People naturally bond or connect with other people. This happens with close acquaintances, family, lovers, co-workers, etc. Fortunately, there are exceptions to whom we create bonds with - otherwise, we'd have much stronger emotional reactions to random people we meet in life. For a genuine bond to take place, we need to have some desire to connect with or gain acceptance from the other person. A bond is different from a connection. Connections happen like courtesy nods or hand shakes. Bonds are deeper, stickier and once established, they can be difficult to shake.
When you think “trauma bond” think of 2 things; cognitive dissonance and the chemical "oxytocin". Cognitive dissonance is the psychological component and it happens inside our heads when we try to carry two opposing beliefs about something (or in this case, someone). Turned inward, cognitive dissonance is felt when our values don't align with our thoughts. It's uncomfortable thinking about murdering someone when you think of yourself as a good person and believe a good person doesn't go around killing people. Cognitive dissonance turned outward happens when one person in your life plays a duel role of being good and bad. Having two opposing belief systems bouncing about causes dissonance. Our brains like things to be explainable and get backed up when someone we're bonded with behaves like the good Dr. Jekyll one day and the horrible Mr. Hyde the next. This is cognitive dissonance and to relieve the pressure, you’ll choose a side...Dr. Jekyll. Why? Because the thought of losing that bond is too painful to bear and with that, you're stuck. The trauma comes into play when we are hurt over and over - and over by the person we're bonded with. Your bonded in trauma.
Next comes the second component and for that, it’s all about chemicals - specifically, oxytocin. This sweet little bugger of a hormone is produced in the hypothalamus IN ORDER TO CONNECT. Let me say that again; as humans we wouldn’t be able to emotionally connect if it weren’t for this lovely chemical and it gets even better - the strength of the bond is correlated to the level of oxytocin produced! A low level of oxytocin release means it's easier to break the bond (and visa versa). And there’s more; turns out this chemical doesn’t care about the difference between healthy vs. unhealthy connection. It’s job is simply - to - connect. This is a bit of a 2-edged sword in that bonding can be extremely pleasant OR it can be extremely traumatic. The latter scenario (trauma) is where the term “trauma bond” is explained.
Here are 7 identifiers of being under the influence of a Trauma Bond.
How does one break the bond? It’s easier said than done because any connection with them only brings more bonding. Oxytocin is going to do its job whether you like it or not and will always be a 2-edged sword. So, if you don’t want to get cut by a reposte, stay out of the weapons reach! If possible, RIP THE BANDAID OFF! ABORT! RUN! JUMP OFF THE TRAIN! FLEE! If that’s not possible, create boundaries that limit your exposure. Less exposure, less chemicals, less bond.
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