, family, institutional, cultural and historical issues” (Chase, 1999, p.xi). This means it occurs in various scenarios, at different times, and under a range of circumstances. Examples include divorce (Jurkovic, et al…

Suzette Misrachi

Suzette Misrachi, International presenter and consultant specialising in trauma and grief.

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