What is Trauma?

"There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature.  A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with."  ~Harry Crews

According to Peter Levine, “Trauma is perhaps the most avoided, ignored, belittled, denied, misunderstood, and untreated cause of human suffering. Although it is the source of tremendous distress and dysfunction, it is not an ailment or a disease, but the byproduct of an instinctively instigated, altered state of consciousness. We enter this altered state – let us call it “survival mode” – when we perceive that out lives are being threatened.  If we are overwhelmed by the threat and are unable to successfully defend ourselves, we can become stuck in survival mode. This highly aroused state is designed solely to enable short-term defensive actions; but left untreated over time, it begins to form the symptoms of trauma. These symptoms can invade every aspect of our live. Trauma is a basic rupture- loss of connection – to ourselves, our families, and the world. The loss, although enormous, is difficult to appreciate because it happens gradually. We adjust to these slight changes, sometimes without taking notice of them at all. Contrary to the view of psychiatric medicine- that trauma is basically untreatable and only marginally controllable by drugs, - when treated thoroughly healing can lead not only to symptom reduction, but long-term transformation.”  (Levine, 1999)

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