Definitions of trauma


A traumatic event is defined as “sudden and unexpected, and perceived as dangerous. It may involve a threat of physical harm or actual harm, leading to intense fear. It overwhelms our immediate ability to cope. Traumatic experiences have several key components: intense feelings of helplessness, terror and lack of control, threat to one’s physical or mental well-being through violence or threat of violence, and catastrophic responses.” (Bassuk, Konnath & Volk, 2006).

It is most important to know this about trauma:

It is the individual’s experience of the event, not necessarily the event itself, that is traumatizing.

Complex Trauma

The experience of chronic, traumatic violence and victimization. This can include, but is not limited to abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), neglect, loss, domestic violence and/or the witnessing of violence, terrorism or disasters. Complex trauma has to do with Interpersonal Relationships - prolonged or multiple traumatic events that involve care-givers.

It’s also important to note a few things related to complex trauma:

Complex trauma changes the way the brain works and develops.

This kind of trauma creates long-term impacts on a person’s development, neurochemical pathways, psychosocial adaptation, behavioral responses, daily functioning, and personal relationships and on their ability to utilize service systems.

It interferes with the brain’s development and the capacity to integrate sensory, emotional and cognitive information leading to dramatic increases in the use of medical, correctional, social and mental health services.

Tagged: Trauma


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