Trauma and Survival

Do Jelly babies form trauma bonds?

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as defined in the DSM-V, is characterized by 5 symptoms. The last four must last longer than a month and cause significant distress:

  1. Exposure to trauma: death or threat of death or injury.
  2. Intrusive symptoms: memories, flashbacks, psychological distress, physical distress.
  3. Avoidance: trying not to think about the trauma, avoiding places that remind you of it.
  4. Negative alterations in thought and mood: amnesia, negative beliefs, distorted cognitions, lack of interest, detachment, estrangement from others, inability to experience positive emotions.
  5. Arousal: Irritability, angry outbursts, reckless behavior, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle, difficulty concentrating, insomnia.

At root, PTSD is a survival mechanism, a battlefield mentality, intended to keep us safe. It’s the body’s way of saying, “Never again will I be abused, attacked or in danger.” It becomes a problem when the alarm system goes off in the absence of real danger. It becomes a problem when individuals attempt to suppress “dangerous” thoughts and emotions. Alcohol, hypervigilance, and checking will not make one safer, but they do temporarily silence the alarm. And they all amount to experiential avoidance. An earlier article on this site, Core Beliefs and Assumptions in PTSD

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