Because little traumas can add up to big Trauma — and the little t’s are common in adult relationships
By Dr T J Jordan
We have been late to the party when it comes to understanding trauma.
We have known about the psychological effects of devastating events at least since Herodotus recorded them during the battle of Marathon, in 440 bc. At this battle, a case of psychogenic blindness was observed and recorded. But we identified PTSD as a response to trauma only in 1980, after we had coined terms like “shell shock” and “war neurosis” to explain traumatic responses to the overwhelming effects of warfare.
Finally we have begun to understand that our “casualties” often are more psychological than physical — and that much of our accumulated trauma is caused by the small t’s.
Yet, we still struggle with acknowledging the fact that repeated small traumas — like the chronic emotional abuse that happens in relationships — can destroy love and kill self worth.
We are beginning to understand that small t traumas have a devastating and insidious power of their own. In fact, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is usually the product of chronic small t traumas that have spilled over into the big one.
What are the small t’s?
The small t’s can be subjective and can take the form of neglect as well as direct abuse.
Subjective means that a “dig” about a tender point such as body weight will wound some of us more than others, and neglected sexual activity will harm us in accordance with our individual insecurities as lovers. We might encounter these small t’s every day, especially when we live in unhappy circumstances.
The problem we have with small t’s is that we don’t “notice” them — or we talk ourselves into…