What is Trauma?

The word trauma comes from the Greek language and means wound. The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines trauma as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience…an emotional shock following a stressful event or physical injury, which may be associated with physical shock, and sometimes leads to long-term neurosis.” The same dictionary further defines neurosis as “a relatively mild mental illness that is not caused by organic disease, involving symptoms of stress (depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, hypochondria) but not a radical loss of touch with reality…excessive and irrational anxiety or obsession.”


Types of Trauma

Trauma work can seem pretty heavy.

To those who are suffering from trauma in any form, yes; it is like carrying around a heavy weight. Trauma can be further broken down into two broad categories – physical and psychological – although they are not mutually exclusive.

Physical traumas can result from any kind of unwanted or unexpected contact with the body. These can include sexual abuse, domestic violence, criminal assault, medical procedures or severe illnesses, and accidents or bad falls. 

Psychological traumas may include things like emotional abuse, observing others being abused or hurt, or abandonment. We cannot always place someone’s condition into one or the other of these categories, sometimes it’s both.

Trauma Symptoms

There are three recognized conditions that can occur during a traumatic event. You’ve probably heard of fight, flight, or freeze.

The first instinct may be to fight the attacker if possible. This is usually not an option if you’re unarmed, not a martial artist, smaller than the attacker, or there is more than one attacker.

The next consideration is flight. Can you run away safely from the situation?

If neither of the previous options can be employed, the last action is to take no action. We freeze and very likely dissociate. Dissociating is a survival mechanism where we shut off external sensations in order to avoid feeling what is happening.

The problem with these three conditions is that in humans, the responses may not end when the event does. You can watch videos of wild animals who were attacked and somehow managed to fend off the attacker. You can see them fight, escape, or come out of the freeze state not long after the event. Unfortunately, we humans are not so quick to let go of the negative energies. These are what sink deep into the subconscious, where they continue to cause problems for many years if we don’t get help to resolve them.

Symptoms of trauma will depend on what happened. Some of the more common ones are anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, skin rashes, chronic pain, and other unexplained physical ailments. A person may lose interest in things that he previously enjoyed such as activities, going to certain places, and even being around other people. Those who were abused early in life may harbor a deep distrust of others, which may lead to the inability to form relationships and results in feelings of isolation

Someone who is undercoupled  survives by withdrawing into a protective shell. This may have been what saved them during an attack, for example. When one is trapped in a horrific situation with no possibility of escape, they may cope by dissociating; that is, they check out mentally and emotionally to avoid feeling what is happening. They may then show up as being spaced out, forgetful, withdrawn, having very low energy, or just not present.

Someone who is overcoupled may exhibit high anxiety, feelings of doom and despair, hyperactivity, or hypervigilance. The list of symptoms is quite extensive, so it takes time and care to unravel them gently. 

Heal the Past

More Resources for Trauma Support

• Learn more about Somatic Experiencing  & Trauma Healing  

The Lynn House is a beautiful, substance free shelter in Costa Mesa, CA. for women where they can regain control of their lives. 

•   The International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA) provides information and support for terminally ill patients and their families. 

“Thank you so much for doing what you do and for holding the space for this INSANE healing to take place. I felt like I was in a soul rehab. I really look forward to working with you again.”

Get In Touch

Please include any questions or details that can help me best respond to your inquiry. If you are ready to book a session, you can do so directly by visiting my scheduling page. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.