Stage One: Breaking the CircuitryMcGrath compares the human nervous system with an electrical system, explaining that if you overload an electrical system with too much energy and stimulation, it shuts down. The same is true for the human body. When overwhelmed with too much fear or danger during trauma, the body shuts down, which can help to explain the numb feeling that many describe after being part of a traumatic event. The physical and emotional reactions to trauma vary from person to person. There are a wide variety of responses that are considered to be normal.
Stage Two: Feeling AgainRecovering from trauma can involve sessions with a therapist or a counselor, or it could happen by just telling the story, over and over again. Many times, the last thing someone who has witnessed a traumatic event wants to do it talk about it, and describe what they saw and how they felt, but it's an important part of healing. McGrath explains that by telling the story, people can begin to let go of their anxiety and distress, and associate it instead with the memory of the event. This method doesn't work for everyone. For some, talking about it is too much to handle. Feelings can also be expressed through writing or drawing. McGrath has broken down the expression of feelings into four basic patterns that people employ in response to a crisis. Each pattern demands a different approach.
- The Trickle Effect - Feelings flow out slow but steady. This takes time, as someone with this pattern most often experiences feelings at a low or medium level.
- Hit and Run Feelings - Someone showing this pattern may hit an emotion suddenly and experience it intensely, then show fear and run from it. They will most likely avoid the feeling and suppress it for days, weeks or even months.
- Roller Coasters - In this pattern, emotions are up and down. A person may understand the emotions, but feelings may be all over the place.
- Tsunamis - Emotions in this pattern come in tidal wives that are overwhelming. A person may express extreme emotions, then once the storm ends, they feel better.