What is trauma?
Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event.
There are three kinds of trauma that Real Eyes Truth believes are important to consider: personal trauma, intergenerational trauma and historical trauma.
Personal trauma involves an event or series of events, which are experienced by a person directly. These traumatic events can have lasting effects on the mind, body and behavior of the person. They can experience feelings of powerlessness, fear and mistrust. This can alter one’s fundamental view of the world. The event can become part of one’s identity.
Traumatic events are classified within the field of psychology as “big T trauma”, which includes serious injury, sexual violence, and life threatening experiences, and “little t trauma” including neglect, verbal abuse, and bullying events.
Psychological trauma can impact memory, decision-making, and emotion regulation, where-as, physical trauma can impact heart rate, blood pressure, fight-or-flight responses related to aggression or emotional shutdown. Different parts of the brain react to the different stressors experienced by a person. Some experiences can result in clinical diagnoses for other disorders. For example children who have experienced personal trauma are frequently diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) because they have difficulty focusing at school because of the trauma they experienced.
What is intergenerational trauma?
Intergenerational trauma is not an event that has been directly experienced by the person, rather it is a result of unresolved past family trauma. Unresolved family trauma can be passed down to the next generation in two ways–through genetics (biologically) or through behaviors (environment). Some examples of intergenerational trauma have appeared in the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, refugees and victims of diaspora. The older generation personally experienced the trauma, but their children and grandchildren suffer from the trauma.
Research has shown that when someone experiences a traumatic event it can potentially alter their genetic profile. In this way the trauma is passed down to the next generation as anxiety, depression, difficulty focusing, drastic mood swings, etc. in their children. The next generation may be more likely to experience those symptoms even though they did not directly experience the trauma. The trauma can also be passed down through behaviors. For example, having a parent who survived a war may prevent them from being emotionally available for their children due to their own trauma. The child believes that being emotionally shut down is normal and mimics this behavior. Eventually shutting down emotionally may turn into depression as an adult.
What is historical trauma?
Historical trauma is trauma that is perpetrated against large groups, when one group takes control over another group (ex: slavery, war, patriarchal societies). There are many instances in Western culture where the disempowerment of a whole group of people has occurred. The people that are in power have created a dominant culture narrative with certain social structures.
The social structures that continue as a result of the historical trauma affect everyone. For example, capitalist social structures (i.e. working 9-5 jobs for low wages) are similar to historical times of slave-labor (racial slavery; child slavery). Working 9-5 jobs for low wages creates a culture accepting that working under immense stress to survive while others can remain in power.
This stress not only affects people’s mental health, but creates difficulty for parents to be emotionally available for their children. This creates a cycle of mental health symptoms to the next generation.
Many people are unaware of the systems that continue to cause this power imbalance in modern society and there are other historical trauma systems that are present today.
Historical trauma events are not typically considered in mental health, but recent research has shown that the effects of these events are present today.
The goal of Real Eyes Truth is to provide awareness of the difficulties we all experience, and some ways to address those difficulties and become healthier, more productive and spiritually enlightened through education and holistic practices.
We use a trauma-informed perspective when integrating holistic practices. The holistic practices are designed to reduce and potentially eliminate the stored trauma in our bodies. Research has shown that the brain can rewire neural pathways that provide new ways of thinking. The release of stored emotions through any of the practices we offer on a regular basis can initiate the rewiring process. Continued mind/body practice provides a balanced way of being, living and experiencing the world. The practices outlined here are not a replacement for individual trauma therapy, but an additional method to gain awareness and heal trauma through mind-body-spirit methods.