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Why Does Traumatic Experience Harm Some People More Than Others?

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People are affected by the experience of trauma in different ways. What factors are behind these individual differences in response to adversity?

I provide a list of examples below:

– if we receive support from family, friends, professionals etc during a traumatizing period of our lives the adverse effects of the trauma may be reduced. For example, a child whose parents are involved in acrimonious divorce but who receives emotional support from loving grandparents may be less psychologically damaged than a child who is going through a similar experience but receives no such support.

– similarly, if we receive support after experiencing trauma from, for example, a close set of friends and/ or relations, we are likely to cope with the negative effects of our traumatic experience more effectively

– some people’s genetic inheritance may make them more resilient to the effects of trauma than others

– those who bonded well with/formed a secure attachment to their primary caregiver during babyhood/infancy are, all else being equal, likely to be able to cope with the adverse effects of trauma in later life than those individuals who did not develop this psychologically protective bond but, instead, developed an insecure attachment with their mother during their early development

– a person who is helpless in the face of his/her traumatic experience and has no control over it is likely to be more badly affected by it than a person who can exert some control over his/her fate.

– traumatic experiences that continue over a protracted period of time are, in general, more psychologically damaging to an individual than traumas that are one-off event

– the effects of trauma are likely to be more serious if the harm is perpetrated by another person (as opposed to the harm being caused by an impersonal event such as a natural disaster).

– effects of trauma are at their most severe when perpetrated by a person whose role is to love and protect us, especially a parent.

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

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