... when an experience is too strong for our current internal and external regulatory resource to manage ... [chemical changes activate to] tuck these pathways into our ... body. In this way, our ongoing lives are protected from the constant incursion of the raw pain and fear and the injured parts of ourselves are partly shielded from new injury. We might say they have been enwombed, awaiting the arrival of support. At the same time, the memories also remain malleable enough that they can be touched and awakened, which is essential for healing. However, we also remain vulnerable to them being brought into activity when support isn't available... a frowning face (man or woman), certain breathing patterns, and even sensory fragments (the color of a person's shirt or hair, the smell of alcohol on someone's breath) all have some probability of awakening the terror. The widely dispersed individual streams that make up these memories are all gathered into the neural net that formed at the time of the initial experience, and when our outer or inner world tugs on any strand, there is some probability that more of the neural net will open, bringing the rush of embodied feelings. Most often, the explicit memory does not arrive at the same time, so there is no context for the flood of sensations and emotions, which feels as if they are related to what is happening right now .... What can look like an out-of-proportion response to what is happening in the moment is exactly in proportion to what is unfolding internally. If we sense this so deeply that this knowing is viscerally available when our patients are having strong emotional experiences, we will be able to offer them acknowledgement of the validity of their experience rather than having to control or change it.
Bonnie Badenoch The Heart of Trauma: Healing the Embodied Brain in the Context of Relationships