Psychotrauma is the mental injury suffered after a terrible event. It occurs when normal processing (defence) no longer suffices and no action seems to help anymore.
Someone who has been exposed to a disaster, violence or abuse can then be overwhelmed by feelings of fear, rage and shame. They will often compulsively relive the traumatic experiences. In such cases, they will not be able to think of anything else and will lose all assertive power.
The opposite can happen too: all painful thoughts and feelings may be pushed away (dissociation or repression). People may become emotionally numb, exhibiting a changed state of consciousness, warped sense of reality and altered awareness of the future. If these symptoms are not treated, the person in question can suffer from a posttraumatic stress disorder.