Regaining Power and Control

A key thing to remember about trauma in individuals is that our sense of control vanishes during the traumatic event. Not only does it vanish, but the experience of trauma tells us that really, really bad things can and do happen when we are not in control.

As a result, getting a sense of power and control back is the very first thing we need to do in the aftermath of trauma. It becomes urgent and essential. This is a normal human reaction to trauma. 

There is almost always an increased psychological focus on and need for power and control in days and weeks after trauma.  This is also a normal response. 

In optimal recovery, the heightened needs for power and control fade after a while.  Unfortunately, optimal recovery from trauma is not obtained in many cases.  Many things can and do go wrong as people try to recovery from trauma in the best ways they know how.

Personal struggles around power and control can lead to acting out unsafely, infringing on the rights of others, and/or impair people long after the event, and can easily become highly problematic. People with PTSD are often obsessed with safety and having control in their lives.  People with PTSD will often attempt to regain power and control by any means necessary because it is so important to them. This can easily include infringing on the rights of others.