There has been an explosion in the research and knowledge associated with the impact of trauma on the human condition. Significant understanding has been achieved with regard to insight into physical, emotion, spiritual, relational, neurobiological and neurochemical aspects of trauma.
Incorporated into the treatment strategies associated with trauma is an analysis of the following key variables which impact the severity of an individual’s reaction to that trauma:
- Nature, duration, frequency and intensity
- Nature of the relationship between the victim and victimizer
- Age of onset
- The accessibility of support groups, mentors, trusted significant others available to process, mitigate and potentially counter the abuse
Trauma is now known to create transformations in brain chemistry, structure and functioning. Healing from trauma is not simply a matter of acknowledgement, empathy and compassion associated with the wounds. Healing is now understood to necessitate reprogramming of the brain, not just in terms of software (i.e. the way a person recalls, processes and resolves the trauma) but also the literal hardwiring of neural circuitry.
For many the trauma experienced becomes a chief focal point of one’s life – either consciously or unconsciously. In extreme cases the person becomes defined by the trauma and their life decisions revolve around preventing a repeat of the trauma and/or suppressing it.
Some people even become “bonded” with the trauma – in one’s reaction to the trauma they somehow become “attached” to various aspects of the experience – e.g. the danger, exploitation, betrayal or shame. According to research conducted by Patrick Carnes, a global expert in sex addiction and trauma treatment, the element of betrayal in the trauma can intensify an individual’s propensity to develop future relationships where the element of betrayal continues to resurface leading to relational and professional sabotage. Many consciously or unconsciously repeat or re-enact their trauma further frustrating personal and relational success.