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.
Upcoming talks and workshops
- Dealing with vampire clients and surviving the encounter (April 9, Zoom)
- Heart to heart: The healing power of Aikido (June 6, Zoom)
Putting the Pathology Where it Belongs – A Glimpse Into My Musings on Disorder
Visitors to this site may have noticed that somewhere around the 2016 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 are no diagnoses for what made people believe the terrible lies uttered by the man in the White House last fall that led to people engaging in a violent attack on our institutions of democracy. There are words for the attempts to roll back voter rights, but they are not assigned a diagnosis in any manual, despite the deep pathologies of fear of democracy underlying these efforts. 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. Because while the wounds are in human beings, the sources of those wounds, that actual pathology, is in the structures of a culture that has successfully colonized the field of psychotherapy to the extent that we have lost sight of where the actual pathologies can be found.
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.