Trauma

“Traumatic events are extraordinary, not because they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life.”  — Judith Herman

Trauma- any event that has had a lasting negative effect on the self or psyche is by its very nature traumatic. Trauma describes experiences or situations that are emotionally painful and distressing, and that overwhelm people’s ability to cope, leaving them powerless.

Trauma is, therefore, the effect of experiences that leave an individual vulnerable and threatened.

Causes of trauma

Often people associate trauma with incidents such as car accidents, natural disasters or wars.  Another form of trauma is developmental or complex trauma.

Because complex trauma is often not identified by the client as trauma its often dismissed. Trauma that’s untreated can have serious long-term effects on health and other life outcomes.

 Complex trauma is experienced over a long period of time, and with each time we experience it, we fear that things will never change, that there is nothing we can do to stop it from happening again. An  examples of this is childhood physical and sexual abuse and neglect.

Trauma is experienced when we feel threatened and cannot do anything to stop it. It’s subjective and everyone is affected in unique ways according to their personality. The younger we are  and the more prolonged the trauma occurs the more  impact it has on us. There is a strong correlation between childhood trauma such as  abuse, neglect, family dysfunction and health outcomes later on in life. Healing trauma can transform your life.

 If you have some of the following symptoms you may have suffered trauma at some point in your life.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Anger and irritability
  • Eating problems or disorders
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Relationship problems
  • Inability to trust others
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Body shame and body image distortions
  • Sleep problems and disorders
  • Obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts
  • Flashbacks and intruding thoughts/memories
  • Seeing the world as bad and dangerous
  • “Black and White” thinking
  • Perfectionism
  • Hyper-vigilance (always being on the ‘look out’)
  • Stress-related illness
  • Spiritual issues
  • Dissociation (mentally and emotionally removing yourself from an unwanted situation; ‘spacing out’)
  • Addictions (alcohol, drugs, food and exercise, sex, work, relationships, video games, shopping)
  • Being stuck in the role of victim (passivity, over-willingness to accept/place blame)

The above symptoms are  a description of adaptive behaviours arising from your past experiences that have helped you survive your trauma and are now  in themselves problematic.

The role of the adaptive behaviours  block the impact of the trauma at the time of the incident.  Part of you may feel trapped and unable to experience freedom to be yourself.  Avoidance  or distraction from facing your fears also shuts off your authentic self.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’. You must do the thing you think you cannot do” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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