These are challenging times to maintain physical and mental well-being, so much so that it’s increasingly difficult to encounter someone who isn’t struggling with some sort of significant medical and/or psychological challenge. On this episode of Transforming Trauma, Emily chats with award-winning journalist, author, speaker, and workshop facilitator Donna Jackson Nakazawa about her career at the intersection of neuroscience, immunology, and emotion.
Emily and Donna discuss the impact of today’s cultural landscape on the mental health of children and young adults, particularly focusing on teen girls, as well as the correlation between human connection and whole health. They also discuss the power of storytelling to draw meaning from our experiences and help others who’ve experienced complex trauma.
In discussing her most recent work, Donna reports that “over the past few years, a new body of neuroscience has come out which shows the unique ways that the developing female adolescent brain handles and processes stress.” In her latest book, Girls on the Brink: Helping Our Daughters Thrive in an Era of Increased Anxiety, Depression, and Social Media, she posits that teen girls today feel especially vulnerable to threats, forced to navigate the consequences of historical misogyny in real life while combating waves of toxic online behaviors.
While the ubiquitous nature of social media may compound girls and young women’s mental health issues, widespread sexism, bias, and intolerance aren’t doing boys and young men any favors either. Donna wants young men to recognize how our cultural history of misogyny impacts them and their ability to foster meaningful relationships with girls and women.
Connection––to oneself and each other––is essential for addressing the adolescent female mental health crisis. It’s also a vital step in easing our current chronic disease epidemic. Donna shares about her write-to-heal workshops which center on storytelling and mindfulness exercises to transform old trauma patterns into healing narratives, therapeutic techniques that mirror the core principles of NARM. “To come to that sense of embodiment and presence… because we've done the work, that, to me, is the most powerful thing we can learn as humans.”
Transforming Trauma is grateful to Donna Jackson Nakazawa for generating greater awareness of the forms complex trauma takes in our modern time for young people especially, as well as ways to support the youth to flourish in an increasingly disconnected, dysregulated world.
Donna Jackson Nakazawa is the author of four books that explore the intersection of neuroscience, immunology, and emotion, including Girls on the Brink andThe Angel and the Assassin, named one of the best books of 2020 by Wired magazine, and Childhood Disrupted, which was a finalist for the Books for a Better Life Award.