What Constitutes Trauma
By Tom Porpiglia, MS, LMHC, D.CEP, EFT-ADV,
Trauma is the term used to refer to a wide range of events, natural or man-made, that challenges and disrupts our sense of what is right and fair in our world at a core belief level. There is a real or perceived threat of death. Traumatic events range from the simple fall to hurricanes, tornadoes, physical or sexual abuse and war. Included in this are emotional, spiritual, and financial abuse as well as surgery and loss of life or limb. Single event traumas could be a car accident, tornado, hurricane, surgery, or rape, for example. These are easier to treat than other types of trauma. In addition to single event trauma, there are two other types of trauma.
Accumulated Trauma is the other type of trauma that people experience. This is not caused by a single event. It is caused by continual exposure to similar, small-scale traumatic events such as those experienced in emotional abuse (ex. repeatedly being told in some manner that you are not good enough). Combat zone veterans who do not actually experience combat are exposed to the stresses of war and develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in this manner. There is a constant threat of death with many possibilities for triggers. This is actually much more difficult to treat because there is no one specific event that caused the trauma. It is a build up of traumatic stressors and war fits into this category.Secondary Trauma is caused by extended exposure to someone who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Spouses, significant others, and mental health workers who deal with PTSD clients can develop symptoms of PTSD.
People who experience traumatic events become fixated or stuck at the point of the trauma and spend the rest of their lives trying to make sense of it, usually to little or no avail. That is because the trauma is stored in fragments, much like a jigsaw puzzle that has not been assembled. Unfortunately, the brain is unable to assemble all the parts so it becomes a challenge to make sense of it all. Dream and nightmares are probably the brains attempt to reassemble the pieces to make sense out of it and put it to rest. Until the brain processes the entire trauma, the flashbacks and nightmares will continue.As you can gather from this article, anyone can have PTSD, and it is the author’s theory that a high percentage of our population has PTSD to some degree. PTSD is not something new. It is as old as history itself, and thanks to the Vietnam Veteran, PTSD is now recognized as a serious problem and treatments have been devised to alleviate the symptoms, allowing the
affected person to return to a state of normalcy.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a group of symptoms used to diagnose someone who has experienced trauma. These symptoms show up when the trauma is manifesting itself and interfering with their lives. PTSD may remain dormant for years until something, a sound, a smell, a sight, or a combination of stimuli triggers a memory and causes a flashback. Depression, anxiety, and disassociation often accompany PTSD. Talk therapy is ineffective for PTSD and often retraumatizes the person. Signs of PTSD
Feeling detached or estranged from others
Physical reactions to reminders of the event(s)
Loss of interest in significant activities
Exaggerated Startle Response
Irritability or outbursts of anger
Avoidance of people, places, or events
Emotional reactions to reminders of the event(s)
No Sense of the future
Note: For further reading about PTSD, read “PTSD in Veterans” available on my web site. Traditional therapy techniques are slow and painful at best, and offer some resolution in some cases of PTSD and are useless in others. This is where energy therapies like EFT excel. The trauma is both stuck in our energy system and in one half of our brain, which is part of our energy system. Energy Therapies like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT) quickly and easily restore balance to the energy system and improve the communication between left and right hemispheres of the brain. The fragmented pieces are connected and the emotional content is significantly reduced. The result is a major reduction in the amount of distress experienced by the client. In many cases, the responses to reminders of the traumatic event(s) cease to exist and the person rises to a higher state of functioning similar to pre-traumatization.
Normalcy can be obtained with sufficient addressing of all the trauma components.
This is only one powerful application of EFT or TAT. Both are universal healing tools that can be applied to a wide range of issues.