How the Brain Responds to Traumatic Threat

Nearly everyone who experiences trauma revisits the disturbing experiences many times in an effort to understand what they might have done differently to diminish the harm they sustained or to avoid the situation altogether.  This is a hard-wired response to pain.  Our brains are trying to develop a plan for avoiding future harm. The unfortunate side-effect of this human response  is that  people almost always suffer feelings of  shame and self-blame in the wake of traumatic events. But it is important to understand that the way we respond in dire circumstances is also brain-basedThe National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine offers this helpful graphic to explain that responses to traumatic events are automatic responses that originate in the nervous system and the brain stem, not calculated decisions that arise as a result of a  conscious process. We are wired for survival and these responses are aimed at ensuring that.


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