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Understanding Trauma

Definitions of Trauma

"Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the event itself. They arise when residual energy from the experience is not discharged from the body. This energy remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wear havoc on our bodies and minds."

-Peter Levine

"Trauma is a breech in the protective barrier against (over)stimulation, leading to overwhelming feelings of helplessness."


"Psychological trauma is the state of severe fright that we experience when we are confronted with a sudden, unexpected potentially life threatening event over which we have no control, and to which we are unable to respond effectively no matter how hard we try." 


"Traumatic events are extraordinary, not because they are occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life...the common denominator of trauma is a feeling of 'intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and threat of annihilation.'"



Categories of Trauma

Global High Intensity Activation (GHIA)

Pre- and Perinatal Trauma

  • (Fetal distress, birth trauma, early surgeries)


High Fevers

Suffocation, Choking, Drowning

High Impact/Failure of Physical Defense


Acquired Brain Injuries

High Impact and Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA)

Inescapable Attack

Animal Attack

Escape Inhibited

Rape/Sexual abuse

Physical Injury




Natural and Man-made Disasters

Natural Disasters


Torture, Ritual Abuse, War, Terrorism

Emotional Trauma

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