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What is trauma and how does it influence our lives?

What is trauma and how does it influence our lives?

June 24, 2024

Trauma is a reality in our lives , something much more frequent and common than it may seem. Its etymological root comes from the Greek, and means "wound".

Traditionally it is considered as the consequence derived from an event, which generates psychic or physical disorders that affect the level of quality of our lives. However, a trauma is not a life sentence.

What is a trauma?

The emotional trauma is a "psychological wound" that can be provoked by diverse situations, generally extraordinary, disturbing, overwhelming and disturbing, that go beyond the usual experiences.

These highly stressful situations include great natural disasters, wars, accidents, abuses ..., "serious threats to life or physical integrity, real threats or damage to children, spouse, family members, friends; sudden destruction of the home, of the community; witness the death or serious injury of another person as a result of an accident or an act of physical violence "(DSM-5).


As well can reach to include apparently minor transcendence experiences , such as: an operation, a fall, a punishment, serious illnesses, lack of protection, humiliations, change of roles in the family, migration to another city or country ... that can also be experienced in a traumatic way.

In fact, it is not so much the dimension of the event itself that determines the damage produced, but its effects will also depend on each person, their history and their emotional environment, the evolutionary moment in which it occurred and of its reiteration over time (Labrador and Crespo, 1993, Sandín, 1989, Valdés and Flores, 1985, Lazarus and Folkman, 1986, Labrador and Alonso, 2007).


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The effects of trauma

The trauma, regardless of its origin, affects the health, safety and well-being of the person in such a way that it can reach develop false and destructive beliefs about herself and the world that surrounds her.

In general, it is considered normal for certain events to react with sadness, anxiety, anger, irritability, behavior alteration, substance use ... for a short period of time (Reijneveld, Crone, Verlhust and Verloove-Vanhorick, 2003). , Dyregrow and Yule, 2006). However, sometimes, these difficulties become so intense and long lasting that they cause serious problems in personal functioning and psychosocial adaptation .

To account for these more intense and damaging phenomena, the WHO classification (ICD-10, 1992), proposes a category of disorders caused by stress and trauma, in which acute and chronic PTSD is included. Adaptation and Lasting Personality Changes after a catastrophic situation.


Memories blocked

You have to bear in mind that we are not always able to remember everything that has happened to us Throughout our lives, sometimes memories of traumatic events are forgotten or fragmented.

According to the psychological current born with psychoanalysis , they are dissociative phenomena that make it impossible to remember what happened, which arise as a defense mechanism developed by our psyche, which provides a natural protective response to the overwhelming traumatic experience, allowing us to survive in order to survive (Kisiel and Lyons, 2001). According to these hypotheses, the memory would not be lost, but remains in the memory in a latent and inaccessible way, until, thanks to a therapeutic process or to some event in the subject's life, they recover spontaneously partially or totally ( AL Manzanero and M. Recio, 2012).

The consideration of such a strong impact that causes changes in personality is of great importance for the study of the person and their emotional development, since adverse situations, close and daily, can not only determine symptoms and psychological alterations, but they come to compromise the full development of the personality.

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When they appear during childhood and adolescence

Posttraumatic reactions in childhood and adolescence can be expressed with different psychopathological forms (Copeland, Keeller, Angold and Costello et al., 2007).

Several studies on situations of abuse in childhood determined that the main psychological consequences of the trauma were : depression, anxiety, self-hatred, difficulty modulating anger, dissociation, dullness, difficulties in attention and concentration, difficulty in controlling impulses, substance abuse, self-injurious behaviors and risk behaviors, submission and dependence, strong sense of vulnerability and danger (Herman, 1992); revictimization, interpersonal problems and in intimate relationships, somatizations and medical problems, loss of trust towards other people, feelings of helplessness and helplessness, traumatic sexualization, feelings of shame and guilt (Finkelhor, 1988).

These people present a great despair about the world and the future , they believe that they will not find anyone who understands them or who understands their suffering, maintaining a great internal conflict, with high levels of anguish. The positive comes when they try to find someone to help them recover from their anguish, their somatic concerns and their sense of despair or despair. (Amor, Echeburúa, Corral, Sarasua and Zubizarreta, 2001).

Characteristics of psychic wounds

The scientific research on traumas affirms that the fact of expressing one's feelings and intense emotional states in a cathartic way allows facing difficult situations, reducing the likelihood of obsessive rumination and increase physiological activity (Penneba and Susman, 1988).

In addition, it has been seen that social support, such as talking to a family member or a friend about a problem, is one of the best valued mechanisms for dealing with difficult emotional situations (Folkman et al., 1986, Vázquez and Ring, 1992, 1996), in addition to cushioning stress itself (Barrera, 1988). In fact, the lack of close people to rely on in difficult circumstances radically raises the risk of depressive episodes in vulnerable people (Brown and Harris, 1978).

The importance of attitude and mentality

People with an optimistic attitude seem to better manage the symptoms of physical illnesses such as cancer, chronic diseases, cardiac surgery ... (Scheier and Carver, 1992), which seems to be due to the strategies used by these people. be more focused on the problem, in the search for social support and find the positive sides of the stressful experience.

On the contrary, pessimistic people are characterized by the use of denial and distancing of the stressor, focusing more on the negative feelings produced by that situation (Avía and Vázquez, 1998). In this way, a personality pattern is drawn more clearly with a tendency to good health characterized by optimism, a sense of control and a good capacity for adaptation (Taylor, 1991).

The treatment

Perform activities from the Art Therapy , as a space to elaborate the traumatic event, it favors recovery, facilitates social reintegration and therapeutic rehabilitation through a creative process.

This type of techniques promotes the expression of one's own feelings from a different language that allows channeling sensations, emotions and memories without pushing to catharsis or emotional overflow , offering a new expressive way that escapes the resistances and the verbal blockade, favoring the memory and the construction of a coherent story that makes possible the comprehension of what happened. This will allow the victim to integrate their experience, from a safe and free of judgments ("Papers of art therapy and artistic education for social inclusion", Mónica Cury Abril, 2007).

Thus, the trauma does not have to be a life sentence. During the healing process, a renewing evolution can be generated, capable of improving our quality of life, becoming an experience of transformation and metamorphosis (Peter A. Levine, 1997).

The ability of human beings to forgive, to recompose, to move forward, to prosper, to enlighten us, to overcome trials and events, to rise up and resurface with a triumphant smile when we rediscover our identity, with love ... is spectacular and simply admirable.

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