Hyperarousal

The process of dealing with the existence of unintegrated traumatic information in memory can lead to the various manifestations of hyperarousal in different ways. First, as we have suggested above, the fear module within SPAARS is continuously being activated and reactivated by both the direct appraisal of the unintegrated representations of trauma-related information within memory and also via multiple cueing from the environment; second, such continual appraisals utilise executive processing resources and the resultant lack of available resources means that the more sophisticated levels of appraisal that would normally be used in the mediation of emotions via the schematic model level are less likely to operate. So, for example, in the case of anger we have suggested (see Chapters 5 and 8) that three principal levels of appraisal are involved:

1 The interpretation of the event is appraised as incompatible with existing goal structures (the first level of appraisal in all negative emotions).

2 The interpretation of the event is appraised as a violation of valued goals with an identifiable agent behind the violation.

3 The interpretation of the event is subject to the "moral" appraisal that the agent intended the event—that is, an appraisal of deliberation, avoidability, or negligence.

The first two levels, we have suggested, are necessary and sufficient for the generation of anger. However, in most situations individuals also make further moral appraisals (level 3 above). We propose that when processing resources are limited, the higher level of moral appraisal is less likely to be invoked and the individual will experience anger and annoyance at any interpretations of events that are appraised in the first two ways only. Consequently, individuals whose processing resources are continually being utilised by appraising the incompatibility of unintegrated trauma-related information in memory are likely to be irritable and to get angry at events that were not deliberate or could not be helped. Similarly, there will be fewer processing resources for appraisal elaboration and individuals with post-traumatic stress, we submit, are likely to experience fewer complex emotions associated with the trauma.

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