Understanding Trauma

From Maggie Scarf’s book: Secrets, Lies, Betrayals
“Trauma exposes a child to his own absolute helplessness and lack of control of his world at the very time when he is struggling with the crucial developmental issues of competence and mastery.  At the same time, traumatic experiences strike at the heart of a youngster’s sense of self for a very different, somewhat paradoxical reason: Early in life, children are wonderfully grandiose and experience themselves as central to and the cause of anything and everything that occurs around them.”    (p86)

“Trauma: A Wound to the Self
“Such events are highly likely to leave you in a state of chronic bodily arousal, with a highly uncomfortable overreactivity to life’s minor insults, threats, and dilemmas.  This physiologically based state, a bodily condition of dysregulation, makes it very hard for a person to soothe herself, calm down, and regain stability in the wake of any negative event, even one that had nothing to do with the painful experiences of the past.”   (p89)

“We humans are after all, social creatures, who grow up in the protective environments provided by our caretaking families.  Thus, when bad things happen at the hands of the very people who are supposed to love and nurture us, our basic conception of ourselves and of the world we inhabit is inevitably impacted in enormous ways.  Physical or emotional battering — or cold indifference and neglect — within the family group is at some basic level the most traumatic occurrence of all.” (p93)

She quotes trauma expert Bessel Van der Kolk: “The real trauma, and the actual cause of most post-traumatic suffering, is ‘attachment trauma’.”

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