Healing Physician Trauma with Drs. Gabor Maté & Pamela Wible →

Today I was honored to be a participant in a stellar physician panel of international leaders in the field of trauma with Gabor Maté, M.D., Rupa Marya, M.D., Will Van Derveer, M.D., and Jeffrey Rediger, M.D., M.Div.

View 5-minute clip above on healing physician trauma then view entire talk here.

We explore how traumatized medical students become traumatized doctors emotionally ill-equipped to succeed as healers

—and how trauma literacy can transform medicine. We also discuss how social conditions built along lines of inequality and power traumatize people and lead to illness

 and how we can heal from “incurable” illnesses by connecting with the authentic self.

Register here to view the trauma talks and The Wisdom of Trauma film—now viewed over 4,000,000 times worldwide.

Trauma is the invisible force that shapes the way we live, the way we love and the way we make sense of the world. It is the root of our deepest wounds. Dr. Maté gives us a new vision: a trauma-informed society in which parents, teachers, physicians, policy-makers and legal personnel are not concerned with fixing behaviors, making diagnoses, suppressing symptoms and judging, but seeking instead to understand the sources from which troubling behaviors and diseases spring in the wounded human soul.

View The Wisdom of Trauma film trailer

This is an important film that brings greater awareness to the effects of trauma in our world and to the need for a trauma-informed society. In the film, you will see how different people access the wisdom of their trauma so that it becomes a teacher. Trauma can help us learn more about ourselves, our relationships, and the world that we live in.




I’m obsessed with doctor suicide. Here’s why. →

National Suicide Prevention Week starts today.

For nearly 10 years, I’ve run a doctor suicide helpline. Most frequent question I get: WHY?

Short answer: I was a suicidal doctor and I survived.

This year I wrote my memoir. Now I’ve got way more insight.

Here’s my mom’s favorite quote: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Here’s the version she wrote across the drywall before she left Dad: Those who do not remember the past are doomed to relive it!!” (see video)

I’d never seen graffiti inside a house. Not in our neighborhood. Do all psychiatrists scribble on the walls with their kids’ Magic Markers? Or just Mom? On the surface, Mom was warning Dad of our impending exodus. But what if her words were meant for all of us? What if I lack understanding of my own past, and my lack of insight has led to habituated behaviors that no longer serve me? As a control freak I’d like to at least voluntarily choose my behaviors rather than be doomed to unconsciously repeat the familiar psychopathies of my past. I’d also like to fully unpack my obsession with physician psychology and suicidality.

As a child, my primary parental figures were Mom (a psychiatrist) and Dad (a philosophy major turned pathologist). I also spent years without Dad while living with Mom and her lesbian partners, one year with Vera (a psychiatric social worker) and four years with Elena (a child psychotherapist).

Since I was raised by a suicidal psychiatrist, a psychiatric social worker (who died by suicide), a child psychotherapist, and a philosophy major with failed marriages to two psychiatrists, a psychiatrist friend suggested I read Children of Psychiatrists and Other Psychotherapists—the first book to “explore the paradox”— of why “the very group of people who ought to be the best prepared for raising sane, mature, ‘normal’ children is reputed instead to fail at a spectacular and grotesquely comical scale.”
I’ve read the book three times and stalked the author to thank him by phone. Now I get why I’m trying to save doctors’ lives. To survive my childhood, I had to master physician psychology—to save my physician parents from their own psychopathologies. Now I’m helping my colleagues.

I guess my history IS repeating itself.

Repetition compulsion is a defense mechanism in which we unconsciously & habitually repeat an event over and over again—until we consciously decide to stop. So why compulsively repeat our most painful events? In our quest to gain a belated mastery over our own trauma, we yearn to relive it so we can finally create what we’ve always yearned for—a happy ending.

It’s why my dad married two psychiatrists.

It’s why I’m compulsively helping doctors.

I’m just trying to have a happy ending.

If I can help save a doctor, maybe I can somehow save my parents.

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Remembering our fallen physicians →


For Labor Day & Suicide prevention week, may we remember our physicians who worked until their last breaths. All published with permission.

Dr. Greg Miday admitted the greatest number of patients to Barnes Hx as a nocturnist. Years after his suicide, patients still post on his obituary “I will never forget he gave me the sweetest look and said I am bringing him back. Danny was terminal, but because of Dr Miday we had 2 extra years with our husband, Dad and Papa.”

Dr. Steven Ortiz, beloved spine surgeon, hospital corruption whistleblower, spent the early hours of Feb 8th checking on his patients before shooting himself in the heart in the hospital parking lot. His truck covered with flowers for nearly a month.

Dr. Wayne Gunkle, orthopaedic surgeon, bought the rope on his way into his office Sunday morning. After dictating charts, he left a note “Sorry for all the patients I couldn’t help.”

Kaitlyn Elkins, died by suicide near the top of her class with dreams of becoming an anesthesiologist.

Dr. Varun, sent me this letter 2 years before his suicide

Dear Pamela,

Hi, dear. You don’t know how thankful I am to you for writing that article on physician’s suicide. I really wanted to hug you after reading it. I had really rough day after seeing 130 outpatients and 60 emergency admissions in a 12 hour duty. I work as a final year MD internal medicine resident in one of the busiest hospital in India. I saw a part of myself in every page of your article  Just couldn’t stop reading. It’s 3:00 am in the morning and after a demanding day of work and studies reading your article was the best thing today.

It takes me 5 hours by flight to reach my home from my hospital. I have my wife and 6 month old son (whom I been with for 15 days since his birth) at home. I work day in and out just to be with them once in 3 months. I don’t see my colleagues smile, I hear my patients misery every day. I smile and crack jokes even when I am sad so I can bring joy into my patients sorrowful life.

Today I saw this patient who died, married with a son, the only earning member of his family …….his widow just wouldn’t accept that he was dead. She kept talking to him. I just didn’t know what to feel ….. I was numb for a minute thinking what if that was me …. And the kid is my son…..

I see deaths everyday in ward …..I don’t know if you would believe me, but 4 deaths per day in a single ward of 40 beds overcrowded to 125 patients admitted at a time. Two patients on a bed, two lying together on the floor. Poverty, misery and pain all around. I’ve declared 12 patients dead in a day. I just don’t feel death anymore, just don’t feel human. My uncle died recently, I felt nothing deep inside just some memories and that is it.

I write this mail hoping that the way I survive my day would help you in helping others.

I always ay hi to everyone my colleagues, the ward sweeper to the guard in the ward. I never eat alone and always make sure I share my food. I always smile whenever I talk to my patients. I hold their hands when I talk. Listen to music whenever possible. And everyday whenever possible I talk to my wife, father, mother, and brother (all of them are doctors).

But still this profession demands too much from us. I’ve thought of giving up and suicide a thousand times ……the misery was too much for me to see 12 people die in a day. The only thing that keeps me moving forward is my family and friends.

I appreciate what you are doing. It took me 4 hours to write this mail. It is 7 am in the morning. But your article was worth it. Thank you. Thanks a lot…..

Dr. Varun

Just 5 of the more than 1600 doctor suicides I’m aware of.

Rest in peace my sweet brothers & sisters in medicine

If you’re struggling,please ask for help here
100% Confidential
or Join our Sunday Suicide Survivor Support Group.

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September Retreats →

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Join us for daily retreats—intimate curated groups of 8 people—who will support you in this time of unprecedented fear and divisiveness. Retreats are 100% confidential, safe & always nonjudgmental. All are welcome. Most retreats are 2-3 hours via Zoom or LIVE in Oregon (in beautiful outdoor setting). All local events free or by donation. Zoom retreats $50 drop in. Limited spots.

Retreat Descriptions:

Physician Pandemic Support ~ Sundays for physicians via Zoom @ 11 am PDT. Note: FULL for September. Inquire here for waitlist opening for October.

Suicide Survivors’ Retreat ~ Sundays for med student/physician survivors of suicide/suicidal thoughts (& family/friend loss survivors) via Zoom @ 2 pm PDT

Med Student/Resident Retreat – Mondays peer-to-peer facilitated support for medical trainees via Zoom @ 6 pm PDT.

Private Physician Retreat ~ Tuesdays one-on-one full-day physician retreat via Zoom or LIVE. Details here. To reserve date, inquire here. Up to 5-day private physician retreats available.

Dream Team Retreats ~ Wednesdays Live Your Dream advanced business strategy calls/retreats for medical professionals now every week. September theme: “How to launch your educational institute.” Join all five events (3 calls/2 retreats)—FREE for Dream Team. 

Spa Night Retreat ~ Thursdays for local healers who are hurting. Includes 3 meals plus massage by a 30-foot waterfall in your own private cabin. Turn off your cell phone & be inspired. LIVE event by donation. Begins with Thursday dinner & ends Friday noon. 

Frontline Nurses’ Retreat ~ Fridays for Oregon nurses (RNs, LPNs, CNAs, NPs) with pandemic anxiety/job loss. Mental health & business strategy via Zoom @ 2 pm PDT

Community Pandemic Healing Circle ~ Saturdays for Oregon healers LIVE @ 10 am PDT.

ALL RETREATS require preregistration. Inquire here.


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Two occupational hazards that lead to doctor suicide—and solutions →


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