An Overview of Psychic Trauma
and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD)
8. What causes PTSD to develop?
The simple answer, of course, is trauma. But it's more complicated
than that. During a traumatic experience, you adapt and
choose new approaches that are survival-oriented for the
situation you're in. The problem comes after the trauma,
when those approaches and response are no longer functional.
Recovery involves recognizing what responses are and aren't
functional, and getting rid of the ones that hurt you. In effect,
trauma reprograms your reactions very quickly; recovery
is a kind of process of deprogramming.
Some practitioners believe that trauma causes changes in
brainchemistry, changes that are helpful in the short term by
reducing the level of emotion to something bearable but
that are harmful in the long term because they reinforce
the PTSD symptoms.
9. What can be done for PTSD?
Healing begins when the survivor realizes that the trauma
was real and had real effects on his/her life, not all of
which are adaptive interms of "ordinary" living. Trauma
creates overwhelming fear and leaves in its wake a feeling
that the world is not a safe place. Many practitioners (Herman,
Colodzin,Miller, Hybels-Steer, Dee) thus believe recovery
begins with establishing a safe place, a situation within
which the survivor can feel some sense of safety and predictability.
This usually involves developing an honesty about and awareness
of the fear. As the fear subsides, the survivor is able to
focus on other feelings and symptoms, to recognize them,
search them for meaning, and decide whether or not to act on them.