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The Building Blocks of Trauma

Image source: startsleeping.org


M E N T A L  H E A L T H


Saam Hasan

You lay comfortably in your bed, phone in hand and a nice refreshing drink by your side. Some final rounds of scrolling and then you’ll turn off the lights for a well-deserved night’s sleep. However, just as you do, you’re overcome with a bad memory from your past. It wasn’t the worst thing you have ever done, and to many, it may have even seemed trivial. But for you, it is borderline unbearable. You want to scream, you want to claw, anything to make this cursed memory go away…

The above described situation will most likely come across as bizarre and exaggerated to a lot of people. Many will even agree that it is indicative of a mental disorder, but they will probably attribute it to something along the lines of psychosis and the like. Truth is, this strange little thing described above is simple day-to-day reality for many sufferers of childhood trauma. And even for those who are fortunate enough to not suffer from such episodes, much of their mental health issues can still be traced back to abuse encountered during early ears.

There is a good reason why childhood and teenage are referred to as the formative years. It is during this period an individual is likely to form the various perceptions and inclinations that make up their matured thought process. Granted a person can always learn and change based on experiences, but the psychological clay set in place during these younger years is not easily malleable. In many cases, it may well be practically impossible to alter. And this becomes especially important when it comes to undesirable experiences and abuse.

Perhaps the best example of this in our culture is educational pressure. The common parental practice within our communities is to use negative reinforcement and fear as a tactic of choice when trying to compel children to study. While there are a plethora of severe issues that this style of parenting brings up in the short term, it’s the long term consequences that truly underline the deplorable nature of such practices. Many individuals who grow into adults with severe confidence issues and work anxiety, cite the aforementioned fear that was instilled into them during childhood as the root cause. It is not very difficult to see why either. After all, the mental elements that we retain for significant portions of our formative years, very often go on to become permanent components of our thinking. And if said elements involve a constant fear of failing exams or obtaining underwhelming grades or anything to do with underperforming at a competitive task, then that is the exact psychological makeup with which the person approaches their adult responsibilities as well.

And unfortunately, academic stress impairing long term confidence is only the tip of the iceberg. Because while threatening a child into studying leaves long lasting marks that make it difficult for them to function at their best, violence and other forms of abuse that are not tied to a child’s abilities can absolutely cripple their mental health.

Whether it is in the form of regular beatings or verbal lashings or anything that creates an atmosphere where a child has to constantly be scared of impending consequences, these things can ensure said child is rarely able to feel unhindered and at ease. Over time, this has every chance of translating into a sustained psychological state. Even if not directly, then it almost certainly can leave the person more predisposed to developing depression, because of environmental factors later on in life that they may have been able to navigate, had their psyche not been subjected to consistent abusive treatment for years on end.

That flashback keeping the person awake at night, those memories preventing an individual from performing to their fullest during the proposal presentation, the harsh words and abuse that have convinced the person they are not good enough — all of these could have been prevented. It all could have been prevented if only certain people would have chosen to be kinder to the very ones they were meant to be protecting and sheltering.

 


Whether it’s pop culture, fiction or politics, writing is Saam’s ultimate passion and reprieve. 

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