Complex post-traumatic stress disorder 

Unlike post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is a stress-related disorder which occurs in response to prolonged or repetitive exposures to traumatic events.

Typical symptoms include emotional dysregulations (angry outbursts, throwing objects, and aggression towards self or others), negative self-beliefs (feelings of shame, guilt, and failure) and interpersonal difficulties (problems with relationship boundaries, lack of trust, social isolation, difficulty perceiving and responding to others’ emotional states). Other symptoms can include feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, distorted sense of self and hypervigilance.

A good example of this is Rick James (American singer-songwriter). He said, “I was angry about the fact that my father would beat my mother on a daily basis, that my mother would take it in turn and beat on me. I was an abused child. I was mad about all those things, very bitter and very angry”.

CPTSD is often caused by repetitive adverse childhood experiences. Indeed, the trauma model of mental disorders connects CPTSD with chronic neglect or repetitive sexual, psychological or physical abuse. 

It has also been observed as a result of instances of intimate partner violence, bullying, kidnapping and hostage situations, slavery or other human trafficking, sweatshop workers, prisoners of war and solitary confinement.

Judith Lewis Herman (American Psychiatrist) was the first scholar to propose Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) as a new mental disorder in 1992, with her book Trauma & Recovery.

Regardless of the age of the sufferer, a child or adult, the first step is to identify and address the threat they are under. Only once safety and stability has been restored can recovery begin. Judith Lewis Herman proposed a complex trauma recovery model that occurs in three major stages:

  • Establishing safety
  • Remembrance and mourning for what was lost
  • Reconnecting with community and more broadly, society

Herman believes recovery can only occur within a healing relationship where the survivor is empowered by that relationship. This means relationship in the widest sense. It need not be romantic and can also include relationships with friends, co-workers, relatives or children. It can be a therapeutic relationship (between a healthcare professional and a client or patient).

Hypnotherapy can help with CPTSD. If you contact me, I will carry out an initial free consultation to discuss with you what symptom you have. If I can help you I will set out. If I feel I can’t help you, I will refer to a better suited health professional.


Nadia Whittome

I thought I would write a little about Nadia Whittome. ‘Who?’ you might ask. Well in two ways at least she is a remarkable woman. Firstly, in 2019 she was elected the Member of Parliament for Nottingham East at the tender age of just 23. This made her the youngest MP, also known as the Baby of the House.

But for me a far most impressive feat was that in May 2021, she announced that she had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and would be taking a leave of absence. I think this is just the most tremendous example for those struggling with mental health issues. There is still a great deal of stigma associated with mental health. So to see someone as high profile as her making her struggles known, and publicly doing the right thing by taking a break, is so beneficial.

It is thought that one in four people suffer some form of mental health issue each year. And her actions were praised by the Chief Executive of leading mental health charity, Rethink Mental Illness, Mark Winstanley. He said, “The enduring stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace can be hugely damaging, preventing people from accessing support and leading them to prioritise work over their own wellbeing for fear of judgment. Being signed off from work for poor mental health is not a sign of weakness, but a recognition that wellbeing should always be a priority. We welcome Nadia’s openness around her diagnosis and wish her well in her recovery.”

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Kier Starmer (Leader of the Labour party) hoped she would “…gets well soon”, and added, “I respect Nadia’s bravery in speaking openly about her mental health and I look forward to welcoming her back to parliament”. While Jeremy Corbyn, (Former Labour leader) described her as “…bold and brave”. He tweeted, “By being honest about looking after her #MentalHealth she helps all those who are struggling”.

Sadly not everyone was as sympathetic. The blog site Guido Fawkes commented, “…she needs to take a break from parliament due to PTSD. Parliament may be daunting though nothing akin to the trenches of the First World War. The shells lobbed on social media may ruin your day, they don’t kill”.

Keen to return to work, she was advised by her GP that the NHS waiting lists for treatment ran to many months and so was forced to use private healthcare to get timely treatment. She commented, “It just highlighted everything that needs to change; everybody should have access to the best treatment for whatever the condition is, and be able to access it quickly. I know from the casework how many people are waiting months, years even”.

In September 2021, she was able to return to her duties in the House of Commons. Speaking on her return she said, “I’ve thought a lot about whether to speak about the causes of my PTSD, and I decided that it wouldn’t help my recovery. But I will go as far as saying it was caused by extremely traumatic events that were entirely unconnected to my work as an MP, politics or parliament”.

So if you, or someone you know, has struggled following a traumatic event, then seek help. Regardless of the severity of the symptoms or how long ago the trauma occurred there is help available. More severe cases can be successfully treated by psychotherapies, while milder symptoms can be treated with Hypnotherapy. If you contact me, I will carry out a free initial consultation to discuss with you what symptom you have and how I can help.  


PTSD Awareness Month

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month. PTSD is not something that only the armed forces suffer from. Anyone can suffer with it following a traumatic event. Research suggests that around 8% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetimes. It’s not a new thing, but the term is relatively modern. In the first half of the 20th century PTSD is known as ‘Shell Shock’ or ‘Battle Fatigue’.

So what sort of trauma can cause PTSD? Well, virtually any form of trauma can cause it. It’s not just life-threatening situations like wars, natural disasters or physical assault. Non-life-threatening events such as divorce, abrupt relocation and financial problems can also cause it.

Typical symptoms include flash backs, depression, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, and disturbing thoughts. In extreme cases the sufferer may have episodes where they are not fully aware or conscious of what’s really happening. For some these symptoms may last a few days or weeks. But for others the effects can last much, much longer and may require treatment.

Other symptoms of trauma can have a massive impact on our lives. These symptoms can include adverse physical reactions if reminded of the event such as heart racing, increased breathing and sweating. Others reactions can include increased safe keeping behaviours such as avoidance or hypervigilance, becoming detached from life, being demotivated, angry outbursts and feeling vulnerable. I think Jane Leavy (American biographer and author) put it quite well when she said, “Trauma fractures comprehension as a pebble shatters a windshield. The wound at the site of impact spreads across the field of vision, obscuring reality and challenging belief”.

Luckily, PTSD is highly treatable, but as with many mental disorders there can be a stigma attached to it. So, seeking help is the first and most important step on the road to recovery. There is no shame in doing so. Being open and talking about PTSD will increase awareness and mean that more people will seek treatment for it.

The goal of therapy is for the sufferer to be able to remember the trauma without reliving it or it effecting their behaviour. We are all different and so process trauma differently. Asking for help is not a weakness.

So, if you or someone you know might have PTSD, there are ways to get help. PTSD UK is a charity in the UK dedicated to raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. Their website has some useful advice and resources.

There are specific techniques that can be used in Hypnotherapy to help you process and healthily work through past traumas and overcome PTSD. If you would like to discuss these further, please get in touch.



Peace, Tranquillity, Serenity, Diversion? Not so much.

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness month in the US. While, 27 June 2021 is PTSD Awareness day more widely. PTSD is an anxiety disorder associated with traumatic events. It has also been known as battle fatigue, combat fatigue, combat neurosis and shell shock.

Many people think that PTSD is only something that happens to people in the armed forces, but this is not the case. Being part of or witnessing any traumatic event, particularly one characterised by fear, helplessness, or horror in response to the threat of harm or death, can cause some degree of PTSD.

PTSD is probably more common than you think. It is estimated that as many as 70% of Americans have experienced an event traumatic enough to cause PTSD or PTSD-like symptoms. Now, this does not mean that 70% all of Americans have PTSD. However, typically one in five people who experience a traumatic event will have PTSD symptoms to some degree.

PTSD can happen to anyone, at any time of life. It is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. A range of factors can affect the chances that someone will develop PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. For example, if you were directly exposed to the trauma or injured, rather than witnessing it, you are more likely to develop it.

PTSD can cause a wide range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms. These include panic attacks, flashbacks, hypervigilance, irrational anger or fear, nightmares, digestive issues, feeling numb and exhaustion. In more extreme cases PTSD can cause suicidal thoughts or self-destructive acts. Symptoms can vary in intensity and there is no standard case. They may come and go, or be more persistent for a time. Sufferers can be high-functioning, while others may be more debilitated by it. The person may use alcohol or other drugs to ease or mask symptoms.

As Peter A. Levine (Psychologist) says, “Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence”. So if you, or someone you know, has these symptoms, then seek help. Regardless of the severity of the symptoms or how long ago the trauma happened there is help available. More severe cases can be successfully treated by psychotherapies such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). While milder symptoms can be treated with Hypnotherapy. If you contact me, I will carry out an initial consultation to discuss with you what symptom you have. If I can help you I will set out how and let you know how many sessions I recommend. If I feel I can’t help you, I will refer to a better suited health professional.