Loss of a Sense of Self
One of the initial effects of trauma is a loss of sensory self-awareness. The areas of the brain that work together to create a sense of self, which typically activate when the brain is in “rest” mode, cannot activate because the brain remains constantly activated toward survival of the threat. Knowing what we feel leads to knowing why we feel it which leads to mobilization of resources to manage and respond to those feelings. None of these normal responses occur in the presence of extreme disconnection from the self. Because disconnection from self continues well after the traumatic event is over, these responses also continue to occur. As a result, the individual loses their sense of purpose and direction, the feeling of being alive, and the sense of who they are.
However, trauma does not define who we are. God, as our Creator, is the author of our identity, and that identity is a secure and stable truth no matter what our circumstances. Through our relationship with Christ, we can "rediscover" who we are. He can restore what our traumatic experiences have attempted to cover up. We can enter His rest and receive His peace, allowing our brains to reactivate toward re-experiencing our sense of self.
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Dr. Donna E. Lane is a Christian Counselor who specializes in trauma, grief, and loss, along with the depression and anxiety often resulting from these experiences. She has been a counselor since 1979, and has owned her practice since 1993. She is co-author of the internationally-acclaimed trauma treatment resource, Trauma Narrative Treatment, and the accompanying story, Gold Stone. She is also the co-author of Strength in Adversity, a Biblical study on walking through difficulty with Christ.