When time doesn’t heal all wounds | Dr. Robert K. Ross | TEDxIronwoodStatePrison

Translator: Delia Cohen
Reviewer: Denise RQ What I want to do
is I want to spend a little bit of time talking about the most important,
critical, and most powerful in our view, at The California Endowment, disease in this country, and that is the disease
and the condition of childhood trauma. I want to talk to you a little bit
about what it means, and here being at Ironwood State Prison is the perfect backdrop
to talk about this epidemic of what happens to our young people,
and how that plays out in their lives. Let me start by way of a story, and the story begins with
a young woman named Claudia. Claudia is someone who we’ve come
to know in the last couple of years. At the age of 12, Claudia was growing up
in South Central Los Angeles in one of those neighborhoods
and communities that many of you, here at Ironwood State Prison, grew up in, where a young person is more likely
to be enrolled in a gang than enrolled in college. Claudia grew up in a neighborhood
like that; she was doing OK. She was doing well in school
until the age of 12. One of her older sisters
was brutally murdered. A few months after that, another older sister was shot
right in front of Claudia’s face. Claudia then went
from a straight-A student to someone who became
a problem in the classroom. She became stubborn; she became defiant. Her grades dropped;
she got thrown out of the classroom. She got suspended from school;
she got expelled from school. She went on to lose interest
in school and her education. She went on to get pregnant, and she went on to lead a very tough life
at the age of 14 and 15. I want to return back to the story
of Claudia and how that story has ended in a few minutes. What Claudia’s story illustrates is the importance and the power of trauma. A very well-known and excellent
researcher at Kaiser Permanente, a pediatrician researcher
named Dr. Vince Felitti, did an important research
study on 17,000 patients. He wanted to understand the relationship between exposure to repeated doses
of childhood trauma and childhood adverse experiences
and childhood toxic stress, and the role that that plays
in their health as an adult. What he found by surveying
these 17,000 patients, and he had access to all
of their medical records, is he found a very strong relationship between the number of episodes
of exposure to childhood trauma. He listed them out in a survey,
and they were questions like: were you ever physically
abused as a child? Were you sexually abused as a child? Did you witness violence in your home? Was your mother a victim
of domestic violence in the home? Did you have a parent
that was incarcerated? Were you exposed to violence
in your neighborhood and community? These were the kinds
of childhood traumatic exposures and incidents that these patients
were asked questions about. And what Dr. Felitti found was that if you had three or more
of these exposures to childhood trauma, your health got substantially worse, not just as a child but even as an adult;
20, 30, and 40 years later. And if you had five or more exposures
to these childhood traumatic events, the incidence of your likelihood
to smoke tobacco went up astronomically, the incidence of alcohol abuse
went up eight times, the incidence of injection drug use
went up 4,000 times. And so what Dr. Felitti’s research shows
is that old adage, that old saying that we heard when we were growing up,
“Time heals all wounds,” is bulldinky, (Laughter) not true. There’s an understanding
behind what trauma does to us because as human beings,
we’re wired for survival. It goes back millions of years
to the time when we were cavemen. It’s called the fight-or-flight
survival response, because when we were cavemen,
we had to run from a saber-toothed tiger, or we had to fend our cave
from a rival clan, And so, we are wired
like that for survival. There’s a thinking part of our brain,
which is the front part of our brain; it’s called the frontal cortex
or the frontal lobe. That part of the brain is the part
of the brain you use when you’re reading, when you’re learning, when you inmates
are taking an online course, when you’re trying to solve a problem,
when you’re trying to beat a videogame; you’re using the front part of your brain. But there’s another part of the brain
that’s the automatic part of the brain, in the back part of the [head]
and deeper inside, and that’s the part of the brain
that’s wired for survival. When we see a threat,
when we see something traumatic, when we think that something
might threaten us in a traumatic way, we prepare ourselves
either to fight or to flee. It’s called the fight-or-flight response. What happens is a rush of hormones
is triggered by some nervous impulses from that part of the brain. Hormones like cortisol, and ACTH, and epinephrine – also known
as adrenaline -, and norepinephrine. These hormones flood the body; and blood goes to your muscles,
your muscles tense up, your pupils dilate, you sweat, you get tensed up because you’re ready
to either fight or flee. So that’s the human
hardwired response for survival, and in the moment, it helps us. In the moment, when we’re trying to run
from a saber-toothed tiger or run from the rival gang,
it helps you get down the street. The problem is repeated doses
of childhood trauma exposure results in bad news
for the health of the person, both in their brain
and in their physicality. For example, if you take a look
at the leading ten causes of death, at mortality and morbidity
in this country, those ten top-leading causes of death
are diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung disease from smoking,
liver disease from drinking, homicide, suicide; they’re behavioral diseases,
they’re behavioral conditions. The more episodes of traumatic exposure
you have as a child, the more likely you are to harm yourself
with that kind of behavior. In other words, what you’re doing
when you’re using drugs or using alcohol is you’re medicating yourself
against that trauma. That’s the downside of what a trauma does. There’s another interesting side, however, and that’s about courage and resilience. It’s fascinating
how courage and resiliency [are] not as well understood
by the science although trauma’s
very well understood by the science. If I show you a picture of a brain, there are certain parts of the brain
called the amygdala and hippocampus, and scientific studies show
that the architecture of those brain parts that determine translating
thought into action get damaged in the amygdala
and the hippocampus. But forget about
those fancy medical terms for a second. What it really does is repeated doses
of childhood trauma crushes our spirit. That’s what it does to us; we lose hope. Courage and resiliency is the ability to take exposure to trauma,
exposure to adverse experiences, and turn it into something positive, and turn it into
something transformational. So, if you take a look
at Mothers Against Drunk Driving: in this country, this country
has an entirely different set of attitudes around drinking and driving
and laws and policies because a group of traumatized mothers. There’s nothing more traumatic
to a person than losing your child. But these mothers rallied together and forced Congress,
state legislatures, and city councils to change the laws
around drinking and driving. That’s how they used their trauma and fueled it for personal transformation
and for social leadership. Many of you, many of the folks at ARC, who were gangbangers,
who’ve lived a life of violence get transformed by their experiences and now become peacemakers
in their communities. Nelson Mandela spent
27 years of torture trauma at Robben Island in South Africa,
in prison for his beliefs. And somehow, after 27 years of that, Nelson Mandela emerges
a peacekeeping leader. He leads South Africa to the most extraordinary,
peaceful, democratic transformation that our globe has ever seen. How did that happen? How does courage and resiliency happen? It happens when we see the truth
of what has happened to us and ourselves, accept it, accept responsibility
for what we’ve done, connect with others about it, and use that traumatic experience
to become a transformational leader. So let me tell you
what happened with Claudia. Claudia had that kind of experience. She ended up in a continuation school where one caring adult helped her connect
about her trauma and her truth, Helped her turn her life around and see infinite possibilities
about what her life could be. Claudia is now a leader at the Youth Justice Coalition
in South Central Los Angeles. I’ll tell you the movement
she helped lead. (Applause) One of the things
that we need to learn how to do – I’m speaking now to those of us
who are visiting Ironwood State Prison, who have important jobs
and titles like myself – these children are showing up
screaming for help, but we don’t recognize it; we miss it. They show up in the classroom
as defiant, as stubborn, they miss class, they look
like a troublemaker; it’s a bad kid. But we don’t take the time to get underneath the surface
of what’s happening to that young person to connect with them and give them
a sense of hope and possibility, and give them
the kind of treatment they need. So Claudia worked with the Youth
Justice Coalition and other youth, decided to work
with the school districts and say, “Listen, stop suspending
our kids out of school. If a child’s getting suspended
from school, he is screaming for help,
she is screaming for help.” How do we turn the system
to support that young person rather than pushing them
out of school and into the street? Those young people led by the Youth Justice Coalition
and Claudia Gomez as a youth organizer helped change the policies
to keep kids in school at Los Angeles Unified School District and reduced the suspension rate
by 50% in less than two years. That’s leadership; that’s leadership. (Applause) I just want to end by saying those of us that are visiting you
here at Ironwood State Prison: we have a responsibility. We have a responsibility that we get
really smart about this powerful epidemic; that we use every opportunity
in schools, in our juvenile halls, in our foster care systems,
and our health care systems to recognize and understand that children
are being traumatized in this country, and reach out to them,
and connect them, and engage them, and give them a sense of hope. Those of you who’re here in prison, you have a responsibility as well; and we should shake hands with one another holding each other accountable
for what we have to do. Your job is to use the power
of what happened to you to transform, use the power of what happened to you
to become a leader inside these walls and out in the community
when you get there. And I know many of you
are beginning to do that. I want to end with a 13th-century quote from a Persian poet that says, “Your wound is
where your light enters you.” So I challenge you, inmates here at Ironwood Prison. I know you’ve been wounded;
I know you’ve been hurt. Don’t deny that truth: find it, use it, use it as fuel
for personal transformation. Change this world. You can do it: infinite possibilities. Thank you. (Cheers) (Applause)

68 thoughts on “When time doesn’t heal all wounds | Dr. Robert K. Ross | TEDxIronwoodStatePrison

  1. THANK you – these kids need a voice – and these schools, school officials and wounded children aren't just in south central, they – we – are (or were) everywhere from the suburbs to the city.

  2. As an EFT Trainer, focused upon trauma relief and empowering children, I'm thrilled to hear this TED talk that brings Leadership and Understanding to the treatment alternatives available now, for all. This DOES create infinite possibilities. Thanks, Robert.

  3. Emotional abuse is particularly damaging to the developing child/personality, and parents with Personality Disorders are very common although mostly not diagnosed.

  4. This is a wonderful Ted Talk. Now, with all of this valuable information what do the powers that be, the lawmakers, city leaders, state leaders do with the information? It fully explains why kids ''go bad''. It explains why there is no logic to the statement ''Not all people kill, or rob or abuse.'' when someone does harm. It is incumbent on government leaders to eliminate poverty, child hunger and make neighbourhoods and schools safe. ''It takes a Village to raise a child.''

  5. Wonderful talk but I totally disagree that all traumatized kids are misbehaving kids. I was totally abused as a child and I learned to fly below the radar and be compliant but I was abuse and traumatized just the same, and the kids who suffer in silence need just as much help and support as those that kick down the walls.

  6. every day i knew nothing yesterdsy.. but yet do not fail thinkin thst again. … ow! not dissing relevsnxe. :/ ..
    claudia made too early as funny Coincidence in common … abuse of power n the range engage in surroundings further compromised alL now for the quntity of conttibution to the ..
    trauma alLways … alL know i named son dexter. … im sure them (:) ) in prison utilitarism feficit… as … my kid lesz trsuma than me… until more ecposed to u… every night i hesrd my boys murdeered. there is no use. but… they dont need u to find way home…

  7. I am so sick of hearing "im a criminal or drug addict because I was abused or had it hard growing up etc etc" I was molested as a child, beaten and abused by my father if he was ever home, no money growing up in a poor household, Left for dead by a hit and run driver and have massive trauma brain injury PTSD and more, was bashed by 2 meth heads and have no friends or chance to earn a living. BUT I AM NOT A DRUG ADDICT, CRIMINAL OR ANYTHING OTHER THAN A DECENT PERSON!! STOP USING THINGS AS AN EXCUSE! HARDEN UP, GROW UP, MAN UP AND DO IT THE HARD ROAD!!! I AM PROOF IT IS POSSIBLE

  8. It's not your fault to have the trauma and being in prison but, after I finish, I will come back to my fancy house and you to your dirty cell.

  9. Im sad that there is no mention of the many children who don't act out but turn their pain within. These kids are often forgotten and neglected. They say the squeaky wheel is often most often greased. We must not ignore the children who are in pain and it is often invisible. It's true when he stated that if someone connects the dots and see's beneath the obvious behaviour and comprehends that abuse and/or trauma has occurred and that there are ways in dealing and ultimately healing these people. It's maddening that so many medical professionals don't see Adverse Childhood Experiences as real and just as pertinent to a patients health.

  10. Dear Dr. Robert Ross,
    thank you so much for this great lecture. I would love to ask you about some source information…. you mentioned one great quote and I would really love to dug deeper into this issue and would love to find out the name of this scientist…

    The quote somehow goes like this "it means litterally the hijacking of the thinking brain…"
    Could you please help me with it?
    Thank you so much
    Best wishes for the new year

  11. Duplicate Comment to Ted Talk; Hope for the Elephant in the Room

    Does anybody care about trauma victims of domestic violence?. Twenty years since I was determined to be disabled by my injuries. Medical Providers are quick to mis-label their patients; and eager to issue meds with side affects worse than the condition being treated; but leave it up to the patient to seek therapeutic treatment. As a result, despite having a Law License and skills honed during this "healing" period, I am still bound by PTSD and and TBI; yet a Vanderbilt University primary care physician Pareira dares to ridicule and disparage me, "Surely you don't think you are still affected." Those matters you complain about are probably nothing. When I demonstrated my lack of confidence in them; they terminated me as a patient, alleging noncompliance. So I don't won't to be a guinea pig for experimental drugs; as you deny me treatment that could possibly make a difference, Duh! Is there any hope for empathy and understanding? Or is there simply no money in it?

  12. How many of my American neighbors are familiar with the late popular urban storyteller Tupac Shakur's #T_H_U_G_L_I_F_E Child Abuse and Emotional Neglect AWARENESS concept:

    "The Hate U Give Little Infants Fvvks Everyone" ~Tupac Shakur

    "We need more people who care; you know what I'm saying? We need more women, mothers, fathers, we need more of that…" ~Tupac Shakur

    Tupac, an admitted emotionally ill adult who loudly spoke about experiencing childhood abuse and maltreatment during a critical period of human/childhood development, intelligently recognized not only are American kids being UNJUSTLY OPPRESSED, IMPEDED and DEPRIVED from experiencing their full human potential, as well as a SAFE, fairly or wonderfully happy American kid childhood…

    …Tupac realized OUR NATION is being deprived of enjoying the potential achievements offered to ALL Americans by fairly or wonderfully happy kids maturing into reasonably responsible teens and adults caring about the future of OUR Nation, and the welfare of their peaceful, as well as less fortunate neighbors.

    I believe Tupac correctly recognized Americans need to change the name of our “War On Poverty”, to “America’s Firm Resolve to End Childhood Abuse, Emotional Neglect and Maltreatment.”

    Unlike Mr. Barack “My Brother’s Keeper” Obama and his presidential predecessors, I am hopeful our new president Renegade Republican Donald Trump will recognize improving the Quality of Life for our American neighbors of African descent begins with addressing HEALTH issues related to proper childhood care and environments.

    I believe Mr. Trump immediately should take meaningful ACTION to protect from harm our Nation's most precious and cherished assets by placing an emphasis on EDUCATION about proper child care, as well as stepping up enforcement of Child Safety & Protection laws which will eventually lead to fewer depressed, unhappy, emotionally neglected/abandoned American kids…

    …maturing into angry, frustrated teens and young adults full or half full of rage and resentment for irresponsibly being introduced to an emotionally and/or physically abusive childhood fraught with pain, struggles, torment, uncertainty, FEAR, demeaning government handouts, depression and hardships.

    Tagged: #ChildhoodTrauma, #PTSD, #FatherlessAmericanChildren, #A_F_R_E_C_A_N

    "America’s Firm Resolve to End Childhood Abuse and Neglect”

  13. i used to be resilient. i don't remember how resiliency anymore. just because i'm breathing does not mean i am taking it all in stride. nope. the suicidal thoughts and tendencies still linger.

  14. I am a survivor of a lengthy list of suicide. ..my sons father, my brother, my mother and a brother to an overdose…my life will never be normal….I'd love to come and share my story…I've been embarrassed for years because of people's reactions but I feel it's time…

  15. On one side, you have those who say that time heals all wounds. They seem to be the ones who flee possibilities. I know that " time wounds all heals". Therefore, I don't fear the Reaper. I've had many conversations with the Pain God. We both agree that there is no room for drama. It's time to move on to the next level. Those that chose to run have come to ruin. They tend to believe that it is stylish to despair. Some even think of suicide as a viable option. It's not my choice considering that my mother double-tapped herself when the night got too long. She still comes around as I've even heard her through our baby monitor. Life is wonderous even though it's an education that is hard fought. It's not for the timid.

  16. This is beautiful. I am recovering from CPTSD/ dissociation. I was going to school for engineering but it wasn't giving me a sense of purpose. I'm going to switch to psychology so I can influence the cause. I have a lot of knowledge about what resources don't work and what needs to changed based on what I have experienced.

  17. So called problem kids in todays world get put on ADHD ADD drugs, instead of learning to cope with their problems a more natural way.

  18. There are so many who feel alone and as though there is something wrong with them. I am a psychotherapist specializing in treatment for trauma and these talks which normalize and educate seem very valuable for increased understanding and compassion. Thank you!

  19. if one would hear my story. my life has been one trauma after another. this man has hit it right on. i have been told that my life story will save lives and there is a purpose. i am ready to share now.

  20. How does one find help? Lots of information, Yes, we get trauma. Done deal. I now am dying. I've still not healed from the trauma and now I am dying. I don't want to carry that trauma with me. My time is limited. If I were a good person, I'd do this better, more gracefully. I am resilient, I am courageous and I'm trying to reform my life. Not likely I can do this in the months I have left. Shit….I'll figure it out.

  21. Thank you Dr. Ross for this Ted talk. This is so important. You explain it so simply, so understandable . I watched your Ted talk twice. Again thank you

  22. I understand the motive behind keeping the kids in school. I do not agree with it. Our children are falling behind and being bullied due to schools being overwhelmed with these kids. I do not believe schools are equipped to provide the support and treatments needed to overcome trauma so their behaviors effects everyone. I sub and schools are unmanageable due to the "problem" kids who go unpunished and continue to victimize other kids and staff. This isn't the answer.

  23. Amazing, compassionate talk, thank you. Your childhood does create your future, that's just how the brain works, and for those of you who are saying you were abused but didn't end up in jail, count yourself lucky instead of complaining about how nobody is helping you. Those who are incarcerated have suffered more than anyone else as they have also lost their freedom instead of sitting watching TED talks with absolute freedom to seek out the many types of information and ways to heal available online.

  24. Still working on healing at 60. Untended wounds don't heal right. Instead of years of meds meant to keep me quiet, what would have helped would have been someone to tell me " you didn't deserve this & it's not ur fault". Would that have been so hard?

  25. I just recently realized that my life has been lived with the backdrop of PTSD due to my physical and emotional abuse as a child. I was beat, I had to watch my sister and brother beat, and I even had to watch my sweet little dog beat by a bipolar father. I also had to watch my mother refuse to save us. That was massive. The one person I was dependent on, my mother, refused to protect us from harm.

  26. My Mother had her life saved by me at 7 years old. My Mother was verbally abusive. My older sister was violently demanding without any restrain from my parents. Plus born Trans childhood of violent religious brainwash. No time only exposes the wounds.

  27. for me the key was to admit I couldn't run my life the way I was, gave my life to Jesus and allow God to teach me the right way to live. I learned the truth of my value as a person, and also learned that I could stop the generational cycle of my forefathers behavior. Children only know what they are taught.

  28. Could depression be thought as a sort of natural medication towards trauma of any kind? The idea is that paralysis is a symptom, behavioral, thus, depression would be creating a behavioral frame so to remedy the trauma.

  29. As the adopted son of abusive, narcissistic, alcoholic, drug-addicted parents, I can say that nothing will ever take the pain away. Your choices are to internalize the hurt by inflicting damage  to yourself, to externalize the hurt by inflicting damage upon others, or to independently find something in life that genuinely makes you happy (and do it). Only you can find a meaning for your own existence and reasonable happiness – No one can provide it for you…

  30. Studies actually show that it isn't just behavioral changes leading to disease; that the trauma itself raises the risk of disease even among those who have healthy lifestyle choices.

  31. If you’re reading this right now, I think it’s so awesome that we’re all here figuring it out, figuring us out.

    If nobody’s reminded you yet today, there’s something special within you that only you have. You’re literally 1/7,000,000,000. That’s so cool!

    So thanks for being alive. I appreciate you 💕

  32. Older Ann
    I am here to tell you that time doesn't heal all wounds simply because some wounds are just too buried for healing. i became so obedient, so pleasant, so whatever it took to bury who I was. The dirt that buried the abuse became my multiple personalities. My abuse was so profound that I developed lots and lots of personalities who would come in a split second to repair whatever was in front of us. I have multiple personalities to such a degree that I am my personalities. So ask me if I was abused and I will tell you not really…..

  33. Life seems very long if you are not having fun. Unfortunately, we have something against fun and we put every sense of importance on WORK. Fail at work and you fail at life because for sure you won't be well liked. The robots will win!

  34. @ 12:18 Rumi (Mohamed Jalal ad-Din Balkhi Rumi of Roemi, Persia, 1207-1273):
    "The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”.

  35. Trauma causes mental anguish and that evolves into phisycal illness s. Often the mental trauma is not treated or resolved. This is why so many people do poorly as functional adults. The siciety is coming to realize. This slowly.

  36. I understand what people commenting are saying about 'freeze or flight', but hey people: he wasn't just talking about the fight response, he just used this as an example because it is so often 'mis-treated'. He was talking about kids with trauma, and how spot on he did this. Extremely well spoken and such a big heart.

  37. For the first time listening to a speaker i got goosebumps. Best talk I've seen on YouTube; I seldom see such a powerful speaker, with heart and sincerity, wisdom and integrity, such an important message for society, absolute strength. Thank you so much, wishing you the very best. And to all around carrying childhood wounds

  38. OUTSTANDING!🦉🧞‍♂️💙




  39. Loved Dr Ross’ talk and loved even more that it was held at a prison with inmates in the audience. So often we forget that something happened in the lives of those that are incarcerated, often as kids, that altered the path of their lives. Less punishment, more understanding way, way earlier would solve all sorts of problems.

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