Trauma memories are different from ordinary memories

Trauma memories are different from ordinary memories

One vital piece of information I would always give out to my clients is how trauma memories are different from ordinary memories. Normal memories are processed logically and verbally. They are understood, they make sense, and they are then filed away in long term memory. Although the memories contain appropriate emotions, they can be recalled without overwhelming emotion.

During a traumatic event however, the parts of the brain that would normally file traumatic memories are overwhelmed. This means that traumatic memories remain near the forefront of awareness, trapped in active memory, and easily triggered by reminders of the trauma. We may or may not be aware of the triggers as they pass through our awareness. During a trauma, a person might have thought, “I am completely and utterly vulnerable.” Now any stressful situation automatically triggers the same thought. The person may not even be aware of the unspoken thought. Instead, she just feels the intense emotions resulting from the thought.

What is the nature of trauma memories?

Trauma memories are fragmented into thoughts, images, emotions, behaviour, identity, and physical sensations including sounds, smells, tastes, and “body memories.” These “body memories” can involve tactile, or touch, sensations, pain, and kinesthesia (the sensation of movement, tension, or position). Because of this fragmentation, a trigger does not usually set off all aspects of a memory. This means that emotions from a traumatic memory might flood awareness without accompanying images or other memory aspects.

Need some advice and support?

If you are struggling with the after effects of trauma or any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.

 

Book a counselling session today!

 

See also: Safe trauma recovery, Transformation after Trauma,