The word trauma (which comes from the Greek) literally means wound, injury or damage caused by violence from an external source. These days the word trauma is also used to denote the actual incident causing the harrowing experience - the traumatic event itself - that leaves deep scars in the person.
In its literal meaning, the term relates to the injuries that someone carries with them after he or she has lived through a harrowing or overwhelming event or has been at the mercy of acts of violence over a longer period.
The person has experienced this situation as a genuine threat to his physical wellbeing or to his life, and has felt totally powerless and helpless in respect of this threat.
When we talk about “trauma symptoms”, we refer to the cognitive, physical, emotional and/or behavioural problems associated with the trauma.
- Cognitive (thought- and perception-related) trauma symptoms:
A transformation may occur in the way the individual thinks about himself, about the perpetrator, and about other people and the world in general.
The person often tries to find an explanation of why such an occurrence happened, partly with the aim of gaining some control over his life and making it predictable.
People will sometimes blame themselves and think that they are bad.
Some thoughts can contribute to people losing their belief and faith in God, justice or a good future.
- Physical trauma symptoms:
It is possible for traumatic events to bring about a change in the way the brain works.
This can have physiological effects, such as increased heartbeat, accelerated breathing, higher blood pressure, increased wakefulness, etc.
Children may also record poorer results at school in the event of trauma.
- Emotional trauma symptoms:
Anxiety, depression and anger are common emotional problems.
The individual may react to situations in an extremely sensitive and exaggerated manner.
The emotions are often unsettled, there may be sudden changes in the person’s feelings, and on occasions the individual has trouble dealing with negative feelings.
- Behavioural symptoms:
It is very common for people to avoid all recollection of the trauma.
Sometimes behaviour starts that resembles the trauma-related behaviour, with the maladjusted behaviour being copied, as it were.
On account of the fact that a negative self-image can come into being in the wake of a trauma, we see that this often has a negative effect on the choice of social contacts.
Alcohol consumption and use of drugs.