The survivor mentality.
Being the victim of a traumatic incident is often a life-changing event for many individuals. The psychological fallout from a traumatic experience may include disturbing flashbacks of the incident, emotional numbness or disconnectedness, intense fear, chronic fatigue, and many other symptoms. Typically speaking, trauma symptoms last from a few days to a few months and gradually fade over time. But there are, however, instances where the symptoms seem to persist and intensify with time. We refer to these as examples of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD for short.
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Treating PTSD, we focus on the four A’s of trauma
That is, victim’s account of the incident, as well as the anger, alienation, and avoidance experienced in the wake of a traumatic event. When recounting traumatic experiences, we tend to focus on what could have happened instead of what actually happened. Thus, we often hear people say I could have died in that accident! or He nearly killed me! whilst largely ignoring the fact that they survived. This may sound like simple semantics to some, but embracing the survivor label is an important step in the recovery process for many. Avoidance, on the other hand, shields us from reliving the traumatic experience. Though effective in relieving anxiety in the short-term, avoidance interferes with our ability to acclimatize to the trauma. Thus, in therapy we aim to eliminate avoidance by confronting the events surrounding our trauma. In addition, we address anger and alienation (disconnectedness) by normalizing these experiences and finding ways to reconnect with our support system.