What is Trauma... and How Psychedelic Medicines Can Help With Your Healing


Let's clear some things up about trauma.

First, trauma is not what happens TO you, but rather the emotional response to something that we experience, either something horrible that happens to us (directly or indirectly) or when love/safety are withheld.

Second, it's best to think of trauma as a psychic wound, hurt, defeat that hardens you, typically caused by a single incident or a series of negative events. (Interestingly, trauma is derived from the Greek word for "wound.")

Third, just because someone experiences a traumatic event does not mean they will experience trauma.

Fourth, we store/suppress past trauma -- the pains from those experiences -- deep inside ourselves. We use different words such as "compartmentalizing" or "sweeping under the rug" to fool ourselves that we can easily move beyond the trauma.

Fifth, childhood trauma is some of the worst, simply because the child brain does not understand how to process all the information and emotions caused by the trauma, and is often combined with negative emotions, such as shame, fear, guilt.

Sixth, the result of the trauma often leads to a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is when the trauma memories are so strong they impact one's day-to-day functioning. While PTSD is most often discussed in reference to veterans of war, ANYONE who experiences trauma can suffer with post-traumatic stress. (In fact, women are twice as likely to develop PTSD than men.)

Seventh, while trauma is a spectrum of horrible/evil/sad/devastating events ranging from small incidents to major ones, ALL trauma results in emotional and mental baggage (sometimes with physical manifestations) that deserves support and healing.

A List of Common Causes of Trauma
  • Intergenerational/Ancestral (passed down trauma from previous generations)

  • Abuse (of all forms)

  • Abandonment

  • Assault

  • Sexual trauma

  • Bullying

  • Abandonment/Rejection

  • Racism/Colonialism

  • War

  • Loss of job

  • Manipulation

  • Terrorism

  • Theft/burglary

  • Fire/explosions

  • Automotive accidents

  • Natural disasters

  • Medical illnesses/incidents

  • Death/Grief

  • Breakup/Divorce

  • System-induced separation

  • Vicarious trauma

Outcomes Related to Trauma

Everyone reacts differently to traumatic events. Some common reactions:

  • Rage/hate

  • Nightmares

  • Flashbacks

  • Depression

  • Paranoia/anxiety

  • Panic attacks

  • Overwhelmed/mentally paralyzed

  • Uncontrollable thoughts (loops)

  • Easily startled or frightened

  • Low self-esteem

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Brain fog/trouble focusing

  • Uncontrollable anger

  • Unwarranted fear

  • Overwhelming guilt/shame

  • Flight mode overactive

  • Suicidal ideation

Methods for Healing Trauma

No one should have to live with the pain from past trauma, and yet many of us do. Many of us also live with trauma, but are completely unaware of why we feel the way we do.

Many of us have endured a lifetime of smaller traumas, usually ignored/dismissed/compartmentalized experiences, resulting in the equivalent of a lifetime of emotional papercuts -- and we know that one or two minor cuts are nothing, but if we have 10 or a hundred, the pain is unbearable.

The key to healing trauma is to get yourself onto a healing journey -- ideally one without prescription pills or any other self-medicating with alcohol or other drugs. Sadly, many traumatized people spend their lives self-medicating or being medicated -- rather than healing at the core.

Some traditional ways of dealing with trauma include:

  • Talk therapy

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

  • Cognitive processing therapy (CPT)

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

  • Prolonged exposure (PE) therapy

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

  • Somatic therapy

  • Sound therapy

  • Meditation

  • Breathwork

  • Hypnotherapy

  • Inner child work

The problem with many of these methods is that they require the person to know the trauma and be able to talk about the trauma... and in some cases, the person might not even remember the incidents. And when the accumulated trauma is too much, it is simply impossible to discuss it in a rational way.

If you have tried one or more of these methods on your healing journey, but they are not working for you, please research psychedelics and see if you are a good candidate to use them for your healing.

Psychedelics: Emerging Healing Tools

Studies show that trauma can disrupt the rhythmic function of consciousness -- and that an intentional psychedelic experience can help repair the neural pathways, as well as build new ones. This emerging field is still being heavily researched, but the results thus far show so much promise for many people (but not all) for treating a variety of mental health conditions:

  • Depression

  • Treatment-resistant Depression

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Suicidality

  • Addiction (opioids, alcohol)

  • Anxiety

  • Pain

  • Headache Disorders

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

These medicines work by stimulating, suppressing, or modulating the activity of various neurotransmitters in the brain, which causes a temporary chemical imbalance in the brain, leading to hallucinations and other effects.

The term psychedelic, first coined by British psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond, is composed of the Greek term psyche (soul, spirit, mind) and delos (to manifest, to reveal)... thus it translates into "soul manifesting" or "spirit revealing."

Based on clinical research and anecdotal data, these medicines are some of the most effective ways to get to true healing. Many people report that one psychedelic experience is like 7 years of talk-therapy... and just about everyone who has done a psychedelic journey describe it as one of the most profound experiences of their lives.

That said, there is no question that the future of true healing has to include psychedelics, especially entheogenic plants and fungi.

To learn more about what these psychedelic medicines are and how or why they might be of use to you for your healing -- or the healing of a loved one -- please find numerous articles and tools in this section of my book's website. (The book, Triumph Over Trauma, is also a good resource!)

Final Thoughts on Trauma and Healing Trauma

We have ALL been in situations and relationships in our lives where we have experienced traumatic events, leading to a trauma reaction. With smaller degrees of trauma, we may be able to hold off healing for a time, but ALL trauma eventually surfaces -- and in many odd, unexpected, and sometimes harmful and dangerous situations.

We ALL must find healing... true healing.

True healing allows us to live the lives we dream for ourselves, to live the life as authentic human beings... to live a life of love and joy, not one of suffering, bleakness, terror, and anguish.

Please find your healing modality -- or combination. You can heal from trauma without going down the pharmaceutical road, especially since the vast majority of these meds simply mask symptoms -- NOT heal.

Seek out talk therapy, EMDR, somatic therapy, and any other therapies you think might help; definitely consider psychedelics, even if you simply start by microdosing (taking a very low and non-hallucinogenic dose) a psychedelic.

We can -- and should -- heal from our trauma. Please start on your healing journey today!

Additional Trauma Sources

Learn More About Psychedelics From Dr. Randall

Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com.

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.