“Even in it’s darkest passages, the heart is unconquerable. It is important that the body survives, but it is more meaningful that the human spirit prevails”Dave Pelzer
TraumaMany mental health issues may arise from our attachment relationships with others and the disharmony that is experienced as a result of fractured, broken or abusive relationships. (Bessel Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score)Our survival as infants is dependant on our primary caregivers. We form attachments with our caregivers that teach us a sense of safety and when our primary caregivers are responsive and attuned to our needs as infants, we learn we are worthy of care. These early experiences of ‘attunement' and ‘relational safety’ shape our experience of the world, our relationships with others and are fundamental in the way in which we develop. When we are provided consistent, predictable care in our early years, we are able to trust and feel safe in the world, form an authentic sense of self and later, meet our own needs in adult life. Complex trauma occurs in the presence of an attachment relationship that is unsafe and unpredictable. When a primary caregiver is unresponsive, mis-attuned to, or responds to our needs by causing harm, the external world becomes a frightening and unsafe place. A child will learn to adapt him or herself to the environment they are raised in and as they are dependant on their caregivers for survival, they will form an attachment regardless of the care they receive. In a world where there is no sense of ‘agency’ a child must learn to survive and adapt in the overwhelming face of fear and adversity.When an individual comes into contact with trauma, unconscious survival systems are activated that enable us to either move away from or defend against threat. These ‘autonomic’ responses involve a complex system of neural networks, hormones and the nervous system, that essentially send messages from the brain to the body to take action. When an individual is exposed to an abusive environment and repeated episodes of trauma, the internal systems stay activated or are triggered easily due to ‘overuse’. This can cause damage to the way in which the brain, the body and the immune system develops and functions. If an individual cannot escape repeated trauma, other ways of survival and adaption become necessary, often resulting in strategies that do not ‘fit’ outside of the abusive environment.