Trauma sensations are those physical symptoms caused by traumatic experiences. Many people experience them, but often they go unrecognized for what they are. In the case of sexual abuse, for example, it is common for distressful bodily sensations to be felt during sexual experiences. Theis is a result of what are known are ‘body memories’. This means that even though our minds may have no awareness of what is happening when these sensations occur, our body remembers what they are related to.
The Body and Trauma
Naturally, the body has its own experience when we are traumatized. Trauma directly impacts the body through assault, but also through emotional, and mental abuse that cause physiological reactions. The body-mind connection involved in trauma has been long known. For example, survivors of traumatic stress have physical issues directly related to trauma such as migraines, stomach aches, pelvic pain, and so on. We discuss these as psychosomatic issues. Most people think that the term psychosomatic means that something is ‘all in you head’ and isn’t real. This is not the true definition. Rather, psycho–the mind and somatic–the body are combined in the term to reflect a direct connection between those 2 aspects of us.
Some believe that when bad things happen to us we freeze the memories in our bodies at a cellular level if we were distressed enough during the original event. For example, let’s say you were confronted by an armed robber. You believed that you might be shot and killed during the robbery because the weapon was pointed at you the whole time. This terror created a deep impulse for you to either run away or to fight the robber. Instead, you froze, so overwhelmed with fear that you thought any movement might get you killed for sure. All the impulses to run or fight were not expressed by your body. They were suppressed instead and locked away in the body. some clinical practitioners believe that this may lead to memories surfacing later on a massage table, for instance, when particular areas of your body are massaged.
Reclaiming the Body
Trauma can alienate us from our bodies and even make us hate them. We have distressful thoughts and feelings, and sometimes difficult bodily sensations. All of that can make us feel that the body has betrayed us. We only feel bad and don’t feel comfortable. As a result, many people try to self-medicate with substances in order to suppress such a bad internal experience and to feel some relief.