Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A history of trauma can be very profound, such as physical or sexual abuse, abandonment, unexpected loss, or physical pain.
Trauma can also be more subtle, such as ongoing verbal abuse, neglect, ridicule, instilled shame or fear as well as a consistent message of inferiority. This latter group usually occurs over time and almost seems normal to the person enduring such patterns as they occur.
In both cases, however, the effects of trauma can be lasting and greatly impair one’s ability to relate to others and oneself. Trauma can seriously damage the ability to engage in intimacy. It can also compel want to relive such adverse experiences and, to an unconscious degree, find them and relive them in the present.
PTSD symptoms include flashbacks, anxiety, panic bouts, intrusive and repeated nightmares, withdrawal and avoidance, depression, and repeated dysfunctional patterns.
My philosophy for treating trauma is to help the patient establish an initial understanding of what happened to them, separate the past traumas from the present situation, and articulate feelings and resolutions that they may have been incapable of doing at the time of the trauma.
The aim, then, is to establish healthier patterns of addressing symptoms and situations that have, in the past, evoked dysfunctional responses.