by Peter A. Levine, Ph.D.

Trauma is fundamentally a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time. For example, when our full neuromuscular and metabolic machinery prepares us to fight or to flee, muscles throughout the entire body are tensed in specific patterns of high-energy readiness. When we are unable to complete the appropriate actions and discharge the tremendous energy generated by our survival preparations, this energy becomes fixated into specific patterns of neuromuscular readiness. Afferent feedback to the brain stem generated from these incomplete neuromuscular/ autonomic responses maintains a state of acute and then chronic arousal and dysfunction in the central nervous system. Traumatized people are not suffering from a disease in the normal sense of the word. They have become fixated in an aroused state. It is difficult (if not impossible) to function normally under these circumstances.