By Harrison Snow
Trauma results when an individual or group suffers a natural or man-made catastrophe.
If the suffering is strong enough, a certain amount of associated feelings and memories are repressed as a survival strategy. Trauma and its repression can occur on an individual, family, organizational or social level. The strategy of denial, repression or addiction may provide some refuge from the pain. However, the price is steep and symptoms often occur as a silent call for help.
Facilitating a discussion about diversity often raises issues about race, class, gender and criminal justice, to name a few. These topics are hugely difficult to discuss in a group because of the intensity of feelings that may emerge. Feelings and judgments can spring not only from an individual’s personal history but also from unresolved family and social trauma that has been stored in the individual and collective subconscious.
By Michael Reddy, Ph.D.
When we are working with Family and Systemic Constellations, let’s begin by suggesting that there are two sources of trauma: the threatening overwhelms that affect your nervous system personally and those that affected a parent or ancestor’s but were never dealt with.
After-effects of the second kind do show up in you or your clients, even though they never actually happened to you. What are we coming to understand about these? How are they similar or different?
Consider five foundational facts about trauma. The whole trauma response, often referred to as “fight/flight/freeze,” actually has not just three, but five stages. Think of them as “fight-or-flight, friends, freeze, and forget.” Easy to remember as the “5 F’s.”
Remember also – trauma is highly individual. One person’s experience of overwhelm is another person’s “so what” – or even triumph.
Fight? Or Flight?
The limbic midbrain, triggered by what psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk calls the “smoke detector” amygdala, sets in motion an array of autonomic responses. They prepare, more or less as needed, our whole organism for possibly extreme efforts to recreate safety. All processes not immediately relevant to that are slowed down or completely stopped. These include digestion, the immune system, more rationally oriented presence of mind, and more.
Welcome to our blog, which explores what people are doing with Family and Systemic Constellations here, there and everywhere throughout North America.