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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Dr Robert Blakey

Lecturer in Mental Health



Dr Robert Blakey is a Lecturer in Mental Health interested in the life that unfolds following trauma. Trauma is an experience that overwhelms the capacity to understand what is happening at the time it is happening. Everyone experiences some degree of trauma. In response to this fact of life, it may be worth developing a way of seeing through the complexity of trauma histories into the simplicity of the present moment. Trauma histories recreate themselves through the societal roles imposed upon the human. The problem is these roles disrupt the opportunity for connection.

Connection is crucial to life: unless people have opportunity to connect, shame takes the person out of social circulation. Shame is an understandable response to trauma because trauma feels targeted: why me? Social interaction may be avoided due to fear of blame and the capacity for blame to induce crumbling waves of shame. Trauma recovery, therefore, may be less about explaining what happened in the past – which can easily descend into endless circuits of justification – and more about believing in the continued existence of the present moment as a product of grieving the past. The present moment provides shelter from the recreation of history. Therefore, if trauma recovery exists, it is here and now.

Known as mindfulness, connection to the present moment offers a realistic aspiration for mental health. There will always exist the underbelly of life – bursts of anger, crashes into shame and the shadow of fear – and some need to hold this underbelly down during social interaction; generating tension and disruption to the opportunity for connection. However, the capacity to stabilise inner experience can emerge through repeated practice during chaos. In this way, hope exists.


Research Interests:

Depersonalisation/derealisation disorder (DPDR); borderline personality disorder (BPD); Mentalisation-Based Treatment (MBT).

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