We have all had painful experiences in our lifetime. The process of transforming these painful experiences into trauma occurs as a result of the meanings we attach to events. If we go through an example: A doctor encounters events that can cause many traumas such as many injuries and deaths throughout his life. However, when he looks at these events from a professional point of view, he considers them as a part of his daily life and does not cause trauma. The important thing about traumas is not the events experienced, but the meanings we give to these events. Even these meanings can vary for the same individual at different times. For example, a child who lost his father at a young age may have difficulty in making sense of death at that age and may not develop a traumatic reaction. However, when the concept of death begins to be understood with cognitive development, it may develop a trauma later.
Traumas are divided into two, according to the way they occur, as human-induced traumas and naturally occurring traumas.
Human-induced traumas: Being exposed to acts such as injury, murder and sexual assault by people, or communicating with individuals who are exposed to these acts, may cause human-induced trauma. Man-made trauma is often more devastating than natural trauma, and progress may be a little slower.
Naturally occurring traumas:They are traumas that occur as a result of naturally occurring situations such as flood, fire, earthquake, avalanche.
How do we detect trauma?
When we experience a painful event and give meaning to it as trauma, some changes occur in both our body and mind. These:
- Insomnia and nightmares
- Visualizing the event in our minds as if we were reliving it
- Easy startle at stimuli
- Difficulty making plans for the future
- Avoidance of stimuli (such as object, place, person) that will remember the event
such as reactions.
How should we approach someone who has been acutely traumatized?
When we encounter trauma acutely, that is, right after the event, the first thing to check is to meet their basic needs. Because when a person is in acute trauma, they can be in a state of shock and not meeting their basic needs can have devastating consequences.
During the trauma, the person may have difficulty in making sense of the event. After seeing that their basic needs are met, sharing the event and what happened with the person can contribute to the meaning-making process. Finally, explaining to the traumatized person that their reactions are normal and that people who have been exposed to similar events will react similarly helps the person to normalize their reactions.