The effect of trauma

The overall effect of trauma can be described as “loss of sense of aliveness, motivation, excitement, and purpose.”

In brain scans of 18 chronic PTSD patients (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), the researchers discovered something startling: there was almost no activation of the “self-perceiving” areas of the brain compared to non-traumatized subjects: the medial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, parietal cortex, and insula were dark.

Their conclusion was that “in response to their trauma and in coping with the terror that lingered long afterward, these patients had learned to shut down the brain areas that mediate the visceral feelings and emotions that accompany and define terror.”

Traumatized people often lose their sense of purpose and direction because they cannot match with themselves what they really want, as defined by the most basic sensations in their bodies, which are the basis for emotions like desire and passion. In some cases, the loss of self-awareness is so profound that sufferers can’t even recognize themselves in the mirror.

Chronic Stress

When you’re chronically stressed or overwhelmed you tend to keep reacting in the same emotional way over and over. This conditions your nervous system to potentially (mis)read your environment based on past experiences, and the associations and perceptions you’ve formed around those experiences. It also trains your mind to automatically think more negative thoughts and have more pessimistic expectations. Your nervous system, being the intelligent processor and gatekeeper, diligently keeps seeking and running those old-patterned programs and subconscious emotional memories over and over recreating the same or similar experiences, and reactions in an attempt to match the old pattern. This creates a vicious cycle that can leave you feeling exhausted and drained. Most of this happens underneath your conscious and voluntary level of awareness.