Most love addicts and many other varied types of addict are survivors of childhood trauma. Childhood trauma in and of itself is often misunderstood and misrepresented. This is usually because the word trauma is associated with violence.
The fact is that this is not necessarily true. Trauma can come in many forms and is determined by either the intensity of the threat or the weakness and vulnerability of the defense.
It is well recognized that children are particularly vulnerable, not necessarily because they are weak but because of their inherent limited understanding.
This lack of capacity to understand often means that they are vulnerable to situations that an adult would easily deal with.
Often the wounds we suffer in childhood are often still with us in adulthood and leads to a condition of learned helplessness. Learned helplessness creates dysfunction and leads to emotional confusion and stunted creativity.
It is characterized by self sabotage and is frustrating and can lead to depression and despair.
The normal journey of a human being is that we grow from childhood to full adulthood and as we grow we mature physically, mentally and emotionally. This maturing process enables us to live with creative power, but if we do not mature emotionally then we are living in the emotional reactions of a frightened child.
This is the condition that constitutes learned helplessness and recovery from it requires that you heal the residual wounds of the original trauma.
Much therapy in this area attempts to overcome the condition by trying to understand what caused the original trauma. There is much evidence to show that this approach is often less than successful. The problem is that the ego defenses of the frightened child are so powerful that letting go of them is very frightening. What must be remembered is that these defenses are there for one very important reason; they have worked, at least to the satisfaction of the child.
Human beings are programmed to repeat what works best. This is a part of our evolutionary journey. Re-programming the ego takes time and lots of trust. Trusting in a new way quickly is very challenging to many people whose trust has been undermined during the original trauma.
All 12 Step recovery programmes are of the ‘educational variety’. What needs to be educated is the damaged ego. All healing is really a release from the past and this enables us to live with freedom in the present without the excess baggage of past hurts weighing us down.
Trauma is any experience that interferes with a child’s sense of security and if this sense of insecurity is carried into adulthood, it leads to much emotional suffering. Many people living in this condition believe that their suffering is coming from their environment, but it is in fact coming from within themselves because of their outdated instinctive response to their environment.
An honest inventory of their instinctive responses will show the reality of their predicament and gives them the much needed power to change. This is the basis of spiritual or emotional recovery.
In short, the adult with the childhood responses needs to learn how to respond in a more adult like fashion. This will immediately lessen the psychic pain and allow recovery to take place.
The problem with the childhood responses is that they once worked very well according to the limited understanding of the frightened child, but now that you have grown to adulthood these responses have become a liability and rather than solve the problem of the trauma they now prolong it. They are both the cause of the problem and the consequence of it.
This vicious circle must be broken in order for real change and progress to be made. Trusting in this process and taking action will lead to a fundamental personality change, which will of itself, lead to a more satisfying and fulfilled life.