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Trauma And Attachment Essay

1426 words - 6 pages

The relationship between trauma and attachment is both complicated and intriguing, which is what drove me to answer this question and conduct further research on the topic. In order to understand the correlations between trauma and attachment, both terms must be defined and expanded upon. First of all, what is trauma? Dr. Jody Todd Manly defined it as: “….a response to a perceived threat to survival or emotional well-being of an individual or large group such as a community or a culture. Trauma leads to adverse brain, bodily and psychological changes that damage self, relational and spiritual development and impair living, learning and working.” Trauma is a response to a negative event in ...view middle of the document...

In cases of sexually abused children, heath problems, physiological disorders, and a higher risk for criminality creates another barrier between unhealthy and healthy attachment relationships. This underscores the importance of helping children form secure attachments in the first place. It also shows the importance of parenting styles, which when positive, help reinforce a child’s resilience against both stress and trauma to create a safe base. Having a secure attachment relationship allows for one to feel protected, loved, and confident, all key emotions in overcoming the fear of a traumatic event. The negative psychological effects of trauma such as depression, PSTD, anxiety, dissociation, and internalized distrust and resentment can furthermore hinder one’s ability to connect and associate with those with whom one is attached. For example, one who is depressed will have a hard time finding the motivation to actively seek out help (secure attachment relationships). One’s outlook would also become more bleak, which would only highlight the traumatic event, negative emotions, and one’s overall feeling of helplessness.
Stress pile up as an adult can also retrigger negative side effects of childhood trauma and further hinder attachment relationships. The heightened psychological arousal increases one’s vulnerability to stress and decreases one’s ability to overcome stressful situations. When one comes under intense stress, as I have experienced myself, one’s relationships often come under equally intense stress. This makes you feel alienated and alone, making one more susceptible to depression and anxiety. These disorders further alienate one from the support of secure attachments. When the background of childhood trauma is added, substance abuse and PTSD can also occur. A violent cycle of stress feeding distress, distress feeling anxiety and depression, and depression feeding substance abuse.
Just as there are different types of attachment, there are also different levels of trauma, which determine the role attachment plays. The first level of trauma is considered impersonal, since it comes about via a nonhuman vector. Earthquakes, typhoons, mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods all fall within this section of trauma. Victims of this type of trauma often rely on close relationships, which strengthens secure attachment. While other attachment forms (insecure) can cause problems, the ability to recover from impersonal trauma is much greater than traumatic events inflicted by others. The second level of trauma is interpersonal, which is characterized in a malicious, deliberate act to hurt someone else. Physical assaults, rape, kidnappings, and school bullying can all fall within these category of trauma. These can leave both lingering emotional and physical wounds, which strengthens the chance of suffering from anxiety and PTSD. According to the National Women's Study 31% percent of rape victims, an estimated 3.8 million women,...

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