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  • Fe Robinson

Trauma symptoms are about survival

“Trauma represents a profound compression of “survival” energy, energy that has not been able to complete its meaningful course of action.” Peter Levine

We think of trauma responses as a problem, a dysfunction, an indication that something has gone wrong. I love this quote from Peter Levine, which so effectively captures the truth that the trauma response was an attempt at defence, a way to survive and to maintain our integrity as a living being.

Getting rid of or pushing away our body’s instinctive ways of protecting us is not a path to healing. Suppression and repression never made anyone well. What we need is to enable our impulses to be able to complete, so that the stuck, debilitating energy can be released and leave us free to once again be spontaneous and agile.

A useful first step if you are stuck with trauma responses is to learn more about what your bodymind is doing to try and look after you, and to look for ways to begin to bring back movement in a safe context. Ask yourself, when do I feel most safe and relaxed? With whom do I feel at peace and comfortable? Build from what’s working, and recall the things that in the past have helped you feel really good.

There are trauma treatments available psychologically. They involve a focus on your body, they work ‘bottom up’ as well as ‘top down’ from cognition and thinking, and the aim is release and integration. If you feel in need of professional help, reach out to a psychotherapist specialising in this area.


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