Traumatisme et conséquences Le blog Santé de Naturveda

Traumatic amnesia and complex trauma

Mar 20, 2021
Traumatic amnesia is common for victims of violence. And very often, it originates from a complex trauma . But what is traumatic amnesia and what is complex trauma? What support for people who suffer from it? We take stock.

Traumatic amnesia: what is it?

Traumatic amnesia is common among people who have experienced violence. It is very common, especially among victims of sexual violence. Let's take this example to better define traumatic amnesia. In the event of a sexual assault, the victim undergoes such intense stress that his body is not able to handle it. Put in a life-threatening situation, the person's brain activates a protection mechanism which consists of disengaging certain functions of the brain. Thus, the information concerning the experience of the aggression is not processed and integrated as autobiographical memory. The memories of the traumatic event are preserved but put out of reach of the person. This amnesia can last a few days, a few months, years or even decades. Traumatic amnesia can also last throughout a person's life. It can also be partial or total. At any time, a victim can recover memories of the past trauma. Memories can emerge in part or in full. Traumatic amnesia is triggered after a situation of stress exceeded. Explanations. Amnesia and trauma

What is Overwhelmed Stress?

Overwhelmed stress is when the brain fails to cope with an extremely violent and unpredictable situation. It is an acute stress that causes the person to no longer function coherently. When the situation is too violent or lasts too long, for example, the brain bugs and is no longer able to integrate the information. This is stress overcome. Exceeded stress is life-threatening, it is for this reason that the brain trips the system. It is this condition that makes victims of violence unable to scream or defend themselves when attacked. Moreover, they are no longer able to understand what is happening to them and this state can last for a long time. This also explains why some victims who file a complaint, tell the facts in a detached way (without the emotional dimension). The process of short-circuit implemented by the brain, has as anesthetized the victim who does not have any more physical or psychic feelings. Victims of traumatic amnesia often have complex trauma. This can be in the context of sexual violence, following an attack or caused by another extremely violent and traumatic event.

And what is complex trauma?

Complex trauma is linked to chronic or repeated traumatic situations over a certain period of time, sometimes long. An example of complex trauma is that of childhood sexual abuse such as incest or rape. The symptoms of a complex trauma are numerous and differ according to the victim and the nature of the trauma. But overall, we will find the following characteristics in a complex trauma:
  • persistent dysphoria,
  • suicidal thoughts,
  • acts of self-destruction which can take various forms,
  • in the case of sexual violence, there may be compulsive or repressed sexuality,
  • violent outbursts of anger or, on the contrary, totally repressed anger,
  • in some subjects, the complex trauma also generates risky behaviors,
  • the victim may also have amnesia or, on the contrary, hypermnesia,
  • it can also have completely dissociated,
  • depersonalization is common, as is derealization,
  • the person suffering from a complex trauma can have a reliving of the events experienced, and this in a totally intrusive and uncontrollable way,
  • some people may also minimize traumatic events,
  • shame and guilt are also consequences of the complex trauma,
  • isolation or withdrawal into oneself are not rare either,
  • strong disruptions in relationships take place,
  • the person may feel unable to trust others and have a permanent feeling of insecurity,
  • finally, multiple somatizations are possible.
Complex trauma, with or without amnesia, requires management by a trauma specialist. It is important to know that it is possible to work in therapy on trauma from childhood to adulthood. Either way, the therapeutic approach should be integrative.

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