Early Developmental Trauma (EDT)
I specialise in EDT, as I have never met anyone whose current problems in life did not stem from early trauma. Unfortunately, many people are completely unaware of the true cause of their current issues and thus stay trapped in them, often repeating destructive patterns and ending up hopeless and depressed.
By holding an awareness of EDT as I work with you, my approach allows us to move beyond these wounds in a gentle and safe way.
What is EDT and how does it occur?
Developmental trauma can occur in two ways:
- In an obvious, grievous manner that can be repeated, or which occurs just once, for example, incest, the impact of which is so great that it impedes normal development
- Through an ongoing day-to-day series of more subtle events, which may even be considered ‘normal’, but which serve to disconnect a child from his parents and himself
An example of the day-to-day events, may be where a depressed mother fails to truly ‘be’ with her child. She dresses, washes, feeds him etc, but she is emotionally cut off from herself, and thus cannot connect to him.
Another example, could be a parent consistently ignoring their child’s wants, needs and inner world. I overheard a child in a supermarket say to his mother “I want some crisps”, his mother replied “I don’t like crisps”. The child looking perplexed at first, thinking perhaps that his mother had simply misheard him, repeated “no, I want crisps”. Again, his mother replied “I don’t like them”. This went on and eventually turned into the boy getting upset and angry with his mother.
In this example, the mother replied from her own experience and completely ignored her sons. This doesn’t mean she should have brought the crisps. She could have said “I can hear that you want the crisps, and you might be disappointed if you don’t get them, but I don’t want to buy them for you as they are not very healthy and I care about your health”. Still the boy may not have liked failing to get his crisps, but in this response, his inner world would have been acknowledged and his relationship to himself and his mother maintained.
While this example might seem innocuous, built-up over years, such consistent denial of who we are and our inner world, can be incredibly damaging. Moreover, the subtle nature of these events can make it hard for us to be aware of what’s caused our suffering and thus how to go beyond it.
Whatever the cause of EDT, its effects can be devastating, leaving us cut-off from ourselves and others. Many people who have experienced EDT live with extremely destructive thoughts, attitudes and behaviours, that drive a host of conditions from generalised anxiety, to addiction, or even self-harm and suicide.
Therapy can make a real difference. Though the journey may not always be easy, therapy is extremely effective in healing EDT by enabling a process of bringing our unconscious into awareness, where we can have the choice and control over it, to live a happier life.
Note: I have used the word ‘he’ below to refer to a child, and ‘mother’ to refer to the primary parent. This is just for convenience while writing and I acknowledge that other situations exist.