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An old Mills Brothers song says that “you only hurt the ones you love.” Thus, we often argue more with our family and friends than we do with strangers, perhaps because we take the former for granted. Unless we are characterologically contentious or just like to argue for the sake of argument, we typically only argue over things we care about deeply, and we often do so with the ones we care about most.

We argue a lot in the traumatic stress field. We tend to argue more among ourselves than with people who are not in our field. Why? I think it is because we care deeply about traumatic stress issues and because we feel freer to argue with our colleagues than with total strangers outside the field. Unfortunately, sometimes our dis­agreements are not particularly civil and take on the negative attributes of a family feud. After all, we know that the issue is important and that our position is right; why shouldn’t we yell and scream to make our point and call those who disagree with us stupid or wrongheaded? After all, this is just a family feud.

The traumatic stress field is not a family, but it has some attributes of a family. Families share common inter­est, and so do we. Families can be dysfunctional, and so can we. Family members can work together to achieve common goals, and so can we. Family members can attack each other or they can support each other. We frequently do both. Families can focus on what they have in common and seek common ground or they can focus on their differences and go their separate ways. So can those of us in the traumatic stress field.

In my view, our field would do well to focus more on our common bonds and less on our differences. Most of the things we disagree about do not concern the importance of traumatic stress, the need for better understand­ing how it develops, how to prevent it, or how to treat it. Instead, we disagree about the best way to approach the problem. We have much more in common than we generally acknowl­edge, and our common bonds far exceed our differences in most cases. Whether we are researchers, clinical practitioners, those with public policy interests, or some combination of the above, our common bond is a commit­ment to the traumatic stress field and to ameliorating traumatic events and their effects.

I like a good argument more than most, and I believe that research and treatment ideas benefit from being subjected to the crucible of criticism via the scientific method. However, I think that it is always useful to place this criticism in perspective by remembering that we are all on the same side and that I should be criti­cizing the idea, research finding or practice — not the person.

Finally it is also useful to remember that it is not about us in the traumatic stress field — it is about the victims and survivors of traumatic stress. They need us to work together coop­eratively to advance their cause. I am certain that they would rather see us work together than to squabble and bicker. They are truly our common bond.