By Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP
Years ago, a veteran told me, "I was never really prepared for the reality of war."
As a psychotherapist, I often think about his powerful observation when I work with people who have suffered various kinds of trauma. His comment continues to prove true as I hear stories from people who have been affected deeply by trauma, whether war, abuse, crime or a severe accident.
There are several realities to the experience of trauma, which we can describe generally as a situation that is a shock to the nervous system of the human being. The experience calls upon all of our resources -- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual -- to survive.
After survival, however, the person's injured nervous system continues to feel the reverberations of the event. These after-effects may show up in many ways.
Hypervigilance. Keeping highly watchful is an important survival skill in wartime. In ordinary life, however, this watchfulness creates huge problems; the veteran is unable to relax and perhaps may find himself or herself suspicious of others, having difficulty in crowds and certain situations, even close relationships.
Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP, is an author, trainer and psychotherapist who promotes, practices and teaches experiential methods including psychodrama, Family and Systemic Constellations, sand tray, mindfulness and Tarot imagery.
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