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Childhood Trauma: The Dilemma of the Traumatized Child
Trauma comes with many faces - a single unfortunate event such as an automobile accident, tornado, or sudden death of a family member, or something more insidious such as prolonged physical or sexual abuse by a family member. When children are traumatized, they require the consistent support, nurturance, and protection of trusted adults in order to heal and recover.
When no such support is available - or worse yet, when the threat comes from someone who is supposed to protect - children are forced into survival mode, equivalent to being abandoned in the jungle. They no longer have the luxury of being children; they must grow up in a hurry just to survive.
Children, however, are too immature to cope with such circumstances, so they learn to survive on their own, searching their limited resources for whatever helps them get through the day - with little regard for long-term consequences. If drugs or alcohol numb the pain, so be it. If joining a gang creates a place to belong, then go for it. If aggressive behavior helps the child feel powerful, then bring it on. If promiscuous sex helps the adolescent feel loved, then why not?
In such dire circumstances children often learn to disconnect from their feelings because feeling their feelings doesn't help - it only hurts. In fact, feelings can become dangerous. Imagine an 8-year-old child telling his father, "Dad, your drinking and yelling at mom really upset me. Could you please stop." Most likely the alcoholic would verbally attack the child for being "smart," or, worse yet, physically assault the child and then blame him for the assault.
Thus, the traumatized child is presented with a horrible dilemma: Does he choose to listen to his feelings and run the risk of being attacked or beaten for them, or does he learn to ignore his feelings in order to survive an abusive environment? The choice is between True Self and False Self. No child should ever be put in this predicament, but many are.
Below is Carl's 5-minute YouTube video, "Inner Child Work: Healing Shame and Fear"
Thus, abused children often learn to ignore or disconnect from their feelings. Unfortunately, that's like the ship's captain throwing away the compass. No wonder so many abused children become lost adults who can't seem to find their way. No wonder so many clients of mine who grew up in alcoholic, dysfunctional, or abusive families do not know how to take care of themselves physically, emotionally, spiritually or in relationships. Without a compass, it's difficult to know which way to go.
If you grew up in an alcoholic, dysfunctional, or abusive family and suspect that decisions you made to survive as a child could be causing you problems today, then therapy could be beneficial to you.
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Copyright 2005-2017 Serenity Online Therapy
All Text and many photos by Carl Benedict
|"Our very life depends on
everything's recurring till we answer from within."