How Our Innate Sense Of Trust Can Be Shattered.


When I was about nine or ten years old, about two years after my parents had divorced and I was still living with my mother, she met a man called Iain McDonald at a singles’ bar and soon afterwards invited him to move in with us (‘us’ being myself, my brother, who is three years older than me, and my mother).

He accepted this offer with alacrity.

He was an alcoholic, and used to go missing for periods of time. He also hired cars and neither paid for them (he wrote cheques he knew would bounce) nor returned them (until the police caught up with him)

Usually, too, he would drive these cars with way over the legal limit of alcohol in his blood – including when I was in the car.

Indeed, he once drove myself, my older brother and my brother’s friend, Leslie, to a fun-fair. Upon arrival, after he had parked the car in a haphazard manner, rather like a gorilla who’d only had one driving lesson and was blind-folded, he slumped forward in his driver’s seat, seemingly on the verge of unconsciousness.

Then, in a most uncoordinated fashion, like someone with advancing Parkinson’s disease, he retrieved a ten pound note from his wallet, telling us all (his speech so slurred as to be virtually unintelligible) to go on some rides and to come back when the money ran out.

My brother snatched the money from his hand and he and his friend bounded off to the rides like excitable puppies on amphetamines. I, however, chose to stay in the car and ‘nurse’ Iain.

Because of this kind of behaviour (eg the drink-driving, financial fraud and stealing of cars) he was frequently arrested. Indeed, I almost became used to the police coming around to our house, or to seeing them waiting in their panda car parked directly outside our house, adjacent to the small front garden.

As Iain’s criminal activities escalated, he started to receive harsher penalties from the Court. Whilst he was living with us, he served some short terms of incarceration at Pentonville Prison in London. From his cell, he would write to my mother. I remember seeing the letters with several words, phrases or sentences having been redacted by the prison censors – thick black blocks of ink.


The key element of this short tale from my past, and the one that is perhaps most pertinent to the title, is what we discovered after the first time we found out he’d been arrested, which must have been several months, possibly longer, after he had first moved in with us. This is what happened:

One night there was a phone call from the police. Iain had been arrested and was in their custody and they wanted my mother to go immediately to the police station, presumably in order to help them with their enquiries.

She duly went and did not return to our house until about 9 or 10pm. I was in bed and my light was off. Nevertheless, she burst into my bedroom in a highly distressed and hysterical state, declaring that she had just been informed by the police that the man we all knew as ‘Iain McDonald’ had been living under an alias. His real name, apparently, was John Lee. Also, he had not been living in Australia before he met my mother as he had claimed, but, in fact, came from Kelso in Scotland. Furthermore, he had a family there (in Kelso) – a wife and children. (He had told my mother he was single and childless). It seems that one reason why he had been stealing cars was to enable himself to drive to Kelso in Scotland, a journey of perhaps five hundred miles, to see them.

My mother blurted out all this information, through her tears, with such speed and urgency that it was very hard to take in. I just remember feeling stunned and confused.

I was not yet even eleven years old.

Such experiences, of course, undermine our ability trust. Indeed, without effective therapy, such experiences may mean we are unable to trust others properly for the whole of our adult lives, causing us tremendous problems both forming and maintaining relationships.

Other childhood experiences that can potentially seriously undermine our ability to trust others during our adult lives are being abandoned or rejected by our parents, being neglected by our parents (emotionally and/or physically), or being betrayed, exploited or abused by them.

To read my article on how such an inability to trust others and accompanying problems developing healthy relationships can result from our traumatic childhood experiences, click here.

One effective way to address such problems relating to how our childhood experiences may adversely affect our adult belief system is by undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). To read my article about this, click here.


‘Learn To Trust Again’ Hypnotherapy Audio (instantly downloadable MP3). Click here for further information.

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

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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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