Teen Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Consciousness, and the Present Moment

The experience of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in adolescents and adults alike affects consciousness, and the fleeting present moment. The memory of the trauma seems to invade the here and now at unexpected times. It causes waves of discomfort to flood through one’s consciousness.

William James, known as the father of psychology, described consciousness as the “function of knowing”. He considered consciousness to be a tool that an individual uses to construct an inner coherent reality. It is continuous and fluid and allows the thoughts, beliefs, and memories of oneself to remain intact throughout life.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

However, consciousness is frequently interrupts the symptoms of teen Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As well as clouded by memories of the past and hopes for the future. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), PTSD is a mental illness for someone who has experienced a traumatic event, and who is experiencing symptoms of anxiety as a result. The DSM outlines symptoms that include flashbacks, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts. An adolescent might also exhibit symptoms of avoidance, such as staying away from certain places to avoid reliving the traumatic experience or forgetting the experience entirely. Symptoms of PTSD usually continue until a safe, therapeutic investigation of the traumatic event takes place and a teen is able to process and integrate the intense feelings associated with the trauma.

It is as though the overwhelming moments of trauma are within one’s consciousness and at any possible moment, particularly when a situation mimics or triggers a traumatic memory, the part of the self that experienced trauma begins to scream for help through flashbacks, tremors, nightmares, and frightening thoughts.


In fact, there are two types of memories that contribute to the invasion of trauma again and again in an adolescent’s consciousness. The first is a memory triggered by a reminder in the environment, while the other is a memory that arises as the result of an inner cue.

To return to a fluid state of consciousness, which fundamentally is a state of mind most everyone is seeking, the expression of what is imprisoned needs to take place. To do this, an adolescent would have to articulate the challenging feelings and thoughts associated with the trauma, as difficult as that might be. He or she would need to feel safe and trust the adult that is facilitating this type of therapeutic conversation. Interestingly, some behavioral therapists describe consciousness as an expression closely related to the ability to share one’s inner experience. In other words, the ability to express one’s inner experience with other people leads to further self-awareness. Without this expression self-awareness would not exist.


Although psychotropic medication is often a means to treat mental illness, the more effective modality is almost always therapy. (This is not true in cases such as schizophrenia however.) In fact, it has been proven that medication alone is not a thorough treatment plan. Only when it is combined with therapy, does the treatment plan become particularly effective. The reason behind this is no doubt the necessary task of expression and finally releasing the thoughts and emotions that have been imprisoned as a result of trauma.


Bancroft, Mark. What Is Consciousness? Holistic Practitioner, 1998. Web. 07 Mar. 2014.

Scaer, Robert. The Precarious Present: Why Is It So Hard To Stay in the Present Moment? Psychotherapy Networker, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2014.