What is trauma?

What happens to the brain of a boy when his parents get a divorce? 

Or when one of his parents abuses the other? 

Or if the child doesn't receive enough emotional nurturement while growing up?

Medical and mental health professionals are discovering that when a child experiences pain (or an "Adverse Childhood Experience" or ACE, according to this study), a child’s brain will naturally attempt to protect him or her from physical and emotional pain by instinctively shutting down or “turning off.”

This shutting down is a natural defense mechanism, as the brain is hardwired to help us survive.  In such circumstances, the brain is seeking to momentarily protect us.  However, when it shuts down, it does so in the regions of the brain that handle impulse control, emotions, and dopamine levels... and if the brain is forced to shut down done frequently enough over an extended period of time, it holds long-term health repercussions for the brain as it develops into an adult. 

This damage to the brain is referred to as trauma. And trauma often leads to problems with emotions, compulsive behavior, and issues with dopamine levels because the more pain a person experiences, the more brain damage one may have.

Thus, trauma isn't something that happens to you, it's something that happens inside of you. 

[do note: as we saw in the last post, trauma is normal, it's never anyone's fault, it's a natural human response to pain, and therefore, nothing to be ashamed of, and most importantly: trauma can be healed.]