Can you die from psychological trauma

What actually is trauma?

  1. Flight or fight (circulatory functions and stress hormones etc. "run at full speed")
  2. Freeze, the so-called play-dead reflex, in order to possibly get a chance to escape
  3. Submission (Submit) "inner giving up", the body functions, circulation etc. "shutting down", inner "stepping away"

Take the example of the cat and the mouse. A cat has discovered a mouse that tries to escape. The cat catches the mouse holding it between its paws. She looks like she is dead although she has not yet been inflicted with any major injuries (dead reflex). As cats are, they play with their prey, the mouse does not move. The cat is briefly distracted by something else and suddenly the mouse runs away.

During the flight or fight phase, the body's stress systems work at full speed. “Energy” is made available in order to be able to fight or flee, the body is tense, heart, blood pressure and muscle strength are maximally activated.

If you can neither fight nor flee, there will be "paralysis". On the outside, the body seems frozen, but the stress hormones are still fully active on the inside. There is still the inner ability to fight or to flee, if there is a possibility.

If the external circumstances that trigger this tension persist, the stress systems react differently: the body's own opiates are released, the sensation of pain is inhibited, blood pressure and heart rate drop, the muscles become slack. Overall, there is a kind of numbness that makes it possible to experience an overwhelming experience without being fully conscious. However, the events during this time are not saved exactly either. Body feelings, feelings, thoughts and courses of action cannot then be remembered in connection with what has been experienced.

Note: Individual elements of these physical reactions can later suddenly show up in the behavior of traumatized people, e.g. physical tension, surveillance, poor sleep, irritability, aggression, slowing down, emotional or physical numbness, "stepped away", how robots act, feel energetic and limp or can no longer perceive their feelings. This is then not controllable for those affected.

The more stable a person is (more mature / adult the personality), the more likely they have the chance to better classify and cope with bad experiences - from this it follows: Children have it particularly difficult (even and especially when they appear carefree and happy!)