The existence of trauma, broadly understood is the source of an enormous range of mental problems. As a Human Givens therapist, I have the Rewind tool that can de-traumatise very effectively. I wonder how the mass of counsellors cope, as they do not have this vital tool at their disposal? The answer I fear, is not very well.
Listen to this Seventh Audio of the “What is Depression” series and you can also read the accompanying blog post.
Listen/Download to my audio: Finding Trauma
Read my Depression Help Blog post: Finding Trauma
1: How Depression takes hold
Audio 2: Waking Up Exhausted
Audio 3: Twisted Ankle Fairy Story
Audio 4: Dreaming and Depression
Audio 5: Water Hose Metaphor
Audio 6: From Dreaming to Depression
Audio 7: Finding Trauma
Audio 8: What is mental illness?
Audio 9: Clearing Trauma
Audio 10: Examples of Rewind
Audio 11: Lacking Self Confidence
Audio 12: Flood metaphor for Depression
Audio 13: Sleep differences – Depression & Anxiety
Trauma must be understood very broadly and in most cases is far removed from accepted notions of what is trauma. At one extreme, the reaction will be traumatic or near traumatic if the event is experienced in some way as a significant threat. Thus, war trauma, catastrophic accidents or serious physical and sexual abuse are what is meant most often by trauma. And thus, a lot of weight is placed by medical authorities on being able to make a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as the filter of what real trauma is.
If we consider what trauma might mean for many sufferers of serious mental distress, then one finds an enormous range of traumatic memories. These will extend from loss and disappointment, to typical childhood bullying and onto quite subtle verbal abuse and then even to fearful and dramatic “what if” projections of the future. Why not? All are emotionally charged reactions located in the limbic system and beyond conscious control – as illustrated in the image above.
A panic attack can feed subsequent anxieties and most phobias (needles, cats, dogs, spiders, heights, flying, vomit, motorways and so on) will typically have their origin in a distinct trauma memory of some kind.
Critically though, the event may not be a one off cut and dried experience with an obvious beginning and end, but can extend over a length of time (many years in fact) – such as the chronic coping and fear around life in an dysfunctional family or difficult school.
Another important characteristic of such trauma is that the event can be either hidden or hard to access and not associated by the sufferer with the current living anxiety. What is important for this event to be processed as a trauma is that there is a powerful emotional reliving of the experience and that the re-experiencing has a strong visual content as well. This means that there is a crude pattern match remaining in the limbic system which is periodically (or in some cases continuously) activated in response to certain subsequent life experiences – even when these appear to bear no obvious resemblance to the original event.
And finally before we leave this general discussion of trauma as a contributor to mental distress, it is important to acknowledge that the experiences of coping or more accurately failing to cope with the reliving and flashbacks of the original trauma can itself be traumatic. This further embedding can do the real damage – it is as if a process of serial trauma creation is set up that can neither be resolved nor controlled.