This week’s round of TED Talk picks are focused on trauma and come from a diverse range of experiences.
Nadine Burke Harris: How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime
In this talk, Nadine Burke Harris passionately addresses the findings of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study. This study found a significant correlation between number of ACEs and long-term health outcomes, and Dr. Burke Harris explains how ACEs affect the developing brain. She also uses science to challenge assumptions that are sometimes made, such as the idea that negative health outcomes are due to high-risk behaviours such as substance use. For anyone who’s not familiar with the ACEs research I would highly recommend watching this talk.
Melissa Walker: Art Can Heal People’s Invisible Wounds
Melissa Walker is an art therapist who works with veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. She found mask-making was highly effective in helping this population process the trauma they had experienced. This is a remarkable example of the healing power of art.
Roberta Brachman: Could a drug prevent depression and PTSD?
In this talk, neuroscientist Rebecca Brachman discusses the potential role of ketamine as a “paravaccine”, something that could improve stress resilience in vulnerable individuals in order to prevent the development of PTSD or depression. In tests conducted in her lab, a single injection of ketamine in mice offered protection from the effects of stress for weeks after receiving the shot. She also talks about some of the things that stand in the way of moving forward with this.
Hector Garcia: We Train Soldiers For War, Let’s Train Them to Come Home
Hector Garcia speaks about the effectiveness of PTSD treatments that can capitalize on military training to help veterans recover. Military personnel are highly trained to rationally gauge the statistical probabilities of danger, and this same type of approach can be used to help veterans accurately evaluate probabilities of danger back in the home setting. He also likened exposure therapy to a form of field training. This is a fascinating look at how familiar treatments can be adapted to serve this vulnerable population who are often silenced by stigma.
Meera Vijayann: Finding Your Voice Against Gender Violence
Meera Vijayann experienced sexual assault multiple times while growing up in India, beginning at age 7. An important part of her recovery journey has been to engage in activism. This was prompted by the horrific news of the woman who was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi and left to die. Meera posted a vlog in response, which garnered international attention and helped her to realize that her voice mattered. She continued to speak up about gender-based violence in India, with the goal of encouraging other women to use their voices to bring about social change. Though her voices breaks as she recounts her experiences at the opening, this is a talk that is very much about finding strength following adversity.