Trauma can take different forms. One can speak of individual trauma, ancestral trauma, and collective trauma. All of these are happening on different, yet interconnected levels of (all!) our lives. Historically, the word ‘trauma’ comes from the Greek, and literally means ‘wound’ or can be taken in its active form of ‘to wound’. Although originally the word was taken to mean physical wounding, Sigmund Freud was the first (in his book Beyond the Pleasure Principle of 1920) who would use it in his psychological practice with patients to describe their psychological wounding. Currently, trauma is often defined by its response of fear, anxiety, a feeling of overwhelm, and symptoms like PTSD (Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder).
In other words, trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences. It is also important to recognise that trauma does not discriminate and is pervasive throughout the world. A World Mental Health survey conducted by the World Health Organization found that at least a third of the more than 125,000 people surveyed in 26 different countries had experienced trauma. While there are no objective criteria to evaluate which events will cause post-trauma symptoms, circumstances typically involve the loss of control, betrayal, abuse of power, helplessness, pain, confusion and/or loss. The event need not rise to the level of war, natural disaster, nor personal assault to affect a person profoundly and alter their experiences. Traumatic situations that cause post-trauma symptoms vary quite dramatically from person to person. Indeed, it is very subjective and it is important to bear in mind that it is defined more by its response than its trigger.
In this episode of Science & Wisdom LIVE, 3 experts – Deb Dana, Rob Preece, and Dr. David Robinson-Morris – discuss the nature of trauma and how we can deal with it in a skilful way that is healing and transformative. The dialogue is moderated by Scott Snibbe, who is also host and producer of a Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment, and will focus on topics such as the connection between psychological healing and contemplative practices, how to understand trauma through the lenses of polyvagal theory, and the relationship between individual and collective trauma.