(Last Updated On: December 13, 2023)

Trauma Recollection/Traumatic Flashbacks

Understanding Scam Victim Trauma Recollection, Flashbacks, & Memories

Recovery Psychology

Authors:
•  Vianey Gonzalez B.Sc(Psych) – Psychologist, Certified Deception Professional, Psychology Advisory Panel & Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

Trauma Recollection/Traumatic Flashbacks Or Memories And The Effects That It Has On Scam Victims – PTSD And Recovery Psychology

Most Scam Victims Suffer from some form of Trauma, but for some, this can be the Retriggering of the Original Trauma Over and Over!

While flashbacks are a well-known symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it’s not the only way trauma can manifest itself – they can also be Trauma Recollection.

Scam victims can certainly re-experience their trauma simply by remembering the crime without meeting the full criteria for PTSD.

Two Main Scam Victim Memory Manifestation Events or Types

  1. Trauma Recollection (Remembering the Trauma)
  2. Trauma Flashbacks (PTSD Flashbacks)

Here’s how it can differ:

Scam Victim PTSD Flashbacks:

  • Sensory Immersion: They feel incredibly real and present, flooding the person with sights, sounds, smells, and even physical sensations from the traumatic event.
  • Intrusive and Uncontrollable: They occur spontaneously and can be difficult to escape, often triggered by seemingly unrelated things.
  • Dissociation: The person may feel disconnected from their surroundings or themselves, as if they’re reliving the trauma in a different reality.

Scam Victim Trauma Recollection:

  • Mental Replay: The memories might be vivid and replaying in the mind, but the experience usually remains within the realm of thought.
  • Triggered by Reflection: Re-experiencing often occurs intentionally, through actively thinking about the event or encountering reminders of it.
  • Emotional Distress: While emotionally charged, it may not involve the same level of physical and psychological flooding as PTSD flashbacks.

Trauma Recollection Additional factors:

  • Severity of the Trauma: The severity of the scam and individual differences in coping mechanisms can influence how intensely the memories resurface.
  • Frequency of Recalling: The frequency of revisiting the event in thought can also affect its impact on the individual.
  • Support System: Having a supportive network can help individuals process their memories and manage emotional distress.

It’s important to remember that both PTSD flashbacks and scam-related trauma recollections can be distressing and have a significant impact on the person’s well-being.

Trauma Recollection in Scam Victims

Trauma recollection, unlike full-blown PTSD flashbacks, refers to the involuntary or intentional recall of a traumatic event in a way that feels emotionally and psychologically distressing. For scam victims, this can be a significant hurdle in their recovery journey.

How Trauma Recollection Works:

  • Triggering Event: A seemingly innocuous sight, sound, or even emotion can trigger a memory of the scam or moments after the scam. This could be anything from seeing a familiar logo to encountering someone who reminds you of the scammer.
  • Memory Replay: The mind replays the event, often vividly, bringing back the emotional distress and cognitive distortions experienced at the time.
  • Emotional Response: The victim may experience a range of emotions, including anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety. These emotions can be intense and overwhelming. In fact, they can be as intense as the original experience since the brain does not know the difference emotionally between the original event and the memory.

Trauma Recollection – Where it Manifests in the Brain

  • Amygdala: This emotional hub plays a key role in processing and storing fear. Trauma-related memories are often stored intensely in the amygdala, leading to strong emotional reactions when triggered.
  • Hippocampus: This area is responsible for memory formation and retrieval. Trauma can disrupt how the hippocampus encodes and retrieves memories, leading to fragmented or distorted recollections. It can even lead to selective amnesia caused by a trauma.
  • Prefrontal Cortex: This area is involved in cognitive control and emotional regulation. In trauma recollection, the prefrontal cortex may struggle to regulate emotional responses to the memories, leading to distress.

Trauma Recollection Impact on Recovering Victims:

  • Emotional Distress: Trauma recollection can be a significant source of emotional pain, triggering anxiety, depression, and even panic attacks.
  • Cognitive Difficulties: The event can be replayed in a way that feels disorienting and confusing, impacting concentration, sleep, and overall well-being.
  • Trigger Avoidance: Victims may develop coping mechanisms like avoiding anything associated with the scam, which can limit their daily activities and social interactions. This can derail their recovery and even lead to more serious psychological issues.
  • Loss of Trust: The betrayal experienced in a scam can damage the victim’s ability to trust others, impacting relationships and personal safety.

However, it’s important to remember that trauma recollection is not a sign of weakness. It’s a natural part of the healing process, and there are ways to manage it effectively.

Tips for Coping with Trauma Recollection:

  • Grounding Techniques: When triggered, practice mindfulness exercises or deep breathing to calm your body and mind.
  • Talk About The Experience: When a traumatic memory is triggered it is very important to talk about the experience of the moment, meaning about remembering, but also about the original event. This is an excellent way to help the mind process both experiences and reduce the power they have over the mind.
  • Challenge Negative Thoughts: Identify and challenge any distorted thoughts or beliefs about the scam that may be causing distress.
  • Seek Professional Help: Professionally managed support groups and therapists can provide support and guidance in processing the trauma and developing healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Focus On Self-Care: Prioritize activities that promote your physical and mental well-being, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and spending time with loved ones.

Remember

Remember, healing takes time and patience. Be kind to yourself, and don’t hesitate to seek help when needed. With the right support and resources, you can overcome the challenges of trauma recollection and build a brighter future.

SCARS Resources:

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.

Opinions

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Society of Citizens Against Rleationship Scams Inc. The author is solely responsible for the content of their work. SCARS is protected under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 230 from liability.

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