When a person experiences a trauma, sometimes the memory of this trauma is laid down in different ways to non traumatic memories. The memories of this trauma include sensory memories such as visual, auditory memories as well as bodily sensations that the person may have experienced at that time. These traumatic memories are separate to normal memories and are sometimes referred to as a trauma system.
A trauma system may be triggered by otherwise normal situations, even just a particular smell. When the trauma system is triggered, the person with CPTSD may be thrown back into the experience of the trauma that has been triggered.
When a person has experienced multiple traumas over time with several trauma systems, this may become a complex condition.
Complex post traumatic stress disorder can be treated with individual psychotherapy which over time integrates these traumatic memory systems into the usual memories.This leads to a resolution of the emotional distress that is part of this condition.