is the direct, personal experience of harm (or threatened harm) to self and others.  Most traumas are not “single-event” trauma – but patterns of recurrent trauma.     COMPLEX TRAUMA – refers to both the exposure to multiple, chronic or recurrent traumatic experiences and the wide-ranging and long term impact of these experiences.

Western Neuroscience/Psychology recognize at least 8 general categories of Trauma:

Developmental Trauma – which results in delayed or abnormal development of Brain Networks.  Causes:  
o   Inadequate attentive care, touch, and co-regulation during child development 
o   Disruption in Parent-Child Attachment
o   Child Maltreatment – Interpersonal Victimization (physical, emotional, sexual abuse) 
o   Chaotic Home Environment; Family Violence

Intergenerational Trauma 
o   Trauma passed unintentionally from one generation to the next; many traits that were thought to be “genetic” because they were found to “run in families” are now recognized to the result of Intergenerational Trauma

Everyday Discrimination
o   A person’s life experience of daily trauma – such as daily discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity.
o   Intersectional Discrimination is the complex cumulative way that one person or group may experience multiple types of discrimination (such as race+gender+class)

Structural-Historical Trauma
o   Emotional damage from inequity enforced through public policies, institutional practices, cultural images, and behaviors which are built into the structure of the culture, and which reinforce social inequity.

Interpersonal Victimization – physical, emotional, sexual abuse

Single-event Trauma (such as a robbery, an explosion, car accident, death in the family)

Acculturation Trauma
o   Emotional distress related to transitioning to a new culture (usually as part of immigration)

Secondary Trauma (experiencing the trauma that others have experienced)


Each type of Trauma has potentially different neurobiological impact.

And the impact of Trauma depends on:
o   the person’s stage of development, and
o   the frequency, severity, and duration of the Trauma, and
o   the person’s resources to buffer the trauma (emotional, physical, and most importantly relational resources)