An Overview of Psychic Trauma
and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD)
TRAUMA, PTSD, and COMPLEX PTSD
1. What is trauma?
The psychiatric definition of "trauma" is "an event outside
normal human experience." Trauma generally leaves you feeling
powerless, helpless, paralyzed. It tends to be sudden and
overwhelming; it "owns" you. You cannot think clearly during
and after a severe trauma; at the same time, you are forced to
focus your consciousness in an attempt to deal. One author
defines trauma as "any sudden and potentially life-threatening
event." This refers to one-time traumatic events, but most of
it applies to prolonged, repeated trauma as well.
2. Some instances of one-time trauma.
• natural disasters (earthquake, flood, hurricane, etc)
• accidents (automobile, airplane, train, etc)
3. Some instances of prolonged trauma.
• physical or sexual abuse as a child or spouse
• life in a prison camp
• life as a refugee
• hostage situations
• life in a concentration camp
• life in some religious cults