What is trauma?
Trauma is experienced as a result of a person feeling a sense of powerlessness to act in the face of a threatening or overwhelming situation.
When we experience a threatening situation an automatic flight or fight response is activated in order to prepare our body for emergency execution. If we manage to successfully deal with the difficult event, the fight or flight response is deactivated and the memory is stored in our long term memory stores. When information is stored in long term memory, we can remember the event but are not triggered emotionally. However, if we experience a sense of powerlessness in the face of a challenging situation, our bodily system is unable to complete the fight or flight response and the memory remains trapped in procedural memory stores. This means that the internal activated reaction in our system that is still on-hold then becomes part of our unconscious material. This creates an unconscious state of hypervigilance which leads to chronic emotional, behavioural and psychological symptoms.
When the overwhelming situation happened during our youth we speak of developmental trauma, which would include things such as bad parenting, sexual molestation, intimidation during school by authority figures, or other relationship issues and any uncomfortable incidents experienced “at the expense of self”.
Trauma experienced during adulthood (such as armed robberies, accidents, severe relational problems, etc) is referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is similar to the effects of developmental trauma in that the experience could not complete its natural fight-flight reaction, leaving us with problems in general flow and connecting comfortably to life (living our sweet spot).
Unresolved trauma can lead to chronic emotional discomfort (anxiety, depression, angry outbursts, etc) and/ or physical discomfort (migraine, ulcers, chronic fatigue, immunological sensitivity, burnout and a variety of other physical dis - eases). There is also the tendency to repeat our childhood relationship trauma by choosing particular partners with whom we play out our early relationship dynamics and eventually end up with the exact feelings that we have not resolved during childhood. We will keep on repeating this tendency until such time that we resolve our internal trauma.
My focus during the psychotherapy that I practice is to dislodge the internal stuck trauma material and facilitate its natural progression so that it can complete the initial process that it was inhibited from completing during the original trauma event. Once the internal trauma material has completed successfully, the chronic inhibition of potential and chronic discomfort reciprocally ceases to exist. These chronic symptoms are replaced by a renewed sense of meaning, connection and wholeness.
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