Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Trauma specialist gets first-hand taste of trauma


Trauma specialist gets first-hand taste of trauma

Australian clinical psychologist and trauma specialist Gary Fulcher has taken first-hand research in his field of expertise to a level few of his colleagues would care to imitate.

Not that it was intentional. Dr Fulcher, who at one point in his career was attached to the burns unit of a New South Wales hospital, found himself back there in 1996 - but as a patient after a near-fatal car fire.

The accident gave him an insight into the recovery and rehabilitation process of the patient. But it also revealed to him the damaging aspects of Australia’s compensation process, which he says forces victims to relive the accident over and over again during the assessments and questioning by doctors and lawyers. The result is to intensify the trauma experience or traumatise the person anew, delaying the process of recovery.

“The short, intense questioning forces victims to re-experience the event without sufficient time or help to process the memories,” he said. “They are rushed out of the office to make way for the next client and are left unaided in an agitated state, exacerbating any post-traumatic stress disorder.”

For all his experience as a therapist dealing with trauma patients, Dr Fulcher found he was having flashbacks for hours after every medical examination or legal interview. He calls the experience litigation-induced trauma sensitisation.

Dr Fulcher discovered he was not alone in this experience. One woman told him she dreaded the repeated examinations and had started not showing up for appointments. “I know I should go,” she said, “but I just can’t face telling another person about what happened to me. Whenever anyone asks me about it my mind just freezes. I feel sick and get terribly anxious but I say nothing.”

A man horribly burned in a place crash told him he would get so angry during the examinations he sometimes abused the examiner before storming out. He would regret his actions later and knew he was damaging his case but could not control his reaction.

Dr Fulcher will present a paper on trauma at Bold Perspectives, an ACC-hosted conference in Auckland on injury prevention and rehabilitation. He believes the no-fault ACC system operating in New Zealand reduces the problems he experienced first-hand and then subsequently in his professional life.

Bold Perspectives runs from March 21-23 and more than 30 speakers from around New Zealand and overseas are addressing questions as the cost of road accidents, the impact of grief in the workplace, employee involvement in improving safety and preventing falls among the elderly.

Dr Fulcher said he found Australia’s health system excellent at fixing bodies but poor at dealing with the emotional and spiritual aftermath of horrific injuries.

“Our hospitals are wonderfully geared for acute care, for saving lives and repairing horribly damaged bodies, but when it comes to looking after patients’ psychological or spiritual needs, they fall short by a long way.”

He realised from personal experience that failure to attend to non-physical healing could result in incapacitation as severe as failing to fix the body. “If I hadn’t known how to treat my post-trauma stress reactions, my depression and suicidal thinking, my anxiety and chronic pain, I could have given up and died, as happens all too frequently in burns units - even months after successful skin grafts.

“I could have given up and accepted disablement and taken a pension as the compensation doctors declared I should. I could have ended my life with a massive insulin overdose, which I knew how to do. And, frighteningly, I believe not one of the hospital, rehabilitation or compensation team was even aware I was at risk.”

He is convinced the main reason victims do not return to full lives is not their physical but psychological condition. Without early and appropriate treatment for psychological distress, victims’ chances of successful rehabilitation fall enormously.

“Anyone who is still struggling to make sense of their catastrophic experience and injuries is unable to resolve the trauma of it all. Without resolving their trauma, they can retain anger, fear, resentment, despondency and dependence. Pain becomes an obstacle and motivation disappears. No matter how well repaired their bodies are, complete rehabilitation is impossible.”

Dr Fulcher has skin grafts to more than 50 per cent of his body, a drop foot, breathing difficulties from inhalation injury and no fingers after amputations. Nevertheless, he is a successful clinical psychologist, teaches at three Sydney universities and is a frequent presenter at conferences around the world.

He is, he says, a walking advertisement for a permanently damaged body enjoying a full life because of a healthy mind, stable emotions and resolved spirit – the essential ingredients of successful rehabilitation.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

  • Week in Parliament 22-05-15
  • Saturday Sitting
  • House Rises At Midnight
  • Telco Levy Bill Passes
  • Telco Levy Bill Completes First Reading
  • Social Housing Bill Passes Under Urgency

  • TPPA: University Of Auckland Warns Of Negative TPP Impact

    The University of Auckland May 20, 2015 University of Auckland Warns of Negative TPP Impact With the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation drawing to a close, the University of Auckland has expressed serious concerns about its potential implications. ... More>>

    NZ Flag: Flag Referendum Gets Hit Hard In New Poll

    The latest Campbell Live text poll confirms it is time for the Prime Minister to listen to the public and shelve his flag referendum, says the New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters. More>>

    Gordon Campbell: The Government’s Belated Moves On Property Speculation

    Is it a property tax on capital gains or a capital gains tax on property? The Jesuitical distinctions in the government’s spin about its latest moves on property speculators are all about whether the government can claim that it jumped, or confess that it ... More>>

    Grant Robertson:
    Key Can’t Just Be Prime Minister For Parnell

    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In a ... More>>

    Labour Party: More Regional Jobs Go In Corrections Reshape

    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka ... More>>

    ALSO:

  • NZ First - Prison Job Losses to Send Money Offshore
  • TPPA: ‘Team Obama’ Regroups On Fast Track, Still Not Deliverable

    ‘After yesterday’s stinging and unexpected defeat for the Obama administration’s attempt to advance Fast Track legislation in the US Senate, Senate leaders have worked up a compromise they think will get them past this blockage’, according to Auckland ... More>>

    NZ Government: 5,500 More Doctors And Nurses In Our Hospitals

    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a record number of doctors and nurses are working in District Health Boards across the country. More>>

    Controller and Auditor General: Katherine Rich Conflict of Interest Decision

    We are writing to you about a matter that has been raised with us by members of the public. More>>

    ALSO:


    Budget 2015: Andrew Little On The 2015 Budget

    Speaking to the Chamber of Commerce, the Labour opposition leader attacked the government’s approach to economic issues facing New Zealand. He said they have been “more than reckless in their complacency” and “the next week’s budget will do nothing ... More>>

    Defence Force: NZDF Building Partner Capacity Mission Personnel In Iraq

    NZDF Building Partner Capacity Mission Personnel in Iraq The New Zealand Defence Force Building Partner Capacity training mission contingent is in place at Taji Military Complex in Iraq. The Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating says the ... More>>

    PM Press Conference: ACC Levy Cuts Announced

    In a press conference this afternoon in Wellington, ACC Minister Nikki Kaye proposed $500 million worth of ACC levy cuts. More>>

    Quakes: New Process For Red Zone Crown Offers

    Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced a process to give everyone a say on the Crown offers to owners of vacant, commercial/industrial and uninsured properties in the Residential Red Zone. More>>

    ALSO:

    Gordon Campbell: On The Battle Obama Is Waging Over The TPP

    For the past two and a half years, this column has been arguing that the fate of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal will hinge on whether US President Barack Obama can win Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) from Congress... Last week, the White House finally, finally unveiled a draft TPA Bill. More>>

    ALSO:


    Gordon Campbell: On lessons for Labour from the UK election
    If the polls were right – and the pollsters kept telling us how accurate they’d been in 2010, and even Nate Silver was getting the same results – there seemed no way that the British Labour Party could lose last Thursday’s British election. With Labour predicted to win around 270 seats and the Scottish National Party batting around 55-60 seats, Labour seemed to be home free. But…as we now know, things didn’t turn out that way. Labour ended up with 232 seats and the Conservatives swept back to power with an outright majority, after winning only a little more than a third ( 36.9%) of the votes cast.MORE >>
    Also.

  • NZ PM John Key - PM congratulates David Cameron after UK election
  • The Nation IV Transcript - Hack Attack author Nick Davies
  • Get More From Scoop

     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Politics
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news