Childhood trauma negatively affects the development of the brain, at times when it is most vulnerable. Unfortunately, cases of traumatic experiences in childhood are far more common than reported, ranging from emotional, neglect, physical, sexual abuse, and sudden loss of a parent.
Early life maltreatment is the main risk factor for development of psychological and behavioral problems in adulthood. Post-traumatic stress disorder, aggressive behavior, depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidality have been reported in individuals who were exposed to childhood maltreatment.
In addition, traumatic childhood contributes to increased drug use and dependence. Drug-taking behavior begins much earlier in those who have experienced childhood trauma. Exposure to such traumatic and stressful events in childhood can increase the influence of stressful events through life. Add unemployment or divorce to childhood maltreatment and someone can be much more likely to develop addiction or a psychological disorder.
EYC Editor’s addition: There is also recent evidence that emotional trauma and neglect can lead to greatly depressed brain development, reducing brain size and changing its structure as well as creating atrophy in certain areas.
In addition to contributing to the development of mental disorders of all kinds, childhood trauma is also known to cause problems like victimhood thinking and passive-aggressiveness.
1. Victimhood Thinking
You might have been victimized as child, but you don’t have to remain victim as an adult. Even in situations where you think that you are left without any choice, you always have one! You had little control over your life and your environment when you were a child, but you are an adult now and you are capable of changing the situation.
When a child grows in a household where there are only unhealthy expressions of anger, they end up believing that anger is acceptable. If you have witnessed anger and violence, you might want to suppress it, believing that it a violent emotion. If you grew up in family that suppressed anger, you suppress it as well.
If you were abandoned or neglected as a child, you have probably buried your fear and anger hoping that no one will ever neglect you again. But, you eventually end up abandoning yourself! You hold yourself back, you don’t live up to your potential, and you end up passive.
4. The False Self
As children, we all want our parents to love us. When they don’t, we do our best to become the child we think they will love. Burying feelings causes us to create a false-self, the person we show to the world.
Given that our emotions are crucial part of us, burying them causes us to lose touch with who we really are. We end up terrified that if we let our mask drop, we will not be loved, accepted or cared for anymore.