Triggering Cascade, Trauma Imprinting, and Total Reactance



“Triggering cascade” is when a seemingly minor trigger results in vastly disproportional trauma.

Painful memories, replete with the attendant negative emotions, are walled behind mental barriers: combinations of dams and firewalls.

Sometimes even an innocuous mishap or a merely unpleasant event rupture these defenses and decades of hurt are released in an avalanche that, at times, can be life threatening.

Narcissists and psychopaths are dreamwreckers: they are particularly adept at provoking triggering cascades by aggressively and contemptuously frustrating both individual and social expectations, cherished and life-sustaining hopes, deeply held beliefs, and ingrained fantasies and values.

Their lack of empathy, innate, goal focused cruelty and ruthlessness, absent impulse control, and mind boggling recklessness create a whiplash of shock and disorientation coupled with agony and a pervasive feeling of being existentially negated. Intolerable angst is the inevitable outcome.
Total reactance characterizes Psychopaths, Borderlines, trauma victims (PTSD and CPTSD), and people with mood disorders and impulse control issues. They escalate every conflict, however minor or imaginary, to the level of nuclear, apocalyptic, all-annihilating warfare and make disproportionate use of every weapon in their arsenal simultaneously. Defiance, posturing, hostility, aggression, recklessness, and abuse are part and parcel of these recurrent pitched battles with one and sundry: all bridges are burnt and relationships are shattered hurtfully and irrevocably.

In contrast, the reactions of healthy people are differential, in kind, and proportional, weighing the consequences and correcting course every step of the confrontation.
Trauma imprints everything and everyone involved or present in the stressful event, however tangentially. Places, people, smells, sounds, circumstances, objects, dates, and categories of the above, all get “stamped” with the traumatic experience.

Trauma imprinting is at the core of PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), CPTSD (Complex PTSD), and triggering. Triggers are places, people, smells, sounds, circumstances, dates, or objects that are reminiscent of the same classes of stressors involved in the original trauma and evoke them.

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