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Types Of Trauma

Experiences in life can be trauamtic. Whether an event is deemed traumatic is defined by the 'subjective experience' of it rather than the event itself. Trauma and PTSD symtoms are experienced on a spectrum and are different for different people. They can also vary in terms of their severity. Trauma is experienced. in a number of different settings. Settings might include home life, at school, the work place, in the wider community or in a war zone. Traumas are sometimes categorised into different groupings.

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Type 1 Trauma

Type 1 refers to single-incident traumas which are unexpected and comes out of the blue. They can be referred to as big T trauma, shock or acute trauma. A condition related to big T trauma or Type 1 trauma is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Examples of type 1 trauma might include:

  • Severe illness or injury
  • Violent assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Traumatic loss
  • Mugging or robbery
  • Being a victim of or witness to violence
  • Witnessing a terrorist attack
  • Witnessing a natural disaster
  • Road accident
  • Military combat incident
  • Hospitalisation
  • Psychiatric hospitalisation
  • Childbirth
  • Medical trauma
  • Post suicide attempt trauma
  • Life threatening illness or diagnosis or perceived life threatening illness

Type 2 Trauma

Types 2 traumas are more likely to be experienced over a length of time and repeated. They could be experienced as part of an interpersonal relationship or with a close attachment figure in childhood. You might feel trapped emotionally or physically and are more closely related to complex post traumatic stress disorder.

Examples of type 2 trauma include:

  • Sibling abuse
  • Childhood emotional abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Emotional neglect and attachment trauma
  • Abandonment
  • Verbal abuse
  • Coercion
  • Domestic physical abuse
  • Long term misdiagnosis of a health problem
  • Bullying at home at school or in a work setting
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Overly strict upbringing sometimes religious
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Historical, Collective or Intergenerational Trauma

The most prominent example of collective, intergenerational trauma is the holocaust experienced by the Jewish community in world war 2. Hisotorical trauma can affect communities or groups of people in a physical, emotional and a psychological way. Adaptive coping patterns can be passed down generations of families, groups and communities of people.

  • Racism
  • Slavery
  • Forcible removal from a family or community
  • Genocide
  • War

Vicarious or Secondary Trauma

This type of trauma can occur when someone speaks to someone who has experienced a trauma or witnessed a trauma first hand. The person listening can experience secondary trauma and experience symptoms experienced by the person explaining the trauma.

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Little (t) Trauma

Little t trauma is less prominent and discussed less often. Little t traumas are experiences which are part of the everyday and are an expected part of life. They may however be very traumatic. Examples might include:

  • Loss of a loved one (not traumatic bereavement)
  • Moving to a new house
  • Losing a job