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  • Dr. Marie Dezelic and Dr Gabriel Ghanoum




Current instrumental trauma research, which focuses on the neurobiology of trauma’s impact on the overall physiology, brain functioning, inner experience and display of behavioral symptoms, has shown how adverse effects in early developmental years impact not only personality development, but also baseline brain functioning, which consequently impact attachment style to initial caregivers, later attachment styles in interpersonal relationships, and symptomatology in childhood and later in adulthood, often getting classified as clinical disorders. These adverse events, which can be grouped in five categories in no particular order: (1) Physical & Sexual Abuse (&/or Witnessing), (2) Physical & Emotional Neglect (&/or Witnessing), (3) Psychological Abuse & Distress (&/or Witnessing), (4) Family Dysfunction/ Mental Illness/ Substance Abuse/ Incarceration of Caregivers, (5) Extreme Distress, Disruption & Confusion, impact the developing personality structure on the background of the individual’s composition of self: Mind—Psyche (how one is perceiving and making sense and meaning of the situation), Body—Soma (how the cellular tissue is recording information and how brain activity is being activated or de-activated), and Spirit—Noös—Unique Essence (how one’s inner meaning in life and motivation-thriving is affected). These adverse events, which are often not standalone events, impact the individual’s (1) self-view, (2) others-view, and (3) world-view, and overall meaning constructions, in terms of perceived sense of self and self-awareness, and of safety and security in one’s own body, with others, and within the world. It is helpful to understand these concepts even though not everyone will experience traumatic life experiences; however, often individuals will experience events, or likewise later traumatic events during adulthood, which do impact these systems, promote the expression of certain genes and pre-dispositions, as well as the ongoing processes of physiological-body reactions, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Trauma therapies incorporate many levels/dimensions of the self, and can, and often include the existential therapies, as the core of traumatic memories, which are cut off physical sensations, images/pictures, and emotions from the individual’s autobiographical timeline, have core existential meanings and beliefs attached to them. As these core existential meanings and beliefs are uncovered and discovered in each of the processes, reworking and reprocessing takes place, on the Mind-Body-Spirit dimensions. The process effects, (physiological-body reactions, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors), which will include Logotherapeutic actions of self-awareness, self-discovery, self-reflection, and choice and freedom, can be applied not only to trauma and trauma-related disorders, but other disorders/symptomatology, as all individuals go through this process to varying degrees. Additionally, as V. Frankl always stated, Logotherapy & Existential Analysis can be used specifically and adjunctively, and can be a complementary approach with other therapeutic schools of thought. Some individuals have more difficulty, and get stuck in certain physiological, cognitive, affective and behavioral responses depending on their particular set of circumstances; clinicians can work through these areas in more or less depth, according to the individual’s needs, tailoring treatment specifically to the individual, a core concept in Logotherapy & Existential Analysis.

This “Conceptual Pictograph”—handout is intended to offer individuals and clinicians a simple, one page snapshot of traumatic impacts, or adverse events, on personality development, as well as when a present situation in the here-and-now triggers process effects, patterns that have been ingrained as an adapted coping style, with areas of freedom to work on therapeutic changes. Adapted coping styles should not necessarily be viewed as maladaptive, as they are often the person’s only options at those times when they were initially set in place. However, in the present moment, they may no longer be serving the individual well, and may be interrupting social, interpersonal relationships as well as sense of self, security, safety, and agency. New discoveries, new understandings, and new choices can be made in the present with proper guidance, leading to meaningful and connected relationships, meaning in life, inner total self-awareness, sense of inner security and safety, will to meaning, and self-transcendence.


These Handouts are meant for Mind-Body-Spirit (bio-psycho-social-spiritual) awareness and self-help empowerment. ENJOY!

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