Welcome to Nate 90!
Today I am going to talk about what is for me a difficult task. I'm going to define psychological trauma.
When we talk about physical trauma, usually it is obvious when it has occurred. There often is bleeding, bruising or some other external indicator that draws attention that damage to the body has occurred. Occasionally, there is internal bodily damage with no external indicator. Ex-ray equipment et. al. is used to see the unseen areas of our body. Even with this equipment, there are internal, bodily injuries that sometimes go undetected.
In my opinion, most psychological trauma is like this last group of bodily injuries that go undetected. Psychological trauma is non-physical. Although, physical trauma can lead to psychological trauma, and psychological trauma can lead to physical harm to our bodies. Don't be confused though, when we talk about psychological trauma, we are talking about the non-physical part of our existence.
I am going to get a little more complicated. Stick with me, and hopefully we will come out the other side with some helpful thoughts.
There are methods of dealing with psychological trauma that deal with the body only. There are also methods that deal only with the psychological. And then finally, there are methods that deal with the whole psychosomatic union (body and psyche) of a person. This later approach has become more popular in recent years whereas decades ago, attention primarily was given to the psychological.
The experts on this topic would have much more to say, and likely would correct my description. If you have a more nuanced understanding than what I have presented here, I celebrate that. My goal is to get the many people out there that do not understand psychological trauma to understand it a little more.
Recently I gave a book to my wife to read that gave a great overview of dealing with trauma. As she read it, she began to understand herself a little better and be able to explain herself to others better. Although she is not a person that has experienced a lot of psychological trauma, she was still helped through learning more about it.
So, whether you are a person that has experienced a lot of trauma or hardly any, coming to understand psychological trauma better is helpful to you.
There are some people who have repressed their traumatic experiences. Because their experience was so overwhelming and they were not sure what to do with it, they disconnected from it - put it out of their mind and purposely dulled their ability to feel it. Often this is done without even realizing it.
Then, this person is carrying around a psychological wound that will not get better on its own. This wound affects them physically and emotionally, and it usually affects their relationships. This is tragic because most trauma people experience happened to them through no fault of their own. Yet, they have to do the work to move towards healing from this psychological injury. This can take years, decades, and possibly the rest of a person's life.
I was recently in a class where part of our assignments were fulfilled by having online discussions over an assigned topic. During one of these discussions, our focus turned to the huge life struggles of the spouse of one of the discussion's participants. I was alarmed with the conclusions some of the other participants arrived at. It wasn't that their conclusions stemmed from the fact that they were jerks. They were well-meaning but sincerely ignorant of how psychological trauma affects us.
This type of ignorance can cause us to unintentionally harm other people which in turn intensifies their struggle with trauma all the more. This type of ignorance can also cause us to hurt ourselves even more.
A further cause for concern is that we have our built-in understandings of what should and should not cause trauma in our lives. This concept was woven into our thinking by the family we grew up in, the culture we grew up in, and the experiences of the generations that went before us. We then, make our decisions on how to treat our psychological wounds based upon these built-in concepts.
This is a big problem.
We are not making a decision on how to treat our psychological wound based on the wound itself. We are making the decision based on what other people tell us the wound is or should be.
When we go to the doctor for a physical illness, a good doctor is NOT going to tell you what type of illness you should have or he thinks you have. A good doctor will investigate and look at your physical situation as best as he can observe through his trained eyes and tools he has at his disposal.
Part of dealing with psychological trauma appropriately is learning to accurately identify the wound itself apart from outside expectations and perceptions, and from that point address the impact that would has on the person.
I haven't attempted a formal definition, and I am not going to do that in this episode. We have looked at quite a lot already.