Woodstock: Flashback to an Early Experience with Population-Wide Trauma Healing

August 20, 2019

On the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival, James S. Gordon, MD, shares a reflection on his unique experience providing care and medical treatment to dozens of concertgoers. After being flown in on a helicopter with Joan Baez, Dr. Gordon was quickly inundated “hundreds of people – many of them city kids, apparently in the country for the first time and terrified by it.” They arrived with “cut feet and infected insect bites, and bronchitis.” But many more were wrestling with all sorts of drugs they had ingested, “twitching in place and falling down in the mud, or recoiling from aliens who they believed were performing surgery on their brains, or other horrors that were invisible to us.”

Dr. Gordon soon realized his conventional medical training wouldn’t quite cut it, so he followed his intuition to find and mobilize an effective way to help the concert-goers. The experience instilled in Dr. Gordon a belief that “all of us, even when we’re a bit wrecked, can be there for one another.”

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