Trauma is an interesting phenomenon for mammals. We as human mammals have a more difficulty with trauma because our cognition can become part of getting stuck or frozen in time. By stuck, I mean the past becomes present in body sensation, memory, image, emotion, and/or behavior. A person no longer has a choice in his/her decision to fight or flee a situation and very little cognition or body movement freedom in the moment of trauma to do much about it. During those frozen trauma responses where choice seems to be off limits to social engagement or being present, a person can suffer a great deal in everyday life by feeling hopeless and helpless. And…. a lifetime of feeling hopeless and helpless becomes overwhelming in deep suffering.
To back up for a moment and state my definition of trauma might be helpful. Trauma is the inability to stay present at any given moment in time. Additionally, each person has their own experience of trauma with unique effects including adaptability or coping skills to a situation or their lives. No one gets out of this life without feeling traumatized. Some people have the ability to self-regulate from the trauma event. Some individuals are able to fight or flee from the trauma event and regulate in the way nature intended by ‘shaking it off, releasing tears, heat, or discharging the ‘charge’ of the traumatic event. Meanwhile, others are unable to process the trauma through their system to a balance due to the impact of the event, length of event, and/or traumas that are passed down through generations.
The types of trauma events that can create a phenomenon of trauma are varied. Impersonal traumas are events such as natural disasters or social traumas. This includes situations like the recent Boston bombing and 9/11 that traumatized many people in fear even though they were nowhere near Boston or New York City at the time of the disaster. Interpersonal trauma is a personal attack. Domestic violence, criminal attacks, bullying, imprisonment, medical procedures including surgeries, and car accidents are examples of interpersonal trauma. And then there is attachment trauma of early abuse and neglect that can reek havoc on a young system and cause a life time of an inner personal world of chaos that tries to rebalance while living in constant recreation of the trauma because of human relationships as a way of life. Traumas can also involve combinations of these types of trauma.
The effects of trauma reveal themselves over time. The initial effects from the actual experience may be acute stress. Over the years, a person may experience some chronic or delayed responses such as medical issues related to the body breaking down under the physiological reaction to trauma over the years. Insomnia, Terrifying dreams, physical pains, emotional instability, depression, high anxiety, phobias, loss of self-confidence and self-control, hallucinations, disassociation, eating disorders, eating issues, high compensatory measures (workaholic, alcoholic, perfectionism, etc.) and the inability to feel safe in connection to others are some not all the effects of trauma.
Fortunately, there are places and treatments to heal trauma. Scientists, researchers, and psychotherapist have been working hard to create an understanding for how the nervous system works and how the body responds to it’s own intelligence of self-regulation and balance. The trauma work is not about intellectualizing or rationalize the story, but it is a body centered connection to thoughts, images, metaphors, memories, sensations, emotions and other information that may be held in our systems due to the charge of the trauma. I have had the good fortune to receive training in Somatic Experiencing®Trauma Healing developed by Peter Levine, PhD. which is work that helps the body to complete self-protective responses that did not get completed at the time of the trauma in order to restore a persons balance. Additionally, my training includes the work of Kathy Kain, MEd and Stephen Terrell, PsyD. in Attachment Touch Trauma Healing to help with attachment trauma, which by the way is a place with no words so the work is done through the body, that holds the meaning of connection. These methods of healing are effective in helping people…as young as infants reclaim their lives as whole and life giving. Due to what I witness in my practice in the effectiveness of Somatic Healing and Attachment Touch Healing, I am committed to helping others rebalance and release themselves from suffering to become present and live with life giving energy blossoming within their body systems.
By Kim DiRé, LPC, Med, SEP Therapist at Healthy Futures 8065 N. 85th Way Scottsdale, AZ 85258 www.HealthyFuturesAZ.com (480) 451-8500 Kim DiRé specializes in Family Therapy, Eating Disorders, Childhood Obesity and Trauma Healing