Reenactment Trauma and How We Repeat What We Have Experienced

Trauma reenactment is common in most trauma that occurred early in life. These survival patterns—often unconsciously—keep projecting themselves outwardly.

If you feel at a loss as to why and how conflict manifests itself outwardly in society, it might be helpful to look at it from a micro-personal perspective, primarily, as the outward collective expression resembles, therefore reflects, our inward individual reality.

It just becomes magnified and seemingly more complicated.

Trauma Reenactment: Looking at Trauma from an Individual Perspective

When you are overwhelmed and therefore traumatized by an incident; such as a car accident or a sudden loss of a dear one, or by a period in time; like having suffered child-abuse and neglect—the emotion(s) that relate to the incident or period will be kept alive in your body and mind (psycho-somatically) until they're resolved.

Trauma reenactment is common in most trauma that occurred early in life. These survival patterns—often unconsciously—keep projecting themselves outwardly.

Till then, you will very likely dissociate from it, partially or fully; but, it will remain in place.

When that traumatic emotional energy remains unresolved, it begins a cycle through different stages of activity and inactivity.

The Cycle of Trauma and How it Moves between Activity and Inactivity

It might be dormant and inactive for a period. It might express itself in a not too intense a way, but its head will keep popping up from time to time.

We could refer to this movement as the inward and outward-breathing of emotional movement and expression.

There is a period of emotional activity attended by hyper-vigilance and one or more of the core emotions of anger, fear, and sadness. Once that energy has exhausted itself it will go into; depression, exhaustion, numbness, lethargy, deadness or even possibly wanting to die, etc.

The severity and extremes of this cycle will be dependent upon what you have been through; it's duration, and the presence or absence of support you may have encountered.

You could be blissfully dissociated for 10, 20 or 30 years and suddenly you might start experiencing intrusive flashbacks and thoughts. Or you might go through cycles of hyper-vigilance and activation followed by depression and numbness on a daily basis.

Trauma Reenactment: Looking at It from a Macro-Society Perspective

The movement of society is no different. We carry collective traumas within our shared consciousness that have gone unresolved, and it raises its head after a period of dormancy.

We have been hurt by wars, racial conflict, economic inequality, invasions and loss of identity; and the list goes on.

The spirit of trauma is within us and expresses itself both individually and collectively.

Our reactive coping patterns, to avoid feeling hurt, easily resonates with patriotism, fighting for one’s rights, identifying with one’s country, flag, - my religion is better than yours, - etc.

Our individual trauma morphs with the collective version and thereby perpetuates the cycle of trauma.

→ Read more about reenactment trauma right here.

What Can We Learn from All This, and Can We Be Free Human Beings?

Which brings me to the end of this section of writing.

I am not saying all this to elicit an opinion, agreement, statement or conclusion.

If you can, preferably, see and feel very profoundly how we re-enact our patterns, individually and collectively, rather than getting pulled into the vortex of trauma and, through being superficially opinionated, become pro- or against something.

Then, could you hold that broader view of how psychology continually moves in lesser and larger degrees, in phases of contraction and expansion?

And rather than becoming part of that movement, through identification, can you use that turmoil and apparent conflict to work through the more in-depth, anguished patterns of hurt, and resolve that.

The Cyclic Movement of Consciousness and Dis-Identification

Consciousness lives within us and expresses itself outwardly, and as such, potentially helps us to become aware of ourselves.

When you have very deeply resolved both the individual and collective emotional residual trauma within yourself, you can be in the midst of a conflicting situation but not be part of it.

You have created a variable into consciousness itself and thereby can affect a change in the mindset of those around you. Not by will or intent but by your presence. You will change the world, as a by-product of living that reality.

  • Barbra says:

    Absolutely brilliant and written so clearly. So much information summarized so perfectly….Thank you for this.

  • Hele says:

    Huh, I never thought in terms of those parallels, but It makes sense; interesting.

  • jacqueline says:

    I have been thinking of this a lot lately. Of course this is very personal, yet so relevant that humans come to this type of reasoning within self and society. Scary that I did not associate myself with trauma until my fifties, and then it became so obvious…. What lies beneath…

    • shannon says:

      i am similar to your situation. I lived with trauma all my life since childhood. Never thought it bothered me until I had severe trauma over a seven month period in my fifties. Enter PDSD Now with PTSD and anxiety I find my mind keeps jumping back to all the traumatic experiences I have had causing even more anxiety. Ten years I have fought to live a normal life but the anxiety and fear continue. I have it that I can keep it fairly hidden now so everyone really thinks I am fine now. Not the case. LOL

  • Monica says:

    Oh God, we are utterly screwed as a collective Humanity, aren’t we? UNLESS we can all just STOP, SEE and take responsibility for ourselves; giving the Abuser: Trauma, Rape, Accident, Illness, Poverty, Racism, etc etc BACK its heavy level of responsibility as well as admitting our own in reaction/relation to it.

    Very well articulated, thanks Roland.
    I have suffered many traumas of different kinds since conception (Conceived through rape, failed abortion attempt against my life, rape and incest, neglect, abuse, orphaned, sexual&emotional abuse and manipulation in church, early infant death of my children, death of both parents, a brother-in-law and a nephew in space of 4years; and I’m “only” 36!) My “natural” responses are all trauma-based: apparently, even my high level of “empathy” (FAWN) which I’ve always seen as a weakness and strength (Oh feck!) Healing has been S L O W and often exhausting, stepping back “into” trauma events with trusted “professionals” and my Jesus at my side. LIghtbulbs keep going on each time I read more of your material, for which I am truly greatful. Gives me more handles of what has predominantly been fearful&confusing&misunderstood by me and many others. Allows room for grace and true empathy. Thank you

  • Sherry Brown says:

    So going through all of this Again. 🙁 Angry, overthinking, agitated, despondent, sad, lonely, from yet another abuse of a person who was narcissistic that I had trusted. Fighting fatigue. But thankfully not fully triggered and non-functional.

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