Unfortunately, many, many millions of people in the United States
and around the world have had terrible experiences of personal trauma.
Once you have been traumatized in a significant way, whether it
was from your early ongoing, family-of-origin experiences or from
a single, dramatic or violent experience later in your life, you
may find that you are more sensitive to upsetting and traumatic
experiences in the present.
If you are having the experience of being "triggered"
by current events, and are having chronic or acute anxiety and distress
over current events such as September ll, the sniper shootings,
school shootings, or the potential for war, you deserve to get help
for your anxiety.
Luckily, mental health professionals are learning
more and more about how to recognize and help people with trauma
histories. You don't have to go it alone, and you shouldn't go it
alone. Even if you don't have a lot of money or good insurance,
there are many psychotherapists who have taken a special interest
in studying specific ways to treat trauma. So if you were traumatized
and you are going to a clinic to get your care, be a good consumer
ask for a therapist who has specialized training to help you. (You
can research this by going to www.trauma-pages.com
and going to the information section).
In fact, the information available to trauma survivors
on the internet already is so excellent that I don't need to "re-write
the book." It has already been written. Please allow me to
encourage you to explore what is out there.Check out the Resources
suggestions at the end of this page.
Trauma Which Is Not Recognized as Trauma
Professionals sometimes talk about "Big T
Trauma" and "little t trauma." "Little t trauma"
is the kind of bad experience that people have that is subtle, but
ongoing. With "little t trauma" sometimes, you may not
recognize that you have been traumatized, because you suffered in
a home with ongoing dysfunction or emotional neglect that was so
constant that you
came to think about it as normal.
Many ACOAs Have "little t Trauma"
If you think about the fact that 76 million people
in the United States have been exposed to alcoholism in their family,
you realize the vast numbers of Americans who have had AT LEAST
"little t trauma" in their lives. Adult children of alcoholics
have many problems--with attachment, trust, with never being allowed
to be children, with being super responsible, with being dependent,
and with asking for what they need. "Little t trauma"
changes people's visions of themselves and the world in subtle ways
that interfere with living life to the fullest.
Growing up in an unsupportive or chaotic environment creates certain
inner models and beliefs which are negative and affect your behavior
and feelings in a destructive way. You need to confront these feelings
and connect them to past neglect or trauma.
Common negative beliefs you might have about yourself
"I am insignificant"
"I am a failure"
"I am shameful"
"I am not lovable"
"I cannot trust anyone"
"I do not deserve"
(from Shapiro, l995)
These kinds of beliefs are called "negative
cognitive schemas" by mental health professionals.
The Milestones of Sexual Development Model is good
to keep in mind when thinking of your trauma, independent of issues
of sexuality. Re-read the "Solving Problems" section of
this website and you can begin to see how the "little t trauma"
in your life has affected your assumptions about yourself, others,
and the safety of the world.
Big T Trauma
Other people have suffered from dramatic trauma. If you suffered
because of rape, physical or sexual abuse, watching someone you
love being terrorized, beaten, tortured, or killed, experienced
incest, or seeing gruesome kinds of tragedies or war, or lost someone
in a terrorist attack, for example, you know that you have been
traumatized. You suffered a Big T trauma. If you can stand to talk
about it, other people immediately recognize that you have experienced
something out of the ordinary. Again, these kinds of unbearable
experiences change what psychologists and trauma experts call your
inner "cognitive maps" or "cognitive schemas."
Negative beliefs which can be stirred up include
"I should have done something"
"I am powerless"
"I cannot protect myself"
"I am in danger"
"I cannot stand it"
"I am weak"
Huge Numbers of Americans are Victims of Domestic Violence They
Often Minimize or Deny Their Trauma History
Victims of domestic violence, which I consider
Big T Trauma, tend to minimize their own experience with trauma.
Estimates are that as many as 10 million children witness spousal
abuse, usually their fathers beating their mothers. As many as l.5
million children are physically abused every year. As current day
to day life becomes more violent, victims of domestic abuse can
become more anxious about their own safety in the present.
People who never experienced major trauma in their past life can
insulate themselves from some of the terror of the world around
them. They believe the world is safe, that bad things only happen
to other people. Victims of past Big T Trauma are MUCH more vulnerable
to current traumas, like September 11th or the sniper killings of
October 2002 because they have totally lost the illusion that "bad
things only happen to other people." A current crisis can cause
someone with an unprocessed old trauma to be "triggered"---to
experience stress, anxiety, depression, or survivor's guilt after
a current, violent event.
Dr. Zoldbrod is certified in EMDR: A New, Powerful Treatment
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a new,
powerful treatment for trauma.Dr. Zoldbrod has been trained in EMDR
and has participated in a consultation group for EMDR practitioners
for 6 years.
She has used EMDR to treat all kinds of trauma, including working
victims of violence, rape, adult children of alcoholics, incest
victims of medical trauma, victims of workplace bullying, and clients
traumatic peer relationships.
Along with helping to process trauma, EMDR can also be used to
strengthen self esteem and improve functioning, to help self soothing,
and to install good bodily memories.
Here is what the media is saying about EMDR:
"EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy
has emerged as a procedure to be reckoned with in psychology....Almost
a million people have been treated .... Also, further research appears
to support the remarkable claims made for EMDR therapy."
- Reported in The Washington Post, July 21, 1995
"Where traditional therapies may take years, EMDR takes
only a few
- Reported in The Stars and Stripes, February 12, 1995
"New type of psychotherapy seen as boon to traumatic disorders."
- Reported in The New York Times, October 26, 1997
A NOTE TO READERS WHO WERE SEXUALLY ABUSED: MY BOOK Sex Talk
HAS SOME VIVID SEXUAL IMAGERY IN IT WHICH COULD POSSIBLY TRIGGER
BAD MEMORIES. UNTIL YOU ARE COMPLETELY OVER PROCESSING YOUR SEXUAL
ABUSE, I WOULD ADVISE
NOT READING THE EXCERPTS FROM Sex Talk YET. Thanks.
Resource for Consumers
Website:www.trauma-pages.com, Dr. David Baldwin's
most amazing, award winning site. Look under supportive information,
and you will find just about every resource you need. Www.trauma-pages.com
includes general information about trauma, plus information on every
kind of trauma: sexual assault, combat trauma, trauma in police,
fire, and EMS workers, holocaust
and torture, growing up in an alcoholic family, and more. You can
read up on different kinds of psychotherapy which are valuable in
processing and resolving trauma.
Resources for Professionals
Foa, E. and Kozak, M. (1986) Emotional processing
of fear: Exposure to corrective information. Psychological Bulletin,
Foa, E. and Kozak, M. (1991) Emotional processing: Theory, research
and clinical implications for anixety disorders. In J. Safran and
L. Greenberg (Eds.) Emotions, psychology and change. (pp 31-49)
New York: Guilford Press.
Horowitz,M., Wilner, N. and Alvarez, W. (1979) Impact
of Events Scale: A measure of subjective stress. Psychosomatic Medicine,
Jacobson, E. (1964) Anxiety and tension control.
Philadelphia, Pa: JB Lippincott.
Janoff-Bulman, R.(1985) The aftermath of victimization:Rebuilding
shattered assumptions. In C.R. Figley (Ed) Trauma and its wake:
Vol. l. The study and tratment of posttraumatic stress disorder
(pp.15-35). New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Wilson, JP and Keane, T.(Eds) Assessing psychological
trauma and PTSD: A Practitioner's Handbook. New York: Guilford.
Shapiro, F. 1995. Eye Movement Desensitization and
Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. New York:
Smyth, L. (1995) Clinician's manual for the cogntive-behavioral
treament of posttraumatic stress disorder. Harve de Grace, MD:RTR
Van der kolk, B. (1994) The Body Keeps the Score. Memory and the
evolving psychobiology of post traumatic stress. Harvard Review
of Psychiatry,l(5), 253-265. This amazing article ends with 134
citations of other work in the field.
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