Childhood Trauma

“Trauma is not what happens to you, trauma is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you.” - Dr. Gabor Maté

Childhood traumas affect more than one in two people…

Bénédicte’s experience and resultant belief is that everybody carries trauma. As a species, the homo-sapiens is relatively ill mentally and physically (depression, anxiety, obesity, cancer,…). So many things happen throughout life that impact on our lives, not to mention the DNA makeup that is imprinted from past generations. Our collective consciousness and unconsciousness are deeply hurt, humanity carries a lot of trauma due to world wars, famine, diseases, economic crises, genocides, slavery…What varies is the number of traumas, the impact, and the resilience of a person. And our resilience can depend on the resilience of our parents, how much love and care our caregivers had to give, and how much we have been able to receive. The modern lifestyle has resulted in us living emotionally disconnected and isolated from others. So many people live all alone. The more we are on earth the more we feel alone.

Traumas are often the cause of mental and psychological conditions…Traumas are often the cause of mental and psychological conditions…

Understanding that childhood trauma continues to affect your life well into adulthood is an important part of the journey towards healing. According to French doctor, neurologist and psychiatrist, Boris Cyrulnik we continue to suffer from what is biologically imprinted in our memory. This may be as a result of a memory from our family, or from our own experiences. Trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is most often associated with soldiers coming back from war or people having been sexually or physically abused. Unfortunately, throughout my work experience, I have realised that trauma is much wider than I could have imagined and can include developmental childhood trauma, transgenerational trauma and emotional trauma. There are 2 types of trauma: acute trauma which is a result of a single event or complex trauma caused by multiple repeated events.

Some of the traumas that may have affected you include:

  • Not having a safe attachment to a parent or caregiver as a child. This will lead to insecurity and a negative self- image.
  • A parent who is depressed, or an addict, including pharmaceutical drugs
  • Bullying at school – is a major role-player in reduced self-worth
  • Emotional, physical and sexual abuse, all an intrusion in a person’s personal boundaries
  • Surgery or severe illness, accident – medical and physical trauma
  • Lack of affection. Some people are deprived of basic care which can be far more harmful than food deprivation
  • Experiencing violence (both towards others and oneself)
  • Unfaithfulness: Parents having affairs => Incapacity of trusting people
  • Parents lying to their children, hidden family secret, (how can you trust anyone if your own family lies to you). These individuals could end up in a spiral of trauma, reexperiencing it again and again with their friends with their partners
  • Divorce: abandonment
  • Getting separated from a loved one, because of monetary problems, parents not able to financially or psychologically take care of their children
  • Neglect : parents who do not take care of their children, because they are distracted by work or other personal pursuits.
  • Grief: losing a member of the family, own grief or the grief of others. Not being able or allowed to grieve, e.g. “I need to be strong for mommy or daddy.”
  • Natural disasters

Some of the many side-effects of untreated trauma include:

  • Over-activation of the limbic system resulting in a larger amygdala.
  • Fear (Anxiety)
  • Phobia, OCD
  • Sleep disorders (insomnia, nightmares)
  • Depression
  • Anger disorders, violent behaviours, poor emotional regulation
  • Self-hate, Self-mutilation, self-directed violence, suicide attempts
  • Disorder in the regulation of emotions
  • Low Self-esteem, inconsistent self-concept
  • Borderline personality disorders
  • Risk for intimate partner violence, multiple sexual partners, unintended pregnancies
  • Psychosomatic disorders
  • Lowered cognitive activity, decrease of grey matter in the prefrontal cortex, and its density
  • Decrease of neurogenesis
  • Physical illnesses, Fibromyalgia, Chronicle pain
  • Personality disorder
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictions, addictive personality
  • Repeating and perpetuating violence abuse and neglect
  • ADHD
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, liver disease