Flashbacks are memories of past traumas. They may take the form of pictures, sounds, smells, body sensations, feelings or the lack of them (numbness). Flashbacks are considered one of the re-experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). In a flashback, a person may feel or act as though a traumatic event is happening again. A flashback may be temporary and some connection with the present moment may be maintained, or a person may lose all awareness of what is going on around him, being taken completely back to their traumatic event. For example, a rape survivor, when triggered, may begin to smell certain scents or feel pain in her body similar to that which was experienced during her assault.
We begin to think we are crazy and afraid of telling anyone (including our therapist) of these experiences. We feel out of control and at the mercy of our experiences.
We begin to avoid situations, and stimuli, that we think triggered it.
If you are feeling small…you are experiencing a flashback!
If you are experiencing stronger feelings than are called for in the present situation…you are experiencing a flashback!
Nightmares are usually powerful re-workings of old traumas. Therapy will help you understand and process these old experiences, so they no longer have the same grip over you.