- A single traumatic life changing event
- Accumulated series of traumatic or abusive events
Trauma can be easily categorized into “Big T’s,” and “Little t’s.”
A “Big T,” would be a single or series of severely traumatic experiences. Several “Little t’s” can be described as a series of less traumatic events over a period of time. Some of these events may not even be recognizable to the individual as a “Little t,” but remain as implicit memory.
Trauma interferes with the integration of left and right brain functioning, which explains why traumatized children often behave “irrational.”
“A nurturing, sensory stimulating environment best incubates and forms the brain. When this process is interrupted by neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, pre-natal drug and alcohol exposure the brain may be unable to form the pathways and connections that lead to emotional regulation, development of social skills, or a secure attachment. Areas of the brain responsible for memory, learning, empathy, and remorse can also be impaired.”– Arletta James
“The stress of living in a chaotic or neglectful environment (i.e., an orphanage, a dysfunctional birth home, etc.) creates a brain more vulnerable to stress.” – Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2001.
“Trauma victims experience hypersensitivities to sounds and feeling vibrations that no one else seems to feel; not wanting to go into crowded places….their nervous system is tuned to detect a predator. Their nervous system is in a neuroceptive state that has a great advantage in detecting a predator, but is totally compromised in being social.” – Stephen Porges, PhD
“Trauma is something that happens deep in the core of our brain and our body. When a person is traumatized, almost nothing feels safe. Trauma happens in the body. Our body gets stuck in either preparing for defense. We do all kinds of things to defend and protect ourselves; the body does this instinctively and innately.” – Peter Levine, PhD
“Traumatized kids tend to get frozen, upset, and are easily hyperaroused. They lose their sense of rhythm with other people; their sense of ease and how their bodies interest with other people.” –Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
“It’s easy to see when our kids aren’t integrated – they become overwhelmed by their emotions, confused, and chaotic. They can’t respond calmly and capably to the situation at hand. Tantrums, meltdowns, aggression, and most of the other challenging experiences of parenting – and life – are a result of a loss of integration. We want to help our children become better integrated so they can use their whole brain in a coordinated way.” – Dan J Siegal, M.D.
“The brain allows us our humanity. Our brain’s functioning is a reflection of our experiences. New experience is filtered through past experience…..the first step in therapeutic work is brain stem regulation. The most effective intervention process would be to first address and improve self-regulation, anxiety, attention, arousal, and impulsivity before the cognitive problems of self-esteem and shame.” – Bruce D. Perry, M.D., PhD
“A poorly regulated child in an alert state will look like he has attention problems and appear resistant in an alarm state. When you try to get him to comply he will become oppositional and defiant. If you are in an alarm state or higher, the limbic system distorts information coming in. This disrupts their ability to process cognitive information and manage their behaviors. With the best of intentions, we can still cause a child to escalate if we don’t understand the process.” – Dave Duvuroy
“Children with histories of trauma are like deer. Deer flee in an instant when frightened. Deer are hypervigilant – always wary of their environment. Traumatized children operate in a similar fashion. Psychologically, they quickly enter a state of “fight” or “flight,” even when others see no visible threat or demand.” – Arletta James
“EMDR is often used when you have earlier memories that are causing clinging behavior, reactive behavior, or anger that pushes people away. EMDR allows that to be processed so that what was being triggered – negative emotions, beliefs, and feelings are no longer there.” – Francine Shapiro, PhD