How Trauma Affects The Brain
While going through a difficult experience, things can be really tough. But, when the experience is finally over, then it’s over, and one can then breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes, though, when an individual has gone through a hard time, even though it is over, the impact continues and remains in the body. Whenever a trigger is activated by a reminder of the traumatic event, the individual relives the experience, not as a memory, but in real-time, in the here and now. The impact of the event may cause the individual to remain with a negative perception about themselves, others and the world in which they live. It is not the event that affects the individual, but rather the impact it had on the individual’s mind and body that causes an imprint of negative perception. An event may be traumatic, but the impact is what we refer to as “trauma.” As such, trauma is a subjective experience. What causes one individual to become upset, overwhelmed and confused may have no such impact on another individual. The effect trauma has on the mind and body differ dramatically, and are influenced by many different factors. Nurture and nature play crucial roles in the reactivity and responses to survival instincts after traumatic experiences. Nurture’s influence on the mind and body is greatly impacted by “who was there for you at the time?” and when feeling helpless, “Was a foundation of safety established?” The system of the mind and body frantically wishes to stay alive, and when it senses a threat to its survival, whether imagined or not, the system resorts to responses of fright, flight, freeze or collapse. At a time of threat, one’s prefrontal cortex and coordinated thinking goes off-line resulting with impulses to survive that may cause devastating effects on physical and emotional health. “So, who was there for you at the time?” is the question. This crucial component of nurture may be utilized in the healing process of the impact of trauma. Reconstruction of the memory to include a caring compassionate presence may help a traumatized individual have a corrective experience allowing the traumatic events to transform and the intensity of the negative impact to decrease. Effective trauma interventions, welcomes a protective loving presence to the time of the trauma, sending messages to the brain of safety and security.