Trauma is not…

“Trauma is not what happens to us but what we hold in the absence of an empathetic witness.”

–Peter A. Levine

 

This idea taught by Peter Levine is that trauma is something that we hold inside our bodies which has not been reconciled. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other trauma symptoms traditionally been thought of as a “memory disorder;” however, we now know that the impact is upon the whole person, not just on the neural memory of the specific event or events. The material from the past, the “residue,” goes with the person everywhere they go, impacting all the person does.

 

For example, if the person emotionally learned “I am a bad person” or “I am not safe” from a traumatic experience this can be damaging to all relationships and can create impairment in daily life, from marriage and family relationships to going to the grocery store.

 

Successful and comprehensive treatment needs to deal with and resolve this traumatic material that is held in the body of the trauma survivor so that the biological as well as psychological system can move on.