Trauma and Its Impacts On Brain

By Paul Ruot Bayoch (Aka-Paul.B),

Paul.B, a renowned modernized cultural artist and graduate of law school and international studies....

Paul.B, a renowned modernized cultural artist and graduate of law school and international studies…

Feb 03, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —-  Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to take this opportunity to present to you today the Trauma and its impacts on the brain’s functioning and personality trait.

I would first start with the brain. The brain is generally divided into three major parts.

  1. Thinking brain
  2. Emotional brain and
  3. Survival brain

Trauma has various impacts on the different parts of the brain. However, the two main areas we are going to focus on are the Survival brain and the Thinking brain. Furthermore, I would like to give you a snapshot on the major functions of these three major parts of the brain.

Let start with the Thinking brain:

The thinking brain is responsible for thinking, decision-making and problem solves. It’s flexible and consumes a lot of energy.

The emotional brain:

The emotional brain is the part of our brain that responds to stress and is in charge of activating our Survival brain. It records and stores memories, regulate emotions which influence our behavior, processes smells and regulate sexual arousal.

The Survival brain:

The Survival brain notices and reacts to danger and threats, control body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. It’s rigid and reliable. It’s also called the Reptile Brain because all reptiles have it.

If the Thinking Brain is activated, we can think, problem solve and make decisions. In times of threat, our Thinking Brain shuts down as it consumes too much energy which must be use for other basic functions. Our survival brain takes over and does whatever it can to help us survive. Survival brain immediately and subconsciously tries to protect itself. It does this by activating our Survival responses. Survival responses cause us to either fight, flight, freeze or submit.

When a person is negatively affected by trauma, his/her survival brain stays alert. The survival brain constantly scans for danger and reacts to perceived threats like the anti-virus in the computer constantly scans the computer for virus.

One of the main problems with the person who is traumatized by trauma is that his/her survival brain is always overactive and keeps taking over, putting him/her into either fight, flight, freeze or submit response even when there is no danger/threat.

As you have already acquainted yourselves with the major parts of brain and their functions, let me take you to the impacts of trauma. Trauma can affect us physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, relational y and behaviorally as indicated below:

Physically:

Headache, Lack of energy, Physiological arousal, anxiety, panic, jumpiness, muscle tension, sleep difficulties, chronic body pain, stomach aches, poor self-care, and disconnection from body sensation

Emotionally

Emotional instability and re-activity, sadness, hopelessness, lack of motivation, numbing, and maladaptive attempts at self soothing.

Mentally

Expectation that bad things will happen, intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, poor memory, difficulties with thinking and focus, decreased attention, difficulty problem solving, and dissociation

Spiritually

Anger towards God, loss of faith or turning away from one’s religion, and extreme faith

Relational

Difficulty trusting others, problems with boundaries, withdrawal and isolation, aggression, clinginess, dependency, and extreme independence

Behaviorally

Aggression,suicide,self-harming(drug/alcohol use, head banging), fainting/collapse, and manipulation

Sense of Self

Shame, low self-worth, self-blame, self-hatred and self-harm

As you can see from the aforementioned explanations, it could be prudent to conclude that every individual in one way or another has suffered from trauma at some point in his/her life-time. However, The way we’re traumatized varied in degrees. To give you a quick example. I had a best friend of mine by name Killagne Gatkek. This man has been traumatized by trauma since his childhood for he is an orphan and he missed the basic parental style he could have learned from his parents had they been alive.

Moreover, he had been grown up under economic depressions which affects him and his siblings. He struggled for survival. He managed to endure until recently when he joined music industry. He became my best friend in 2012. I had helped him a lot. I took him to my studio. I introduced him to my arranger. He recorded his first track. I advertised his song on my Facebook page, on you-tube, on sound-cloud and other social medias. I had shared it with all my friends. I have done lots of stuffs for him. I had helped him more than another friend of mine.

However, recently, as the man grown up in music, he started isolating himself from me. He started hating the very person who assisted him fulfilled his dream.

Last three weeks, I wrote an advisory article on the official page of South Sudan Artists’ Association in Ethiopia (SSAAE). This is what I wrote “Blessed are those who appreciated the work and talents of others. Don’t lust for fame for it will come by itself. Learn to appreciate other people’s talents as you practice and develop your own talents. Jealously will take us nowhere”.

This utterance was not addressed to any single individual. However, Killagne Gatkek has over-reacted and wrote insulting comments and violently attacking his fellow artists followed by an article he published on Wangdunkon media and SSAAE’s page respectively entitled “Resignation from SSAAE membership citing ‘hatred’ by SSAAE’s leaders”.

What I wrote would have been interpreted plainly by normal person who is not affected by trauma. But because the man has been affected by trauma ( acute malnutrition in his childhood and his upbringing as an orphan which gives him chronic psychosomatic and psychosis), his Survival responses activated his Survival brain and underwent fight back response prompting anxiety, panic,hate speeches, aggressiveness, Withdrawal; Difficulty trusting his friends, isolation, emotional instability and re-activity, breaking of friendship and renunciation of SSAAE`s membership etc.).

He wrote many messages which indicated that he has been suffering from trauma`s effects. Above all, he has broken relationship with all his friends not only in music but also in school and community.

I had done a lot to counsel him for I am counselor and community healer, but his responses were too strange. He said to me I am the cause of all his problems including resignation from SSAAE and that he hopes he will tarnish and spoil me to the best he can. I did not response to that because I realized that he is not Killagne I know. He is under influence of trauma which just need proper healing process not insulting.

In conclusion, I would like you guys to help counsel this man for if he continues with this compound stress he might end up committing suicide. I hope you all have clue of what trauma is and how it affects our brain. Thanks!

The author, Paul Ruot Bayoch (Aka-Paul.B), is the secretary of SSAAE and Counselor and facilitator of community trauma healing program. He can be reached paulruotbayoch@gmail.com

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