There are many theories related to development. One view is that mental disorders often begin in the formative years. It posits that early intervention is needed to overcome the psychological wounds. If what one suffers is recognized as a trauma it can significantly affect the brain or even alter it. If it is checked during the formative stage when the brain is still developing, there is hope of recovery.
The respondents of my research paper who felt trapped in one or more stages of development as presented by Erik Erikson often used the words circular, freeze, fear, womb, tomb, confusion and addiction. They suffered from childhood traumas such as sexual and physical abuse, rejection and abandonment of one or both parents. They experienced separation from family and fending for oneself at a young age.
It is apparent that having experienced trauma at a tender age, a child or adolescent does not have all the faculties needed to take on the world, let alone handle himself. A traumatized child is like a chair whose legs have been cut off. A traumatized child has been crippled and therefore cannot hop on to the next stage.
What made it even more difficult for him is that he could not process the traumatizing event; he could not make sense of it. And although the event happened at early adulthood when he had the intellectual capacity to understand what led to it, he might not have the emotional maturity to accept it.
The other thing that could work against a victim of trauma is that if it happened at childhood or adolescence, his brain, which is still developing, could be affected if not damaged by the stressful and prolonged event. In fact, some psychologists hold that developmental disabilities – caused by a mental or physical impairment or both that occur before age 22 – cannot be cured; they are considered lifelong and chronic.
We may insist that many will recover from any kind of trauma with acceptance, love, patience, therapy and even miracles, if we are deeply spiritual. We may believe that one’s wholeness is an ongoing process. We may rationalize that diagnosing personality disorders is difficult because we all exhibit some disorders in varying degrees and at various times.
I gravitate towards determinism, an objective view of causes, not a distortion of reality, no matter how positive, as what critics of the Post-Traumatic Growth model point out, leading to self-deceptive, self-protective, ego-enhancing process.
A determinist does not assign blame or credit. He does not look for great mystical purposes or meaning in the trauma. The causes of many events are so complex and remote that the event could not have been anticipated or prevented.
In determinism, one simply sees the natural unfolding of the laws of nature or behavior, and the best we can do is to find out the causes of events leading to the trauma.
This can alter our perception of things and encourage us to realistically assess the event without anger or bitterness. Only then can we have the clarity of mind and stability of emotion to find solutions to our problems.