What is psychological effects

Signs & Symptoms of Psychological & Emotional Trauma

Understanding Psychological Trauma

Understanding emotional & psychological trauma

Psychological, or emotional trauma, is damage or injury to the psyche after living through an extremely frightening or distressing event and may result in challenges in functioning or coping normally after the event. While each person who experiences a traumatic event will react differently, many do recover well with a proper support system and do not experience long-term problems. Some people, however, after experiencing a traumatic event will go on to develop challenges directly following the event or within a few months of the event.

While traumatic experiences frequently involve life-threatening events, any situation that leaves one feeling alone and completely overwhelmed can be traumatic – even without physical harm. It’s important to remember that it’s not the objective facts of the event alone that determine how traumatic an event is; it’s also the subjective emotional experience of the event. Often, the more terror and helplessness one feels, the more likely it is that an individual will be traumatized.

The ability to recognize psychological and emotional trauma has undergone a revolution throughout the years. Until recently, psychologists only made note of men who’d been through catastrophic wars as having psychological trauma – the women’s movement in the 1960s broadened our view of traumatic events to include violence and sexual abuse against women and children. After much was learned about trauma in the 1990s, the definition of traumatic events has even further expanded. Thanks to the ability of MRI and CT scans of the brain, we’re now able to observe the brain in action. These brain scans have actually revealed that trauma actually changes both the structure and the function of the brain. There are treatments that can relieve some of the symptoms of emotional trauma, fortunately.

Traumatic Events

What is a potentially traumatic event

Potentially traumatic events can be caused by a singular occasion, or from ongoing, relentless stresses. A potentially traumatic event is more prone to leave an individual with longer-lasting emotional and psychological trauma if:

  • The individual was unprepared for the event
  • The event occurred out of the blue
  • The person felt powerless to prevent the event
  • The event occurred repeatedly (such as child abuse)
  • If the event involved extreme cruelty
  • If the event occurred during the childhood years

Potentially traumatic events are defined as events that are both powerful and upsetting that intrude into the daily life of a man or woman. Generally speaking, potentially traumatic events involve major threat to one’s psychological and physical well-being. Potentially traumatic events may be life-threatening; to one’s own life or the life of a loved one. These events may have very little impact on one individual but can lead to significant distress in another. The impact of a potentially traumatic event may be related to the mental and physical health of the person, past traumatic experiences, presence of coping skills, and level of social and emotional support at the time of the potentially traumatic event. Examples of events and situations that can lead to the development of psychological trauma may include:

  • Natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes
  • Interpersonal violence like rape, child abuse, or the suicide of a loved one or friend
  • Involvement in a serious car accident or workplace accident
  • Acts of violence such as an armed robbery, war, or terrorism

Commonly overlooked causes of potential emotional and psychological trauma can also include:

  • Breakup or divorce in a significant relationship
  • Significantly humiliating experienced
  • Surgery
  • Falls or injuries due to sports
  • Sudden, unexpected death of a loved one
  • Diagnosis of a life-threatening or disabling condition

It’s important to note that other, less severe but ultimately stress-inducing situations can also trigger traumatic reactions in some men and women.

Signs and Symptoms of Psychological Trauma

Signs and symptoms of emotional & psychological trauma

Many people experience strong physical or emotional reactions immediately following the experience of a traumatic event. Most people will notice that their feelings dissipate over the course of a few days or weeks. However, for some individuals, the symptoms of psychological trauma may be increasingly severe and last longer. This may be the result of the nature of the traumatic event, availability of emotional support, past and present life stressors, personality types, and available coping mechanisms. Some of the most common symptoms of psychological trauma may include the following:


  • Intrusive thoughts of the event that may occur out of the blue
  • Nightmares
  • Visual images of the event
  • Loss of memory and concentration abilities
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Mood swings


  • Avoidance of activities or places that trigger memories of the event
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • Lack of interest in previously-enjoyable activities


  • Easily startled
  • Tremendous fatigue and exhaustion
  • Tachycardia
  • Edginess
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic muscle patterns
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Vague complaints of aches and pains throughout the body
  • Extreme alertness; always on the lookout for warnings of potential danger


  • Overwhelming fear
  • Obsessive and compulsive behaviors
  • Detachment from other people and emotions
  • Emotional numbing
  • Depression
  • Guilt – especially if one lived while others perished
  • Shame
  • Emotional shock
  • Disbelief
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks


Effects of untreated psychological trauma

Many people go for years living with the symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma as their world grows steadily smaller. The effects of untreated psychological trauma can be devastating and infiltrate nearly every aspect of an individual’s life. Some of the most common effects of untreated trauma include:

  • Substance abuse
  • Alcoholism
  • Sexual problems
  • Inability to maintain healthy close relationships or choose appropriate people to be friends with
  • Hostility
  • Constant arguments with loved ones
  • Social withdrawal
  • Constant feelings of being threatened
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Uncontrollable reactive thoughts
  • Inability to make healthy occupational or lifestyle choices
  • Dissociative symptoms
  • Feelings of depression, shame, hopelessness, or despair
  • Feeling ineffective
  • Feeling as though one is permanently damaged
  • Loss of former belief systems
  • Compulsive behavioral patterns

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Psychological Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.

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[ sahy-kuh-loj-i-kuhl ]

/ ˌsaɪ kəˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl /

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See synonyms for: psychological / psychologically on Thesaurus.com

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of or relating to psychology.

pertaining to the mind or to mental phenomena as the subject matter of psychology.

of, pertaining to, dealing with, or affecting the mind, especially as a function of awareness, feeling, or motivation: psychological play;psychological effect.


Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.



There's an ocean of difference between the way people speak English in the US vs. the UK. Are your language skills up to the task of telling the difference? Let's find out!

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True or false? British English and American English are only different when it comes to slang words.

Sometimes psy·cho·log·ic [sahy-kuh-loj-ik] /ˌsaɪ kəˈlɒdʒ ɪk/ .

Origin of psychological

First recorded in 1785–95; psycholog(y) + -ical

OTHER WORDS FROM psychological

psy·cho·log·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·psy·cho·log·ic, adjectivenon·psy·cho·log·i·cal, adjectivepre·psy·cho·log·i·cal, adjective

pseu·do·psy·cho·log·i·cal, adjectivesem·i·psy·cho·log·ic, adjectivesem·i·psy·cho·log·i·cal, adjectiveun·psy·cho·log·i·cal, adjective

Words nearby psychological

psychohistory, psychoimmunology, psychokinesis, psychol. , psycholinguistics, psychological, psychological block, psychologically, psychological moment, psychological novel, psychological operations

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Words related to psychological

cognitive, emotional, intellectual, mental, subjective, cerebral, experimental, imaginary, intellective, psychical, subconscious, unconscious

How to use psychological in a sentence

  • Unless you track down an underlying pathology with a brain scan or sophisticated psychological test, the “cure” will always work because there is no disease.

    How Pseudoscientists Get Away With It - Facts So Romantic|Stuart Firestein|August 28, 2020|Nautilus

  • GPT-2 had problems with biological, physical, psychological, and social reasoning, and a general tendency toward incoherence and non sequiturs.

    GPT-3, Bloviator: OpenAI’s language generator has no idea what it’s talking about|Amy Nordrum|August 22, 2020|MIT Technology Review

  • I wanted to learn more, to see if it was really possible that mathematics and algorithms could ultimately be the future of more human, more psychological interactions.

    The Deck Is Not Rigged: Poker and the Limits of AI|Maria Konnikova|August 7, 2020|Singularity Hub 

  • Technology-facilitated violence is the most common type of intimate partner victimization, and it accompanies in-person psychological, physical and sexual violence.

    Domestic Abusers Use Tech That Connects As A Weapon During Coronavirus Lockdowns|LGBTQ-Editor|June 19, 2020|No Straight News

  • In the kind of broadest brushstrokes, the idea that we do a lot of things to avoid psychological pain, I think he was spot on.

    Introducing “No Stupid Questions” (Ep. 422)|Stephen J. Dubner|June 18, 2020|Freakonomics

  • A big part of the reason is a simple psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance.

    Why Didn’t Camille Dump Bill Cosby?|Amanda Marcotte|December 17, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • Ironically, the same psychological crutch of self-justification can then help in these situations.

    Why Didn’t Camille Dump Bill Cosby?|Amanda Marcotte|December 17, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • In war, he wrote, “everything is uncertain … all military action is intertwined with psychological forces and effects.

    How Clausewitz Invented Modern War|James A. Warren|November 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • While Miles says the kids she met were “incredibly brave,” both their psychological and physical pain was evident.

    Liberia’s Ebola Orphans|Abby Haglage|October 14, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • The American Psychological Association also produced a comprehensive review of studies going back three decades.

    Fact-Checking the Sunday Shows: October 12|PunditFact.com|October 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • To reproduce the impulse born of the thought—this is the aim of a psychological method.

    Expressive Voice Culture|Jessie Eldridge Southwick

  • It was apparent by that time that the extender would never be anything in a printing office but a psychological monstrosity.

    Nine Men in Time|Noel Miller Loomis

  • Men have no time for subjectivities—except poets, psychological fictionists, and the like, who do not seem to me men at all.

    Ancestors|Gertrude Atherton

  • In that sudden awakening had occurred the very psychological climax required to reveal the passionate emotion accumulated below.

    Three More John Silence Stories|Algernon Blackwood

  • These letters throw a clear light upon the chief psychological moments of these two eventful years of his life.

    The Life & Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky|Modeste Tchaikovsky

British Dictionary definitions for psychological


/ (ˌsaɪkəˈlɒdʒɪkəl) /


of or relating to psychology

of or relating to the mind or mental activity

having no real or objective basis; arising in the mindhis backaches are all psychological

affecting the mind

Derived forms of psychological

psychologically, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Psychological impact - Psychologos

Film "Amelie"

​​​​​​​Psychological impact is a complex concept, therefore we will formulate it gradually, step by step, with explanations, through comparison with concepts close to it.

Psychological impact - the impact on the mental state, feelings and thoughts of other people, and not the impact directly on the human body or the objective environment around him.

If a person was pushed out, the impact was physical. Lured out - psychological. See →

However, not any impact on the mental state, feelings and thoughts of other people is a psychological impact. Psychological influence is only one of the channels of influence on the inner in a person, along with the spiritual and rational channel.

The sign on the road tells the driver how to drive: this is a rational effect, addressed to the driver's mind, and not to his feelings, not to his psychology.

In addition, the mental state can also be influenced through the external, influencing the state of his body, the situation surrounding him, significant people around him.

When there is no money, nothing to eat, when it is difficult and dangerous to go further, the desire to go further usually disappears due to social and physiological circumstances, and not psychological reasons.

Total, psychological influence - influence on the mental state, feelings, thoughts and actions of other people, bypassing consciousness, logic and reason: through suggestion and infection, through appeal to feelings and experiences, to the unconscious and habits, to living impressions and muddy fears.

Letting a person speak out makes him feel better. There was no rational impact, but thanks to the organized situation (indirect influence), we helped him. The man was distracted from his heavy thoughts - he felt better without any rational procedures.

Psychological and suggestive

Psychological influence is often, for simplicity, called suggestive influence, since the element of suggestion is almost always present in psychological influence, at least in an indirect form, and is actually used quite often in practice. However, psychological influence can also go without suggestion: admiring eyes evoke a spiritual response in addition to suggestion, a cheerful voice cheers up through the mechanism of infection, and we respond to a request to suggest the right street rather due to social habits.

Types of psychological influence

Psychological influence can be operational and strategic, domestic and professional, analytical and constructive, at different levels - the communicative level, the level of relationships, the level of activity and life. See →

Exposure can be (see Forms of exposure):

  • in the format of Silovik, Dushki and Tactics,
  • Open and hidden.

Open targeted communicative influence - appeal. Forms of appeal: offer, request, demand, insistence, prayer, involvement, seduction. Order, order, question. See Appeal.

  • Addressed to various components of the inner world: to consciousness, to the unconscious, to inner feelings.

For example, to consciousness - persuasion, to the unconscious - suggestion, to feelings - coaxing or manipulation. Appeal to feelings, Talk about the feelings of a partner, appeal to his experiences Emotions: a means of influence and manipulation

  • Direct and indirect.

Direct influence or influence - influence when we influence directly, ourselves. On the contrary, indirect, indirect - the impact is indirect, through someone or through something, something, but not directly.

  • Destructive and creative

Directions of influence

You can influence yourself: see Bad habits: how to get rid of, Good habits: how to acquire, How to work on yourself,

For the impact on loved ones, see Bad habits: how to wean them, Useful habits: how to teach them. Separately - psychotherapeutic assistance.

Psychological influence in order to correct the behavior of close people

Relationships and interactions of close people is a special situation that has its limitations, but provides great opportunities for psychological influence. What means and how are used in this situation, what can be recommended, what should be avoided? See →

Protection from psychological influence

They influence others, the world and themselves - everything and always. However, the topic of influence is only of interest to active people who want to influence people and the world. People in a passive or defensive position have little interest in the topic of influence, they are more often concerned with topics of defense or simply find an explanation why everything works out this way ... See →

The concept of psychological impact

Educational literature on legal psychology

Kroz M.V., Ratinova N.A.

Scientific and methodological manual.
M., 2008.

At the level of ordinary consciousness, the psychological impact “is most often understood as the impact of something intangible, such as a word or special fluids, on a person’s behavior, his thoughts and feelings. A typical image of such an understanding of influence is the assignment to this class of phenomena of the actions of a hypnotist, a psychotherapist, a magician, a group of dodgers circling gullible citizens around their fingers, etc. ”[1]. In this kind of definition, despite all its "unscientific", there is a rational kernel. It assumes that here, firstly, psychological (rather than physical) means of influencing a person are used, and secondly, the object of influence is the mental sphere of the individual, as well as his behavior. Therefore, psychological impact is an impact on the mental states, thoughts, feelings and actions of people, performed with the help of psychological means .

One of the leading domestic experts on the problem of psychological impact - T.S. Kabachenko defines it as "a change in the psychological characteristics of an individual, group norms, public opinion or mood through the use of psychological and socio-psychological patterns." At the same time, it “can be considered both as a process leading to a change in the psychological basis of a particular activity, and as a result (of the actual change)”[2].

A large number of domestic and foreign studies are devoted to the study of various aspects of the problem of psychological impact in human society. As the well-known Russian psychologist A.G. Kovalev, “the problem of influence occupies a special place in psychological science, since it is in it that the fundamental issues related to the management of mental phenomena are most concentrated” [3].

When analyzing the phenomenon of psychological impact, individual authors, both psychologists and representatives of other sciences, use different terminology. Thus, along with “psychological influence”, such concepts as “mental influence”, “psychological violence”, “mental violence”, “influence”, “manipulation”, “inducement” are used. In the legal sciences, when describing the destructive psychological impact on the victim when committing a wide range of crimes, the concepts of “mental violence”, “coercion”, “coercion”, “blackmail”, “threats” are used. In general, all these terms describe different aspects of the same psychological reality. Some of them are used synonymously, while others have their own meaning and special scope.

The terms " psychological impact " and " mental impact " are closest in meaning. As a rule, in scientific psychological works they are used as synonyms. A.I. takes a different position. Papkin, who believes that there are some substantive differences between them: “Psychological influence is a deliberate, purposeful interference in the processes of mental reflection of the reality of another person, in contrast to the mental one, which can occur without the expressed desire of the influencing subject and even in his absence” [4 ]. It should be noted that in the literature the term "psychological impact" is found much more often than "psychic impact".

In foreign studies, the concepts " influence ", " influence " and " manipulation " are also usually considered as synonymous. For example, the well-known work of R. Cialdini "The Psychology of Influence" is actually devoted to the description of manipulative influence in interpersonal, business communication and ways to counter this influence[5]. A similar identification is present in some other works on social psychology[6].

In domestic psychological literature, the concepts of "psychological impact" and "influence" are also sometimes used in the same meaning. This is probably due to the influence of the Western scientific tradition. In addition, in the literary Russian language, these concepts have very similar semantics. So, in the "Dictionary of the Russian language" S.I. Ozhegov, the words “impact” and “influence” are defined as synonyms: influence is an action exerted by someone, something on someone, something; impact[7]. The Dictionary of the Modern Russian Literary Language also gives a similar definition[8].

In the psychological tradition (as opposed to the legal one), the terms " psychological violence ", " mental violence " have a limited circulation. They are most actively used in studies of the activities of pseudo-religious organizations and destructive cults, analysis of their impact on their members, mechanisms for involving people in the activities of cults and managing them[9]. For example, S. Hassen, speaking about the impact on members of totalitarian cults, points to the psychological violence used against them. At the same time, these terms describe anti-social in orientation and the most destructive in nature varieties of psychological influence used in the practice of leaders and adherents of totalitarian sects.

Following foreign authors, when studying destructive cults, E.N. Volkov, defining it as “a socio-psychological influence that deliberately compels another person or group of people to act or behave that was not part of their intentions; violating the psychological boundaries of an individual and a social group; carried out without informed consent and without ensuring the social psychological security of an individual or group of people, as well as all their legal rights; leading to social, psychological, physical or material harm (damage)”[10].

The most detailed concept of "mental violence" is developed in line with the legal tradition. Its analysis is presented in the second chapter of this scientific and methodological manual.

[1] Kabachenko T.S. Methods of psychological influence. M., 2000. S. 16, 17.

[2] Ibid. S. 23.

[3] Kovalev G.A. Three paradigms in psychology - three strategies of psychological influence // Questions of Psychology. 1987. No. 3. S. 41.

[4] Papkin A.I. Psychological impact in law enforcement // Applied Legal Psychology / Ed. A.M. Stolyarenko. M., 2001. S. 378, 379.

[5] Cialdini R. Psychology of influence. SPb., 1997.

[6] See, for example: Zimbardo F., Leippe M. Social impact. SPb., 2001.

[7] Ozhegov S.I. Dictionary of the Russian language. M., 1983. S. 78.

[8] See: Dictionary of the modern Russian literary language. M., 1951. V.2. pp. 351, 453.

[9] See, for example: Hassen S. Release from psychological abuse.

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