Have you ever experienced a traumatic event? Maybe you remember experiencing it, or maybe it happened so long ago that you have absolutely no recollection of it at all. What about when you were in the womb? Could you have experienced in-utero trauma that is still affecting you today?
When We Experience Trauma:
What happens when we experience traumatic events? Well, our ability to consolidate the memory is hindered more than we would think. Studies have revealed that “in [the] case of traumatic memory as in PTSD, the process of memory consolidation seems to fail. The traumatic memory trace stays primarily located in subcortical and primary perceptual areas, leaving it tightly coupled to its autonomic and perceptual markers, and lacing the appropriate integration in autobiographical, cortical memory networks” . In a nutshell, the regions in our brains that are responsible for taking new information and allowing us to file that information away as a memory, to be recalled at a later time, effectively fail. In other words, the traumatic event becomes imprinted both into our autonomic nervous systems, which is what triggers that sympathetic fight or flight response, as well as into the tissues and cells in our bodies.
Anytime we experience a situation where we fear for our lives, the chemicals released into our bloodstream are those that are meant to give us a rush of adrenaline and energy so that we can either fight or escape the threat. Our pupils dilate so we can see more effectively, our heart rate increases, our airways open, and we experience an increase in perspiration. The chemicals that are responsible for these anatomical changes are also the ones responsible for the confusion in our brains that lead to the difficulty with recalling the memory at a later time.
That being said, the cells and tissues within our bodies are a different story. Have you ever experienced a strong emotional release after a massage or any other type of bodywork? Oftentimes, these types of emotional and energetic releases are a sign that visceral memories of past traumatic events have been accessed. In other words, sometimes, when a female rape victim has a massage or some other type of myofascial release or bodywork performed in the region of the hips, gluteal muscles, and/or upper legs, she oftentimes experiences a significant post-traumatic response either at the moment, or after the treatment session.
So What Can Be Done?
The most important thing to remember is that nobody can ever comprehend what it is like to live inside of another human being’s body. Each and every person experiences trauma through their own field of view, which can only be compared to their own personal experiences in life. An event that is traumatic for me may not be traumatic for you, and vice versa. This does not mean that any individual experience should be diminished in any way. Creating a safe space of understanding, emotional, psychological, and spiritual support, as well as providing the tissues within the body a gateway for release, while working with the lost and confused memories within the mind, can gradually work to heal the traumas that have been endured, whether we have any memory of them or not.