What happens when you have suffered a wound so great in your life that it is difficult to distinguish if the impact occurred in the past or if it is still lurking around every corner?
In medical terms, a trauma is defined as that lasting injury produced by a mechanical agent, usually external.
In a similar way, in psychological terms when we speak of trauma, we refer to that wound that we suffer from external influence. The usual characteristics of such experiences are that they are unexpected events in our lives, which are so extremely disturbing that they overwhelm, at least temporarily, our internal resources. In fact, people who experience great threats to psychological integrity can suffer just as much as those whose traumas are life-threatening physical injuries.
These wounds may have been inflicted on us in our childhood or we may have suffered them under catastrophic circumstances at some point in our lives.
Although our brains have a more or less homogeneous programming (which we share with other animals), in the initial coping with an event that endangers our lives (fight- flight- freeze responses to the traumatic situation), not all people later develop the same adaptive responses in their lives and some go on to suffer from so-called post-traumatic stress disorder (also known as PTSD).
In PTSD, trauma is primarily described as an event that involves death, violence, or sexual abuse. The person may have been a victim of such an event or may have faced the consequences of such an event for someone close to them. The characteristics of PTSD include, among others, spontaneous sensory memories of the event, as well as difficulty remembering aspects of it and avoidance behaviors, sometimes accompanied by feelings of detachment and social withdrawal.
In the treatment of post-traumatic stress there is a general acceptance among different therapy approaches about the need to revisit with extreme care and in a safe context, these past events, somehow incomplete, for their closure and possible post traumatic growth thanks to the reestablishment of the person’s ability to contact themselves, other people and the environment in the here-and-now.
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