Laura S. Brown, Ph.D. is a clinical and forensic psychologist in independent practice in Seattle, Washington. A speaker and author on feminist therapy theory and practice, she offers workshops and trainings to professionals and the public on such topics as trauma treatment, cultural competence, psychological assessment, and ethics.
I am offering consultation, forensic evaluations and workshops via video conferencing during the current pandemic.
Putting the Pathology Where it Belongs – A Glimpse Into My Musings on Disorder
Visitors to this site may have noticed that somewhere around the last US presidential
election I stopped publishing regular updates about my work. That event was one that
upended my thinking in some ways, and deepened my analysis in others. The resultant
effects on my vision for what constitutes a socially just practice of psychotherapy have
been many, and as of now, not yet fully organized.
As a feminist therapist I have always known that words matter. What we call something
reifies it, and gives it a position in our thinking. Thus, the question of what to call a
“disorder.” I had found myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the
“disordering” of so many things that people experience, of so many of the ways in which
people who have been harmed in some manner have attempted to solve the problem of
the effects of those harms on their neurologies and psyches.
Consequently, I want to highlight this podcast interview with Emma Sunshaw, a
psychotherapist who lives with dissociative identities, as an example of where my
thinking has moved with regard to the entire concept of what constitutes a “disorder.” In
it I discuss how I no longer use the term “disorder” to experiences like Emma’s.
There is no term, no assigned pathology, in any diagnostic manual, for the phenomena of
white supremacy and systemic hierarchies of oppression. There is no “abusing your child
disorder,” no “willful murder by law enforcement of Black, Indigenous and People of
Color disorder.” We disorder the responses people make to being harmed. We do not, as
a culture, formally disorder these and other sources of profound, persistent harm. My
podcast interview with Emma, made at the beginning of the pandemic of 2020, is a
glimpse into my thinking about what the field of psychotherapy needs to do to speak truth
about what is really disordered.
Books for trauma survivors
If you’re a survivor of childhood trauma or neglect you may be interested in the two books that I wrote for and about your experiences.