Tag Archives: Flashbacks

What Is The Difference Between Flashbacks And Intrusive Memories?

flashbacks

If, as adults, we are suffering from complex posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of our childhood experiences we may, in the absence of effective therapy, be very prone to experiencing both distressing intrusive memories and frightening flashbacks. But what is the actual difference between intrusive memories and flashbacks? I briefly explain this difference below:

INTRUSIVE MEMORIES :

Intrusive memories enter conscious awareness against the individual’s will (often, the person experiencing them will try to block them out‘) and are very similar to the original traumatic event that is being recalled ; however, the individual having these memories is aware they they are, indeed, just that – i.e. memories / recollections – and that the incident being recalled is NOT actually happening in the ‘here and now.’ However, they can still be extremely distressing and may produce unpleasant physiological symptoms such as rapid, shallow breathing (hyperventilation) and increased heart rate.

FLASHBACKS :

In contrast, when an individual has a flashback s/he re-experiences the traumatic event as if it IS actually happening in the present. FLASHBACKS seem so real because sensory information (which can include sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile information) that has been stored in memory (albeit in an only partially processed and fragmented way) can be replayed in the mind extremely vividly ; to the person having the

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Failure Of Information Processing At Core Of PTSD

failure of information processing at core of PTSD

Research suggests (for examples, see below) that traumatic memories are not stored in the normal way (this theory was initially proposed by the psychologist and philosopher Pierre Janet) but non-linguistically as feelings / emotions and sensations (e.g. images, sounds, smells). This means that they cannot be properly articulated nor integrated into the individual’s personal narrative (story) in a meaningful way. This

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Trauma Triggers : Definition And Examples

 trauma triggers

TRAUMA TRIGGERS are events/occurrences that remind us (on either a conscious or unconscious level) of our original traumatic experiences causing us to feel extreme distress similar to that  felt at the time of that original trauma.
We are particularly likely to be affected by triggers at times of acute stress.

Some examples of trauma triggers include :

SOUNDS :

For example, a voice that sounds similar to the voice of a parent who frequently threatened us, as children, with extreme physical

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Responding and Adjusting to the Effects of Trauma : Five Stages

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

One of the world’s leading experts on the effects of traumatic experience is the psychologist Mardi Horowitz, and it is he who proposed the five stage model of how we respond and adjust to traumatic experience. The five stages that Horowitz describes are as follows :

HOROWITZ’S FIVE STAGE MODEL OF HOW WE RESPOND AND ADJUST TO TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE :

A) Outcry

B) Numbness and denial

C) Intrusive re-experiencing of the traumatic experience

D) Working through the traumatic experience

E)

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How to Cope with Difficult Memories, Part One.

https://childhoodtraumarecovery.com/2013/04/20/exciting-early-research-findings-on-the-medication-propranolol-a-beta-blocker-effectiveness-of-treating-symptoms-of-trauma/

In a previous post, I wrote about traumatic memories and talked about how psychologists have divided them into two types:

1) Flashbacks
2) Intrusive memories

Such memories can be very painful and emotionally distressing, and, according to Ehlers et al. (2010), three main factors need to be considered when aiming to eliminate, or, at least, reduce the negative impact of, these kinds of memory. They identified the three factors as follows :

  1. Becoming aware of what is triggering the memories
  2. Understanding how the individual is interpreting the memories
  3. Identifying and understanding behavioral and cognitive responses to the memories

With this in mind, let’s look at strategies which

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Childhood Trauma Leading To Traumatic Memories.

childhood trauma and traumatic memories

Traumatic Memories

Remembering traumatic events is in some ways beneficial. For example, it allows us to review the experience and learn from it. Also, by replaying the event/s, its/their emotional charge is diminished.

However, sometimes the process breaks down and the memories remain powerful and frightening. Sometimes they seem to appear at random, and at other times they can be TRIGGERED by a particular event such as a film with a scene that shows a person suffering from a similar trauma to that suffered by the

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