Trauma

Trauma is a broad term that denotes the negative influence on mental, emotional and physical health that is induced by the way in which an individual perceives exposure(s) to frightening, violent, or intense events. Because their brains are still developing, young children are most susceptible to trauma, but people of all ages can suffer from its effects.

Trauma becomes a problem when the brain is unable to process information that is too intense for it at the time of the experience. Since it can't be processed immediately, the information is stored as a kind of unedited "recording" of strong emotions and images in the unconscious. These images are "frozen" in body memory and will replay over and over again when called up by particular triggering sensations or experiences.

 

Unfortunately, these triggers can be any situation that bears some kind of felt or perceived similarity with the original situation that created the frozen body memory in the first place. The old emotions then rise to the surface with full strength and as if the original situation is happening again in the present. For this reason, Trauma memories are sometimes known as the "eternally present past".

 

People suffering from trauma can feel as if they are reliving the same emotional intensity of the original event over and over again. Trauma can trap us in repeated patterns of reaction, and cause major problems with our relationships, work, and ability to function normally in life.

Trauma is real, and can affect us for a lifetime. Childhood trauma is now known to have effects on brain development, emotional development, and our ability to be in relationship with others. However, we also now know that the brain can change and we can recover even from very intense and early traumatic experience.

Resolution of trauma involves reprocessing the frozen body memories so that the brain can separate current events from past experiences and release the stored emotional charge of the trauma. Resolution does NOT necessarily mean that you have tell your story. Therapies like EMDR and TRE can help to process frozen body memories even without talking about the entire experience.