Big T vs Little T Trauma

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bluepalm

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Re: Big T vs Little T Trauma
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2021, 09:39:21 PM »
This topic is disturbing for me.  The idea of comparing little t trauma and Big T trauma seems just another way of refusing to acknowledge that a person is suffering from some experience that has left them wounded. If they are wounded in a way that their body has changed by incorporating the pain of that wounding, they are wounded. If they have been wounded through betrayal and assault from other people who are entrusted to care for them, we call it complex trauma or relational response trauma and that's what this Forum community is focused upon. Why would we try to calibrate how wounded they are compared with another person and whether it is reasonable for them to seek acknowledgement of their suffering? 

I strongly agree with this statement:

"Trauma is a fundamental feeling of threat. Itís a perceived lack of safety. And itís different for everyone. Trauma is more about the impact than the cause; itís about how the trauma is ďrememberedĒ in the body. It is not up to us to judge, or quantify or size up the impact of someoneís trauma. The only person who can do that is the person who feels it."


If a person is wounded, if they experience the symptoms of trauma in their body, the only question should be how can that person heal. And part of healing in a human community is having those around you acknowledge that you are hurting. How much and why doesn't seem relevant to me. Otherwise we would all have to accept our own suffering and not try to alleviate it or ask for understanding from others because there will always be people who have been assaulted, tormented, tortured in ways that objectively outweigh our personal experiences.

« Last Edit: May 19, 2021, 09:41:10 PM by bluepalm »

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Jazzy

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Re: Big T vs Little T Trauma
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2021, 01:28:57 AM »
A lot of very good points here. Of particular interest to me is this:

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Anyone I've known suffering the effects of trauma, big or little T tends to minimize their own traumas.

and this

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It is not up to us to judge, or quantify or size up the impact of someoneís trauma. The only person who can do that is the person who feels it.

I think both of these statements are right, and this is a really big part of why trauma is so hard to heal from. I'll just talk about myself as an example, because it's what I know best.

I really did minimize my own traumas, for quite a few reasons. That's what I was taught to do, I never knew any better (mine started at 3 years old or possibly earlier), My mind was trying to protect itself so it didn't have to go through the hurtful process of therapy, and also so it could try to function in society, I couldn't even think straight anyway because I was so wounded.

But also, no one else could really know what was going on in my mind... and with me not fully realizing, and certainly not accepting it, no one knew there was such a big problem. Trauma is hard enough to heal from after realizing it's a problem, but when I wasn't even aware, it was impossible to properly recover.

This seems so dangerous to me, and I feel badly for all the wounded people who don't even know how much better their lives could be. I think it's just so important to help each other along as best we can, when we're in a good place to do that.

Like Blueberry said:
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So a double hurt on top of the old trauma. A de-validation.

In my experience, de-validation is what got me in to such a mess in the first place. I think it's the worst thing I can do to others, so I try as best I can to validate and help instead.

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Wisteria777

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Re: Big T vs Little T Trauma
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2021, 11:52:37 AM »
TW -- alcoholism, bullying, inappropriate behavior and violence

This topic is really resonating for me. My mom did her best to protect me and get me out of harm's way when my alcoholic father came to the house (on more than one occasion) and got physically violent. Unfortunately the violence often begat more violence. Once he showed up and tried to smash in the windows in our home with a golf club, and my brother (who was much older than me) threatened him with a shotgun. Another time he chased us around the house with an adze and we were only able to get away when he swung it and got it stuck in a wall (I don't remember this incident, but it was brought up over and over again by my mom's brother, who just liked talking about it). On all those occasions we ended up literally running for our lives, and she got us to safety.

But I struggle with the times she and my grandparents didn't seem to notice or validate my "little T" trauma: My cousin, who bullied me mercilessly, was told to "cut it out" and "be nice." When a repeat visitor to my grandparents' motel grabbed me and tried to feel of me when I was 8, I was told to avoid him. Two of my mom's brothers were just as violent as my dad. The one who always talked about the adze incident hit her himself. She responded by just not talking to him, but always seemed to feel guilty about it.

That's really where I'm struggling in my journey. The things I ruminate on are not the life-threatening episodes (though admittedly, I don't remember a lot of them), but the little day-to-day traumas. Sometimes those memories are so overwhelming, I just wish I could forget them too.

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CactusFlower

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Re: Big T vs Little T Trauma
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2021, 04:44:19 PM »
I agree with Bluepalm, that only the person experiencing the trauma can define how bad it truly affects them.  We (as a society_ apparently are not past the judgement that certain kinds of trauma are more "valid" than others. Someone who cannot trust other people because they experienced emotional or psychological abuse as a child is no less valid than someone who experienced war or natural disaster or assault. (I know that doesn't cover everything, it's just an example)

I personally think to try to differentiate between big T and little t when it comes to trauma is to perpetuate that mindset that ends up making some of us downplay things as "not that bad."  "Well, at least they didn't -x-" Regardless of how we experienced our trauma, it happened. Our brains were changed, our lives were changed. My experience was not the same as Jazzy's, or Kizzie's, or NotAlone's, or anyone else's. Yet we all experienced trauma. And thank goodness we all found this place.

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Kizzie

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Re: Big T vs Little T Trauma
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2021, 05:27:47 PM »
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"Trauma is a fundamental feeling of threat. Itís a perceived lack of safety. And itís different for everyone. Trauma is more about the impact than the cause; itís about how the trauma is ďrememberedĒ in the body. It is not up to us to judge, or quantify or size up the impact of someoneís trauma. The only person who can do that is the person who feels it."

This is from BluePalm's post in the first post at the top of the thread. I think personal perception of trauma is key, but I also think it's important to understand that we do all share the same core wound because no matter the type of RT, our self undergoes ongoing attack. 

RT is life threatening not just physically (threat of killing or badly injuring the body), but for all forms of RT it is psychological (threat of killing or badly injuring the soul). It can range from covert N abuse to overt physical abuse, but if it results in the shared symptoms of CPTSD it is all Big T imo.

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OwnSide

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Re: Big T vs Little T Trauma
« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2022, 04:53:09 AM »
Thank you all for this thread and your insights. Honestly when I first came across the Big T Little T trauma concept, my reaction was relief. It allowed me to take those "little things" and call them traumatic without putting them in the same league as the horrific things I had previously conceptualized as trauma. The alternative for me was to call them nothing.

Now though, I see the issue with comparison. Letting people define trauma on their own terms seems much more... trauma-informed  ;)


If a person is wounded, if they experience the symptoms of trauma in their body, the only question should be how can that person heal. And part of healing in a human community is having those around you acknowledge that you are hurting. How much and why doesn't seem relevant to me.


Wow. I'm just going to internalize that for a while.

One hope I have is sites/forums like OOTS will help people understand that the presence of the symptoms of CPTSD/Relational Trauma Response is testament to the fact that they have been traumatized.

It helped me  :)

I have always felt that my stories from childhood that I remember being terrible, kinda just "falls to the ground" when I tell people about it. Like it being nothing.

Yes, this! Even for those rare instances where I remember verbatim what was said to me, it just feels like, "Ah, well. That sounds reasonable enough." It gives me courage to see that other people also have trauma feelings without necessarily having the "evidence" (events-wise) to back it up. And be told it still matters. I hope you've found your peace since 2020.