This accessible guide explores how our brains react to stress and offers a fresh perspective on how we define "trauma." Probing how the words we use can influence our understanding of distress, this text focuses on expanding awareness of excess stress and reducing judgment of its potential impact on relationships and day-to-day life.
Helpfully split into three parts, the book introduces the terms "cortisprinkled," "cortisaturated," and "cortisoaked" and provides a rationale for why these states of brain occur. The role of culture and society are highlighted, and an in-depth focus on coping and offering support to others is presented. Whether caused by sexual assault, social rejection, abuse, the taboo of sexuality, disadvantaged status, or other difficulties, chapters detail specific coping skills and step-by-step strategies to deal with a variety of stress responses. Advice is offered on reconnecting with sexuality, phrasing difficult questions, and ways to offer validation, with concrete recommendations on incorporating healthier practices into everyday life.
Both metaphor and real-world vignettes are interwoven throughout, making Redefining Trauma an essential and understandable resource for therapists and their clients, parents and support givers, and anyone looking to develop practical, informed methods for dealing with stress and trauma and reclaim life with intention.
Sarah E. Wright is a certified sex therapist and supervisor and licensed psychologist, with a private practice in Columbia, South Carolina.
1. Introduction: What is "Trauma?" Part I. What's Happening in My Brain?: Looks Like Rain Is Coming 2. Standard Functioning Brain: Cortisprinkled 3. Threatened Brain: Cortisaturated 4. Emergency Brain: Cortisoaked Part II. The Significance of Others: Riptides and Lifeguards 5. Culture of Vulnerability: "Why Are You Drowning? Just Swim!" 6. Taboo, Stigma, and Shame: Going Against the Flow 7. Relationships and Sexuality: The Buddy System Part III. Coping and Healing: Learning to Float and Swim 8. What Can I Do to Prepare?: An Ounce of Prevention 9. Coping with Hardship: A Pound of Cure 10. Being a Good Support: Throwing a Life Preserver 11. Sexual Healing: Balancing Soaking Wet and Dried Up 12. When Therapy Might be Needed: Calling in Reinforcements 13. Bringing It All Together: Dancing in the Rain 14. Appendices
"Redefining Trauma: Understanding and Coping with a Cortisoaked Brain is thoughtfully written and offers us the 'Wright way' to understand the impact that stress and trauma has on cortisol production and the functioning of our brains. Stress can be a positive or negative influence in our lives and Dr. Wright skillfully illustrates and captures some of the physiological and social factors that emerge during peak moments. In addition, she offers process questions at the end of each chapter to help us think critically about our ability to manage stress and trauma. This book is a necessary read for all sexologists and mental health practitioners seeking to better understand the human brain and its response to stress." - James C. Wadley, Ph.D., L.P.C. (PA & NJ), ACS, NCC, IMHF, CSTS, professor and Chair of Counseling and Human Services Department at Lincoln University; editor of the Handbook of Sexuality Leadership: Inspiring Community Engagement, Social Empowerment, and Transformational Influence
"Dr. Sarah E. Wright's new book provides some significant new perspective on trauma. Dr. Wright describes gradations of trauma in terms of levels of the stress hormone cortisol - 'cortisprinkled', 'cortisaturated' and 'cortisoaked.' The book does an excellent job of creating context for understanding reactions to trauma. Her insights into how community, relationships, and support impact trauma reactions can contribute significantly to our understanding and compassion. Her specific suggestions for fostering supportive communities were practical and useful. I highly recommend her book to anyone striving to create helpful 'trauma-informed communities' and to families and individuals struggling to overcome trauma." - Sherry A. Benton, Ph.D., ABPP, professor emeritus of psychology, University of Florida; founder/CSO of TAO Connect, Inc.
"Redefining Trauma: Understanding and Coping with a Cortisoaked Brain takes a potentially complex topic and makes it easily relatable for any reader - therapists and counselors will love it, and will undoubtedly recommend it to any of their patients (and friends!) struggling with trauma/stress and their caregivers. Bringing new terms and understanding to the idea of trauma, the book gives practical guidance for coping, tailored to the brain's specific needs. It is rare to see topics like culture and sexuality so thoroughly addressed in books on trauma, yet this one does it! Its use of metaphor is brilliant and makes potentially difficult topics more approachable, and the listing of key terms and ideas at the end of each chapter allow for quick refreshers as new ideas and skills are applied in life. This book is sure to provide vital information and validation to anyone dealing with a stressed out, 'cortisoaked' brain!" - Richard M. Siegel, Ph.D., LMHC, CSTS, director, Modern Sex Therapy Institutes
"Wright gets it right. 'Cortisoaked' is a new lexicon for humanizing brain science, bringing perspective to cortisol-releasing life stressors from the mundane to the traumatic. Each carefully chosen word creates accessible contemporary understanding of the body's natural response to life's injuries. Come into the wellspring of words for a healing perspective and quench yourself with new-found empathy and rich relational connection with your stress and trauma." - Douglas Braun-Harvey, The Harvey Institute, San Diego