The high prevalence of trauma:
- One in five Americans were sexually molested as a child
- One in four was beaten by a parent to the point of a mark being left on their body
- One in three couples engages in physical violence
- A quarter grew up with alcoholic relatives
- One out of eight witnessed their mother being beaten or hit
- Traumatic experiences leave traces on our histories and cultures, families, minds and emotions, our capacity for joy and intimacy, our biology and immune systems.
- Families are frightened by the rage and emotional absence of soldiers returning home from combat.
- Wives of men who suffer PTSD tend to become depressed.
- Children of depressed mothers are at risk of growing up insecure and anxious.
- Children exposed to family violence as a child often makes it difficult to establish stable, trusting relationships as an adult.
- It is so upsetting to think about what happened that we try to push it out of our minds, try to act as if nothing happened, and move on.
- It takes tremendous energy to keep functioning while carrying the memory of terror, and the shame of helplessness.
The part of our brain that is devoted to ensuring our survival is not very good at denial. Long after a traumatic experience is over, it may be reactivated at the slightest hint of danger and mobilize disturbed brain circuits and secrete massive amounts of stress hormones. This precipitates unpleasant emotions, intense physical sensations, and impulsive and aggressive actions. These post-traumatic reactions feel incomprehensible and overwhelming. Feeling out of control, survivors of trauma often begin to fear that they are damaged to the core and beyond redemption.
The brain stem is the part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord. The brain stem controls functions basic to the survival of all animals, such as heart rate, breathing, digesting foods, and sleeping. It is the lowest, most primitive area of the human brain.
(from "The Brain - Basic Information www.brainwaves.com/brain_basics.html")