Consider how trauma affects people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Do this by entering the worldview of an adult who has experienced some kind of childhood abuse over a number of years.
- What thoughts, feelings and behaviours might this process engender?
- How does thinking of normal responses to abnormal circumstances help our understanding?
Think about possible thought processes that can resulte from these
- People who claim to love me are dangerous and unpredictable.
- I should expect sudden horror and terror to be inflicted on me, and it will happen again.
- Trust no-one, assume the worst, attack first… ask questions later.
- Be ever vigilant, look like you don’t care, don’t let them see vulnerability.
- Be invisible.
Certain types of thoughts are rooted in trauma.
These thoughts lead to behaviours. Traumabased thinking leads to trauma-based feelings and behaviours. The good news is that some people find resilience within trauma. Some people’s thinking process is more geared to overcoming problems and turning pain into determination or compassion for others, with a mindset of ‘that which does not kill me makes me stronger’.
Over time trauma can alter everything about a person’s life and behaviour. Because it shatters trust and safety and leaves people feeling powerless, trauma can lead to profound disconnection from others, always being on guard, or overwhelming despair. Coping mechanisms can become habits that are hard to quit. Trauma can lead to problems at home, at school or at work.
Trauma can cause an inner rage, which can manifest itself in different ways:
- Rage acted out against others in the form of violence.
- Rage turned inward on the self, perhaps manifesting in self-harm or despair.
While the first is often seen as a male response and the second a female response, both responses can be associated with either gender.