Updated: Nov 15, 2021
1. So What is Post Trauma?
To begin answering this question, it is worth starting by defining trauma.
Mental/physical trauma is a display of pain or injury to us through an external source. And post-trauma is the automatic reaction of the defense mechanism of our subconscious.
In fact, when we encounter any event in our lives, regardless of its content or magnitude it represents, and this event represents as threatening to our existence, threatening the status quo, or violating our mental status quo - that's the injury/pain. Our brain immediately runs auto-scripts that will help it process and analyze the event.
If you walked down the street and got your toe hit into a heavy stone - immediately there is physical pain = physical trauma, then the brain will start looking for ways to protect you, at the neurochemical level:
Due to two types of nerve fibers, there are two separate waves of pain, the immediate pain wave, and the suspended pain wave. The first type is called nociceptors, which are thick, insulated nerve fibers that transmit information instantly, the same one that makes you scream and curse after your toe has been hit hard.
The second type is thin, uninsulated nerve fibers that convey the message more slowly and continuously to create dull pain that lasts longer. Ultimately, it is a sophisticated and crucial defense mechanism whose function is to prevent the body from repeating it from happening again.
As kids, we hit our toes into heavy objects frequently, and luckily for us, there were adults around us who helped us cope with the pain and fear that accompanied it, so we don't even remember any of that, neither has it left us with any traumatic marks.
As a result of these experiences as kids, our mind has programmed an auto-script that sends a message to our brain each time such an event will occur in the future, that although hitting our toe is painful, there is no existential threat to us, and we will survive.
But what if the same event happens to an adult who has never hit his toe as a kid?
"This is where it starts to be spooky..."
His mind will not know what to do because he has no inner knowledge that he will survive this event, and that moment of existential fear, is where mental trauma is formed.
2. Can any negative emotional experiences be considered a trauma? (among the possible traumatic events)
Anything and any event can become a mental trauma, what defines a trauma is the amount of knowledge and life experience we own at the time, and the mental tools for dealing with traumas.
Those will determine the creation of trauma.
So this was briefly about trauma, but what is post-trauma then?
Post-trauma is a psychological condition in which we experienced some trauma and did not have the tools to process it, so our brain thinks we are still in danger and tries to process and analyze repeatedly to draw conclusions and build a "more sophisticated solution" that will protect us from it happening again.
Unfortunately, this is not a sophisticated and healthy solution, by any stretch of the imagination.
3. Can bad relationships, ugly divorce, bad habits, or escapism are also considered post-traumatic stress disorders?
Yes, and if the PTSD symptoms include re-experiencing, avoiding, and provoking, the problem with this, is that we did not have the tools to cope, to begin with, and therefore the trauma will continue to follow, expand and create chaos around us.
Usually, the trauma chaos creates destructive behaviors, negative habits, addictions to sex, gambling, alcohol, and drugs, and a very significant portion of post-traumatic patients in my clinic f.e., found themselves time and time again in toxic relationships.
All this happens on behalf of the brain's goodwill to process and analyze the trauma and to restore the mind to a state of peaceful balance.
Eliminating any existential danger is, by definition, the most primitive function of the brain. It is a biological and evolutionary function, that we cannot bypass.
There is a wide spectrum of post-traumatic behaviors and perhaps today the list is endless, and as long as the trauma hasn't been treated, healed, and managed in a reasonable manner, the brain is programmed to believe that we are in existential danger.
Therefore post-traumatic behaviors and symptoms will continue as usual, because this is how we're trying to deal with the trauma and eliminate risk, even when there is no real danger.
4. Emotional/mental matters are complex, but sometimes there are physical injuries that become chronic, can it create an emotional block or even a trauma?
Absolutely yes, take for example an outstanding athlete, one who showed impressive performance for a while, and then got injured for a month.
Maybe if it happens once, the injury will not affect him mentally at all, but what happens when the injury comes back again and again? or if he cannot recover his achievements due to physical reductions? well, then the level of mental resilience will decrease significantly - in sports psychology, we have clear evidence across all the disciplines such as cognition, decision making, anxiety, athlete personality, aggression, motivation, and encouragement.
Whenever professional athletes are injured for a long or chronic period - they can and sometimes do sink into depression, dangerous anxiety and in extreme cases even need to start antidepressant medication treatment.
5. Can we heal from trauma?
Trauma can unquestionably be healed. it requires treatment and guidance of skilled professionals and there are different methods and ways to successfully treat it, but in the end, the trauma fades away and the brain returns to a balanced state signaling that the existential threat has ended. The neurochemical response to the end of an existentially endangered episode is when the mind releases the destructive defenses, barriers, and behaviors that usually accompany post-trauma.
6. Scientifically can memory be changed, erased?
Re-consolidation is a process in which previously formed memories are stabilized after retrieval. After the consolidation process in which the memory stabilizes and is transferred to the long term, the memory becomes resistant to interference when stored. However, when the memory is re-extracted it becomes unstable again and has to go through a process of re-formation, the memory needs another stage of protein synthesis to be preserved. The re-consolidation process takes several hours and in this window of opportunity, where memories are vulnerable, they can be damaged and changed.
With the help of pharmacological measures that prevent the synthesis of proteins - the re-formation process can be prevented and thus damage the memory. In addition, during the few hours required for the brain to build a memory with the help of molecular building materials, information from the environment integrates with the memory and thus the memory is damaged and changed.
Scientifically, a memory can be altered with biological measures and the success rates are quite high. However, it is often possible to achieve better results without chemical intervention or the need to "delete" memories altogether.
7. A better way is to confront, deal and solve the problem a memory once created and to heal from it with peace, in the form of behavioral therapy, or hypnotherapy.
If you or anyone you know might be suffering from these symptoms or is known to go through trauma, don't hesitate and reach out for help. We welcome you to a discovery session where we can explore the solutions.