What is Trauma?

To take some form of control back, we must do some soul searching on what we’re struggling with. Having struggled with trauma for most of my life, I have come to understand what trauma is.

As already briefly explained, trauma is something that is brought about through a stressful event that can change how we feel. Trauma can interfere with ones sense of security, making one feel open to vulnerable situations and just feeling helpless.

Forms of trauma

Traumatic experiences may involve a threat to our safety or even life. But any situation that leaves us feeling alone and overwhelmed can be traumatic in itself, even if it doesn’t involve us being harmed physically. It is never the objective facts that determine whether the situation or event is traumatic, but our emotional experience to that event.

The more we feel frightened and left unable to cope, the more likely we are to feel traumatised. Stressful events can be traumatic if the event happens unexpectedly and we’re not prepared. Trauma can also be something that happens repeatedly, or if someone wittingly sets out to hurt.

For some of us trauma is part of every day life. Trauma can also be caused by an event that happens just the once, can be caused by a single-blow, such as an attack or a horrific car accident, or through a natural disaster. Trauma can also come from ongoing stress, such as struggling with a terminal illness or a condition that changes our life dramatically.

Trauma can go unrecognised and in many situations it does, because we don’t often equate trauma to smaller experiences. Trauma can also relate to a fall or a sports injury, the sudden death of someone close to us, the breakup of a significant relationship, a condition where one has been left disabled or an experience that leaves us totally humiliated without being able to act on it.

Whatever our experiences, there are ways forward but as with everything it’s how we react to trauma that will determine the outcome.


23 Jul, 2010

6 thoughts on “What is Trauma?

  1. I wonder about trauma in this way. Everyone goes through trauma in one way, shape or form in their lifetime. I imagine that for one person going outside their house is traumatic and to another that is a normal routine. Then the second person gets into a car accident and is traumatised, is one trauma worse than the other? I don’t think so, I think that leaving the house can be just as traumatic to the first person as the accident is to the second. I think it’s all in the mind and feelings of the person going through their own trauma no matter what the trauma may be.

    1. I agree Brian. Trauma is not comparable and should not be compared in that way. What one finds easy the other one finds difficult, that’s life.

      What’s important is how one deals and works through a particular incident where they have been left traumatised. It is all down to one’s emotional experience of that particular event. We all handle trauma differently.

  2. I think for me having to watch my mother slowly decline from cancer was very traumatic. Our lives were never the same after she was diagnosed. The family, at least our family felt so helpless. You want to help but can’t, there was nothing we could do but make her as comfortable as we could. It changes absolutely everything when you lose a parent. Nothing is the same as it was or ever will be the same again. You learn to cope and move on because you have to. You have no choice. As my father said when she died. All we have now are memories. Very true.

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