CPTSD or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
There is no such thing as a straightforward trauma. This applies even more considering CPTSD. Each and every trauma has its own complexity. Going through a car-accident seems simple to analyze but the nervous system’s responses are extremely rapid and complex.
Furthermore, your responses are very depended on what you have gone through previously. You can go through a severe car-accident and rebound fairly well. Or, you can you go through a similar car-accident and be absolutely destroyed afterward. Often, because of a history of abuse or traumatic episodes already. Having a traumatic history will further impact you and the car accident might be the last drop in the bucket that leads to CPTSD.
CPTSD and its Relationship to Childhood Trauma
Most complex post-traumatic stress disorder is constituted of repeated exposure to traumatic events or episodes. And, often relates to childhood experiences. In other terminology; this kind of trauma is also referred to as developmental trauma disorder.
Trauma has a certain set of defined reflexes, in terms of the nervous system and psychological responses. There is a sense of helplessness and loss of control which is infused with a core emotion of anger, sadness or fear. From from there on the surplus unrestrained energy further dissociates into a coping emotion and coping mechanisms.
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When we talk of multiple episodes and traumatic incidents, as in CPTSD, then you also get a variety of set survival reflexes imprinted into your nervous system and psyche.
How It Can Go from Bad to Worse: CPTSD
Let me highlight this with an example:
Karuna is an unplanned, unwanted child by both parents. Her father is never there for her, and her mother is nagging and overbearing. Karuna has learned that it is best to passively hold still and keep quiet. Her overwhelming core emotions are deep sadness at not being noticed, loved, nourished or wanted. Her coping emotion is fear of openly speaking up and being openly vulnerable. With this pattern set in her psyche, she enters adolescence. She gets into a situation where she is with a man and although she doesn’t consent to have sex with him emotionally, she is unable to speak out and stop him. The experience turns out to be very upsetting for her. This experience really topples her delicate emotional balance which develops into full-blown CPTSD with severe symptoms of depression, dissociation, hyper-vigilance, and so on.
The Complexity of Multiple Trauma
When working with CPTSD, you have to be aware that there are multiple traumatic incidents or episodes at play. As a therapist, you have to be able to differentiate between what connects with what as the different feelings, emotions and periods will often associate with one another making treatment of Complex Trauma more arduous to untangle.
You can certainly work through complex post-traumatic disorder and trauma. It is hard work and won’t be easy, but the payoffs are more than worth it if you want to get your life back!
Do you have CPTSD or complex post-traumatic stress disorder? Leave your comments below.