Trauma, PTSD, and Resilience

Trauma is the result of experiencing inescapably stressful events that overwhelm an individual’s existing coping mechanisms while obstructing information-processing abilities. It affects memory in two ways, modifying both sensorimotor and affective levels of memory formation and recall and often producing the symptoms of somatoform and psychoform as seen in FND.

Some individuals with FND have experienced chronic stress or trauma prior to the onset of FND. The exposure to life-altering adverse events can contribute to the dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system. Since FNDcourage is based on the idea that FND is an expression of a dysregulated nervous system (too much or too little activation), part of the healing process is undoubtedly the work with and resolution of any adverse nervous system changes resulting from chronic stress and/or trauma.

Although a direct causal connection between trauma and the onset of FND has not yet been identified, trauma is widely believed to be a contributing factor, alongside adverse childhood experiences (ACE). For instance, several studies have concluded that individuals with FND exhibit elevated rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and those with FND display disproportionately high incidence of involuntary dissociative states.

As part of your your therapeutic exploration, you will learn about resilience and how to increase your on resilience in the face of stressful external and internal experiences. Resilience is your ability to quickly and fully recover from challenging, stressful, and traumatic events.

Being resilient means you have the capacity to face stressors, to lean into discomfort, instead of avoiding challenges. Part of the model of FNDcourage is to NOT use the word “triggers.” Many professionals talk about “triggers” in the context of FND. What Dr. Moenter has seen in her work with FND is that people naturally orient away from “triggers” creating a pattern of avoidance. Such avoidance, over time, leads to a very limited lifestyle and a lack of trust and strength necessary to lean into the discomfort of FND, which eventually will help reduce symptoms.

Dr. Moenter introduces the concept of “precursors” feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations that can be an indicator that your nervous system is at the beginning stages of dysregulation.

“True freedom means living our lives fully, not avoiding, not “coping,” but truly developing the capacity to be with all that life offers us.” Afra Moenter, Ph.D.

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