Trauma produces "a re-calibration of the brain's alarm system, an increase in stress hormone activity" and "compromises the brain area that communicates the physical, embodied feeling of being alive.
To understand trauma, we need to understand the whole body system.
Understanding trauma requires us to look at the whole body system. At its core, trauma is an experience that overwhelms our ability to cope. But why does it have such a powerful impact?
As renowned expert Bessel Van der Kolk explains, trauma affects nearly every part of the brain. The emotional right brain becomes more active, while the logical left brain recedes. The primal, reptilian back of the brain kicks into high gear, whereas the front part, responsible for higher-order thinking like decision-making (the prefrontal cortex), becomes less active. In essence, the brain's normal connections and neurotransmitters get scrambled, leading to a state of heightened alertness involving multiple brain structures.
This process results in a feeling of paralysis or helplessness – it's not a choice, but a neurological response. Trauma does not discriminate; it can incapacitate a person’s ability to think, feel, and act clearly. If you've ever felt overwhelmed by trauma, remember, it's not your fault. It's a natural response of your brain trying to protect you.
However, it's also important to know that healing is possible. With the right support and interventions, the brain's incredible plasticity allows for recovery and regaining control. You're not alone on this journey
"Trauma is a fact of life. It does not have to be a life sentence" Peter A Levine
Arland wanted to be released from the memories of the past.
"My journey has been amazing. The first session was amazing as Angela did not judge me for my identity. I am very grateful for the good work you put into the world. Since I have experienced The Advancing Heart Protocol™, I continue to improve not only my life but others I share my life with".
Sophia wanted to be released from high anxiety.
“I have noticed the emotions, but the intensity has decreased, and the length of time the emotions last for is shorter. So, for example, I physically and psychologically recover from an experience that provokes the emotions a lot quicker than I normally would do”.
Sophia, Registered Health Professional, New Zealand
How does trauma affect the nervous system?
Traumatic events push the nervous system outside its ability to regulate itself.
Understanding how trauma affects us starts with the nervous system, the command center for everything we do, including breathing, thinking, and feeling. When faced with a situation, our brain uses all five senses to gather information. If this sensory input is overwhelming and perceived as dangerous, the nervous system records it as trauma.
When we experience stress or danger, our body responds hormonally. The brain releases cortisol-releasing hormones, setting off a chain reaction: the adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones have profound effects on our body and brain. Cortisol, for example, can disrupt the hippocampus, which is responsible for integrating memories, while adrenaline intensifies the emotional memory formation in the amygdala.
This hormonal interplay is why sustained stress, like that from an abusive childhood or relationship, can be so damaging. Cortisol can impair brain function over time, and adrenaline reinforces traumatic memories. This complex biochemistry illustrates why simply talking through trauma can sometimes be insufficient or even counterproductive. Effective trauma treatment needs to address these intricate physiological responses, helping to manage and reframe emotions in a way that promotes healing and integration.
It's important to remember that despite the complexity of these responses, healing from trauma is possible. We can nurture the brain's resilience and foster recovery with the right approach.
Our body's response to trauma
In situations of perceived threat or danger, our bodies instinctively prepare for a fight, flight, or freeze response, a survival mechanism deeply ingrained in our biology. To effectively respond to any situation, the brain relies heavily on sensory input: it sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels what's happening around us. This barrage of sensory information is then processed and impacts the nervous system.
If the intensity of this sensory input is overwhelming or perceived as a threat, the brain may be unable to cope with it effectively. In such cases, these experiences are encoded in the nervous system as danger, leading to what we understand as trauma.
In modern life, many situations may trigger this response even when there is no physical danger, such as intense emotional stress or psychological conflict. Understanding this automatic response of our body is crucial in recognising and addressing the impact of trauma."