What is Trauma?
During ordinary, day-to-day events, both sides of our brain process and store what we experience. However, when you have a life-threatening experience or you witness another person in such circumstances, your verbal brain can be overwhelmed and your executive function (the ability to think your way out of the trauma) fails. You can no longer organize your experience in a logical way. The parts of the brain that deal with survival take over. If you cannot fight or flee the situation you will go into the freeze. This is when the Instinctual Trauma Response (ITR) occurs.
Going into the ITR affects your memory for the trauma. You may feel that the fragmented memory is “stuck” in the non-verbal parts of the brain, where there are no words and no sense of time. We call these fragments “mental shrapnel.” These bits and pieces of the trauma then become triggers that intrude into your life at unexpected times. The result can be bewildering and can change how an individual views him/herself, others, and the world at large.
Not everyone who has a trauma will develop PTSD. However, when trauma symptoms interfere with living life to its fullest, we have the help you need in a time-limited program focused just on you.
Big “T” VS Little “T” Events
Some trauma experts make a distinction between “big T” traumas (life-threatening events) and “little T” traumas (such as psychological humiliation). We see the difference between the two is whether the person had experienced the Instinctual Trauma Response. In “little T” traumas, the memories are continuous, organized, and easy to access. Because the verbal mind is “out of commission” during the ITR, the memories are patchy and incomplete. At ITT we focus on “big T” traumas, but we can also process the “little T” events.
A person can sometimes enter a “fixed state” when re-experiencing an aspect of the Instinctual Trauma Response as an intrusive symptom (even though the trauma happened long ago). For example, one could be in the fixed state of the freeze that is mistaken for depression. In such a case, antidepressants and other conventional treatments have little effect.