Trauma and Stress are at the Root
of Most of Our Problems
I am an Anxiety and Trauma specialist, helping people Release these issues for years. Throughout my career I have been employed in a number of mental health and substance abuse settings, as well as my own Practice for the last 20 years, working with people of all ages with a wide variety of issues, two of the most prevalent being Anxiety and Trauma. All together, I have over 35 years of experience helping people resolve these kinds of issues and have acquired extensive training and copious knowledge of very effective methods to treat these conditions (i.e., E.M.D.R., Brainspotting, E.F.T., W.H.E.E. Therapy, Imago Couples Therapy, Parts Therapy, etc.
Dave Dodge, L.C.S.W., C.I.R.T.
What is Trauma?
There are different definitions of trauma and most of them, especially the one from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders manual (the handbook used by health care professionals in much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders) focus on major traumatic events. It defines trauma as direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury; threat to one's physical integrity, witnessing an event that involves the above experience, learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death, or injury experienced by a family member or close associate.
This definition categorizes trauma as something that is caused by major events or catastrophes in one’s life (i.e., major car accidents, major natural disasters, violent rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, witnessing violence or death, and the like). These traumas can lead to debilitating symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, phobias, fears, as well as difficulties at home and work, with extreme cases leading to clinically defined disorders such as P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), or other clinically defined anxiety or depressive disorders. Some examples of negative self-beliefs that develop from these bigger traumas are, “I’m not safe in the world”, “I’m in danger”, “I’m going to die”, etc.
This is also what the average person thinks of trauma and what causes trauma or what the criteria is for one to be considered to be traumatized. When we think of trauma or of someone being traumatized, we usually think of the bigger forms of trauma that result from a major accident, disaster, or tragedy, etc. For the D.S.M. series the trauma has to end up in some kind of disorder in order to be valid somehow and the average lay person is also conditioned to see trauma as something that only some have to experience.
The type of traumas just described are what are referred to as Big “T” traumas. There is also something I will refer to as Little “t” traumas which can be just as destructive, if not more destructive, to a person’s psychological makeup than the Big T traumas we just discussed because they are much more insidious in their overall impact.
I contend that we all get traumatized, especially in our younger years, even though we may not go through the experiences that were just defined. The majority of trauma we experience in our lives does not come from these larger, more dramatic events. Most of the trauma we all experience in our lives comes from the Little "t", more personalized traumatic events which are more insidious and harder to identify as we get conditioned to these Little "t" traumas as we grow up. These "events", usually experienced in our childhood, have negatively altered our sense of self in some way, and influence how we feel about ourselves and how we interact in the world around us. These experiences caused us emotional pain, humiliation or shame, giving us a lesser sense of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy.
To learn more, go to:
Little "t" Trauma
Lesser traumatic experiences can still be very distressing and debilitating. Little "t" traumas are the ones that are harder to recognize, as are their impact on you. These are the experiences that might be traumatic for one person but not necessarily another. These are the daily hurts that occur across time and build on each other. They’re the ones that not only might others not recognize for the traumas they are, you might not recognize why you’re feeling stressed or emotional either. It’s not how the triggering event compares to what someone else has experienced that makes it a trauma; it’s defined as a trauma because of your own emotional experience of it.
Being chastised or judged unfairly by our caretakers, being neglected or verbally/emotionally abused (no matter how well intentioned they may have been), being humiliated in the classroom, difficulties with peers, losses due to others moving away, chaotic family dynamics, divorce, abandonment issues, etc., are examples of the little “t” traumas that are not highlighted and somewhat discounted as being traumatic factors in our lives. Some examples of self-beliefs that develop from these “t” traumas are “I’m not deserving”, “I’m not lovable”, “I’m stupid”, “I’m not good enough”, "I don't deserve", "I'm a failure", "I'm not worthy", "I am less than", “I’m not safe” “I don’t trust”, etc.
Little "t" traumas are the ones that trigger you. They’re the events that cause ongoing stress, anxiety, depression, or problems in your marriage and relationships. It’s as if you have a button on your body and when it gets pushed, you go to a qualitatively different state of being. Your body either revs up or shuts down. Your feelings are more intense than seems to fit the situation and might be more similar to the feelings of a 5-year-old than a 50-year old. That’s because the hot button is attached to an old hurt, or many old hurts.
For some, the Little "t" hurts involve the kind of response we try to stuff down, but the hurts re-emerge some time later, when the button is pushed again. Others may respond to the discomfort by some sort of impulsive, knee-jerk reaction and may take it out on someone else. If you are this type of responder, those are the reactions that you have come to regret, the ones that you end up sabotaging yourself with or causing problems for those you love.
Some examples of Little "t' trauma are:
Neglect/lack of emotional support
Phobia related experiences
Stress at work or school
Lack of empathy from others
To learn more, go to:
The Causes of Anxiety or any other mental/emotional dysfunction
The Trauma/Stress tree below represents how the amount of trauma or stress/distress we experience in our earlier lives greatly influences and creates the “roots” of our emotional and behavioral foundation for the rest of our lives. From our distressful experiences come our negative thoughts, beliefs and perceptions about ourselves.
These negative beliefs branch out and create our negative feelings causing our Anxiety, Depression, Fear, Anger/Rage, even some of our Physical Pain, etc. The Leaves of the tree represent our dysfunctional behaviors, (i.e., overeating, drug/alcohol abuse, working or shopping too much, being a Procrastinator, a Perfectionist, a People Pleaser, etc., to mention only a few) which are attempts to cover up or avoid our negative feelings.
The physical and emotional symptoms caused by the trauma, distress and stress in our lives are our anxiety, worry, depression, fear, phobias, anger/rage, sadness, guilt, shame and even physical pain, etc.
So what are the issues you want to work on and Release
so you can live a happier, healthier life?
GIVE ME A CALL!
I WILL HELP YOU
CHANGE YOUR LIFE!