All Trauma Affects the Physical Body

All Trauma affects the Physical Body

Every trauma, whether it occurs in a physiological, cognitive, emotional or interpersonal form, affects the physical body. The healing of trauma begins in the body. Since the body is the accurate history of our experiences in life, it is essential that we include the body in the healing process.

Muscle contractions protect the physical body

Trauma causes very deep muscle contraction designed to protect the body from harm or possible death during a traumatic episode. The contraction in these muscles must be released to restore the body back to its relaxed state and prevent the development of physical pain and constrictions.

Our nervous system resolves trauma reactions

Once the trauma is over, the body’s nervous system is designed to shake out this deep muscular tension and help the body return to its normal state. This shaking or tremoring, evoked by the nervous system much the same way as we experience any fear or anxiety, signals the brain to release the contraction and return to a normal state of relaxation.

Overemphasis on thought distorts body sensitivity

Due to an overemphasis on the mind, the result of social and politically ingrained opinions programming and stigma, we have deadened this shaking mechanism so that it no longer reduces the muscular tension, causing us to continue carrying it in our bodies long after the trauma is over.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is the term used to explain the continuation of disturbing thoughts, emotions, and feelings that persist even after the trauma is over.

Post-trauma reaction imprison us into reliving the experience

Because the experience is emotionally and physiologically overwhelming, the body stores the memories, thoughts, and emotions of the trauma to process them at a later date. The high chemical charge left in the body after trauma continually seeks to discharge. When that discharge does not occur, both the emotional and rational parts of our brains translate this excessive charge into intense emotions.

Unhealed trauma creates repetition compulsion behavior

PTSD is caused by the lack of release of the high excitement or anxiety (biochemical energy) that was generated at the time of the traumatic event. The body continues to seek a discharge from this over- simulation, so the brain unconsciously reproduces situations similar to the original trauma. This is the mind’s attempt to replay the traumatic scenario so that that the energy can be discharged in the hopes that the victim will now become the survivor. The most common example of this is when abused children enter into abusive relationships as adults.

When an animal is confronted with a novel or life-threatening situation in the wild, it responds naturally by fighting, fleeing or freezing. If the animal survives, it discharges excess energy from its nervous system through shaking, trembling and twitching. This discharge leaves the animal ready to respond to any subsequent threat adequately. Animals may move through this sequence several times in a day without any adverse effects or exhibit symptoms of trauma. Apart from our well-developed neo-cortex or “thinking brain” our innate responses to threat are identical to animals in the wild. However in our modern world “civilized society” we are not always able to respond in the natural way that our nervous system was designed. In fact, the result of toxic social/political misinformation is stigmatizing. Survivors themselves also having these beliefs now engrained within themselves have deadened this natural mechanism, and attempt to do the impossible [ Suck it up, Get over it etc…] Rather than processing it. Nevertheless and regardless of many factors your ” animal brain” responded as if it was a life-threatening situation, and a great deal of energy was mounted in your nervous system to protect yourself. Not having the opportunity to fight or flee, or process the trauma, it is likely you Froze and became Stuck.

Trauma side effects/symptoms are signs of a deregulated nervous system, and this is why natural healing is very useful and a necessary tool in trauma recovery.

Written by Erin Paterson

Dive deeper into this topic by reading

The Trauma Essential Series

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Comments

  1. Nancy  April 11, 2017

    Repetition compulsion, I know it all too well! After many dysfunctional relationships and one failed marriage I met my second husband and fell madly in love in a way I had never experienced before. 4 years later I realized I had married my mother! My body was so tight with anxiety and fear. The year following our separation I feared he would come back and kill me. He’s a very troubled man. This constant state of fear created a nervous tic that I still haven’t lost after 3 years apart although it’s better. I remember having nervous tics through different times in my childhood and life. My body attempting to cope I’m assuming. I have also had long stretches of lethargy and extreme fatigue during my recovery. I have found yoga and massage very helpful in getting me unstuck and moving forward. I still have that seed of fear but as time goes on without any incidences it helps it lessen. Walks in nature and meditation have been my life savers.

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  2. Anna  May 15, 2017

    This is great, thank you.

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  3. Michelle Jacobs  December 11, 2017

    This is exactly what I am experiencing right now….

    reply
  4. Katherine  February 6, 2018

    As a new vegan I watched video footage of animals in the slaughterhouse and I saw them trembling and it seemed to me their natural response to trauma.

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