Injured people often go unnoticed: no one can feel their invisible pain. However, the sign of the trauma, of the adversity they have experienced is still imprinted on their minds, making every day difficult.
They sleep poorly, feel exhausted, angry, hardly trust others and are unable to manage their pain. Trauma psychologists often tell us that most of us will face a complicated and adverse event at some point.
It could be a car accident, the loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, seeing or being the victim of an assault, losing your job, the end of a relationship, the diagnosis of an illness.
The inability to adequately address these and other realities conditions and changes us. In his book Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman explains that to overcome these events we must begin what he called “emotional re-learning”. It means starting over in all senses, readjusting our thinking, our emotions and even our behavior.
It certainly isn’t easy. Injured people have no broken bones, yet they cannot move in the world. Their wounds are not visible to the naked eye, but their pain is immense and profound. Nobody deserves to live like this and it is possible to get out of these situations.
Wounded people and their invisible pain
At what point does a dramatic experience turn into a trauma? When does a person suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder? Unfortunately there is no single answer to these questions. There is no answer because each person lives and processes these situations in a particular way.
Lloyd Sederer, director of the New York State Office of Mental Health, notes that the risk of injury for those who are likely to trauma depends on three factors:
- Degree of exposure to trauma. Children who have had a difficult childhood, victims of neglect or abuse, will suffer deeper trauma than an adult who at any given time faces the loss of a loved one or witnesses an accident.
- Vulnerability. Genetically, there are people more vulnerable to the effects of an adverse event than others.
- Resources available. Receiving or not receiving social support is often instrumental in overcoming the trauma. We can also talk about psychological resources. Having suffered a trauma before and having dealt with it successfully offers more adequate and effective resistance strategies.
The most common symptoms of trauma
A study conducted by Carol E. Franz and Michael J. Lyons, of Temple University, Philadelphia (United States) over a period of 24 years, determined which are the most common symptoms that adults show in relation to trauma, those that we they hurt:
- Insomnia and nightmares.
- Memory always focuses on traumatic memories, with frequent flashbacks.
- Anxiety and stress.
- Feelings of anger, anger and aggression.
- Tendency to feel guilty.
- Physical fatigue and even the appearance of psychosomatic diseases.
- Difficulty trusting people again.
- Low self-esteem.
- Negative view of oneself.
- Tendency to always be on the defensive and to be afraid, with the constant feeling that something is about to happen.
Narrative therapy for injured people
In recent years, narrative therapy has offered excellent results in the treatment of trauma. This approach, developed in the 1970s and 1980s by therapists Michael White and David Epston, was gradually refined to such elaborate perspectives as that of Thomas Elbert, Maggie Schauer, and Frank Neuner’s narrative exposure therapy for trauma. . It is based on the following objectives:
- Help the person tell their story to give it meaning. This method allows them to awaken their resilience and thus be able to relieve suffering.
- Accepting and describing pain as part of one’s life story helps people regain dignity and power over themselves.
The study conducted at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, explain that narrative therapy is useful for reconstructing the sense of self and one’s identity, two dimensions fragmented following traumatic events.
Wounded people have adequate resources to rebuild their strength, dignity and worth. It is not an easy or quick process, because reliving traumatic events involves resurrecting the negative emotions experienced during those moments, and it hurts.
But it is necessary to find the strength to be advocates of one’s own rebirth, of one’s own improvement and progress. Finding a place in the world takes time, but anyone can do it.