Explains how abuse victims can identify and recover from PTSD and other forms of psychological trauma
In this invaluable resource, psychiatrist Brian Trappler explains how victims of childhood abuse, spousal battery, and political terrorism can identify and recover from posttraumatic stress disorder and other forms of psychological trauma. Drawing on his extensive experience treating patients with psychological trauma, Dr. Trappler guides readers through the process of analyzing symptoms, deciding at what point to seek medical care, and deciding between the various treatment options, including individual and group psychotherapies, meditation, and drug therapies. In Identifying and Recovering from Psychological Trauma, victims of childhood abuse, spousal battery, and political terrorism—regardless of gender, age, or ethnic background—will find the answers to the most important questions about psychological trauma.
Questions addressed in the book include: What is psychological trauma? Is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a unique type of trauma? Can I be a victim of trauma and not know it? What are the symptoms of trauma? Are there special methods for trauma recovery? Will my life be different after I recover from my trauma? What is the effect of aging on trauma survivors? Are there differences between individual and group psychological therapies? Can meditation help me recover from trauma? What are the effects and limitations of drug therapies in treating trauma?
In this invaluable resource, psychiatrist Brian Trappler explains how victims of childhood abuse, spousal battery, and political terrorism can identify and recover from posttraumatic stress disorder and other forms of psychological trauma.
Drawing on his extensive experience treating patients with psychological trauma, Dr. Trappler guides readers through the process of analyzing symptoms, deciding at what point to seek medical care, and deciding between the various treatment options, including individual and group psychotherapies, meditation, and drug therapies.
In Identifying and Recovering from Psychological Trauma, victims of childhood abuse, spousal battery, and political terrorism—regardless of gender, age, or ethnic background—will find the answers to the most important questions about psychological trauma.
From the Book:
What Is Psychological Trauma?
A trauma is any injury a person suffers, whether the cause is physical or emotional. Psychological trauma results when a person experiences a traumatic event, such as being physically beaten, verbally abused, or exposed to a terrorist attack or other horrifying event. Psychological trauma can, therefore, be thought of as an experience that overwhelms a person’s capacity to protect his or her psychological integrity. Severe psychological trauma first became recognized after World War I when soldiers surviving gruesome battle scenes presented to mental health professionals with symptoms of dread, amnesia, and emotional withdrawal. Many of them were unable to return to battle.
While reading this book and thinking about “psychological trauma” and “traumatic events,” it is important for you keep in mind the distinction between stress that results from threat to life and bodily integrity, on the one hand, and stress that results from less dramatic incidents, on the other hand. In other words, all traumatic events do not lead to severe psychological trauma at all times in all people. When the trauma is severe, however, it may cause you, or any person, to have longstanding distress and functional impairment.
Healthy adults with resilient coping mechanisms have innate capacities that help them to weather stress. Studies of humans, as well as on animals, indicate that after individuals experience most traumatic events, they have a brief “stress reaction” that consists of subjective symptoms, such as flashbacks, anxiety, and insomnia. These symptoms are also often accompanied by an increase in stress-mediated brain transmitters and adrenal hormones. Healthy individuals, however, also fortunately have a “stress-reversal brake-system” that restores their physiology to its normal resting state once the trauma has subsided.
As the above indicates, a “psychological trauma” is not only limited to your “mind” or “psyche” but, in fact, involves your bodily functioning and emotions. For this reason, a “psychological trauma” is best thought of as a psychobiological reaction to a traumatic event. On the bodily level during an extreme threat your sensory nervous system, central nervous system (composed of the brain and spinal cord), and peripheral nervous system (composed of your somatic and autonomic nervous systems) are all activated.
Although we have internal mechanisms that help us to regulate stress reactions, we also require external resources, in many instances, to help us prevent and be rescued from physical battery, sexual abuse, or other external attacks. A traumatic breach that overwhelms healthy coping-mechanisms, and disrupts normal mental, neurological, and endocrine functions, is often the result of excessive force and inadequate rescue mechanisms, either internal or external.
In this book, you will learn about all the resources you need to help you recover from psychological trauma, even if it is severe, that has resulted from childhood abuse, spousal battery, or political terrorism, among other sources of trauma. These three groups of victims, who are the focus of this book, may share only some issues common to victims of traumas emanating from natural disasters or war combat. There is something unique, however, about a trauma committed by individuals or groups against helpless civilians. Making a distinction, therefore, between interpersonal abuse and trauma related to direct combat or events beyond our control, such as earthquakes, makes sense heuristically, i.e., as a method for assessing and solving problems.
Before you can seek effective external sources of help or develop internal resources to cope with and alleviate the worst symptoms of abuse or exposure to horrifying events, you need to be able to identify the symptoms of psychological trauma. What are they in general? Are there specific or unique symptoms commonly found among victims of childhood abuse, spousal battery, and political terrorism? The answers to these questions are discussed in this chapter.
Following them, in Chapter 2, I guide you through the many types of resources you can use to recover from psychological trauma, including behavioral therapies, “talk therapy,” medication, and meditation; in Chapter 3, I discuss seminal caretaker issues that affect trauma symptoms and treatment in childhood; in Chapter 4, I discuss key factors that affect trauma symptoms and their treatment in spousal relationships; in Chapter 5, I discuss political issues that affect trauma symptoms and their treatment; and in Chapter 6, I explain what happens to your brain during PTSD.
“From Chapter 1”
BRIAN TRAPPLER, M.D., is the director of Outpatient Services at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn, NY, and an associate clinical pro¬fessor in psychiatry at the State University of New York at Brooklyn. From 1994-2002, Dr. Trappler was associate medical director of the Anxiety Clinic at SUNY Downstate, where he has also been involved in the education of medical students, residents, psychiatric fellows, and psychology predoctoral interns, since 1994, and reformulated the undergraduate training program in psychiatry at the request of the dean of the medical school. In 1994, Dr. Trappler received a grant from the Office of Mental Health to treat the victims of the Brooklyn Bridge shooting, and on September 11, 2001, he worked as a first responder for survivors of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers. Dr. Trappler, who has spent most of his career treating Holocaust survivors, has presented his research findings at various meetings of the American Psychiatric Association and at the Institute for Psychiatric Services meeting in 2006, where he presented his clinical research on the treatment of victims of complex trauma. Dr. Trappler serves as a referee for several prestigious psychiatric journals, including Annals of Psychopharmacology, and his clinical research findings have been published in various refereed journals, including the American Journal of Psychiatry and the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.