Broken Open: How Trauma Can Make Us Psychic

Broken Open: How Trauma Can Make Us Psychic

Natalie L Trent, PhD
August 26th 2018

If you have highly advanced intuition, prophetic dreams, or the ability to feel the emotions and intentions of others, you may have experienced trauma in your life.

Trauma can make us psychic. It makes evolutionary sense that experiencing life-threatening danger would result in increased vigilance and being more highly tuned to the environment. It would benefit the species to become extra sensitive toward potential future threats, thereby developing a keen intuition, an “extra sense” to insure better protection next time. We become a much more sensitive biological antenna, tuned to the subtleties that may escape others’ perception.

When we experience a traumatic event, whether instantaneous, such as a car accident, or more sustained, such as with domestic abuse, we can dissociate. Dissociation is a term from psychology whereby an individual becomes numb to the happenings of their outer and inner environment. Part of their consciousness or psyche temporarily fragments from the event and all its associated emotions. If this aspect is not re-integrated after the trauma, we can become numb and disconnected. This is a situation that shamanic practitioners often call soul loss. Soul loss is associated with depression, fatigue, lack of meaning or interest, emotional reactivity, and sometimes more severe symptoms. The worst outcome from soul loss for the public interest is sociopathy, or a complete lack of conscience or empathy for others.

A severe psychiatric outcome for a traumatized individual can be hallucinations, characterized by separate aspects of the unconscious mind entering the conscious mind as outside voices or visions.
For an incredible talk that is related to this idea, see Eleanor Longden’s TEDtalk, The Voices in My Head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syjEN3peCJw.

Another clinical outcome can be dissociative identity disorder (formally multiple personality disorder), a peculiar situation whereby traumatized aspects of the self split into different operating personalities, yet still not accessible by the conscious mind of the “main personality.” This can result in memory loss, confusion, and strained relationships. One way that psychotherapists’ work to heal dissociative identity disorder is through integration of the different personalities, they need to meet in the conscious mind.

There is little scientific research regarding the connection between trauma and intuition but some cases studies support this theory[1]. Previous research using statistical modeling reported a correlation between childhood trauma and paranormal experiences, including psychic experiences[2]. I will not get into the underground research (e.g., MK Ultra, Project Monarch) on the causal relationship between trauma and psychic phenomena, but I encourage you to look into these malevolent projects as well.

With trauma, aspects of the may psyche splinter off into the unconscious mind, opening or widening the veil between these worlds. This allows the essence/information to move or vibrate to a different aspect of the unconscious mind. The energy associated with the trauma is now an aspect of the shadow self. Where it re-locates in the unconscious depends on the age at the trauma and the nature of the trauma. In core shamanism, there are three worlds: the lower, middle, and upper world, but in some shamanic traditions such as Norse shamanism, there are nine worlds. The healer navigates these realms of the unconscious with the help of a drumbeat, plant medicine, or ceremonial dance, to locate, retrieve, and reintegrate these soul aspects.

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As the portal between the conscious and unconscious mind is now more open, the trauma victim can perceive previously inaccessible aspects of the unconscious. The extra information can be helpful but sometimes not, depending on how the information is used and the health of the person. There is now a bleed through between the worlds for the mentally ill, who may now hear voices or see visual representations from the unconscious mind, their inner demons so-to-speak. Since these contents are often associated with a trauma, they can be terrifying for those who remain unhealed. What these shadow aspects are asking of us is to be reintegrated so we can become whole again. They want to be loved. Love is the great unifier and integrator.

When the individual is resilient and perhaps has a strong spiritual practice, instead of negative energies, one may instead perceive positive energies, such as hearing or seeing angels, spirit guides, or loved ones. It is all about resonance. Once the wounded re-integrates their shadow aspects, and sometimes during the healing journey, they can open up to perceiving higher energies that can assist them.

Suffering can lead to wisdom and understanding of the self and our interaction with others and the whole. Our metaphorical demons come out of the shadows to haunt us into awareness, to face the pain we’ve endured. When we integrate these wounded aspects through acceptance, forgiveness, and love, they no longer have control over us as a seemingly separate force. This re-integration process often requires a professional energy healer or therapist if it does not occur spontaneously.

When does trauma lead to mental illness and suffering, and when does trauma lead to growth, understanding, and even enlightenment? There is some research in this area which points to mindfulness as a possible mediator to building resilience against trauma[3][4]. Indeed, my own research with frontline professionals who are often exposed to primarily and secondary trauma has shown persistent improvements in resilience with mindfulness practices. We also observe improvements in other measures of psychological health, including reduced stress, improved mood, and a greater sense of empowerment[5]. Much more research is needed in this area.

We can cultivate intuition in a balanced, harmonious way through practices such as meditation, yoga, energy medicine, and creative activities such as playing music, writing, or painting. The idea is to quiet the conscious mind, or at the very least, have it serve as a means to becoming aware of the unconscious. This will allow the contents of the unconscious that resonate with your brain receiver/antenna at that moment to come through and become conscious. Sometimes these practices result in increased synchronicities, which Carl Jung saw as the physical reality or nature reflecting the collective unconscious.

The wounded healer archetype is found in many therapists, healers, shamans, and counselors. They are those who triumph over trauma and turn their pain into power and purpose to help others. Their greatest wounds become their greatest gift.

We must take care of our precious biological antenna by flushing out the emotions that have been stored by these shadow aspects, and raising our consciousness through practicing better feeling thoughts and making time for that which brings us true fulfillment.

Ultimately, love is the great unifier. By cultivating universal love we reintegrate our soul essence and simultaneously improve our intuition in a way that serves us.

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[1] Reiner, A. (2004). Psychic phenomena and early emotional states. Journal of Analytical Psychology49(3), 313-336.

[2] Lawrence, T., Edwards, C., Barraclough, N., Church, S., & Hetherington, F. (1995). Modelling childhood causes of paranormal belief and experience: Childhood trauma and childhood fantasy. Personality and Individual Differences19(2), 209-215.

[3] Chopko, B., & Schwartz, R. (2009). The relation between mindfulness and posttraumatic growth: A study of first responders to trauma-inducing incidents. Journal of Mental Health Counseling31(4), 363-376.

[4] Perona-Garcelán, S., García-Montes, J. M., Rodríguez-Testal, J. F., López-Jiménez, A. M., Ruiz-Veguilla, M., Ductor-Recuerda, M. J., … & Pérez-Álvarez, M. (2014). Relationship between childhood trauma, mindfulness, and dissociation in subjects with and without hallucination proneness. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation15(1), 35-51.

[5] Trent, N. L., Miraglia, M., Dusek, J. A., Pasalis, E., & Khalsa, S. B. S. (2018). Improvements in Psychological Health Following a Residential Yoga-Based Program for Frontline Professionals. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine60(4), 357-367.