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CPTSD 101

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) is an intricate tapestry woven into  the neurobiological fabric of our beings. To comprehend the formation of negative core  beliefs, we must embark on a trauma-informed journey, delving into the very essence of  our experiences and how they sculpt the landscape of our minds and bodies.  


Neurobiological Landscape of CPTSD: 

In moments of trauma, our brains undergo intricate changes, particularly within the  limbic system and the amygdala, the emotional processing center. When exposed to  overwhelming stress, the amygdala initiates a cascade of responses, triggering the  release of stress hormones like cortisol. This heightened state of arousal imprints the  experience into our memory, often encoding it with intense emotions and negative  beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world.  



Formation of Negative Core Beliefs: 

These negative core beliefs, etched into our neurobiological framework, become the lens  through which we perceive the world. For instance, an incident of betrayal may foster a  belief in untrustworthiness, while neglect can cultivate a belief in unworthiness. These  beliefs shape our stress responses, influencing how we navigate relationships, handle  challenges, and view our own sense of safety.  




Tracking CPTSD in the Body: 

Understanding the neurobiological underpinnings of CPTSD is crucial for those on a  healing journey. Tracking these experiences in the body involves cultivating somatic  awareness, where sensations become signposts guiding us towards relief. Here are five  examples of how we can track the echoes of CPTSD in our body:  


Hypervigilance and the Fight Response: 

• Body Sensation: Persistent muscle tension, clenched jaw, or a racing  heartbeat.  

• Understanding: The body remains in a constant state of readiness,  prepared for potential threats.  


Dissociation and the Freeze Response: 

• Body Sensation: Feeling detached, numbness, or a sense of floating.  • Understanding: The body, as a survival mechanism, dissociates from  overwhelming stress to shield the mind from the intensity of the  

experience.  


Avoidance and the Flight Response: 

• Body Sensation: Restlessness, racing thoughts, or a desire to escape.  • Understanding: The body signals a need to avoid potential triggers,  seeking safety in movement or distraction.  


Heightened Startle Response: 

• Body Sensation: Jumpiness, increased heart rate, or a sharp intake of  breath.  

• Understanding: The nervous system remains on high alert, reacting  swiftly to perceived threats.  


Physical Discomfort During Flashbacks: 

• Body Sensation: Sweating, shortness of breath, or chest tightness.  • Understanding: Flashbacks activate the body as if the traumatic event is  recurring, causing physical sensations mirroring the original experience.  


Finding Relief Through Somatic Awareness: 

Cultivating somatic awareness involves gentle exploration of these body sensations.  Instead of reliving the trauma, we invite a compassionate curiosity towards the physical  experiences. By tracking these sensations, we create an opportunity for healing, allowing  the body to process and release the stored tension.  




Conclusion: 

Understanding CPTSD at a neurobiological level empowers individuals to embark on a  trauma-informed healing journey. By tracking the somatic echoes and negative core  beliefs in the body, we pave the way for relief and transformation. Through  compassionate exploration, we reclaim agency over our narratives, forging a path  towards resilience, self-compassion, and the gradual dissolution of the imprints left by  past traumas.  

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