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Childhood trauma explained

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Is it possible you could be deeply traumatized and you don’t know it yet? Before we answer that let's first define the word "trauma".

While it is obvious that events like war, starvation, car accident, fire..etc. are considered devastating traumas with a capital T, however other small incidents could have the same disturbing effect as well. Yes you heard that right.

Because simply, trauma is not the event, it is what happens inside of us as a response to the event.

With this definition, trauma could be extended to include events that might have been minor yet overwhelming to the nervous system at the point of occurrence. That we call trauma with a small t. So why the nervous system cannot handle small events? Basically, Because it might not be ready yet.

Scanning through the brain anatomy and zooming in to a specific part called the amygdala will help us understand.

The amygdala is part of the limbic system connected to the nervous system that is responsible for processing fearful and threatening stimuli, and activating the appropriate behaviors in response to danger.

Learn Nervous System Regulation here

In other words, when a person feels stressed or afraid, the amygdala releases stress hormones that prepare the body to fight the threat or flee from the danger (Fight or Flight). Responses include fear, anger, anxiety, and aggression might be triggered.

Now since we humans take forever to be fully grown (the science detect 25 years for a human brain to reach its full maturity…and no that is not an excuse for your early twenties

bad decisions) that means the younger we are the more overwhelming stressors could be.

For a 6 year old, witnessing a loud fight between mom and dad, being left alone in a dark room, getting bullied in school, losing a favorite toy, being isolated from friends, all those incidents could be traumatizing.

These incidents could feel a lot worse in case of not having conscious parents that listen, help the child regulating their emotions, and show the necessary empathy. If that support was denied, those small incidents could easily be psychologically scaring and traumatizing.

So what we do now? Continue shedding one layer after another, process, unburden, and reparent ourselves to heal both big T's and small t's traumas.

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