Paul Valent

Paul Valent

Consultant liaison psychiatrist, psychotherapist, traumatologist,
Co-founder and past president Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies,

The Heart of Violence; Why People Harm Each Other

May 8, 2020

Dear Readers,

How are you all? I hope that the corona virus has not touched you. They are certainly strange times.

During my home detention I have reflected on this strangeness in three pieces you can find on the posts below.

But my biggest piece of news is my new book ‘The Heart of Violence; Why People Harm Each Other.’

Those of you familiar with my work, know that I have been a traumatologist, that is, working with victims and survivors. But since my childhood I wanted to know why people wanted to kill me and my family in the Holocaust. So this book is about understanding perpetrators.

As I delved into this quagmire, I realised that the Holocaust showed in sharp relief ‘lesser’ types of violence. So this book is about understanding all types of violence. I think, like traumatology, there is an emerging discipline of violentology.

Violence is not an encapsulated part of the mind. To understand violence, we must understand the mind, including love and lovelessness.

I conclude my journey thus:

“I loved the human mind, the most wondrous miracle in the universe. I felt sorry for its injuries, but admired its capacities and strivings.  I hope that this book will contribute to the mind’s self-knowledge, which in turn may, in these again precarious times, tilt the world, even if only a little, from ignorance and violence to understanding and love.”

What have we learned so far? (Corona pandemic)

April 30, 2020

  • What have we learned so far?

The corona pandemic has thrown our normal lives up in the air. How the pieces will settle is to a large extent up to us. Taking a look at how we got to where we are may help us choose a better future

Initially we heard reports from China and Europe of ever-increasing numbers of deaths. The pandemic was likened to the Spanish flu, the Second World War, even the plague and the Apocalypse

As infections and deaths reached Australia, we were faced with existential questions, such as do we let the virus rip through the community toward supposed herd immunity? But if in the process suppose ‘only’ 1% died, that would mean 250,000 deaths, which would almost equal three times the number of Australians who died in the two World Wars. Such attrition, accompanied by overwhelmed health workers who would have to decide who would live and who died, was unacceptable. Read more…

Letter to Child Survivors of the Holocaust in the Times of the Corona Virus

April 17, 2020

The current corona virus crisis has been likened to World War Two. For many child survivors of the Holocaust the crisis has indeed triggered memories and feelings from those times. The letter to child survivors mentions the similarities but also emphasises the differences between current and past times.

View the PDF letter

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Corona Pandemic; Taking Care of Our Minds

April 5, 2020

During this corona virus outbreak we must take care of our minds as well as our bodies.

I had a signal of the previous weekend. Normally the three generations of our family celebrate birthdays, tightly squeezed around our dining room table, with merry conversation and plenty of laughter. On Saturday we celebrated my granddaughter’s birthday in a park. No hugs or kisses. My arms ached to hug across the requisite two meters distance. Furtive glances. I felt like crying. What will become of us in the coming months? Read more…

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Seared by the Fires

March 31, 2020

Among current concerns about corona virus, economic and political downturns, and climate change, let us not forget survivors of our recent major bushfires. Understanding their survival and its costs, now becoming apparent (The Age) will not only help them, but can help us all as we lurch currently from one stress to another. Read more…

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Keep us informed, and we will cope

March 25, 2020

Last week – though it feels longer ago, because in crises time expands – the bubble burst.

Precisely when the new reality dawned differs for each of us. For some it may have been the scenes of crowds being turned back from the Grand Prix. For others, the wild vacillations of the stock market, or the mad panic buying of toilet paper. But by the time this week dawned we were all living in a new world, one where comparisons to the Great Depression and the Apocalypse suddenly seemed less hyperbolic. Read more…

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We Will Survive this Disaster

March 20, 2020

Last week (only a few days ago, but in crises time expands), the bubble burst. For some it may have been the scenes of crowds turned back from the Grand Prix. The no-nonsense shutting down of social activities, the plunging stock market, panic buying, creeping in of terms like The Great Depression, and comparisons to the Apocalypse have all warned us that our world has changed dramatically. Read more…

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