Psychological Trauma

What is Psychological Trauma ?

Psychological trauma describes the exposure of an individual or community to conditions of threat. The nature and extent of the consequences are determined by multiple factors. These determine the ultimate expression of the trauma-effect. Some traumas are sudden and unexpected and the effects are immediate. Other traumas are insidious and occur within relationships between child and parent, between spouses (Battered-Spouse Syndrome), or in the form of Political Terrorism or natural disaster. The resulting trauma-related syndrome is determined by many factors which include the severity and duration of threat, age of victim, occurrence of personal injury, loss of close friends and family, availability of rescue-resources, and the extent of disruption to the normal continuity of lifestyle.  

The spectrum of trauma-related syndromes can be found by clicking  HERE

To assist the reader, I have categorized the articles into groups.

Acute Psychological Trauma  is the result of  “Type I” trauma-events.  A Type-I trauma  involves a life-threatening event  that is of high-intensity and short duration.  Most symptoms are the result of activation of the Fear-Cascade whereby the Autonomic Nervous System remains in a state of over-arousal due to dominance of the Sympathetic Nervous System.  Most individuals will experience stress-related-symptoms such as anxiety, worry, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbance. These symptoms are usually short-lived. However, when there is a previous history of trauma, or a combination of other adverse effects (such as injury or loss of loved-ones, symptoms might meet the criteria for “Acute Stress Disorder “, “Dissociation“, or “PTSD.

Complex Trauma when the exposure to threat is prolonged, such as victims of Child-Abuse, political-hostages, maltreated prisoners of war, these “Type II” trauma events (also referred to as “chronic-interpersonal trauma), symptoms are more reflective of damage to the individuals core “Self-Functions”. This was first described by Judith Herman in her classic work ” Trauma and Recovery” (Basic Books, 1992).  She outlines seven categories of damage to self-function in victims of chronic interpersonal abuse: Autonomy, self-agency, altered perception of self  or of others,  emotional dysregulation, a predilection to trauma-reenactment, and a variety of somatic ailments, and problems with managing power-dynamics in relationships.