Trauma and PTSD

Important Disclaimer:  The word "trauma" in this article is meant only in the colloquial sense and not as a medical or psychiatric diagnosis. The information contained on this website, including ideas, suggestions, techniques, and other materials, is educational in nature and provided only as general information and is not medical or psychological advice.
Transmission of the information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute a client-practitioner relationship or any other type of professional relationship between the reader and Rob Nelson and should not be relied up on as medical, psychological, coaching, or other professional advice of any kind or nature.


Trauma! We’re used to thinking of terrible events like traffic accidents or violent assault as causing trauma—the “big T traumas”.  But most of us carry a multitude of “small-T traumas”, often without realizing it.

My definition of trauma is very simple - it happens any time we go from fight or flight into the Freeze Response.

This happens when we are faced with a threat (either to our survival or our identity) and we feel powerless to take action. Often the threat is unexpected, a shock. And very often we feel isolated, with no one there to help us.

I'm sure you can see how a small child could fall into the freeze response very easily. She might find herself alone and lost in the grocery aisle, or have a teacher scold her in front of the class.

Or an adult woman might discover that her husband has been cheating on her and he wants a divorce.  In this case she never saw it coming.  Her identity as a happily married woman is shattered.  She has no way to deal with it and doesn’t want anyone to know because she’s ashamed - and is therefore isolated.  This will very likely trigger the freeze response.

When we're able to react with fight or flight, we tend to shake off the event. But when we freeze, the experience is stored a special way in our brain. Dr. Robert Scaer describes a “trauma capsule” which contains a snapshot of both our internal and external environment.

The external snapshot includes all the sights, sounds, smells and sensations at the moment of the trauma.  This might mean a certain color, or facial expression, or the smell of cologne or the sound of brakes screeching.  All of these things can become triggers down the road. In fact most of us probably get triggered fairly often.

The internal snapshot includes our emotional reaction, of course. But most importantly, whatever we were thinking to make sense of what was happening is also stored - and this is what we call a core belief.

Our negative core beliefs have a powerful influence on how we experience life. It can hardly be overstated. If we decide at a very young age that we're unloveable, or that the world is a dangerous place, or that the people you love will abandon you, etc. - these beliefs become our perceptual filters, changing how we interpret events and what opportunities we see for ourselves.

The purpose of the capsule is to keep this trauma at bay, to protect us so we don’t ever fully experience it.   The whole thing is held away from our body, in a local field of our energy system.  In a very real sense, a part of us splits off when this happens, to hold the trauma for us.  And that part of us never stops experiencing the trauma.  It’s frozen in time; stuck at whatever age we were when it happened.

The trauma capsule provides protection, so we can escape the trauma and continue on.  But it was never intended to be a permanent solution.  Wild animals will discharge their trauma simply by shaking, once they reach safety.  Civilized humans haven’t been so lucky.  We tend to accumulate many of these trauma capsules until our energy system is overloaded.  As we age, and our natural vitality declines, we may not have the energy to keep the capsules separate from our bodies and sealed up.  This may be one source of chronic degenerative disease.

Also, when we have a big-T trauma, it may take a great deal of energy to keep it contained.  The capsule may become transparent or start to leak.  Certain sights or smells may become triggers that activate the emotional contents of the capsule.  For example, the smell of a particular spice in Vietnamese cooking might trigger an intense combat flashback for a Viet Nam Vet.

With EFT and Matrix Reimprinting, we now have a way of safely discharging the distress in these capsules and also locating and changing core beliefs. This tends to be a very gentle process - there is no “toughing it out” or “being brave and pushing through”. Relief tends to be immediate.  And permanent.

And the effect of replacing negative core beliefs is truly life-changing.

To discuss your own situation and explore whether these tools can help you, call me today for a free 20 minute phone consultation. For more information on trauma and PTSD keep reading, or check out the work of Dr. Robert Scaer in his excellent book 8 Keys to Brain-Body Balance.

Trauma and Stress

Situations that threaten our survival (or our identities) set off a reaction in the most primitive part of our brain—the famous fight, flight or freeze response. This is what helped our distant ancestors survive all those saber tooth tigers long enough to pass on their genes, and it is literally hardwired into our brains.

Unfortunately, our brains can't tell the difference between a truly life-threatening situation and what we believe is life threatening. For a two year old that might be mommy and daddy having a big fight. If your identity is “happily married woman”, having your husband run off with a younger woman may do the trick. The situation doesn't even need to be real! Even our memories or imaginations can provoke this reaction.

This can be a big problem. The fight, flight or freeze response has a profound effect on our bio-chemistry—blood rushes to support our muscles and drains away from our frontal lobes and core systems like digestion, reproduction and immune. After all, if a tiger is after you then you can worry about all that other stuff later, right?

But fight, flight or freeze is only meant to be a temporary, short-term burst. When the tiger is replaced by ongoing stress, we end up marinating our bodies in stress hormones and this has a terrible effect on our health and well-being.

Ongoing stress is a serious problem all by itself, but when the original traumatic experience is very intense, and especially when we feel helpless or powerless to deal with it, our mind tends to repress, isolate and seal off the memory along with all the associated feelings. Our mind does this so we can get on with the business of living. Unfortunately, when a traumatic memory is shut away on like this, it's hard to let it go.

In some cases we may actually forget all about the memory, until some external event or wayward thought gets a little too close to home and then we get triggered. We may end up having anxiety, a panic attack, insomnia, a phobia reaction or a violent outburst all out of proportion to the actual situation.

It takes a great deal of psychic energy to repress or “forget” traumatic events. This energy has to come from somewhere, and we may become mentally or physically exhausted over time. Some believe this may be a major factor in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia. We may also have memory problems, as the subconscious effort to forget our trauma becomes generalized.

What about PTSD?
PTSD or Post Trumatic Stress Disorder is a medical, psychological or psychiatric diagnosis and I do not diagnose or treat any such diagnostic disorder. Nor do I accept any form of insurance.

What I do instead is relatively simple - through tapping we may be able to discharge the emotional distress associated with specific memories and with Matrix Reimprinting we can discover and reverse the negative core beliefs encapsulated in those memories.

When we have too many bad memories, or some of them are just too intense, instead of being locked away, the original events tend to be re-triggered and re-lived over and over, through flashbacks or nightmares. Even subtle reminders of the original event can set off intense physical reactions. This often leads to hyper-vigilance, difficulty concentrating, sleep disorders like insomnia and panic attacks.

This is extremely hard to live with, and sufferers sometimes become numb, detached and hopeless. They may become isolated socially, avoiding public places where they might be easily triggered. Loved ones and family members often feel the brunt of their anger and frustration, and because conventional treatments haven't been very successful, many resort to heavy alcohol or drug use to self medicate.

I have helped many clients suffering from this level of distress, and have made it my specialty. If you would like to discuss your own issues and whether EFT can help you, you are welcome to call me for a free 20 minute phone consultation.