16. Reactions to Trauma


Basic Operating System

The four infant behavioural responses identified as a means of seeking the parent's care and attention in the 'Still Face' video were the Fake Cough, Self Comforting, a Loss of Control and Withdrawal. These behaviours develop in varying degrees as we grow and can become Sicknesses, Addictions or Co-dependency, Violence and Isolation. We learn to respond in unhealthy ways, hoping for some response or relief from the pain of not connecting in healthy ways. This generally creates a negative mindset which reinforces our feeling bad.


"Hope deferred makes the heart sick." Perhaps that is why many people raised in dysfunctional homes have faced despair and depression at some time in their lives. In a dysfunctional home, a person with an addiction problem NUMBS his or her feelings with a chemical or behaviour, and the Co-dependent spouse DENIES their feelings. As a result, the child learns to SUPPRESS NORMAL EMOTIONS and denies the need to be comforted by anyone.


The child begins a life that is based on a feeling that nothing can be done, of hopelessness and powerlessness. The child learns the unwritten rules of the dysfunctional family: Don't talk! Don't trust! Don't feel! Don't think! However, many of these children will grow up to be over-achievers and appear quite successful in the early years of their lives; yet, they will struggle with feelings of low self-worth and have difficulty in relationships. They very often find it hard to believe that anyone could love them.


They attempt to seek approval by frantically serving their parents, family or community; only to experience "burn out" because they give too much of themselves away. Some will not survive well. They will become addictive or develop some other form of compulsive or rebellious behaviour.

Food For Thought


What new knowledge did you gain from this lesson?


Now that you know this, how could it be applied?