01670 631877 / 07737 491728 sian@peacefulminds.org.uk

Work Place Bullying and PTSD part 1 of 3


Work Place Bullying and PTSD part 1 of 3

Work Place Bullying and PTSD Part 1 of 3

What I hear you cry? Especially if you have known someone in the military or who has had a horrendous accident and has PTSD.

The brain, as I see it, is an infinitely complex organic entity that is connected to a mammalian body carrying residual survivalist feedback mechanisms. Ehh?

In other words the instincts we needed back when we were apes to flee a predator when threatened are still working perfectly and are with us today. Unfortunately, the threats these days are more of a psychological and emotional nature. So not only would we run if a bomb went off we also feel panicked when we feel humiliated or anticipate shame. Circumstance may mean we may have to stay in that humiliating or threatening position and endure the torment.

This is stress. The effects on the physical body of stress is widely known. The effect on the mind has not been so widely reported. High levels of cortisol a “fight or flight” hormone has been shown to have a profound effect on learning and memory. It also has been shown that mental illness such as depression can stem from prolonged stress.

PTSD is now recognized as a real illness. You can get PTSD after living through or seeing a dangerous event, such as war, a hurricane, or gruesome accident. You feel under threat and fearful long after the danger is over. It is now suspected that anything that is traumatic where you feel out of control can have residual terror symptoms. The following are the more common causes:
Being a victim of or seeing violence
The death or serious illness of a loved one
War or combat
Car accidents and plane crashes
Hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires
Violent crimes, like a robbery or shooting
And now I am asking if bullying can be a cause?
Some of the symptoms include:
Panic attacks
Bad dreams
Flashbacks, or feeling like the scary event is happening again
Scary thoughts you can’t control
Staying away from places and things that remind you of what happened
Feeling worried, guilty, or sad
Feeling alone
Trouble sleeping
Feeling on edge
Angry outbursts
Thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
Children who have PTSD may show other types of problems. These can include:
Behaving like they did when they were younger
Being unable to talk
Complaining of stomach problems or headaches a lot
Refusing to go places or play with friends.

PTSD starts at different times for different people. Signs of PTSD may start soon after a frightening event and then continue. Other people develop new or more severe signs months or even years later.
What’s going on in the mind to cause PTSD and how can bullying play a part ?
A good way to view the brain is see it as having two systems. One system is cognitive, complex and the thinker; we can call this the cool system. The other is our emotional-fear system ; the hot system. The hippo campus is cool. It s job is to record in a non judgmental unemotional way events as we experience them, taking in space and time of events. The amygdala is hot, quick, inflexible, run entirely on emotions, its fragmented in its interpretations, it creates our experience of fear. It is strongly linked with instinct and very difficult to have under conscious control.

We store hot and cool memories. A hot memory recalls the emotion that was coded with the event and will bring back low level emotional content, with very little detail . If we think of cool memory we will remember the data or facts of the event, it will be a recollection in episodic form. It can be relived without thinking its happening again in the present moment.

What happens if the signalling within the brain all goes wrong and the hot and cooled systems malfunction ? What happens in the brain during excruciating stress aka trauma?


Sian Barnard

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