What is Psychological Trauma

July 14th, 2013

What is Psychological Trauma?

A trauma is any injury a person suffers, whether the cause is physical or emotional. Psychological trauma results when a person experiences a traumatic event, such as being physically beaten, verbally abused, or exposed to a terrorist attack or other horrifying event. Psychological trauma can, therefore, be thought of as an experience that overwhelms a person’s capacity to protect his or her psychological integrity. Severe psychological trauma first became recognized after World War I when soldiers surviving gruesome battle scenes presented to mental health professionals with symptoms of dread, amnesia, and emotional withdrawal. Many of them were unable to return to battle.
When considering “psychological trauma”, it is important for you keep in mind the distinction between stress that results from threat to life and bodily integrity, on the one hand, and stress that results from less dramatic incidents, on the other hand. In other words, all traumatic events do not lead to severe psychological trauma at all times in all people. When the trauma is severe, however, it may cause you, or any person, to have longstanding distress and functional impairment.

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