Could Childhood Trauma Affect Adult Relationships?

JUNE 11, 2012 BY RUTH BUCZYNSKI 8 COMMENTS
Romance can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, but for many people it can also be quite a challenge.
Beyond the normal hurdles of developing and sustaining relationships, recent research suggests that childhood abuse and neglect might make people more vulnerable to troubled romantic relationships in adulthood.
Professor Golan Shahar and Dana Lassri, of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel (BGU), conducted two studies with college students to see how early-life trauma and emotional abuse affect romantic relationships later in life.

Participants were asked to complete the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire to determine whether or not the participants had a history of Childhood Emotional Maltreatment (CEM).
Then, participants responded to questionnaires about both the quality of and their satisfaction with their current romantic relationship.
The researchers found a link between childhood emotional abuse and self-criticism, and a further link between childhood maltreatment, self-criticism, and dissatisfaction in romantic relationships.
Participants with a history of CEM tended to have low self-esteem and many also exhibited PTSD symptoms.
While many practitioners have already seen first-hand how unresolved childhood trauma can impact relationships throughout life, the key here is self-criticism.
It seems from this study that there’s a strong tendency to self-criticize in many people who’ve experienced CEM, and this is what leads to problems in intimate relationships.
This new connection between childhood trauma, self-criticism, and relationship problems may be a key factor in helping couples heal their relationship.
Please remember that because this is a non-randomized study with correlative findings, we have to be careful about the conclusions that we draw from it.
For the full story, you can check out the March issue of the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology.
For practitioners, learning how to help trauma survivors connect with their loved ones is an important part of the healing process.
That’s why we created the Trauma Therapy Webinar Series – to share the wisdom of experts like Sue Johnson, EdD author of Hold Me Tight and Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors.
This week, Sue will explain how we can use intimate relationships to treat trauma, the unique challenges and opportunities of couple therapy – and why the best place to heal from trauma could be in the arms of someone you love.
It’s free to listen to the webinar at the time of broadcast – here’s the link to sign up.
Have you ever met a patient whose trauma affected their romantic life? Please leave a comment below – we would love to hear what you think.

How to Deal with a Narcissist by Judith Orloff, MD

This is an article written by Judith Orloff, MD which is from a part of her book, “Emotional Freedom”.  This article is from Huffington Post.  I think it is a very helpful writing in dealing with the dynamics of narcissism…..particularly for those of us recovering codependents who sometimes seem to attract this personality type.

As a psychiatrist, I strongly believe that it is important to know about the narcissistic personality so you can have realistic expectations when dealing with coworkers, friends or family members who may have some of these qualities.

In “Emotional Freedom” I describe how to recognize a narcissist. Here are some ways: Their motto is “Me first!” Everything’s all about them. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement, crave admiration and attention. A legend in their own mind, the world is reflected in their image. They’ll corner you at a party, recount their life saga. Some narcissists are unlikable, flagrant egotists. Others can be charming, intelligent, caring — that is, until their guru-status is threatened. When you stop stroking their ego or beg to disagree, they can turn on you and become punishing. Once you catch onto this pattern, a narcissist seems about as charming as a banana peel.

These people are so dangerous because they lack empathy, have a limited capacity for unconditional love. Sadly, their hearts either haven’t developed or have been shut down due to early psychic trauma, such as being raised by narcissistic parents, a crippling handicap both emotionally and spiritually. The damage of narcissistic parenting is outstandingly detailed in Alice Miller’s “Drama of the Gifted Child.” Hard as it may be to comprehend, these people have little insight into their actions, nor do they regret them. Though often highly intuitive, they mainly use intuition for self-interest and manipulation. As the Hassidic proverb cautions, “There is no room for God in him that is full of himself.”

To find out if you’re dealing with a narcissist, ask yourself the following questions from “Emotional Freedom.”

QUIZ: Am I in a Relationship With a Narcissist?

  • Does the person act as if life revolves around him?
  • Do I have to compliment him to get his attention or approval?
  • Does the person constantly steer the conversation back to him or herself?
  • Does he or she downplay my feelings or interests?
  • If I disagree, does he or she become cold or withholding?

If you answer “yes” to one or two questions, it’s likely you’re dealing with a narcissist. Responding “yes” to three or more questions suggests that a narcissist is violating your emotional freedom.

Narcissists are hard nuts to crack. With these patients, the best I can do is align with their positive aspects and focus on behaviors that they agree aren’t working. Still, even if one wants to change, progress is limited, with meager gains. My professional advice: Don’t fall in love with a narcissist or entertain illusions they’re capable of the give and take necessary for intimacy. In such relationships you’ll always be emotionally alone to some degree. If you have a withholding narcissist spouse, beware of trying to win the nurturing you never got from your parents; it’s not going to happen. Also, don’t expect to have your sensitivity honored. These people sour love with all the hoops you must jump through to please them.

If a narcissist is draining you emotionally, use these methods to get your power back.

Lower Your Expectations and Strategize Your Needs

  • Keep your expectations realistic.
    Enjoy their good qualities, but understand they’re emotionally limited, even if they’re sophisticated in other ways. Accepting this, you won’t continue asking something of friends, family, or coworkers they can’t give. Consider this definition of insanity: when you repeat the same actions but expect a different response.
  • Never make your self-worth dependent on them.
    Don’t get caught in the trap of always trying to please a narcissist. Also protect your sensitivity. Refrain from confiding your deepest feelings to someone who won’t cherish them.
  • Show how something will be to their benefit.
  • To successfully communicate with narcissists, frame things this way. Stating your needs clearly rarely works, nor does getting angry, or demanding. Alternatively, speak to what means something to them. Instead of saying to your spouse, “I’d really enjoy going to a family dinner,” reframe it as, “Everyone really likes you. They’d be delighted to have you there.” Or instead of saying to your employer, “I’d prefer to work fewer nights,” say, “I can bring in more revenue for your company during these hours.” Naturally, it’s better not to have to contend with the tedious ego-stroking of a narcissist. But if the relationship is unavoidable, use this technique to achieve your desired outcome.
  • The video is here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-orloff-md/how-to-deal-with-a-narcis_b_676193.html
  • Give What It Is You Want to Get

    Give what it is you want to get.  Sometimes when we hear that statement, our inner rebel stands with arms folded across our chest and says, “No, I should get it first!  And then I will give it.”   Or perhaps this response:  “If I give it, I expect you to reciprocate immediately or I will be angry!”  Or even….”If I give it and you don’t, I will never give it again!”

    These interactions are some of the games we play in the field of relationships.  The playing comes from the duality of thinking I am separate from you.  The truth is that when we give to each other we are giving to ourselves as well.

    For example, perhaps I would like more space to be myself in a particular relationship .   Perhaps I feel that you don’t hear me.  I want more experience of being heard.  I keep focusing on YOU hearing ME and acknowledging ME.   I notice every time you don’t listen to me.  I get wrapped up in my needing you to be a certain way.  I am controlling the process but I don’t even realize it because I am thinking I am right and you just need to listen to me and you will get it right.  I am so determined for you to hear me that I have forgotten about you.

    Am I giving what I want to get?  How do I hear you?  Am I listening openly and with acceptance?………even if I don’t like what I am hearing?  Is my heart open to you and to your process or am I hell-bent on being heard? What happens if I open the space with my attention to hearing you, accepting you?  When I move into sharing the space, I am amazed.  Something is different.  I am hearing you……it seems strangely like the first time.  I hear your struggles, your hopes and dreams.  There is clearly a change in energy.  I hear you clearly because I have moved out of my contracted self and into the space that connects us.  My heart embraces you as I listen to you.

    Unbelieveably, I am not thinking of myself.  I see you not as the controller of my space but another soul working its process.  I practice this giving what I want to get…….over and over.  I am curiously addicted to this new way of thinking and behaving.  I become aware of how much I have missed in sharing your process of becoming.  I see you blossom in my acceptance of you.  And I see you opening to me in a deeply interested way.  You are asking me questions and listening to my answers.  I feel your presence in our shared space.  I am amazed that I have forgotten the beautiful grace of giving.  I want to live there always.

    The world looks different to us today…….it expanded in ways we didn’t know before.  The sun rises on a dark place of the past and we smile in a new understanding of connection with one another.   We got it today…….as long as we keep giving.

    2010andreaavaristevens

    The Universal Family

    Evolving maturity…….is that what we are?  A flicker of a light growing in intensity over the many lives, many moments of learning our lessons of being love.  The tiny speck of luminescence that draws to it the potential of teachings that when commitment and courage are present, slowly or spontaneously grow until it transforms and explodes  into blinding light.

    Are we evolving through and past our families of origin and growing into the awareness of Home?…..the birthplace of our Universal Family.  As we heal our wounded selves and begin to recognize the peacefulness in our hearts as that for which we have been searching all our lives, we see that all people and things are our Family.  We move past the need to have others fulfill us.  We have learned to be the nurturer and protector of ourselves.  We revel in the joy of connection; now we no longer carry expectations for others to make us whole.  We are whole.  We have integrated the mother/father aspects of our teachers into our hearts.  And for that process we have deep gratitude.

    We may ask ourselves…….in this moment who is our Higher Power…where are we focusing our attention…….is it still other people, conditions, and things?  If the answer moves beyond our earthly teachers, we no longer project our beliefs and demands about our parents onto God (or whatever concept works….).  God will not abandon us, God will not judge us as lacking.  God is trust.  God is free to be.   God is walking among us; God is resting quietly as the rock on the shore, flying high as the eagle riding the thermals, working the cash register at the nearby grocery store; loving in friends next door and far across the world, lying deep inside the greediest corporation, pulsing at the core of corrupt political systems, always present, always available to be known, never needing to be.

    We are like the lighthouse on the shore…….continually cleaning our windows so that our light may shine through……allowing us to join  with the myriad of other diamond lights shining brightly……exponentially increasing our power of transformation.   We are family.

    ©2010AndreaAvari Stevens

    “You Can’t Always Get What You Want………”

    “You Can’t Always Get What You Want……..

    But if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.”  The Rolling Stones had it right all these many years ago.  With all the chatter about The Law of Attraction………some  people are feeling frustrated…..especially in this economy.  They are setting intentions for what they want and are expecting to see the results of manifestation.  Some people feel impatient, some feel like they didn’t do it right.  Some people are just plain confused about the process and others tend to give up.

    ‘The Secret’ encourages us to put up pictures of the car or house that we want.  We keep looking at the pictures envisioning ourselves driving that beautiful car or in the counting house counting all our money.  But like attracts like.  If our belief systems support old ideas that we really can’t do it or we really aren’t good enough to receive it then we have a problem.  Our conflicted energy in the present moment will not support the dynamic of manifestation.

    Or just, maybe, our soul energy capacity of self-awareness is not interested in the experience of having a new car right now.  We decide that we want what we want and it doesn’t appear.  What is up with that?  When we trust in our Inner Essence or our Higher Consciousness or whatever we call it………..we trust that what we need in order to grow is what we get.

    Have you ever thought that you really really wanted a certain job?  You thought it was perfect for you and you dreamed about it and knew you would be happy there.  You rocked the interview and just waited for your phone to ring with the good news.  But your phone didn’t ring….. someone else got the call.  It wasn’t you.  And you grieved and maybe whined just a little bit to your friends.  Or maybe it was a relationship that didn’t manifest, or a move that didn’t work out, or a house deal that fell through. More

    When Like Attracts Like: being your own e-harmony

    Would you want to date yourself?  Are ‘you’ the One?  Or are you still out there looking for someone else to make your life whole?  These questions are important because your mindset determines what you will attract.     Like attracts like; wounded attracts wounded; whole attracts whole.

    Relationships can light up our lives like the blinding rays of the sun.  And relationships can also be the bane of our existence.   It is a choice we make.  We all want to feel connected and accepted for who we are.  We can feel that connection with another when we have it first with ourselves.  We have to do our soul work in learning to love ourselves.  The problem is that we keep looking outside ourselves for that connection first.  We want a ‘perfect’ match, resonating chemistry, energetic harmony with another.  We powder, work out, diet, comb our hair and practice our smiles so that when a likely victim approaches we are ready to cast the bait. More

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