Trauma essentially involves our response to a situation that we perceive as threatening our safety (and even our life), and over which we feel we have no control. The types of incidents mentioned at left are commonly experienced as traumatic, but not every person will be traumatised if they experience these types of events, no matter how dramatic they were; and some people may suffer trauma from an event that others would not generally perceive as threatening. It largely comes down to what degree of control we perceive we have during the event.
As children, we are utterly dependent on our parents for survival, and chidren commonly experience trauma from events that parents may see as fairly trivial (like getting separated from Mum in a busy shopping centre).
Why do we suffer trauma?
Trrauma is a response to overwhelm. The brain 'shuts down' or 'freezes' to protect you from falling to pieces when you're overwhelmed with horror or terror. It's almost as if the brain is saying, "we can't deal with this now; we'll just squash it down tight and deal with it later." Unfortunately, for most people that "later" never comes: they never have the opportunity to work through the intense feelings they experienced during the trauma, and release those feelings from their mind and body.
How does trauma affect us?
Unresolved trauma may be showing up in your life through symptoms such as:
'knee-jerk', over-the-top reactions to apparently minor incidents (such as panicking and fearing the worst when your child or partner is late getting home);
intrusive thoughts or mental images of the traumatic event;
nightmares and sleep disturbances;
intense psychological distress and/or physical symptoms such as sweating, muscle tension and rapid heartbeat when anything reminds you of the traumatic event;
irritability and anger;
being easily startled; and
hypervigilance to any possible danger - no matter how unlikely.
The way the brain responds to traumatic incidents, sets you up to be 'triggered' by experiences that in some way remind you of the original, traumatising incident. The brain's response to trauma is to 'encode' all your overwhelming feelings, and your perceptions and interpretations of sensory data, and store them in the body-mind in a holographic manner (called 'holonomic' when applied to the way we encode trauma in our physiology). This process takes only a millisecond.
Subsequently, anything that is even vaguely reminiscent of that original incident - a look on someone's face, a thought that crosses your mind, a sensation in your body, a particular sound, even a smell - triggers that body-mind memory of the trauma, causing you to become overwhelmed by the same feelings you had during the original incident.
This holonomic encoding explains why people who have suffered trauma often feel like they keep attracting people and situations into their lives that re-traumatise them. Their hypervigilant brains are so apt to being triggered, they interpret just about everything as a threat!
It also explains why you may behave so compulsively when you've been triggered. The famous hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson, recognised that trauma induces a state of self-hypnosis - a way of 'freezing' so that we can cope. Unfortunately, anything that triggers your memory of the trauma also re-induces the hypnotic trance, so that you 'see yourself' and 'hear yourself' saying and doing things you never intended (and later regret!).
Fortunately, EFT provides a fast, highly effective and virtually painless way to root out the original trauma, erase the holonomic memory of it from your body and mind, and allow you to freely respond to current situations rather than react out of past trauma.