What Gives Google? PTSD Search Results

How come when I Google ‘PTSD’ this is what I get?

Google top screenshot

Where are the women?

It’s especially troubling considering this: “Women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men (10% for women and 4% for men).”

Twice as likely.

That’s not me just saying so that is from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website.

But it doesn’t look like women get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at all.

What gives Google?

There’s maybe a veteran female shown 27 images deep.

We actually get this cat that might have google cat before clear images of women who do.

I love cats.

But really?

Google woman

Twice as many women with PTSD is way more than is shown.

These are numbers, data and facts not subjective opinions. Isn’t Google supposed to be good at that?

Something is missing from the way data is culled and analyzed or crawled. When it comes to PTSD women aren’t an after thought.

They suffer at higher rates than men. That’s not a tiny or irrelevant fact.

This is a serious medical diagnosis with great physical and emotional impact.

How about not wiping out and excluding the reality of women with trauma?

How about showing the other causes of PTSD besides war?

A World Health Organization study grouped the traumatic experiences of respondents from 21 countries as follows:

  • (21.8%) witnessing violence
  • (18.8%) experiencing interpersonal violence
  • (17.7%) accidents
  • (16.2%) exposure to war (16.2%)
  • (12.5%) trauma to a loved one.

War is not the only or even the primary cause of traumatic stress. This group of Google images minimize the experience of millions.

These images are skewed in a way that distorts reality.Google men

There’s lot of these.
PTSD Google

Which are important and accurate. Veterans and those serving DO suffer PTSD.

But they are not the singular image of PTSD which they appear to be.

Can we include more images and earlier of women?

Images of men and women who aren’t in military uniforms too?

I don’t mean to pile on Google. I know it’s been a bad week. I found out while researching for this piece (using Google, in fact) that I’m not the only one troubled by Google search results.

Twitter user, @BonKamona, (Bonnie Kamona), compared two sets of search images Googled for professional and unprofessional hairstyles for work. The professional images were of mostly white women where as the unprofessional ones were virtually all women of color.

professional hair styles for work, per Google

unprofessional hair styles for work

She has a point.

What’s the Google’s response?

“This is fundamentally a societal problem — there are persistent and problematic biases, and they’re quite pervasive in the media, on the web, etc – meta-tagging their images with their own descriptions.

Search engines in turn reflect what’s on the web. This is not unique to our search engine; Yahoo! and Bing show similar results.”


Stereotypes are fine if they are popular and web-search based? 

No problem to have myths and misinformation when facts, data and truth is available and online? Fine if women ignored, overlooked or not captured in secret algorithms?

If it’s just a popularity contest of images wouldn’t Bing and Yahoo yield the same results as Google?

They don’t.

Bing’s Top Screenshot of a PTSD search:

Bing top screenshot

Now Yahoo’s.

Yahoo Screenshot

They are almost identical to one another. But they do show a half naked woman/butterfly in the first screenshot of images which I guess is tiny bit better if better is still really fucking bad.

Does anyone think looking at the searches that women get PTSD twice as often as men?

I get Google and other searches somehow mirror our own misconceptions and stereotypes. To which I say, sexism sucks and maybe this is a moment to pause. Again!

But it’s also fair to ask how search engines operate.

Who queries or codes them and why is it done so badly that it’s o.k. to obliterate women’s experiences so completely?

What else is not tracked, added or considered if such obvious these are missing entirely?

I get that the collective we has to change if we don’t like what we see reflected.


Let’s totally do that. Please. Please. Please.

In the meantime, do search engines should get a total pass and be able to shrug it off when perpetuating stereotypes, myths and misinformation?

I don’t think so.

Not with hair styles or serious medical conditions?

Because here’s the reality.

Women get PTSD as do children and men who do not serve in the military.

And guess what? Black women have professions and hair styles too!

Maybe this is another example of why Google, Bing and Yahoo need more diversity at all levels? But can’t robots search for truth? Doesn’t that benefit everyone who does a search?

Can’t anyone update codes and tags and fix the way words are associated? Is PTSD linked to women and children and associated with words other than war such as rape, abuse, accidents, domestic violence, crime, developmental trauma and complex trauma?

It doesn’t seem so. There are a bazillion blogs by trauma survivors and the images in those don’t seem represented here.

It doesn’t take a techine or a genius or a woman to know women get PTSD.

And it’s not only Black women that know Black woman have professional work and hair styles too.

There is no no singular image of PTSD. Women, men, children and yeah, probably cats get it too.

It’s caused by trauma from war, accidents and violence, often at the hands of men. Men are often, though obviously not always the cause of trauma. That’s not evident here.

And men suffer from accidents and violence as well which also isn’t clear. At all.

Gender and race matter – in searches and in life – but not just to special interest groups but for all of us.

I call for an upgrade of these dated and dangerous ‘operating systems’ dismissing our experiences and lives.

These images don’t do justice to reality or truth.

Note: This piece came out of one on why this feminist f’n hates trigger warnings. But I got totally side-tracked by that bullshit nonsense and couldn’t let it go.







You Matter Mantras

  • Trauma sucks. You don't.
  • Write to express not to impress.
  • It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors.
  • Breathing isn't optional.

You Are Invited Too & To:


  1. I love this. I have a tendency to feel triggered by all the press and public support offered to veterans with PTSD, while so many other victims of all different kinds of trauma are still sitting in some closet with all their shame and a few, anonymous friends. And I do love my veteran brother and sisters, but I don’t love the propaganda-nor should they.
    I think you’ve stumbled on a larger issue regarding public ignorance or social prevention of awareness around mental health issues, and maybe the prevalence of abuse in general. Eminem raps about how no one cared about violence in schools until it impacted wealthy white kids. It’s true. The government, in general, does not lend financial or other support to populations unless there is some secondary benefit-and they are often sorely misinformed. Shaming people out of smoking only increased the national obesity rate by 20%. Despite the fact that a massive portion of the population are impacted by trauma, I guess we’re coping well enough so why promote the validation of suffering if there’s no impact? Except, we know there’s an impact and it is profound.
    Jean Kilbourne and Susan Bordo have written about media images and social construct for years. I think there’s a handful of people who are taking note-which amazes me. But then again, I get it. If I’m trying to hold my place in society it’s pretty risky to speak out or be different or think different, even if to do so, would help relieve some of my own pain.
    Which is exactly why fantastic women like you should keep writing. 🙂

    • e.b.:
      What a thoughtful comment! You’ve made me think a lot more about the power of media images too. I think the obscuring the cause of mental health issues and other social issues is huge. And the issue with drug use also didn’t get the same attention until it impacted white teens.Like you, I’m always amazed that more people aren’t aware of things like the ACE study or trauma’s impact. That said, I didn’t know about it til a few years ago and I read and write a lot about trauma. Our lives and sometimes hearts and mind are so full. Of wonderful things and of challenges too. It’s hard to stay informed, make change and make coffee and the mortgage. Social media isn’t perfect nor is being online. But I know I’m able to stretch my mind and thoughts being here and am grateful for that. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Jennifer Chotrow says:

    This is something I’ve been looking for for a long time. I’m SO glad I found this information, which only backs up what I’ve known all along. Ptsd is a bitch that attacks women with a vengeance. I’ve had it for so long I don’t remember NOT having it. Thank you for this.

    • Hi Jennifer:
      Glad you are here. So many people don’t realize women get PTSD (in and out of the military) and it can be complex, developmental, occur in adulthood (or all of the above). We do. You are not alone. Cissy


  1. […] week a friend of mine, Christine White, wrote an article describing her irritation when a PTSD Google search resulted in the vast majority of the […]

  2. […] Christine White (Heal Write Now) published a blog post concerning the lack of women with PTSD represented in online image search engines. A brief personal […]

  3. […] To read the article that inspired this campaign written by Cis White of Heal Write Now / How to Live On Earth When You Were Raised in Hell, visit http://healwritenow.com/fn-gives-google-bullshit-search-results/ […]

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