There is now the idea in popular culture that any encounter with a potentially painful experience necessarily leaves a deep mark on the psyche. In reality, it’s not that simple.
There are times when we experience intense emotional pain, which may even manifest as various psychosomatic symptoms, but it doesn’t translate into trauma.
Why? Because if a person has been able to live through this pain, share it with others and find support and acceptance of the feelings both in themselves and in others, they are not likely to be traumatized.
An acute reaction to an event by itself is also not a trauma. It’s normal behavior, it acts as a psychological defense. After a while, the reaction fades, and the person gradually returns to normal life – without scars on the soul.
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What Is Psychotrauma?
But it happens that, for some reason, the acute reaction does not go away and does not fade. For example, if there is no opportunity to experience and express pain, to find sympathy. If this happens for a long time, then this pain can develop into a trauma.
Without finding a way out, pain and shock begin to have a negative impact on a person’s well-being: it becomes more difficult for him or her to be in society and his or her relationships with people deteriorate.
Heartache is not pathological in itself, but becomes so if it cannot be experienced, understood, expressed, woven into the person’s experience.
When the brain cannot process the experience of life and weave it into the overall path of life, the painful condition becomes intolerable and therefore traumatic.
Such emotional pain, and now trauma, makes a person more sensitive. Especially to the stimuli that affected him at the time of the trauma. These in turn become triggers to trigger a post-traumatic response.
The traumatized person begins to experience anxiety and tension in situations similar to those that traumatized him in the past, he suddenly has painful uncontrollable memories of the event. He may begin to avoid places, people, even words that will somehow remind him of the trauma.
If, for example, this person was traumatized mentally because of sports in his childhood, he would avoid even looking for profitable live betting online offers. All of this suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder may be developing.
What Situations Traumatize Us
The modern understanding of trauma is divided into what is called simple and complex. The former refers to an event (most often sudden), which threatens the life, health and/or mental wellbeing of a person.
Such trauma can be caused by military actions, terrorist attacks, violence (so-called combat mental trauma), accidents, states of altered consciousness, the death of relatives and the painful breakup of relationships.
Complex trauma develops in response to long-term repeated traumatic experiences, which the person is powerless to avoid or has to be in such situations due to various circumstances. Such trauma is most often associated with psychological, sexual, physical and economic experiences.
It can also develop among victims of abductions, cruel exploitation, human trafficking, hostages, prisoners of war, concentration camp prisoners, and those affected by destructive religious cults. At the same time, a person may perceive some of these situations as normal.
The reason is the socially accepted domination of one over the other, humiliation as a way of self-assertion.
Usually we are talking about chronic violence – physical, emotional, sexual – against the child by parents, guardians, teachers, as well as denial and neglect of the child’s needs. It also includes situations of constant violence from a partner, family members, and the boss.
How to Learn to Move Through Traumatic Situations
First, accept that traumatic situations will always be accompanied by pain, fear, anger, shame, and guilt. That’s the way it should be, that’s what a traumatic experience is.
Secondly, trauma often arises not so much because of the event itself, but because of a person’s attitude toward the event and its consequences.
Conventionally speaking, if a person internally accepts and admits that something may happen to them that they cannot handle, it’s possible that when it happens, the person will not be traumatized.
Why? Because the probability of the event is already there in his inner picture of the world, and the person has internally accepted that it’s possible.
Acknowledging that we have little control over anything, including our death, brings more freedom to life and can help one survive traumatic events.
Third, a person is often traumatized by their environment’s desire to cope with trauma through avoidance and denial. This is seen, for example, in families with young children where there is a deceased parent. No one wants to face the pain, and often the first thought is: don’t talk about it.
But in the long run, this only increases the risk of re-traumatization. It’s important for us to remember and be aware of our needs, both bodily and emotional, to understand the importance of emotions in our lives, to be able to understand them. This helps not only to prevent trauma but also to improve our quality of life in general.
If one is already in a potentially traumatic situation, taking care of mental health becomes even more important. It’s good if there is an opportunity to get support, to speak out or at least express the negative experience on paper.
But the most important thing is that feelings do not remain frozen, but find some way out. Then there will be less trauma.