When we endure experiences that are either physically or emotionally wounding, protective systems are activated. These systems impact both our minds and bodies. They change how we experience ourselves, other people, and the world around us. They shift us onto a different life path to the one we would have been following, had we not been traumatised.
On this pathway we live our lives from inside an altered reality. It is as though we have been transported into Peter Pan’s Neverland, only this version of Neverland is built around our wounds. I call this altered reality a ‘trauma-world’.1
Living within a trauma-world provides us with protection, however, there are inadvertent and terrible side-effects: Our lives become built upon an invisible foundation of fearfulness, disconnection, and toxic shame. As a result, feeling, thinking, and behaviour are distorted. A slew of secondary suffering ensues.
This suffering often escalates to such a degree that we do not like living with ourselves and come to believe that there is something wrong with who we are. There is a truth to this; it is just that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with us, rather, it is our trauma-worlds that are the problem.
For the last 20 years, I have been working to understand how trauma-worlds are created, and how they can be transformed. Drawing on both my own lived experience and the research done by others, I have been exploring the internal environments that exist in our unconscious minds and bodies, and also the external environments that exist in our families, schools, communities, and therapeutic relationships.
In my writing and videos, I share what I have learned – and continue to learn – as a result of this work.
1 Sieff, Daniela F. 2015. “Connecting conversations: Expanding our understanding to transform our trauma-worlds.” In Understanding and healing emotional trauma: Conversations with pioneering clinicians and researchers, edited by Daniela F. Sieff, 221-236. London: Routledge.
To cite this introduction please use: Sieff, Daniela F. (2020) “My approach to trauma – an introduction.” Last Modified April 27, 2002 https://danielasieff.com/trauma/