Why Does This Happen? Ask participants, “Why do you think trauma makes such a dramatic impact on people’s behavior, even years after the trauma has taken place?” Explain that, according to Dr. Bruce Perry of ChildTrauma Academy, any dramatic, rapid, unpredictable, or threatening changes in our environment will activate stress-response systems in our brain. These are the “fight, flight, or freeze” mechanisms that are generated in the most primitive parts of our brain. If the stress we experience is severe, acute, unpredictable, prolonged, or chronic, our stress-response systems can become over-activated and, as a result, incapable of relaxing and returning us to equilibrium. In other words, if our lives are filled with stressful situations, or we are exposed to significant trauma and receive no help in recovering from that trauma, we may become physically incapable of relaxing – we are always in a state of fight, flight, or freeze. Adults who experience trauma can recover more easily, because their brains are already patterned to return to a normal “relaxed” state. Children, however, are still developing their brain patterns, so early trauma is essentially teaching children to always be anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed.