Sudden Emotional Trauma

By Tess Thompson

Life is all about challenges. In the modern day scene, adults and children alike are confronted with demanding situations that can potentially cause emotional trauma. Any distressing event like the death of a near one can potentially alter brain chemistry through damage to the psyche, causing stress disorders. An emotionally traumatic experience can destroy or severely injure the individual's ability of managing emotions related to the event.

Emotional trauma is well known in situational events such as mass murders like genocide, war and crime situations, and other manmade or natural disasters. Sudden emotional trauma is normally associated with events that include death, domestic violence, or abuse. The feeling of intense sadness and sorrow that overwhelms people on learning of medical emergencies like terminal diseases or being permanently disabled is well known. Irrespective of the origin, and although a totally subjective experience of the individual involved, emotional trauma has four major dimensions:

  • The event is totally unexpected.
  • The victim is unprepared.
  • It has a strong and irresistible psychological impact.
  • The victim felt as if nothing could be done to prevent or extenuate it.

Both sudden and situational emotional trauma leads to a mental state where it is difficult to stop thinking about the past. Friends and family memebers are difficult to console during such times. Mood swings that alternate between guilt and punishment are common, and nightmares about the event are likely to occur.

After a traumatic experience, there is a tendency to avoid reminders of the event. At the same time, many people re-live the experience in their minds and are unable to come out of the suffering. Many take to alcohol or drug abuse, disruptive and self-inflicted torture, or otherwise try to take the escapist route. This is actually a sign of the fact that the body and mind are struggling to recover and restore emotional wellness.

Victims of pedophilia, incest and child abuse are unlikely to receive any support. Reactions to emotional trauma largely depends upon the type of trauma, and the support for emotional healing that is available through family, community or friends.

Famous people like the 'screen superman' Christopher Reeves and the Canadian paraplegic athlete Rick Hansen were able to come out of traumatic experiences by their sheer will. They wanted to survive and make a life out of what was left after serious accidents crippled them. It was their respective positive mental attitudes that made them realize that they could so something for those who experience similar medical emergencies, and provide support to people in recovering and restoring their emotional health.

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