Trauma definition:: ‘Something that happens to us that is beyond our control that causes us to feel intense fear, horror, or helplessness; an event outside normal human experience’.
Quoted from ‘Healing Trauma’ Elijah House Teaching Series pg.4.
“My People are broken-shattered-and they put on Band-aids, saying,’Its not so bad. you’ll be just fine.’ But things are not just fine!.Jeremiah 6:14.
Just about all of us have been affected by some sort of trauma at one time or another, whether it be bullying, rejection, a car accident, domestic violence, sexual abuse or those whose careers are involved with traumatic incidents on a sometimes daily basis, such as Army Personnel at war or Ambulance Officers.
I would like to explain a little of what recent Neuroscience has discovered, that can help us understand what happens in our bodies, and why we can get stuck with traumatic things that have happened to us.
Neuroscientist’s have discovered in our brain there are three seperate brains, 1.primitive or reptilian brain, 2.emotional or mammalian, and, 3.our thinking brain or Neo-cortex. This is an evolutionists idea of the brain developed over millennia, of course I don’t go to their school and believe that the whole brain was once dominated by our spirit, but now since the fall people tend mainly to live out of their instincts like the so called small ‘reptilian brain’. When we pray, interact in relationship(in a good way), think logically, have vision and purpose we are using the so called ‘thinking brain’ or the ‘Neo-Cortex’
In the small brain, the ‘Amygdala’, the part they say is the ‘primitive cave man’ brain, responds to ‘threats’. It controls our emotions and body regulation, such as breathing and so on. I want to focus in on the ‘threat’ side of things, because it has to do with how we respond to traumatic events in our lives. When there is a perceived threat to us the ‘Amygdala’ sets the body into survival mode pumping chemicals to increase blood flow,heart rate and puts our bodies into a ‘freeze’,’flight’,or’fight’ mode, ready to respond to the real or perceived threat.
The real or perceived threat becomes stored into the memory of the ‘Amygdala'(small brain) and not in our normal everyday ‘thinking memory'(big brain or Neo-Cortex). This is for survival, so that next time our body in milli-seconds can respond and be ready to a similar danger without any logical thinking process, which takes to long. Its an automatic response. This is why we can recall traumatic memories like they have happened a couple months ago, when in reality they might have happened years ago.The ‘Amygdala’ has it stored. This is also why, when you see a war veteran that comes home and he hears a car backfire, his ‘Amygdala’ goes in to action, and produces an automatic response without thinking, even for years after. When the Neo-Cortex(thinking brain) can process fully that the enviroment is safe, with no threat any more, the ‘Amygdala’ can in a sense pass on the memory to the normal functioning memory (in third brain) and treat it as a harmless incident and react accordingly.
Anxiety and depression can occur when these reactions keep happening and we feel that we have no control. Our bodies/brains can be responding to things that are causing us to feel like we are not normal or crazy(like the army guy). In essence the ‘Amygdala’ can stay switched on all the time, its gets stuck in the ‘on’ position. The reasoning mind hasn’t been able to over-ride the switch.We can stay constantly stressed, because hormones and adrenaline keep getting sent through the body, and eventually become sick, run down,depressed and so on.
Some people can start to have panic attacks, and start to fear the responses these out of control signals from the Amydala are causing in their bodies. Fearing that they may come at any time, they can end up having panic attacks about having a panic attack.
Another interesting thing to note is that animals that have been subject to prey by another animal, go into the same type of ‘freeze,fight or flight’. Fight or flight would use up the excess adrenaline, but in ‘freeze’ like most animals, that are caught, will go into shock. If they are able to get away from the attacker, they will shake until the excess hormones dissipate, then they go back to normal. Humans have this same mechanism for releasing shock and trauma after a threat has passed. It is supposed to be a normal process to eliminate excess hormones after the shock or trauma.
This is where prayer comes in, for healing the mind, soul and body. Understanding what’s going on in your body is a key to know how to pray, and what to pray for, for healing.
When I was involved in a fatal car accident in 1991, I was stuck in the vehicle and was not able to help my friends in the wreck. Because I was stuck, it left me with a sense of helplessness, and a automatic response to screeching tires and loud bangs in the future. I fought this sense of hopelessness with achievement(in a worldly sense), for I felt responsible for the accident and that I was the cause of something really bad. I also had no safe place or time to grieve(which is the 1st stage to healing),
I didn’t realise I was in a helpless state of shock, no counselling was available to process what had happened through my rational mind, and that everything was safe now. I became stuck, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) set in, and cycles of depression continually occurred, until I wasn’t able to keep moving forward, and had no choice but to deal with a myriad of issues confronting me.
Tragic events happen all the time, hopefully yours or a friends not as bad as mine. Even things like being fired from a job can be traumatic and devastating to some people, everyone is different. But I want you to know that finding a safe place to grieve, and to process the traumatic event with a professional experienced person is crucial to your inner and outer health, maybe not now but the future may depend on it.
‘Memories, painful or sweet, don’t form instantly after an event, but congeal over time. Like slowly hardening cement, there is a window of opportunity when people are shapeable…’James McGaugh.
Love, nurture, touch, compassion and care is God’s idea for those around about you to step in, if this doesn’t happen the trauma will settle and we can become stuck until it is resolved.
Anger,revenge,sadness or despair are all feelings that can be associated with the grieving process of a traumatic event.
If the traumatic event is buried, you will in one way or another process it in a way that is unproductive; violence(verbally or physically),drugs,alcohol,sex, self hatred, self centerdness or even suicide. There is hope!
If you realise that when you are responding to a situation, that you are being irrational, and usually you do notice that something has come over you or that you have gone to far in physically releasing your emotions, please start your journey of healing. First acknowledging and understanding the cause, then seeking professional Christian care and prayer, then moving on in your healing process.
.Join with God and He will be with you through the process.
God bless Dan.
P.s. By recommending ‘Professional Care’ I do mean Christian care and suggest
Elijah House Prayer Ministry, as the local Church is often not equipped to
deal effectively with trauma.
If you want to be free from the effects of trauma, this video prayer is thorough and blessed.
http://youtu.be/31-o0EzLI7g (Trauma Prayer.wmv, on You Tube by House of Healing Ministries)