Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

Human Rights Defenders

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1



PTSD can be caused by Whistleblower Retaliation

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a natural emotional reaction to a deeply shocking and disturbing experience. It is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

Whistleblower Retaliation is a form of abuse or assault (psychological violence),which has serious and devastating consequences not only for those targeted, but also for any organization within which it is allowed to prevail.  Although it can be an overt form of abuse, in the workplace the perpetrators usually act covertly and systematically to undermine, control, and (if they deem it necessary) to "see off" their targets.  It has been observed that elements of psychological abuse in the workplace correspond with elements of torture and have similar emotional outcomes for the target.  The perpetrators are often superficially charming and may appear to others to be an asset to the organization.  In the workplace, the underlying cause of retaliation or bullying is usually power abuse, with the perpetrators choosing as their targets anyone whom they perceive as a threat to their assumed power. When those targeted resist the perpetrators' attempts to control and intimidate them, the perpetrators will simply intensify the abuse until the targets either leave or break down under the stress of what is happening.  Anyone may be a Whistleblower if they attempt to tell truth to power about a situation of medical fraud, abuse or neglect (nurse, pharmacist, doctor, veterinarian, researcher, government worker, attorney, police officer, therapist, patent officer, nurses aide or CPA).

Any human being has the potential to develop PTSD. The cause is external not internal. It is a Psychiatric Injury not Mental Illness. It is not resulting from the individual’s personality. The Whistleblower who is the victim of the retaliation is not inherently weak or inferior. In fact, any human being has the potential to develop PTSD. Whistleblower retaliation is extremely stressful and may lead to burnout or stress break-down - which is not the same as nervous or mental break-down; as stated above, everyone breaks down under the stress of a life altering trauma that is deeply wounding. 


Thus individuals suffering PTSD are injured, not mentally ill.  PTSD indicates severe trauma and stress which causes a weakness in the individual, and not the reverse. This is confusing for mental health practitioners and laypersons alike.  But the distinction is important if mental health practitioners desire to assist a traumatized victim.  Too often reactions which are normal under excessive or prolonged stress are assumed to be signs of abnormality or deficiency within the person affected, which may then be assumed to be the cause of the problem rather than a consequence of it (this is sometimes referred to as the "Mental Health Trap").

It is important for supporters to provide a safe physical environment, but also emotional safety and be willing to accept a wide range of emotions.  According to Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy of needs, the being needs, the three higher-order needs, cannot be met until the deficiency needs the four lower-order needs, are met.. This is critical to relationship building, which will help provide the strong support network that is essential for healing. Recovery requires a sense of power and control. All relationships should be respectful and empower the Whistleblower to make choices. The Whistleblower 's symptoms and behaviors are adaptations to trauma, so services should address all of the Whistle-blower’s needs rather than just symptoms.

Symptoms of PTSD

Test Your Knowledge of PTSD

Integration of Traumatic Memory

 “Normal Memory, like all psychological phenomena, is an action, essentially it is the action of telling a story….A situation has not been satisfactorily liquidated…. Until we have achieved, not merely an outward reaction through our movements, but also an inward reaction, through the words we address to ourselves, through the organization of the recital of the event to others and to ourselves, and through putting of this recital in its place as one of the chapters in our personal history.”   

Pierre Janet, Psychological  Healing, 1919

Two Army generals talk about PTSD

Trauma Informed Care

Our goal at Medical Whistleblower is to provide advocacy for Medical Whistle-blowers and to help stem the tide of secondary victimization by their care providers, friends, family and co-workers. We provide educational materials, newsletters on critical topics of interest and referrals to care professionals who are knowledgeable in trauma informed care.



 "Even in states with a victims' rights constitutional amendment,  the overall protection of victims is varied and uneven. .

In addition, without federal constitutional protection, victims’ rights

are always subject to being automatically trumped by defendants’ rights.”

Robert E. Preston, Co-chair,

National Victims’ Constitutional

Amendment Network


Principles of Trauma Informed Care

Problems and Symptoms are inter-related responses to the trauma of retaliation and represent coping mechanisms developed by the Medical Whistleblower in order to deal with their personal trauma.   It is critically important to empower the Whistleblower by providing choice, autonomy and control in their care support and networks. This is central to healing.   Primary goals are defined by Medical Whistleblowers themselves and focus on recovery, self-efficacy, and healing. Advocacy must be proactive – preventing further crisis & avoiding further re-traumatization.

"People are like stained glass windows,  they sparkle and shine when the sun is out; but when darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within" 

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross


Maslow's Heicharcy of Needs & Self Actualization



Problems/Symptoms are inter-related responses to or coping mechanisms to deal with trauma.

Problems/Symptoms are discrete and separate

Providing choice, autonomy and control is central to healing.

People providing services are the experts, Trauma Survivors are broken & vulnerable.

Primary goals are defined by trauma survivors and focus on recovery, self-efficacy, and healing.

Primary goals are defined by service providers and focus on symptom reduction.

Proactive – Preventing further  crisis & avoiding retraumatization.

Active – services and symptoms are crisis driven and focused on minimizing liability.

Common Reactions to Trauma

Anxiety and Fear
Anger, Depression
Flashbacks /Unwanted, Intrusive & Distressing Memories of Retaliation Events
Difficulty Concentrating
Self-blame, Guilt
Social Isolation
Shutting down or Emotional numbing
Physical health symptoms


"Being defeated is only a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent."

  Marilyn vos Savant

Stress, Resiliency and PTSD


People with PTSD may experience a variety of somatic and psychological complaints, including sleep disturbance, outbursts of anger, or an exaggerated startle response. (They jump at sudden noises or movements).   A characteristic of PTSD is the remembering of the trauma, and sometimes actually reliving the events in the mind.   Medical Whistleblowers have recurrent recollections of the event, distressing dreams about what happened, or some other form of   psychological rehashing of the event.   As a result, the Whistleblower avoids all situations that might be a reminder of the trauma, and tends to react with significant anxiety whenever there is a reminder of the event.  These precipitating events are called Triggers.   These violent recollections can have a serious impact  on a person's feelings, and the physiological reactions  to these feelings, become patterns of anticipation,  which in turn create more maladaptive feelings.

Lay the kindling
Strike a match
Set the table
Open up the door
Find your belly breath before you speak, before you engage in old thoughts
When your homeless, darkly cloaked friends arrive
Bearing the gifts of shameful habits, brutal ambition, awkward adolescence
Embrace them with the strength of your light
The light that is even more ancient than these lifelong friends
The light that cannot be outshone
Because it is a sky-like kind of love, a most gracious, unprejudiced host.

See them begin to speak, tentative at first,
Warming in the embrace of this bright sun of the heart.
Like campers in a circle, staring at a fire
It's the warmth of the flames that gets them talking,
That brings ease and allows for self-consciousness to undress.

Watching the smoldering coals of transformation,
Menacing but nurturing
Heating yet potentially scarring,
Yes- we must take care around these coals,
But it doesn't mean we shouldn't look,
Or stir,
Or feed the fire's hungry mouth with things
That are ready to be burned.

Lela Beem July 7, 2009

Find Lela under Find a Practitioner at

Trauma And Post Traumatic Stress


Society has a tendency to blame the victim for not being able to simply being able to “get over it” and this cultural lack of support can be classified as secondary wounding and promotes re-victimization which treats the victim as defective or deficient.  During this secondary re-traumatization, the loss of Medical Whistleblower’s human potential is incalculable.  The first action necessary to enable a Whistleblower to find their own pathway to personal healing is to stop the continuing harassment and create safety and security for them both physically and emotionally. Our society views many objects as disposable and when an object is tarnished or dented the tendency is to deem its value gone, throw it away and rush to the stores to replace it.  When Medical Whistleblowers become targets of retaliation in an effort to silence them,  their value as highly competent and experienced professionals becomes forgotten in the rush to strip them of their professional credientals in order to discredit their allegations against the wrongdoers.  Telling the Truth to authorities often means permanent loss of the Medical Whistleblowers extensive professional skills and abilities and financial ruin for him/her and their family.  We must remember that human beings are not disposable objects and we must value the personal and professional characteristics of each whistleblower and remember that the growth potential available through the healing process is infinite.


"When someone is a victim, he or she should be at the center

of the criminal justice process, not on the

outside looking in”.

 President William J. Clinton

Rose Garden, June 25, 1996

Police & PTSD - to see how you can help

From vulnerability to strength

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13


"Don't let life discourage you, everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was."
--Richard L. Evans


Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
--Anais Nin


"We must believe in ourselves or no one else will believe in us; we must match our aspirations with the competence, courage and determination to succeed."
--Rosalyn SussmanYalow


  Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius --- and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
--Albert Einstein

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow."

~Mary Anne Radmacher

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

― Leo Buscaglia

Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network


P.O. 42700 

Washington, DC 20015

MedicalWhistleblowers (at)


"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."  Confucius

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910