Flashbacks, Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the Brain

What Are Flashbacks?

The Differences Between Flashbacks from PTSD and CPTSD

  • Car Accident
  • Tornado or Other Natural Disaster
  • Mugging
  • Rape
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Physical Abuse
  • Mental Abuse
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Human Trafficking
  • Living as a Prisoner of War
  • Living in a War Zone
  • Surviving a Concentration or Internment Camp

The Amygdala, Hippocampus, and Flashbacks

What Goes Wrong?

Emotional Flashbacks

Emotional Flashbacks and the Brain

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

Managing Flashbacks

Grounding Techniques to Defeat a Flashback

  • Where am I?
  • What is today?
  • What is the date?
  • What is the month?
  • What is the year?
  • How old am I?
  • What season is it?
  • Hold a pillow or stuffed animal.
  • Hold a piece of ice in your hand.
  • Listen to music.
  • Name 2 things you can see in the room with you.
  • Name 2 things you can hear right now.
  • Pay attention to the movement of your abdomen as you breathe.
  • Pictures of important people in your life today.
  • A calendar with the current month and year.
  • A locket with a picture of someone important today.
  • Take deep breathes in through the nose and blow them gently out through the mouth.
  • Breathe from the diaphragm (gut), not from the chest.
  • Repeat as many times as necessary to calm down and re-center.

Healing is Likely



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CPTSD Foundation

CPTSD Foundation


Successfully equipping complex trauma survivors and practitioners with compassionate support, skills, and trauma-informed education since 2014.