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Unique Responses to Stressors and Trauma

The term “stress” was originally coined in the mid-1930s by Hungarian-Canadian researcher Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. The stress response is activated when an environmental stimulus is greater than the individual’s ability to cope. It was historically believed that stress activated the fight or flight response in every individual. However, creator of Somatic Experiencing (SE®), Peter Levine, discovered if the stressor is sufficiently strong, fight or flight is overridden by freezing.

Fight or flight responses activate the sympathetic nervous system, whereas freezing activates the body’s most primitive response in the reptilian brain. The less extreme responses are quieted more easily with simple interventions including meditation, deep breathing, and simpler relaxation exercises. However the freeze response is much more difficult to quiet and often continues to be present throughout the lifetime of an individual unless some serious healing occurs, using Constellations or other forms of trauma work. Constellations remain superior if the stressor are transgenerational in nature.

Individuals who’ve experienced extreme traumas, or are carrying a huge transgenerational trauma, are challenging and at times difficult to work with. Healing work must be consistent and deliberate, and constellations are powerful healing tools. In addition, trauma survivors, even if the trauma is transgenerational in nature, are also very easily re-triggered and the environmental stressors are significantly less than the original trauma. The experiences of these individuals resemble those of soldiers returning from wars, troubled by PTSD, leaving them caught in a seemingly infinite loop of stress/response, over and over again with seemingly crippling effects that stand in the way of their living a happy and productive life, free to pursue their passions..

In addition to this infinite loop of stress/response, each individual has his or her own very unique way or responding to heavy traumas or simple stressors. Things in the environment that go unnoticed by most are overwhelming stressful to trauma survivors, and who respond uniquely but in almost exactly the same way each time he or she is triggered by the environment. Some are always respond with anger that is often way out of proportion to the stimulus, which the individual feels incapable of controlling or stopping.

Others feel acutely anxious and have an enormously long laundry list of possible transgressions or expectations of others that cause the individual to freeze and feeling overwhelmed and stuck in anxiety. Many of these individuals become so anxious and are triggered into anxiety so readily that they are forced to seek medical intervention simply to be able to hold a job. Still others are riddled with fear. Many of these individuals were exposed at an very early age to a situation that scared them badly. However, it is very possible to carry the transgenerational fear, and those with extreme anxiety can also carry the anxiety of an ancestor.

However, even some who stay and fight are often in a state of perpetual rage, over which they appear to have little or no control. Although fight is a less primitive response in general, those who experience perpetual rage can be activating the primitive survival in the reptilian brain, and it can be transgenerational rage as well, which can also be baffling to heal without using constellations..