Trauma is an evolving subject that has been gaining a lot of attention in the field of psychotherapy in recent decades. It was a concept first touched on by Freud in the late 1800s in an attempt to better understand what he originally referred to as “hysteria.” Now we are starting to understand it in a variety of ways: PTSD, abuse, assault, neglect, witness to domestic or community violence, etc. This short article by Robert Stolorow, Ph.D expands on the idea that emotional trauma is the feeling that stems from our limitations as human beings as we struggle day in, day out to come to terms with our mortality while having to constantly be creating ourselves through choices and tribulations.
“Especially vexing for many people is the limitedness of our ability to know the outcomes of our decision-making in advance. Being troubled about this limitation can be particular acute for someone who grew up feeling alone and unprotected in childhood situations of emotional trauma and who turned to his or her own mental activity as the only source of protectedness and safety.”
Wrestling with our limitations as human beings is also a very shame based concept that only catalyzes these emotionally traumatizing feelings within us. Therefore, shame and trauma are two phenomenon that interact only to deepen very painful feelings that many, if not all, have to simply learn to be with. It is the resistance to these limitations that only instigates our shame, traumas, and anxieties.