What is post-traumatic stress disorder and how to deal with it

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a series of psychological problems that we experience after a traumatic event.

This is because we have not handled a particular event properly, either out of objective, in certain natural disasters or violent situations the events are so intense that they are difficult to handle, or for subjective reasons.
Danijela Stojanović, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, PS Kontrapunkt
Danijela Stojanović, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, PS counterpoint

Our memory of the traumatic event is incomplete. We cannot connect all the important details and that is why we form a distorted conclusion about ourselves.

For example, a woman who was raped 20 years ago, since then believes that she is a weak person, has a negative unconscious belief about herself “I am weak”. However, during the therapy, she recalled that at one point she actually hit the rapist very hard and seriously injured him. For all 20 years, she could not connect that part of the memory with the memory of the whole event.

How did this come about?

So that in traumatic situations we do not remember in the usual way, together with other related memories. We store them separately as “frozen” memories. This prevents normal data processing and prevents us from understanding what really happened.

It is necessary to complete this “unfinished business” (in the language of gestalt therapy), that is, to form a complete picture of the event. In the case of “major traumas” (earthquakes, floods, natural disasters, traffic accidents and the like, and especially, above all, situations of abuse, war crimes and other violent events), pharmacotherapy and some methods are particularly effective, such as , EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

“Small traumas” are events that are not of great social significance, however, they are of great importance for an individual (eg the father got drunk at a family gathering and said some inappropriate things). These situations are not so unusual, but for certain reasons they are important for the client (usually it is a period of childhood).

Why is this memory so important for a certain person?

Because it represents the paradigm of the whole family reality in a given period. The child, by the way, concluded that he is responsible for various inconveniences that people close to him get into and that is why he is a bad person. However, in this situation, this definite attitude, negative cognition, “I am bad”, definitely took over. That’s why this is a trauma for him, that’s why he didn’t process the information properly.

How are these traumas related to our current lives?

Through “links”. Traumatic memories are not related to other information in the brain in the usual way (eg with other picnics and family gatherings throughout life). They are connected in other ways, the so-called links, with events in which we felt identical as in a traumatic situation.

Therapeutic work begins with the latest events of its kind (e.g. the client comes because he is nervous, afraid of being embarrassed at a public gathering). Follow the link backwards, looking for an identical emotional experience in the past, until the earliest such memory is reached (in our case, the father’s drinking at the family gathering). Then the negative self-belief behind the trauma is determined, ie. how the client experiences himself when he thinks of a traumatic situation. And then it is determined how the client would like to experience himself, what he would like to think about himself when he remembers that event (eg “I am a valuable human being”).

Different strategies of psychotherapy use different strategies to replace negative cognition with positive (in gestalt therapy, the so-called corrective emotional experience is practiced). What the different directions have in common is that our picture of the traumatic event is not complete. It takes some emotional insight – what we weren’t aware of until then.


Source: Sito&Rešeto by www.sitoireseto.com.

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