Informational Article: Define Trauma

Trauma is generally understood to be extreme life or death events. We often think it must be these large events, but the event is not the key. The essence of trauma is the responses to the event when our brain and body’s window of tolerance is overwhelmed. Our stress response systems can not cope with an event or series of events that push us into extreme and often chronic dysregulated states.

Traumatic symptoms stem, from the frozen residue of energy that has not been processed and discharged.

Waking the tiger pg 19

We hit the heights of our flight hyperarousal state and suffer from a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters we experience fear and our memory system starts to fall. We often fall into collapse when the fight and flight fail us. This response tells our body that we are helpless. Our body holds those extreme levels of stress and dissociation. Being forced into the fawn and/or fold state for a long period will almost always leave people in severe chronic trauma. 

When our body’s ability to return to normal from the stress is thwarted the stress response becomes stored within our body. This is the key to how trauma becomes stored within us.

Trauma is being stuck in a state of hyperarousal and hyporousal that continue past when it is adaptive and healthy. This stress stuck inside us includes procedural memories, stress responses, thought patterns of helplessness, which begets dissociation.

Those of us with trauma are working hard to attempt to finish out the survival patterns we started during trauma. We are locked in the physiological patterns of wanting to work out the stress in a memory action system. Leaving us stuck in Maladaptive spaces in our nervous system

Action systems that underlie our actions become locked in place and when we are triggered by a reminder of trauma the same action patterns will be activated and our body on a neurobiological level will go through the same processes and causes us to relive the events on such us. This mechanism of trauma leaves us unable to leave the space of trauma.

Dissociation is the essence of trauma

The body keeps the score pg 66

With the traumatic states of hyper and hypoarousal, we often experience dissociation and fragmentation. We have these implicit memories that run our lives keeping us locked in the patterns and sheer terror of trauma. We also experience flashbacks that include auditory, olfactory, tactile, and visual aspects that are deeply overwhelming.

Traumatized people simultaneously remember too much and too little

the body keeps the score pg 181

Dissociation breaks our body’s connection to our brain leaving us scattered into pieces and alienated from our bodies, emotions, identity, memories, and story. This dissociation is key to the trait of the re-living aspect of traumatic stress. Are brain builds dissociative barriers that lock memories of trauma are these scattered blocks of trauma logged throughout us. This is the bases of body memories and other flashbacks. When the dissociative barriers are triggered unprocessed dissociative memories cause us to re-live unprocessed memory.

Persistent maladaptive procedural and emotional memories from the core mechanism that underlies trauma.

Trauma and Memory pg 38

Neurlogical Trauma

Trauma lives in our body inculding physcial and chemical change.

Some hormone and neurotransmitters in the body include that are dysregulated norepinephrine, oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin adrenalin, and cortisol. This cortisol and adrenal over-usage are based on chronic hyperarousal. Leaving us with what’s termed a “cortisol drip” meaning those with chronic trauma can never fully shut of physiological stress.

  • The ventromedial prefrontal cortex is dysregulated and decreases in size after trauma. This region of the brain is used in regulating negative emotions & fear. Dysfunction in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is key in the hyperarousal symptoms experienced by those with trauma.
  • The amygdala is larger and more active than in non-traumatized people. This change in the size denotes that it will be in overdrive. With an amygdala in this hyperaroused state, it lowers the ability to control emotions and triggers the stress responses.

The hippocampus is smaller than average. It plays a role in memory repression and the problems survivors have with both short and long-term memory. Short term working memory is held in this region of the brain, which is why trauma also affects short term memory, but the hippocampus also works to process the memory to move it to the long term memory. One of the things happening in this process is linking all the sensory inputs, actions, and emotions into a cohesive retrievable package. With this dysfunction, it can influence why flashbacks happen as it does not process it as a fully integrated memory and you re-experience it. It also plays a role in why some memories are disaggregated.

(Admins, 2019)

What must be understood is trauma responses are always your body trying to survive the best it knew how when the trauma was happening and dealing with the aftermath.

Some Examples:

  • Anger: Recognises are worth and push away those who might hurt us
  • Depression: protect against a fear of death and the ability to be chronically disappointed
  • Isolation” keep us safe from having attachments formed that we believe will only be broken
  • Anxiety/hyperarousal: keeps us alert and able to stay vigilant against harm.

You’re mind and body did all it could to survive and are trying to live. But sadly, it often becomes overwhelming and painful as we try to navigate new situations. Trauma can only heal with internal love and the creation of our eternal selves.

Be Blessed,

-Admin 1 &2


  • A., V. D. (2015). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
  • Fisher, J. (2017). Healing the fragmented selves of trauma survivors: Overcoming internal self-alienation. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Levine, P. A., & Frederick, A. (1997). Waking the tiger: Healing trauma: The innate capacity to transform overwhelming experiences. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  • Levine, P. A. (2015). Trauma and memory: Brain and body in a search for the living past: A practical guide for understanding and working with traumatic memory. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic.
  • Ogden, P., Minton, K., & Pain, C. (2006). Trauma and the body: A sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy. New York: W. W. Norton.

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