In psychology, trauma refers to damage to the mind that takes place as a result of a distressing event that exceeds the person’s ability to cope with the stress. It can either be the result of a single upsetting experience or of a series of recurring overwhelming events. In either situation, it is caused by the struggle to cope with the immediate or long-term circumstances of distressing events or situations in a person’s life. The specific workings of trauma will invariably vary from person to person because everyone will respond to different traumatic events in their own way. This means that a traumatic event will not necessarily be traumatic for everyone it happens to, but it also means that trauma can stem from seemingly non-traumatic events.
Causes of Trauma
The causes of trauma are often situational, meaning they stem from something specifically happening to the traumatized person. Man-made causes of trauma include personal instances, such as abuse or violence towards the subject, as well as more generalized situations, such as war or terrorist attacks. There are also mechanized accidents, such as car, plane, train, or bike crashes and factory incidents. Kind of overlapping the other categories but also comprising their own instance, medical emergencies can leave long-lasting trauma on a person. People will react to different events differently, and the individual factors behind each situation will influence how the person will respond to the traumatic experience in both short and long-term ways.
Certain experiences early on in a person’s life can lead to long-lasting psychological effects. Victims of child abuse, dysfunctional family dynamics, neglect, abandonment, sexual abuse, and similar situations can evidently be traumatic and impact the way people interact with and relate to others for the rest of their lives. Addressing these issues through trauma treatment is often necessary for victims of such harsh conditions to gain the tools to deal with their consequences and develop healthy relationships.
Due to the complicated nature of psychiatry, there is no one way to deal with trauma. Every case will call for a different approach to trauma treatment and for a different combination of processes. The first step will always be to recognize the traumatic experience in the first place. A lot of people aren’t even aware that they are victims of traumatic experiences until they use therapy to learn more about themselves, their past, and how it still impacts the way they behave, interact, and relate. That is why therapy will be key in any sort of trauma disorder treatment. It is often necessary to even know there is trauma to be dealt with in the first place.
Trauma treatment will involve trauma processing, emotional regulation, cognitive and emotional processing, experimental processing, and what is known as trauma-informed teaching practice, which is specifically aimed at children whose traumatic experiences need to be taken into account in educational settings. Each person’s process will ultimately be different, and very dependent on both the circumstances of the traumatic experience and their current situation. In extreme cases, trauma can be incapacitating and interfere with our everyday lives, which makes seeking help vital to the person’s development and eventual improvement.