A journal of healing

What is trauma? part one

Trauma is a reaction that is as individual as the person experiencing trauma. According to the American Psychological Association “it is an emotional response to a terrible event.” And it can occur any time in your life, even before you were born. As stated by Dr. Robert Scaer, a well-known authority on trauma: “We have found that the brain of the infant, and for that matter the fetus, is also exquisitely vulnerable not only to physical insult but also to pain, experiential trauma, and variations in the intensity of the bond between mother and infant, even the emotional equanimity of the mother while the fetus is in utero.http://restoryyourlife.com/dr-robert-scaer-on-preverbal-trauma/

We often think that trauma is a reaction to some horrible event such as war or natural disaster or even a car accident. It is a misbelief that there needs to be physical harm done to the victim. Sadly, although these things readily cause trauma, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Trauma can be caused by just being a witness to violence. Being an innocent bystander to a tragedy can cause trauma. Being subjected continually to a negative environment can cause trauma, which I hope will give pause to those reading this. I think our world is turning to a place where negativity is a breathing entity which is exponentially growing and devouring everyone’s soul. I am not going to go there….. right now.

This project is to help people understand the nuances of trauma and some methods of healing. I have found a propensity for the information to be very clinical. As if the confusion of the subject can be hid in the mumbo jumbo of medical terminology. There is also a lot of senseless information out there. For example this statement from a help guide: Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, respected, or understood, find another therapist.” By nature or instinctively, most trauma victims trust no one, they do not feel respected and so finding someone to feel really safe with is very unlikely. Especially in a therapist who has not experienced a similar form of trauma. Our VA’s are filled with well-intentioned personnel who are, with their best intentions, trying to work with war weary soldiers to have experienced the bowels of hell. It is at best, insulting. Just for the record, my opinion only, would be to train soldiers who have been there and experienced trauma to become counselors. And the government should pay full shot for their education and then pay them very well to do this work. Teaching and counseling is a great healer for both teacher and patient.

That is not to say that there are not great therapists out there. Trust me, there are. I just found that tidbit a bit amusing. I know I connected with my therapist when he leaned in and simply said, “I care.”

I learned very recently that the level of reaction to trauma is genetic. According to Katalin Gothard, MD, PhD, there are two genes that determine the level of resilience and vulnerability. If the gene pair is long in shape, you may be able to have less reaction to experience than someone with one long and one short gene pair. And if you have two short genes, chances are you will freak out over the same experience. I found this information soothing because many people who have trauma experiences and are not resilient have huge buckets of shame. And degrees of resilience again are very individual. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone has said to me, “just get over it”. I actually was called by a psychotherapist a “hyper-sensitive” and it was said in a manner to demean. “Ah, yeah, yup… I am.”


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