What is a Flashback?
This question really has not been directly answered on the forum. I know that I used to believe flashbacks are just like in the movies, literally a little movie playing in your head. Since learning about my PTSD, I have learned about flashbacks.
Flashbacks are: a sudden recollection of the past, which can be formed as visual, emotional, audio or senses.
What exactly does that mean? It means that you might get a flash of something similar to a movie or a picture. You might or might not have detail. You could hear something (your name being called, being threatened, loud bangs, etc.) or you could smell something (burnt toast, fire, lemons, etc.) or even feel someone's hands on you, the bed move, etc. which is not presently happening. Also, you can feel emotions that don't belong to that moment (these ones are tough! I get them all the time and my experience was that I was over-emotional or over-reacting; in reality I was having flashbacks and just didn't know it!). You can get one of these at a time, a few at a time, or all of them at the same time! You can also get a flashback and disassociate yourself from the feelings or from it being you (third person mode) .
Flashbacks can be very tricky to recognize and even more difficult to discover what triggered them in the first place. Hopefully this helps with the confusion of what is a flashback!
*I have included the Wikipedia definition for every one!*
Flashback (psychological phenomenon)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A flashback is a psychological phenomenon in which an individual has a sudden, usually vivid, recollection of a past experience. The term is used particularly when the memory is recalled involuntarily, and/or when it is so intense that the person "relives" the experience, unable to fully recognize it as memory and not something that is happening in "real time." The medical term for the phenomenon is hypnagogic regression.
Flashbacks are not necessarily episodic — that is, the re-experienced memories may not include specific identifying features (such as images and sounds) that were part of the original event or experience. Because there is a strong emotional component to memory as well, flashbacks can occur as a rush of feelings, emotions, and sensations associated with a traumatic event. This is especially true for young children who were lacking the cognitive abilities needed to define and characterize the trauma when they experienced it, but who may, nevertheless, relive all of the emotions associated with the traumatic event. In addition, those adult survivors of childhood trauma who have solely these emotional memories to draw on, also may experience them in flashbacks.
When they occur involuntarily, flashbacks may be due to a disorder such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (in cases of war-related trauma, physical or sexual abuse trauma) or Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (when a person has used psychedelic drugs).