What is trauma and what is the most effective technique to heal it?
These are the characteristics and variants of trauma, and the mechanisms that allow to overcome it.
Psychological trauma is a very painful experience that a person lives through and that exceeds his or her capacity to understand, make sense of and and that exceeds the person's capacity to understand it, to give it meaning and to integrate it into his or her life..
Here we will see what this destabilizing psychological phenomenon consists of and how it can be treated in therapy.
Trauma by excess or by defect adult or infantile
The trauma can be by excess or by adult or infantile defect. When we speak of trauma by infantile excess we speak of traumatic experiences that have to do with physical or emotional abuse (hitting, shouting, hateful looks...) or sexual abuse..
Also included are events such as witnessing domestic violence and abuse and others having to do with the break between the child and his or her primary caregiver, such as divorce, serious illness, or death. On the other hand, if there is child default trauma, this has to do primarily with physical or emotional neglect.
Examples of this would be showing little or no emotional availability to listen to the child's emotions, not feeding or drinking, etc.
Traumas due to adult excess are exactly the same as infantile traumas, but they occur in adulthood, as for example when we have a partner who is a child.For example, when we have a partner who physically or verbally assaults us. To these we can add school bullying, death of a relative or close friend, traumatic breakups of couples, car or plane accidents, earthquakes, attacks, unpleasant experiences with animals or insects...
On the other hand, adult default traumas follow the same line, only they occur in adulthood or old age, and have to do with certain people who lack empathy, do not tune in to our emotions and needs.
There is a special type of trauma, called hidden trauma, which originates in childhood and has to do with when the child's body produces emotions (sadness, fear, anger, joy...) that need to be addressed by a caregiver..
Such trauma refers to the inability of the caregiver (father, mother, grandparents...) to take care of the child's emotions. For example, we could find a child who felt very sad and lonely at home because her parents had lost her little brother, or even another relative. The parents' own sadness prevented them from taking care of the child's discomfort.
This child, as an adult, still feels lonely even when surrounded by people, and even panics about others leaving (break-ups, deaths...). In addition, she has no control over sadness and other emotions, she feels them with too much intensity and with very sudden changes in mood... because her primary caregivers could not teach her how to manage them.
In the most severe cases of hidden trauma, an attachment figure can provoke traumatic experiences in the child if he/she shows depression, chronic dis attunement to the child's emotions, anger, withdrawal of affection, provocation of guilt feelings, emotional blackmail, double messages, gestures of contempt, ignoring silences...
As an example, we could talk about people with more serious disorders, such as obsessive disorders (many thoughts), eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating...) or personality disorders (borderline, avoidant, narcissistic...).
Another type of trauma is pre-verbal trauma. It is based on childhood memories based on emotional states without images and contains emotions such as loneliness and fear.. It usually has to do with bodily experiences.
What happens in these cases is that children usually do not have enough cortical consolidation to be able to store the memories explicitly, so they are stored implicitly. so they are stored implicitly..
As an example, we have people who feel a bodily discomfort that has no medical explanation. They are emotions that cannot be expressed and that remain stored in the body (panic or anxiety attacks, hypochondria, headaches, muscular pains, chronic stress, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia...).
- Article related: "Child therapy: what is it and what are its benefits".
The trauma of betrayal
The trauma of betrayal has to do with when the person loses the confidence in the persons or organisms that supposedly have to protect it. A sexual abuse by a caregiver is an example of this. Anger is a central emotion in this type of trauma.
Another example is when a battered woman asks agencies for help and they don't believe her. Or when a person with an eating disorder suffers a very complicated admission that leads him to experience very unpleasant situations (feeding tube, little care by health personnel...).
What happens when we don't heal the trauma and let it go?
Trauma, like infected wounds, remains as an open wound, constantly oozing pus.. Therefore, in order to close it, all that infection must be extracted, healing it properly. When the trauma becomes encysted and is not processed, it can pass into the body, as in the case of pre-verbal trauma, becoming more and more difficult and time-consuming to work through.
In addition, any event that has to do with the original trauma will further open up the wound.. For example, let's think of a girl who was bullied at school because she was overweight. Years later, she meets a partner who begins to criticize her for her physical appearance.
This adult is feeling the Pain of this partner's criticism added to the initial pain, causing symptoms of anxiety, sadness, depression or insomnia or even the development of worse symptoms or pictures, such as anorexia or bulimia. Anorexia is sometimes used as a tool to overcome the belief that "I am not worth it, I don't like myself" and if I am thin, I think I will be accepted.
What is currently the most effective technique to work with trauma?
At Vínculo Psicología we use the EMDR technique. It is a psychological technique that is based on neuroscience, that is to say, on how the brainthat is, on how the brain processes information. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
Who gave this type of technique its name? It was Francine Shapiro who coined the term EMDR in 1978.
EMDR therapy has a high scientifically proven efficacy. It is used to treat different traumas (losses, accidents, abuse, sexual abuse...), but also other difficulties such as chronic stress, insomnia of conciliation or maintenance, anxiety, depression, fears, phobias, low self-esteem, emotional dependence, obsessions, problems in interpersonal relationships, couple conflicts...
EMDR works by "unblocking" certain traumatic or painful memories that contain emotions that our brain could not process at different stages of our life. at different stages of our life. These memories and their emotions are trapped in the right hemisphere and cannot be "digested" by the left hemisphere, which is in charge of translating into words and making sense of what has happened to us.
EMDR is applied by performing a bilateralized eye stimulation to the patient.The eyes are moved from right to left, i.e. he looks from right to left with his eyes at a finger, at the light of a machine; or he he hears sounds in one ear or the other that make him move his eyes; or he can apply light tapping on each of his shoulders (tapping) that also makes him move his eyes from one side to the other. By moving your eyes from left to right and vice versa, you set in motion the reprocessing of memories and emotions that are stuck in one hemisphere (right), and flow to the other freely (left).
This causes the patient's tension, symptoms or nervousness to disappear as we work through the sessions. In addition, EMDR also emphasizes the limiting beliefs that the person had to learn when suffering the trauma.
Following the example we talked about previously, a person who has suffered the scorn of his or her parents, or who has lived with a parent with low self-esteem, may begin to develop the belief of "I am not worth it".
In addition to the above, if this person suffers bullying at school or has partners who criticize his or her physical appearance, the belief will gain more weight and provoke more symptoms (anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, etc.). (anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, emotional dependence...). Once we process the traumas we also change these beliefs for others more adjusted, as, in this case, the "I am worth", since what my schoolmates did to me no longer hurts, it has already been reprocessed.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)