top of page

WHAT IS TRAUMA?

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Today, there is not much information about Trauma and how it affects our lives and our loved ones in our society.

There is a tendency to see Trauma as a particular event that threatens our lives.

Still, in reality, there is a series of minor events that can be traumatic, leaving an indelible mark within us in different ways and intensities.



Understanding the etymology of the word Trauma can help us: it derives from Greek and means "wound,"; in this context, Trauma is a wound on an emotional and psychological level.


Trauma is not the adverse event of which we were victims but what happened inside us due to that event.

It is something that happens on a physical and mental level.

Let's see some examples:

A car accident is not Trauma. It is undoubtedly an unpleasant event, but not a trauma!

It will become a trauma if I change the way I live and perceive the world as a consequence of this accident.

Being bullied is not a trauma; it is undoubtedly something sad, but not a trauma!

It will become a trauma if, as a consequence, for example, I close myself in and stop relating to the outside world.

There are also many minor events that we do not consider traumatic, such as falls, surgery, illness, but the body unconsciously perceives as threatening and becoming traumatic. It happens without us being aware of it.


Trauma limits our ability to respond to the vicissitudes of life, interfering with our natural learning process, forcing us to react in predetermined ways.

TYPES OF TRAUMA

Pre-natal Trauma:

The mother's nervous system and the fetus's nervous system are connected during gestation; those negative things the mother experience can influence the fetus, such as emotional stress, physical stress, or the use of drugs.

Developmental Trauma:

It is the result of various experiences in early childhood.

Some examples of this type are:

- Physical or verbal abuse.

- Being neglected emotionally or physically.

- Be mistreated.

- Witnessing domestic violence.

- Be manipulated.


I want to remember that this type of Trauma is not characterized by a single experience but by a series of repeated experiences over an extended period.

Acute Trauma:

It is a particular event in which the person risks his own life, such as in the event of war, terrorist acts, natural disasters or accidents.

Complex Trauma:

This belongs to those who have experienced various traumas in their lives, such as those described above.


FIGHT AND ESCAPE

Nature has endowed humans and animals with physiological mechanisms that help them when faced with danger.

The two most common defense mechanisms are fight and flight; however, a third is freezing; in the face of what is perceived as an inevitable or overwhelming threat, both humans and animals use immobilization as a response.

The critical thing to understand about this feature is that it is involuntary.


This means that the physiological mechanism that governs this response resides in the primitive, instinctive parts of our brain and nervous system and is not under our conscious control.


FREEZING AS A DEFENSE

Let's recap: when we face a threat, our nervous system generates energy that allows us to fight or flee; if the situation does not allow these two options, we choose to freeze.

In this frozen state, there is no possibility of discharging this energy that has been generated.

This residual energy doesn't just go away. It persists in the body and often forces the formation of various symptoms, for example, anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic and behavioral problems. These symptoms are how the body contains (or packs) the remaining undischarged energy.


Unlike us, animals in the wild instinctively discharge all their compressed energy and rarely develop adverse symptoms.

When we cannot release these powerful forces, we become victims of Trauma.

In our often unsuccessful attempts to discharge these energies, we may become fixated on them.


THE WISDOM OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

Nature has endowed us with a nervous system that helped us survive on this planet in ancient times.

This primitive world is still very much alive in us, and it contains some of our most precious personal resources.

Most of us are taught to ignore these natural resources and depend on the "advantages" the modern world offers.

By choosing this, we give up essential parts of ourselves.


If we take a step back in time to the life of primitive man, every day we were ready to defend ourselves, our families, from predators and other dangers, often at the risk of our own life.

These life-threatening events that our ancestors routinely faced have shaped our modern nervous system so that we can respond whenever we perceive our survival is threatened.

Even today, when we exercise this natural ability, we feel euphoric and alive, powerful, expanded, full of energy and ready to take on any challenge.

Being threatened commits our deepest resources and allows us to experience our full potential as human beings.

In turn, our emotional and physical well-being has improved.


DISCONNECTION FROM OUR INSTINCTIVE SELF

Modern life offers us few obvious opportunities to use this highly evolutionary capacity.

Today, our survival increasingly depends on developing our ability to think rather than responding physically.

As a result, most of us have separated from our natural and intuitive selves, particularly that part of us that can be proud, without contempt, called an animal.

Society has changed, but our nervous systems have remained the same.

Without easy access to the resources of this primal, intuitive self, as humans, we got accustomed to alienating our bodies from our souls.


Recommend reading:

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma (1997) - Peter Levine

The Body Keeps the Score (2015) - Bessel Van Der Kolk



32 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page