The classic description of the innovator of this trauma resolution process was applying his understanding of psychology and the clinical observations of the phenomenon of dissociation of the mind in response to trauma. This description of what takes place, was being applied universally to explain the basic fundamental mechanism, knowing that the body stores memories of trauma episodes and there can be portions of the memory deeply hidden that nonetheless will resonate and are recoverable only via the subconscious. So the general scheme of having a kind of subconscious dissociation as a survival mechanism to ignore what the conscious mind is doing and bear the brunt of the trauma, and as a consequence remains as the wounded, or most wounded, part of the mind and persists as a remnant that can be called a “younger self” when it is resurrected to tell its story and who clearly needs rescue and healing, in that respect, provides a working framework that is understandable for the average person, as well as the scientist studying the mind in a serious manner.
This is not literally correct, because it is more of what you are describing as a consequence of memory storage in the deeper levels of consciousness, than a true dissociative state that is observed with extreme trauma. The dissociation of the mind into subparts that can become an extreme separation resulting in multiple and separate identities, as was originally called Multiple Personality Disorder and now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder, is recognized. This can be an extreme consequence of the compartmentalization of trauma memory by an extreme and overwhelming insult to personal safety and integrity. But there are many serious traumas that do not reach such an extreme level of dissociation and are merely stored at the level of cellular consciousness because they merit being recorded and will have karmic consequences as well—these then become the garden variety needs for healing one’s past, starting from infancy.
So the basic phenomenon is one of long-term storage and the fact that memory and negative emotion are registered together so they can be recognized as consequences of the events that matter, and become a healing opportunity as well as imperative when so much trauma has been experienced a person literally becomes impaired in carrying out their life because their burden is so large. This is the source of some of the phenomena associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, the experiencing of flashbacks which are simply a recall back into conscious awareness of what is present within cellular consciousness and being reawakened and put on the front burner, so to speak, as well as the emotional intensity of what is rumbling down below because the cellular consciousness might be stirred up by something new coming along that has a resonance with prior trauma, and that will get the stored memories buzzing and create a stress response in the making that will compound unpleasantness in the moment and make it have a greater impact for the worse.
This is a natural response to threat and is part of the normal mechanism of the mind and body, to be aware of being in peril and motivated to take swift action to reduce one’s vulnerability to danger that is perceived, if acted on in a timely way. That is what the fight or flight response is for, it is to not miss anything in scanning the environment that could pose a threat of injury or death, or even a serious wounding of the feelings because the pain will be equally great and may lead to devastating consequences just the same, if it is only one’s reputation and sense of well-being and self-worth being at stake.
So what is stored within cellular consciousness are a series of discrete events as a way of representing them symbolically so the mind of the client, as well as the facilitator of HMR, can think about what they are doing effectively. It is a handy notion to think of these events as representing a series of younger selves who are on the scene and had the experiencing that created this repository. That is just having a handle to label them and to personify them, and that has the added benefit of creating a kind of sympathetic understanding that these are not simply facts on record, but events a person lived and took to heart and were deeply affected by, and those consequences for the being live on and are stored in an active and dynamic fashion that can still represent a kind of hornet’s nest and a liability to well-being.