Childhood Trauma Symptoms : Type 1 and Type 2.


type 1 and type 2 trauma


Psychologists have divided childhood trauma symptoms into two different categories : TYPE 1 and TYPE 2.


These symptoms tend to come about as a result sudden, unexpected, catastrophic event such as, for example, the threat of death or serious injury (sometimes referred to as ‘critical incidents‘).

Symptoms which may develop in response to such an adverse event may range from, at the mild end of the spectrum, disrupted sleep, worry and feelings of insecurity, to, at the other end of the spectrum, the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is an ongoing condition that may manifest itself through :

-extreme over-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system

-intrusive and distressing memories (flashbacks), nightmares etc

-constant and intense feelings of being under threat

– avoidant behavior (eg an avoidance of social interaction and of situations/activities which trigger disturbing memories of the traumatic event)

NB The above list is not exhaustive.

TYPE 2 :

This category of symptoms may emerge if trauma has continued, repeatedly, over an extended period of time. Often, in these circumstances, the development of symptoms may well be delayed (click here to read my article on this). Symptoms that do eventually develop may include :

– significant difficulties forming and maintaining social relationships (click here to read my article on this)

– problems relating to anger management (click here to read my article on this)

– dissociation (click here to read my article on this)

– a negative cognitive triad (this is a term used by psychologists to refer to a distorted, negative view of the self, others, and the world in general – it may be addressed through a therapy known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – click here to read my article about CBT.

The earlier in life that the extended experience of trauma begins, the more damaging its long-term effects are likely to be (trauma experienced in the first three years of life is known to be particularly harmful).

At the extreme end of the spectrum, extended trauma may lead to personality disorders, especially borderline personality disorder (BPD) – click here to read my article on BPD.




As we have already seen, Type 1 trauma commonly gives rise to symptoms of acute distress and severe over-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, whilst Type 2 trauma frequently results in more complex and deep-rooted adverse changes to the personality.

In some cases, the individual will experience both Type 1 and Type 2 symptoms; for example, a child who is severely abused over a long period of time may initially display Type 1 symptoms and, then, later in life, develop Type 2 symptoms.


Due to the highly complex causes of Type 2 symptoms, they will usually need to be addressed through psychotherapy (eg CBT, which I have already referred to, or dialectical behavior therapy, abbreviated to DBT – click here to read my article on DBT).

On the other hand, Type 1 symptoms, at the more mild end of the spectrum, may sometimes be able to be addressed through social support, physical relaxation and sometimes, as a short-term measure, tranquilizers.

NB It is always very important to consult an appropriately qualified professional when considering treatment options for psychological conditions.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).


About David Hosier MSc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

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