The authors examine Freud 's concepts of 'trauma', 'protective shield against stimuli ' and 'traumatic neurosis' in the light of recent findings. 'Protective shield against stimuli' is regarded as a biological concept which appears in mental life as the striving to avoid unpleasant affects. 'Trauma' is a twofold concept in that it relates to mental experience and links an external event with the specific after-effects on an individual 's psychic reality. A distinction needs to be made between mentally destructive trauma and affective trauma. A destructive trauma does not break through the protective shield but does breach the pleasure-unpleasure principle, so that in the course of its subsequent mastery it leads to a traumatic neurosis. An affective trauma can be warded off under the rule of the pleasure-unpleasure principle and leads to a psychoneurosis.