Trauma is a hurtful fact of life

29.09.2020

Trauma is a hurtful fact of modern life (Levine, 1997); practically all of us have suffered a traumatic situation at some point, not only soldiers or victims of war , natural disasters, or abuse and aggression.

It can also be traumatic when human beings experience bullying , when they achieve a good grade in school but parents demand more and more, when they were not invited to the birthday party, when they are abandoned by parents on the first day of school, when The teacher called their attention in front of the entire course and punished them, when they lose their job, when the couple ends the love relationship or a friendship they no longer want to see them, when after being fired they take months to find another job, when they die the grandparents...

In reality, the causes and consequences are very varied and will depend on the subjectivity of each person, their ability to cope, their ability to bond, their environment and ability to resolve at any given time.

The good news is that human beings have instinctive capacities to feel, reflect, respond, associate, bond, and overcome painful events that have been traumatic.

Surpassing the mark of traumatic experiences

To understand how trauma arises, you must first begin by understanding what it is. According to Pier Janet, (1859 to 1947), a French psychologist who is an expert in trauma, psychological trauma is the result of the person's exposure to a stressful and unavoidable situation that exceeds the person's coping mechanisms . Given this, the Physiological Fight or Flight mechanisms will not be able to work, because the event is inevitable.

Peter Levin, Psychologist and PhD in Medical Biophysics, points out that trauma is the way our body responds to the threat of survival . That is, instinctively, when faced with a threat, more primitive physiological mechanisms are set in motion that reside in our brain and nervous system, similar to that of animals, but unlike them, ours are blocked, because at that moment the person has not been able to enter the traumatic experience, go through it and leave it, developing symptoms of trauma such as pain, stiffness, collapse, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, depression, among others.

The aftermath of trauma can even affect our ability to bond , distort life as a couple, and sexual life. Physiological responses can be so intense and difficult to regulate that they can lead to symptoms such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and other autoimmune diseases (Van der Kolk, 2014).

Even after having been exposed to events that have endangered our emotional, bonding and physical security, a high resentment develops against those we feel should have cared for us, they feel their betrayal or a feeling of guilt towards ourselves. None of the above is usually functional or resolutive , but it manages to further hinder the functioning of the person.

Trauma affects human biology and neurology

When people are too overwhelmed by their emotions, memories fail to transform into neutral narrative experiences . They are memories that people cannot tell, fear remains locked in the body.

The terror becomes a memory phobia that prevents the integration of the event and traumatic fragments. Memories are separated from ordinary consciousness and are organized as visual perceptions, somatic concerns, and behavioral actions , being stored in our memories in the original mode of experience (Salvador, 2017).

People who have been exposed to traumatic situations have been injured (the word trauma comes from the Greek and means wound), they are afraid to remember, they do not want to, they cannot remember, avoiding contact with any person or situation that refers them to what happened and often leading to dissociation as an extraordinary mechanism, which implies disconnecting from the experience, which over time becomes a maintenance defense mechanism. That is, what has served to survive now serves to stay (Salvador, 2017).

When we live an experience, it is lived somatically through our body and our senses . People are unable to overcome the anxiety of what they have experienced, they remain in the jaws of fear, and the body unconsciously resigns itself to having no escape, allowing fear and anxiety to rule them, which prevents them from moving freely in the present. .

Francine Shapiro (2001), creator of EDMR Therapy and according to the hypotheses of P. Janet (1889), stated in her book The psychological automatism that traumatic experiences suffered through different moments of the development of people, can interrupt the capacities adaptive characteristics of the individual , hindering the processing of experiences and favoring the appearance of symptoms, leading the human being to function in a dysfunctional and unbalanced and disorganized way in a large part of their development areas.

Various studies corroborate the importance of ongoing stress and chronic traumatization as determinants of mental pathology (Joseph, 1998; Osuch et al., 2001; Stickgold, 2002; van der Kolk, Mc. Farlane and Weisaeth, 1996).

The memory games

Most of what happens to us from day to day is within known patterns, so we tend to forget it almost immediately. However, if something happens outside the pattern, the mind will probably pick it up and put its attention there .

If we run into a friend in the street that we have not seen since childhood and was one of our best friends, it will surely generate a very intense joy that will make it notice our memory.

The same happens if we are exposed to a threat: the event will be outside the daily pattern, which will cause us to focus our attention on it.

Being a threat to our well-being and safety, a series of neurophysiological mechanisms will be put into action to secrete hormones and endorphins that will help to fix traumatic memories with greater intensity, affecting our behaviors, emotions and thoughts (Van der Kolk, 2014, Bergman, 2012). When memories remain unprocessed, they can form the basis for the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Shapiro & Maxfield, 2002).

And how is trauma cured?

Levín (1997), points out that the cure of trauma depends on the detection of symptoms, which in themselves are difficult to identify since they obey primitive responses. For some the symptoms are very clear, but for most people they are subtle , difficult to perceive by themselves.

It is essential that the person be aware of the disease and reflective capacity, and their reactions, behaviors, emotions and thoughts must be explored, as well as a journey through the history of the person that allows to recognize the origins of trauma , to desensitize and reprocess the traumatic history (Shapiro, 2012).

On the other hand, let us remember that our natural system to overcome the difficulty is blocked by the impossibility of escape. With this, a trapped somatic energy remains, which in the healing process must be released or mobilized out of the frozen state, allowing a decisive and creative response to the threat, which operates not only at the moment of the experience, but also that also years later because our mind and our life has been fixed in the trauma.

Our own ability to heal, to the rescue

There is a very nice case of the Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, MD. In his book The Body Keeps The Count . Review of a 5-year-old boy who lived through the attack on the twin towers in the US on September 11.

The child drew the sudden, painful, dead-end and extreme event experienced by many people, but he also drew a trampoline to jump on. By reproducing the experience in his mind, the child also had the ability to actively manage and achieve a solution for his own rescue from trauma (Van der Kolk, 2014).

Unlike this little one, many people who get mentally stuck in the experience, the neural patterns are modified, their life stops, spontaneity is subtracted, and they remain in a permanent state of alert, always operating under threat, since each new milestone of Life is contaminated with the experiences of the past.

@image (26753, left) With EMDR Psychological Therapy we access the traumatic memory that has directly contributed to the development of the disorder that the patient presents, as it was filed in the neural network, promoting the activation of the natural system of processing of the information and the remission, therefore, of the symptoms that are suffered. By focusing on dysfunctional information, results are achieved in less time than usual.

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