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Subtle Trauma

subtle trauma

Even the smallest childhood traumas can strongly influence our adult lives. We tend to think of early trauma as violence, sexual abuse, neglect and loss, or as something caused by major catastrophes, crimes or accidents. There are many different levels of overt trauma, but there is also a kind of trauma that is so subtle we barely know it exists.

 

Subtle trauma can come in the form of being ignored as a child, overlooked or overshadowed by a sibling, and from countless situations where basic emotional and psychological needs weren’t met. It often goes unrecognized because the scars are not obvious or we accept it as “the way things are.” However, trauma is something that occurs when normal needs, such as love, acceptance, affection, food on the table, or having a parent around, are not met. These less dramatic events can cause cumulative trauma from repeated exposure.

 

Because we don’t usually see those buried parts of childhood as “traumatic” they come out sideways in adulthood — as eating disorders, addictions, affairs, compulsive gambling and other maladaptive behaviors.

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