The human response to psychological trauma is one of the most important public health problems in the world. Traumatic events such as family and social violence, rapes and assaults, disasters, wars, accidents, and predatory violence may temporarily or permanently alter the organism's response to its environment. While people have evolved to be enormously resourceful and capable of surviving and overcoming extreme experiences, certain events, particularly if they occur early in the life cycle, can overwhelm the capacity of the organism to cope with stress and permanently alter the perception of danger and the regulation of internal homeostasis.

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