The Interplay of Body and Mind: Trauma’s Influence Beyond the Psyche

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The Pervasive Impact of Trauma

Trauma is a ubiquitous experience, with an estimated 70% of adults in the United States encountering a traumatic event at some point. While often associated with extreme events such as war or violent attacks, trauma can also manifest in less obvious forms, such as illness, job loss, or relationship breakdowns.

Trauma’s Physiological Effects

During and after a traumatic event, the body undergoes significant physiological changes. The fight-or-flight response activates, causing heart rate and blood pressure to rise, muscles to tense, and digestion to slow down. Conversely, the freeze response may result in detachment and immobility.

Over time, these physiological responses can become chronic, leading to persistent anxiety, sleep disturbances, and somatic symptoms such as pain or digestive issues.

Trauma and the Body: A Storage Mechanism?

Some experts propose that unprocessed trauma may become “stored” in the physical body, particularly when the traumatic memories are too distressing to consciously confront.

Physicians and energy healers suggest that trauma can manifest as “stuck energy” within the body, potentially hindering cellular function and contributing to chronic conditions.

Physical Stimuli and Emotional Release

Anecdotal evidence suggests that certain physical stimuli, such as massage, acupuncture, or yoga, may trigger emotional releases, potentially related to the release of stored trauma.

Acupuncture, for instance, may help modulate the nervous system and facilitate the emergence of suppressed memories. Similarly, physical movement and deep breathing can counter the protective tension associated with trauma, allowing emotions to surface.

The Significance of Emotional Release

While emotional releases can be cathartic, it is crucial to manage them appropriately. Unprocessed emotions, particularly in the aftermath of severe trauma, can be overwhelming and require the guidance of a therapist.

Trauma-focused therapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Somatic Experiencing work with the body to resolve the physiological responses associated with trauma, reducing their psychological impact.

A Holistic Approach to Trauma Healing

Healing from trauma requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both physical and psychological aspects. Practitioners emphasize the importance of working with the body through movement, touch, and breathing.

Additionally, fostering human connection and exploring trauma through journaling or therapy can aid in processing and integrating the traumatic experience.


The body and mind are inextricably linked, and trauma can profoundly affect both. While the precise mechanisms by which physical stimuli may facilitate the release of stored trauma remain uncertain, certain practices may provide a complementary approach to trauma healing.

By understanding the physiological and psychological consequences of trauma and seeking appropriate support, individuals can embark on a journey towards integration, healing, and personal growth.

By James S. Gordon, M.D.

Trauma and the Body

Physical Stimuli and Emotional Release

Trauma-Focused Therapies


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