The Shock

Jude Rogers' father died suddenly when she was five, and she remembers every, vivid detail of the morning before she found out: the book she was reading in school, her walk through the school hall to meet her grandmother, the sun in her hair.

What happens when we go into shock? Anyone who has undergone a trauma remembers the strange mental and physical feelings such a moment brings, unlike any other. It may be triggered by an accident, a loss, death, devastating news, or lost love.

The feelings that came over us, the way the world changed shape, speed and sometimes colour, the superhuman strength we can feel, the incidental, insignificant details we notice and remember for years to come. What are the evolutionary reasons for this, and how do our brains change as a consequence?

In 'The Shock', writer Jude explores what happens when our brains go into survival mode during and after traumatic events.

War correspondent for The Times, Anthony Loyd, recalls the pin sharp focus of his senses which helped him escape his kidnappers, even after a severe punishment beating. John Samuel recalls the moment when he discovered he had 2 sisters, and a half brother, he never knew about (a good shock!) And Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore recalls the moment of discovering her daughters faced life threatening trauma.

Professor Sarah Garfinkle of Brighton and Sussex Medical School, explains the way the brain changes size and shape following trauma; Dr Gillian Forrester of Birkbeck University gives the evolutionary explanation for our instinctive reactions, and Jude heads out to an Essex airfield to meet 'flying trauma doctor' Simon Keane, at Essex & Herts Air Ambulance, who has to deal both with his own shock, and that of patients on a daily basis. Marc Wittman, psychologist and author, helps Jude understand why time speeds up, or slows down when we have a shock.

Science combined with powerful storytelling.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

Music sourced by Danny Webb.

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28 minutes

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Tomorrow 21:00

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