Category Archives: Complex Ptsd And Its Link To Childhood Trauma

Articles about how severe and protracted childhood trauma can lead to a form of PTSD commonly referred to as Complex PTSD, symptoms of which include : problems controlling emotions, self-harm, hypersexuality, dissociation, intrusive thoughts, psychogenic amnesia, flashbacks, shame, guilt, self-blame, helplessness, inability to trust others, relationship difficulties, withdrawal, isolation, extreme anger, confusion, terror, feelings of emptiness, despair and a conviction that life is utterly without meaning.

Definition Of Childhood Trauma

The definition of childhood trauma, according to The National Institute Of Mental Health (USA), is as follows :

‘The experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects.

One way to help define childhood trauma is to split it into two categories, as shown below :

  • INTERPERSONAL TRAUMA

Interpersonal trauma refers to trauma that the child experiences as a result

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Types Of Childhood Trauma

childhood-trauma-jpg

There are many traumatic events that can befall us in childhood which, as we have seen in other articles I have published on this site, can, potentially, result in us incurring significant and long-lasting psychological damage, especially in the absence of appropriate therapy and meaningful, emotional support from others. 

In this article, I will list several types of childhood trauma that can occur and give a brief explanation to elucidate each of these traumatic events :

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Why Labelling The Child As ‘Mentally Ill’ Can Be Unhelpful

ADHD-wrong-diagnosis

In his critically acclaimed book : ‘CRACKED : WHY PSYCHIATRY IS DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD‘, the author, James Davies, argues that psychiatry is a pseudo-science which :

  • over-medicalizes human behavior, labelling individuals as mentally ‘ill’ when it is not appropriate to do so

In order to illustrate this argument, one of the examples that Davies presents us with is that of a child displaying behaviors that would traditionally be associated with attention

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Vital Importance Of Understanding The Role Of The Body In Trauma Therapy

ptsd-holistic-treatment

Probably the best known expert working in the field of understanding how the body and our experience of the crippling effects of severe trauma are inextricably linked is former Harvard Professor, Bessel van der Kolk.

Bessel van der Kolk stresses the crucial importance of treating the effects of severe trauma in a HOLISTIC manner ; in other words, therapeutic approaches for trauma need to not only focus on the physical brain (e.g. by treating

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Why Complex PTSD Sufferers May Avoid Eye Contact

A study by Lanius  et al. was conducted to cast light upon why many with individuals suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including those suffering from complex-PTSD, often find it excruciatingly uncomfortable every time the rules of social etiquette compel them to make eye to eye contact with another human being (I, myself once attempted to circumvent this

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Can New Drug Treatment Induce Memories And Feelings Of Safety In PTSD Sufferers?

An experiment carried out at the University of Puerto Rico (Quirk et al.) on rats has shown that administering a drug directly into their brains can induce in them a sense of safety in a situation in which they were previously fearful.

Brief Summary If Experiment :

Rats can be conditioned to fear the sound of a particular tone (the fearful response takes the form of the rats ‘freezing’ )if, each time the tone is sounded, the experimenter administers

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How Childhood Trauma Can Make Us Constantly Hypervigilant

What Is Meant By Hypervigilance?

A person who is hypervigilant feels constantly ‘on edge’ , ‘keyed up’ and fearful. S/he experiences a perpetual sense of dread and of being under threat despite the fact, objectively speaking, there is no present danger. Indeed, the person affected in this way is so intensely alert to, and focused upon, any conceivable imminent danger that s/he may develop paranoia-like symptoms and frequently perceive danger in situations where no such danger, in reality, exists.

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Factors That Make Complex PTSD More Severe

severe_complex_PTSD

What Factors Make The Symptoms Of Complex PTSD Even More Serious?

We have seen from several other articles that I have published on this site that the experience of a traumatic childhood is linked to the development of complex PTSD later on in life.Whilst all cases of complex PTSD are extremely serious, certain factors are thought to increase the risk that we will develop an especially severe form of the disorder. These are as follows :

  • the person responsible for causing the

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Childhood Trauma And Getting Trapped In The ‘Shame Loop.’

shame

When I was a young child I remember that one of my mother’s methods of making sure my behavior met her exactingly high standards was through the use of shame. In particular, if I was out with her in public and did something to upset her she would shout : ‘If you don’t do as I say immediately I will pull your trousers and pants down right now in public and spank your bare backside until it’s red raw. Red raw!’ (she had

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Overcoming Feelings Of Shame With Counseling

overcome feelings of shame

We have seen from other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who have experienced significant and protracted childhood trauma often experience irrational, deep feelings of shame as adults which can severely disrupt our lives (for much more on this, see the section of this site entitled : ‘Self-Hatred And Shame).

Because living with profound feelings of shame is so psychologically painful and impinges so seriously upon our quality of life, it is worth considering undergoing counseling to help overcome the problem.

One important counseling technique employed to help individuals diminish their irrational, but insidious, sense of deep-rooted shame is to help them build shame resilience.

Overcoming Feelings Of Shame By Building Shame Resilience :

According to the American  Psychological Association (2014), there are several important factors that help

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Four Responses To Intense Feelings Of Shame

shame

We have already seen from other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who have experienced significant childhood trauma over a protracted period are at risk of, as adults, having to endure intense, irrational feelings of deep-rooted shame ; this can be extremely painful.

Nathanson

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Eleven Types Of ‘Self’ That May Develop After Trauma

effect of trauma on the self

In his book, The Posttraumatic Self, the psychotherapist John Wilson describes eleven types of ‘selves’ (or, what Wilson refers to, more technically, as ‘typologies of personality that form unique configurations of self-processes’) that may develop in the individual following severely traumatic experiences.

These eleven ‘selves’ can be seen as existing on a continuum such that the first (THE INERT SELF) represents those individuals

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Peer Rejection Leading To Withdrawal, Increased Aggression And Feelings Of Shame

effects of peer rejection

The Implicit Social Hierarchy :

In schools, it is unavoidable that children will be judged by their peers in relation to their perceived likability / popularity / desirability / acceptability etc so that, in effect, they are informally and implicitly ‘assigned’ a position in the social hierarchy.

Social Exclusion And Effects On Self-Esteem :

The way in which we were affected by such judgment by our peers when we were at school (our sensitivity to the acceptance / exclusion process tends to peak in middle school which coincides with the period in our lives

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Deep Feelings Of Shame Resulting From Emotionally Impoverished Relationships With Parents

shame due to dysregulating oyjers

According to DeYoung, author of the excellent book : ‘Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame : A Relational / Neurobiological Approach‘, the experience of shame comes about as a result of dysfunctional relationships with other people (in particular, of course, with our parents when we are growing up) who are of emotional importance to us as opposed to affecting us as isolated, independent individuals. Because of this, DeYoung describes the experience

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How Trauma Can Seriously Adversely Affect The Nervous System

how trauma can adversely affect the nervous system

Peter Levine, an expert on the effects of trauma on the body, states that as a result of severe and prolonged trauma, the functioning of our nervous systems can become seriously disrupted. More specifically, traumatized individuals can suffer from dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system.

What Is The Autonomic Nervous System?

The autonomic nervous system operates below the level of

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Hypervigilance And Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Complex PTSD).

hypervigilance and complex posttraumatic stress disorder

If we have grown up in a chronically stressful and traumatic environment in which we often experienced anxiety, trepidation, stress and fear we are at high risk of developing a fundamental, core belief (on a conscious and/or unconscious level) that the world is a dangerous place and that we need to be constantly on ‘red-alert’ and ‘on-guard’ in order to protect ourselves from sustaining further psychological injury.

In other words, we GENERALIZE our

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