I thought I might talk to you about this little thing I’ve been working on with regards to my new book. I am writing a new book called “The Trouble With Trauma”. I’m doing a lot of writing in my head no yet getting it actually down on paper, but what’s interesting is that I’ve been formulating and working through the premise of the book, which ultimately is around what is ‘trauma’ and why trauma is such a big problem for all of us.
In essence, our primary emotional need as human beings is for ‘connection’ – me to you and you to everybody around you. The connection is what we all need it as human beings, in fact, it’s absolutely essential to our survival.
The basis of trauma is, in essence, a disconnection. So why do we have traumatic events in our lives? It is because we have a disconnect. My primary explanation for why all of this comes together, why trauma is so important to understand, is because of our very first experience of a trauma, the first that we actually recall and remember and we can make an attribution and blame ourselves for, is usually from when you are about four years old. Your first experience is actually an abandonment and our first experience of it is before we start primary school.
How do I know that it’s at four? Well, as human beings we have a really interesting experience from when we are born. When you are born your primary emotional needs are met by your primary caregiver, so your Mm or whoever was looked after you as a baby. Your needs are always met, you’re fed, you’re clothed, you’ve got a roof over your head. Then at around the 18-month mark, when the kids start to say ‘No!’, they are starting to learn about language and what’s important, and they notice the reaction that they get when they say ‘No!’ but then at around 2 we develop ‘desire’ – very different to ‘need’ – so what’s the big deal about desire?
The importance of desire is that as a two-year-old, I’m throwing a tantrum and it’s because instead of having a need for food that I want met, I’ve suddenly now got a desire for something else, but I don’t have language so I can’t communicate that desire to my Mum just in my brain. Yet, I think that my primary caregiver knows exactly what I’m thinking because everything up until that point the mother intuitively ‘knows’ what the child needs. When ‘need’ changes to ‘desire’, I’m looking to my parent to give me what I want and I don’t necessarily get it!
Now, there is a range of reasons why I don’t get it, but why do I throw tantrums? It’s because I don’t have a language to communicate what I desire, and I’m usually not getting what it is that I want, so in frustration, I throw a tantrum!
From there, we kind of get on with it. As we develop more language, we get more awareness, but we still think that our parent can understand what’s going on in our head. In fact, we think that all of the adults around us can read our minds!
What I really love is that moment when we know that children get full individuation. Children will usually be able to look in the mirror and say their name, like maybe at age one or two. They can point in the mirror and say “Kerry” (in my case) they know that’s the name that they give that baby or that person that they see in the mirror. However, there’s an argument that says they don’t actually realise that that baby is themselves, that they understand that they are an individual because at that point, they still see themselves as an extension of the parent… Until age four.
At four, they work out that they can know things, or that little voice inside their head knows things, that their parent doesn’t know. When they’ve reached that point of true individuation, that’s the point when you recognise that they actually know that they are an individual and that what they think inside their head, their parent cannot know unless they express it. You know that it happens because a four-year-old will come to you and say “I’ve got a secret!” They are truly and individual from this point on, and with individuation comes responsibility.
What’s funny is, soon after that they learn to tell lies. Why is that important? Because from that point you understand that the things that happen to you, happen because you impact them. So, what do we know about children up until about the age of 10 or 12? They have concrete thinking… Good things happen to you because you are good and bad things because you are bad – simple as that, black and white!
You may be aware of when it happened to you at four. You will have had a moment after you recognised that you were an individual, where you felt an abandonment or a disconnection from your primary caregivers. At this point, you reasoned to yourself that it was your fault. Why is that important? Because this is the child part that, later on, you will tap back into when you are feeling rejected.
I’ll explain that in the coming few videos as I’m going to have to make this into a series to fully explain the overall concept. It becomes six parts 😀