A traumatic event changes our entire reality both mentally and physiologically. Understanding trauma’s effect on your own life can be absolutely life changing because it can lead you to getting the help you need. The first part of understanding trauma is the process of being traumatized.
Did something happen to you that you were unable to save yourself from? Did you suffer a period of potential annihilation that you were helpless to prevent or stop? This is a reference to being able to move out of the way, run away, fight back, or otherwise take action to remove oneself from danger. Those who froze, were locked in, held down, or otherwise prevented from exercising personal agency are likely to be traumatized. This can be as simple as being allowed to walk away from a group laughing at you to being held down in a physically restrained. This is also true for watching the annihilation of a loved one without being able to stop it.
This is a key part of the process. The fight or flight hormones are released to help you to accomplish this and will not dissipate until you have successfully escaped danger. What is more, your body doesn’t tell the difference between a physical danger and emotional danger. This means that a verbal attack triggers the same stress hormones that a physical one does. The helplessness that one feels and intense desire to get away is what matters. When the initiated fight or flight response is blocked or otherwise prevented from being successful, the brain continues to exist inside this process unable to successfully navigate the next stage in recovery. “. . .it has been recognized that trauma survivors are prone to. . . continue the futile attempt at action which began when the thing happened. . . being able to move and do something to protect yourself is a critical factor in determining whether or not a horrible experience will leave long lasting scars. . .” The Body Keeps the Score
Escape the danger and experience the fight or flight hormones dissipate in the body allowing the mind to begin operating logically and creatively. This is the moment right after you escape danger, you are breathing deeply, and you think, “whew.” The ability to feel relaxation in the body, think about what happened, and imagine a different future for yourself is completion of the process.
Post traumatic stress is basically the brain’s inability to escape this necessary process. Either the person’s personal agency to rescue self was inhibited or they were unable to escape at all and therefore the fight or flight hormonal response never resolved. The traumatized person is caught in replaying the traumatic experience, both mentally and physically, instead of moving forward into a life created by personal agency.
The key to healing now, is to put those memories in their place. This means, processing the events as something that happened in the past with the ability to live in the present moment. What makes this difficult for traumatized people to do is that you are experiencing the physical stress responses as if the event was happening in the present moment. Revisiting the event itself can lead to unbearable flashbacks in which you feel like you are back there all over again. Additionally, being able to remember an event and put that event into a sequence of words is hard. During trauma, memories are recorded in the emotional center of the brain and the part of the brain that records memories in words is offline. All of these things are what makes working with trauma a long and intense process.
Hypnotherapy helps to process your trauma by allowing you to revisit those events as an observer for the purpose of resolving misperceptions and “rescuing” yourself from that moment. By revisiting the events in a relaxed state, you are safely able to objectively review yourself inside the event on the timeline of your life and initiate self healing. With the guidance of your hypnotherapist, you can access your own inner wisdom and clarity leading to recovery from flashbacks and physical symptoms caused by prolonged traumatic stress. Clients are able to give themselves closure and compassion that no one else gave them.
The human mind and brain are fascinating. You have all the tools you need to create healing for yourself. Trauma can make things feel all mixed up and confused. With the help of your hypnotherapist, you will be on the road to living a more quality life.