Scott Johnson of The Oakland Tribune writes about the science of chronic trauma and puts it in the perspective of Oakland, Calif., residents who are regularly exposed to chronic levels of stress and trauma. There were 95 homicides in Oakland in 2010.
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Scientists are finding that trauma affects how the brain functions and, especially in children, can create long-term debilitating problems, including anti-social behavior, dissociation, emotional numbness and trouble forming social relationships.
Fortunately, scientists also are finding there are therapeutic tools that can help.
The science around chronic trauma is evolving quickly and in exciting new ways. Even as scientists discover new evidence about what is happening in the brains of chronically traumatized people, intriguing new techniques are emerging for coping with the effects.
Johnson, the Oakland Tribune‘s Violence Reporting Fellow, is blogging at OaklandEffect.com, where he has written about his own experiences and about attending the recent “Healing Moments in Trauma Treatment” conference. Johnson’s position is funded by the California Endowment and he will be with the Tribune for a year, reporting on a wide range of issues, including those related to the impacts of violence on the mental health of Oakland residents.