Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event.
Trauma, which means “wound” in Greek, is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. A traumatic event involves one experience, or repeating events with the sense of being overwhelmed that can be delayed by weeks, years, or even decades as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences, often overlooked even by mental health professionals: “If clinicians fail to look through a trauma lens and to acknowledge the client’s problems as related possibly to current or past trauma, they may fail to see that trauma victims, young and old, organize much of their lives around repetitive patterns of reliving and warding off traumatic memories, reminders, and affects.”
Some theories suggest childhood trauma can increase one’s risk for psychological disorders including PTSD, depression, and substance abuse. Childhood abuse tends to have the most complications with long-term effects out of all forms of trauma because it occurs during the most sensitive and critical stages of psychological development. It could also lead to violent behaviour, possibly as extreme as serial murder.