Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Possible Signs of Unresolved Trauma #trauma

What is trauma? When most people think of trauma, they think of things like natural disasters, witnessing or experiencing violence, or the experiences of soldiers in combat, and they would certainly be right. However, trauma can also occur from less obvious experiences, such as bullying, growing up in a dysfunctional home, negative experiences at school, or other experiences that we deem “part of the human experience”.  One of the leading experts in the field of trauma, Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk, defines trauma as being any event in which the central nervous system is overwhelmed, and we are unable to integrate or process what is happening. Unresolved trauma changes both the way we remember and react to events in our lives. When trauma occurs during our childhood, it can greatly affect our development in ways that as adults we are often not even aware of.

Just because someone who suffered trauma blocks out (consciously or unconsciously) what has happened, it doesn’t mean that he or she won’t feel the effects from it.
Peter A. Levine, Ph.D., who has treated and researched trauma for over 45 years, says,
"The effects of unresolved trauma can be devastating. It can affect our habits and outlook on life, leading to addictions and poor decision-making. It can take a toll on our family life and interpersonal relationships. It can trigger real physical pain, symptoms, and disease. And it can lead to a range of self destructive behaviors."

People may enter therapy aware of some of the following symptoms, but they may not realise these complications are suggestive of unresolved trauma issues:

1.  Addictive behaviors – excessively turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling as a way to push difficult emotions and upsetting trauma content further away.

2. An inability to tolerate conflicts with others – having a fear of conflict, running from conflict, avoiding conflict, maintaining skewed perceptions of conflict.

3. An inability to tolerate intense feelings, preferring to avoid feeling by any number of ways.

4. An innate belief that they are bad, worthless, without value or importance.

5. Black and white thinking, all or nothing thinking, even if this approach ends up harming themselves.

6. Chronic and repeated suicidal thoughts and feelings.

7. Disorganized attachment patterns – having a variety of short but intense relationships, refusing to have any relationships, dysfunctional relationships, frequent love/hate relationships.

8. Dissociation, spacing out, losing time, missing time, feeling like you are two completely different people (or more than two).

9.  Eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia, obesity, etc.

10. Excessive sense of self-blame – taking on inappropriate responsibility as if everything is their fault, making excessive apologies.

11. Inappropriate attachments to mother figures or father figures, even with dysfunctional or unhealthy people.

12.   Intense anxiety and repeated panic attacks.

13. Intrusive thoughts, upsetting visual images, flashbacks, body memories / unexplained body pain, or distressing nightmares.

14.   Ongoing, chronic depression.

15.   Repeatedly acting from a victim role in current day relationships.

16.   Repeatedly taking on the rescuer role, even when inappropriate to do so.

17.   Self-harm, self-mutilation, self-injury, self-destruction.

18. Suicidal actions and behaviors, failed attempts to suicide.

19. Taking the perpetrator role / angry aggressor in relationships.

20. Unexplained but intense fears of people, places, things.

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