Trauma introduction I
Dr. Ero Langlotz, Newsletter February 2021
Translation: Anne Verena Groß
For over 40 years I have worked as a psychiatrist and therapist with people who are traumatized. The more I have learned to understand the connections between trauma and the disorders that result from it, the more respect I have for people who are challenged by such a fate. Most of them experienced emotional abandonment and excessive demands at a very early age, often combined with emotional and physical violence. That was the reality of their childhood. They were left very alone and very overwhelmed. It was impossible for them to develop a “healthy” sense of self-esteem.
BUT THEY SURVIVED!
They have survived because they have internalized the reality of their childhood: excessive demands, abandonment, violence, as the base of their self-image. That means they have a tendency to overwhelm themselves and neglect their own needs or suppress them with violence. And very often they stick to this survival strategy although they themselves and the environment they are in have changed in the meantime.
So they unconsciously hold on to all these stressful experiences until here and now as if they were part their identity. We call this a trauma introject, or a stressor, a source of lifelong stress.
However, the trauma and the associated feelings of faint, fear of death, loss of control and pain are unbearable. Therefor they have learned to suppress them – to secede. But they are not “gone”.
External, apparently “unimportant” circumstances can “trigger” the trauma again and again. For those affected, this being flooded by feelings of trauma that they can no longer control themselves is very painful and humiliating. Since they usually cannot see the connection with their own trauma, they blame the person who unconsciously triggered it. It is extremely hurtful for the others. This dynamic often destroys relationships.
In this unhealthy dynamic of repressing and seceding those affected have also move to a “higher level”. That means they have withdrawn from suffering and pain by having learned to suppress the connection to their body, to their feelings, by going on a rational or spiritual level, sometimes also into a fantasy world. Often this includes a tendency towards control and perfectionism, as well as the idea that they are responsible for the fate of their families.
These are aspects of overestimating oneself and overstraining oneself, which one could describe as “illusory greatness of the self”. Since those affected have to repeatedly experience that they cannot achieve their inflated goals, they then feel guilty, worthless or as a failure. They tend to think of themselves as wrong and therefore devalue and judge themselves. This connection between the illusory greatness of the self and self-devaluation creates a “fragile sense of self-esteem”.
This phenomenon is related to the internal secession: they are identified with a false self with megalomania – instead of their true selves, which they and others have devalued. This inner secession is insurmountable for those affected, it is like a trap that they cannot find their way out on their own.
In this way they identify more with their own and other people’s traumas instead of their own true self.
Your innate power, which could mainly serve to recognize what is I-alien and to remove it from your own space, is blocked by holding on to something that is alien to you. So those affected feel paralyzed and powerless, or they direct this force against themselves (depression, self-reproaches, fears, illnesses) or destructively against others.
A mined labyrinth
These descriptions make it clear: those affected are in a labyrinth from which they can no longer find their way out, especially since the way out is additionally prevented by mines (trauma).