Often we hear things from clients like “My relationship ending was so traumatic for me,” or “When my uncle passed away, I was totally traumatized.” With the word trauma being used so loosely and for such a wide range of problems, how do we know what it actually means anymore?
According to trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, understanding how trauma affects the body can help us distinguish between true trauma, and incidents that, while distressing, aren't really traumatic after all. In this video clip with Networker editor Rich Simon, van der Kolk explains.
Bessel van der Kolk, MD, is the medical director of The Trauma Center in Boston, professor of psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, and codirector of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network.
As van der Kolk notes, trauma is specifically an event that overwhelms the central nervous system, altering the way we process and recall memories. “Trauma is not the story of something that happened back then," he adds. "It’s the current imprint of that pain, horror, and fear living inside people.”