Sunday, March 13, 2011

Trauma Bonds

"Trauma bonds can be disrupted when healthy bonds are available." ~Patrick J. Carnes 

Why People Stay in Relationships with Angry People 

by Lynne Namka

"Trauma bonds, according to Patrick Carnes, psychologist and authority in sexual addiction, are those ties that keep people attracted to people that hurt them. Trauma bonds cause people to obsess about the other 's problem and do not look at how unhealthy their own life is. Carnes says you may be caught in a betrayal bond if:
  • You stay in dangerous relationships, attract friends or a partner who use you or hurt you.
  • You have to keep secrets or cover up your partner's anger, abuse or addictions
  • You feel that you have to make your partner understand how you are and he or she does not care about your feelings.
  • If people who are truly your friends are worried about your situation but you      are not, you are in denial.
  • Your partner expects you to isolate from others, meet every demand, read his or her mind and always give him or her what is expected.
  • The two of you have destructive fights where behavior deteriorates to hurting each other with words or actions instead of trying to solve the problem.
  • You are supporting someone who is financially irresponsible.
  • You have given up your sense of self to meet the needs of someone who is selfish and uses you. 
  • You long for someone from a past relationship that was unhealthy for you.

Being around violence can cause symptoms similar to PTSD in partners and children. Emotional angry outbursts can create confusion, helplessness, insomnia, anxiety, and stomachaches and other physical symptoms in those who are present. If you stay in an abusive relationship, you or the children WILL be affected mentally and physically.

What you may have viewed as love may be obsess ional, addictive behavior. Psychological pain is the result of trying to ignore and deny the process of growth and not coming to grips with the underlying unresolved childhood issues. Depression and anxiety can indicate that you are stuck in belief systems and a lifestyle that is not right for you. If you have blocked and repressed your true self, then you will experience pain. Blocked love and identity loss always turns to suffering. In blocking the love to yourself, you must block the healthy type of love with others."

A Test of Traumatic Bonding Theory
by Donald G. Dutton & Susan Painter
(PDF research article)
“Dutton and Painter (1981) have elaborated a theory of "traumatic bonding," whereby powerful emotional attachments are seen to develop from two specific features of abusive relationships: power imbalances and intermittent good-bad treatment. …Dutton and Painter (1981) cited animal experiments and human case studies, which demonstrated that attachment could be strengthened when such alternating good-bad treatment was applied. For example, people taken hostage have been found subsequently to show positive regard for their captors (Bettleheim, 1943; Strentz, 1979), abused children have been found to have strong attachments to their abusing parents (e.g., Kempe & Kempe, 1978), and former cult members are frequently loyal to malevolent cult leaders (Conway & Seigelman, 1978)….”

“...Traumatic bonding also has implications for therapists working with battered women. Explicitly explaining the phenomenon to the woman allows her to know what to expect throughout the process, and to avoid inferring from the detachment difficulties any special relationship features with the batterer. The increase in "undertow" back to the batterer with time from separation will be accompanied by an increase in positive memories of him, and a tendency to diminish memories of the severity of the battering. Providing consistent reminders of the factual aspects of the violence can help offset memory changes associated with delayed increases in the traumatically formed bond.”

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By Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.

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The Betrayal Bond: 

Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships
by Patrick J.  Carnes
Book Excerpt: “The abuse literature is filled with examples of ongoing abuse followed by profound loyalty extending years and decades. There are two interesting characteristics to remember about trauma bonds: they can be formed almost instantaneously, but they can last forever…trauma bonds can happen to anyone.”
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Susan Anderson
“…If your partner mistreats you in all kinds of emotional or physical ways, you run the risk of getting deeply hooked in. You’d think it would work the other way – that if your partner made you feel secure, safe, and comfortable, you’d have a hard time leaving.  But the irony is that many people feel freer to leave someone who has made them feel secure.  Ever hear “nice guys finish last?” 
But if [women] are made to feel chronically insecure, heart-sick, anxious, or hurt, they can get caught up in the drama of the abuse and locked into the dynamics of the relationship– especially if every once in a while, their partner gives them a little crumb of love --  intermittent reinforcement. 
If you are in a traumatic bond, you not only suffer from your partner’s criticism, blame, betrayal, unreliability, or neglect, but you suffer from beating yourself up for allowing it to happen. You feel guilty for not being able to leave.  Your friends may get fed up with you for being so stuck.  Even your therapist loses patience.  You feel judged.  You feel weak.  You feel ashamed of ..”

by Liane Leedom
"The only technical point that I took issue with regarding this book was the assertion that “Betrayal Bonds” are different qualitatively from other human bonds. I think that these bonds form for many of the same reasons and with the same neurochemistry as healthy bonds. The important point is that FEAR STRENGTHENS BONDING. Fear bonding can occur in a normal couple following a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane. The unconscious often does not recognize that an abusive partner is the source of fear, so bonds can be intentionally strengthened by a sociopathic abuser."

Traumatic Bonding in Kidnap Victims and Battered Women

By Katherine van Wormer
"To summarize, the seemingly irrational attachment of battered women to their abusers can perhaps be better understood by studying the behavior of persons in kidnapping and other captive situations. The feeling that one has no control is key to behavior that may appear unduly submissive and strangely loyal. The impulse to survive combined with physical dependence upon the captor (batterer) is associated with deep emotions. Vulnerability, in short, is the issue here, not gender. Deeply disturbing and violent events can leave an indelible mark on the human psyche. When the trauma is ongoing and caused by a partner, the likelihood that the victim will cope in maladaptive ways may be especially high."