Patriarchy Stress Disorder Part 2: Trauma Symptoms and the Reason why You’ve Been Struggling to Lean in, Play big, and Thrive


It was one of those aggravating arguments. My husband was not hearing me. He wasn’t seeing me. He wasn’t even looking at me. He was looking at the books lined up on my home office shelves.

I was going on and on, exasperated. He was quiet. Which aggravated me even more.

Then he turned around and said: “I find it fascinating. Here you have all these books on mindfulness, yoga, meditation, all this self-help… And you just can’t help yourself.”

It stopped me dead in my tracks.

He was right.

I couldn’t help myself.

Two graduate degrees in Psychology, decades on the personal development quest, years in therapy — and I couldn’t help myself.

As I was catching my breath, I wondered: “Why? What’s wrong with me? Why am I able to help my clients dramatically transform their lives, but I can’t help myself?”

After taking a closer closer look at what I was doing for my clients that I wasn’t doing for myself, the answer popped up.


Because I understood that trauma was at the root of all issues my clients were bringing to me in therapy, I working with them using mind-body-spirit tools that facilitated trauma resolution.

Why wasn’t I doing this for myself?

Because I didn’t believe I had trauma.

I wasn’t physically or sexually abused, raped, held at a gunpoint, abandoned by my mother or father, my parents didn’t go through an acrimonious divorce.

But I had symptoms of trauma (PTSD).

I frequently experienced confusion and difficulty concentrating (which I wrote off as adult ADD or perhaps “mommy brain”).

I was prone to anger, irritability, and mood swings (which I attributed to stress in general, and “bad temper” — a theory that my parents had very effectively sold me).

I suffered from anxiety and fears. (But I’ve never NOT had anxiety and fears, so I figured it was “just me.”)

I was prone to guilt, shame, and self-blame (hello, I’m a woman!).

I was prone to withdrawing from others when feeling particularly crappy about myself (a symptom of depression which I had also suffered from — I figured that was just a leftover defense mechanism). Feeling sad or hopeless (classic depression symptoms — what else is new). Feeling disconnected or numb (ditto).

But what was my trauma?

Then, through grace, an answer came.

For 1000s of years under patriarchy, women have been oppressed. The patriarchal culture has been traumatizing us through oppression. We now have scientific evidence that we inherit trauma through our DNA.

Therefore, we we all born traumatized by patriarchy into a patriarchal society that continuously re-traumatizes us. 

This kind of trauma is one common denominator that all women share.

I call it Patriarchy Stress Disorder™ (PSD).

And then other types of trauma layer on top of it, like a layered cake. I’ll discuss them in more detail in the forthcoming episodes (make sure to subscribe to my podcast so you don’t miss them).

In light of this discovery, the etiology of my symptoms looked very differently.

Confusion and difficulty concentrating— an adaptive mechanism that develops post-traumatically to ensure our survival: constantly scanning and tracking the environment for potential dangers.

Prone to anger, irritability, and mood swings— a function of constant nervous system activation to be prepared to fend off danger. Also an adaptive mechanism to ensure our survival in an environment that’s proven to be unsafe.

Anxiety and fears— resulting from hyper vigilance that is also a trauma adaptation to protect us — a bias in interpreting stimuli as threatening. Survival of the anxious. You would have to be crazy not to be anxious, fearful, and hyper-vigilant when you’re unsafe.

Guilt, shame, and self-blame— this is a result of cultural and religious conditioning that’s been effectively selling women on their inherent worthlessness for 1000s of years (cite research).

Depression symptoms (prone to withdrawing from others, feeling sad or hopeless, feeling disconnected or numb)— you would have to be crazy NOT to be depressed when you’re oppressed. If you’re not depressed, you’re delusional or, if you prefer, in denial.

The second part of my great aha was — trauma is trauma. The same tools work for all kinds of trauma. 

The reason my clients’ lives were transforming and I still “couldn’t help myself” was because I was working with them using trauma resolution tools.

And with these two powerful aha’s my transformation began.


In this episode, I invite you on your journey of transformation — that involves a jailbreak.

First, I show you the walls and the bars of the inner jail that is Patriarchy Stress Disorder™ (PSD) that we’re all born into.

Its walls are constructed of the trauma of 1000s years of oppression that has been passed down to us from our mothers, grandmothers, and great great great grandmothers galore through our DNA.

Its bars are all the ways in which PSD expresses in our health, relationships, career, business, finances, confidence, wellbeing, etc. — holding us back from our ultimate happiness and success, standing in the way of us truly having it all.

The problem is that both the walls and the bars are invisible.

The walls just feel like a normal part of our environment — it’s just the way things are. If we’ve never experienced life outside of the PSD prison we were born into, we don’t have a different experience, a reference point for true inner freedom. We feel restricted, squashed, repressed, stressed, but we don’t know why. Heeding advice of self-help gurus, life coaches, and motivational speakers, we “take responsibility” for our lack of inner freedom aka blame ourselves on the account that we “hold ourselves back,” don’t “play big” enough, have difficulty with “daring greatly,” or self-sabotage when trying our best to “lean in” and “thrive.”

The bars — we were all sold explanations for the issues we’re facing in health, relationships, career, business, finances, confidence, wellbeing, etc. — that came with a long and costly road of medical and psychological treatments, “personal growth,” and “self-improvement.” This road is costly not just in terms of time and money. It’s costly in that it avoids addressing the real issue — the trauma that imprisons us — thus furthering the patriarchal agenda of having us believe: “Something is wrong with me and I need to fix it.” After all, our economy revolves on making women feel terrible about themselves.


We have an online community of PSD jailbreakers. I’d love for you to join us.

I’ve been having conversations with these amazing women about how PSD affects them. This is what I call “the bars” of the PSD jail. Here are a few that they’ve shared. Maybe you’ll recognize yourself in them. I certainly did:
*I’m still discovering the extent to which this affects me. It definitely shows up, everywhere! In self-sabotage – whenever I get healthier and fitter, I injure myself or get sick… In business, through lack of consistency… etc.

*It has caused me to repress my sexual flow. It has caused me to devalue my feminine powers and attributes.

*Health through burn out and adrenal fatigue. Fight or flight mode after birth. Men not honoring me in the work place.

*I think I am afraid to be myself sometimes and not trust in my abilities to be fully myself.

*After working in a patriarchal, male dominated environment, developing severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

*Having to deal with modes of behavior that are set up for men, but don’t work for women.

*I’ve been in a male dominated technology field for about 25 years. I work with young women to try to get them interested in technology but they seem to be much more interested in traditional gender roles than my generation. It’s frustrating.

*In feeling like I need to do more and am not enough.

*My ex/child’s dad is very patriarchal and always discounting me to my daughter and I am always looking for ways to overcome to stress of it and to teach my daughter to see it for what it is, and not be “auto-effected” by the patriarchy.

*I don’t always know how to deal with mansplainers. I come across them often in my work.

*Playing small, stress when in groups with males at work, physical anxiety around groups of men, not being recognized for the hard work I am doin.

*Probably on every level – I had to train myself to think like a man!

*Working in Tech: Communicating scientific facts to hostile male audiences. Fun! Yay!

In the forthcoming episodes, I’ll unpack each of the PSD jail bars more fully — how it affects our health, relationships, career, business, finances, our self-esteem, self-care, wellbeing, parenting, etc. — the biology and psychology of it.

Please share in the comments below or in our Facebook community how PSD affects you, so I can weave answers to your questions into these revolutionary materials and bring you maximum value in the forthcoming episodes.


Next, you need a jailbreak plan. I will be unpacking the plan week after week, episode by episode. (Make sure to subscribe here or in your favorite podcast app not to miss it and join my community of PSD jailbreakers— it’s free.)

But if you’re impatient like me, you feel you’ve already waited too long to reclaim your inner freedom and your ultimate success and happiness — and you’re ready for your jailbreak NOW, I invite you to join the Jailbreak.

What I bring to the table is over 20,000 hours of experience as a therapist specializing in holistic (mind-body-spirit) trauma resolution. I’ve spent over 14 years helping my clients plan and execute their jailbreaks.

That’s thousands of women who freed themselves from the prison of trauma (PSD being just one of the trauma varieties) where they were holding themselves back to feel safe — to boldly stepping out professionally and personally, claiming their gorgeousness, dodging clothes that served as their “invisibility cloaks” for bright colors, sexy silhouettes, and fabulous shoes, finding their soulmates, skyrocketing their incomes, their life, work, and relationship satisfaction.

That’s hundreds of relationships that broke out of the trauma prison (yes, women and men are traumatized by patriarchy differently, with other kinds of trauma typically in the mix), transformed from suffering to thriving, from a lack of connection to deep intimacy, from emotional and physical affection deprivation to avalanches of toe-curling orgasms and deep fulfillment found in their togetherness.

I can go on and on.

But the thing that really matters here is — what’s waiting for YOU on the other side of the PSD prison walls? 

As you’re contemplating if this session is worth your while, here’re some FAQs you may find useful:

Q: What happens in the Jailbreak Strategy Session?

A: We’ll identify the walls and the bars — the way they uniquely manifest in your life.

Q: What is the goal of the session?

A: To make the invisible factors that are affecting you visible. So that with this knowledge, things FINALLY make sense. You will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the issues you’ve been working so hard to “fix” yourself around are not your fault. We also outline a “jailbreak” strategy for breaking out of the PSD prison (aka resolving this trauma on the levels of the mind, body, spirit, and energy).

Q: Will you be selling me something?

If in the course of our conversation you discover that you’d like to work more closely with me on your PSD jailbreak and claiming your ultimate success and happiness, just let me know. I’ll be honored to share with you the opportunities I currently offer to have me on your team as your guide and mission support.

Now I have a few questions for you-– to see if the Jailbreak course is right for you at this time.

Because time is our most valuable resource, and I’m a big believer in maximizing a return on any investment, I only offer these sessions to women, men, and couples who stand to benefit the most.

Remember: In the world where it’s never been safe for a woman to be visible, her success is a revolutionary act. Thank you for being her success revolutionary. Please share these revolutionary materials with your sisters and brothers who love us.

With love and appreciation,


Dr. Valerie

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