Just because someone was as abused as a child, it doesn’t mean that they will realise this now that they are an adult. This can primarily be the result of the defences that their mind has in place.
To handle what took place during their early years, so that their life didn’t come to an end, their mind would have utilised a number of different defence mechanisms. This would have been something that took place automatically.
A Few Examples
There would have been repression, with this allowing them to push their pain out of their awareness. Another one would have been idealisation, which would have caused them to develop an inaccurate view of their caregiver/s.
This view wouldn’t have had anything to do with reality, but it would have stopped them from facing up the fact that their caregiver/s was anything but loving. Due to how dependent they were, it would have been too distressing for them to accept this.
Still, although a lot of what they went through can be hidden from their conscious mind, what is held in their unconscious mind is still going to seep through. What is taking place in this part of their being will affect how they feel, their thoughts, how they behave, and who they are drawn to.
The outcome of this is that one can have a miserable existence but they won’t be able to work out why their life is the way that it is. They could believe that they were born this way or that there is just something inherently wrong with them.
Through having this outlook, they could end up being put on medication or just trying to change their thoughts via CBT. This approach may work or it might not, but what it won’t do is allow them to develop self-knowledge and to get to the root of what is going on.
Also, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to resolve the emotional pain and trauma that is held in their body by changing their thoughts and behaviour. What this approach is likely to do is to simply push down how they feel, with it coming up later on or manifesting into a physical problem further down the line.
A Different Route
If, on the other hand, they were to end up having therapy, they would soon come to see that their early years were anything but nurturing. They may find that they experienced different kinds of abuse.
There may have been physical, verbal, emotional and even sexual. Part of this process can involve them talking to their caregivers/s about what took place, that’s if they are still on this earth.
The Next Step
If they are not, there will be a number of other ways for them to say what they need to say and to work through their inner wounds. But, even if their caregiver/s is still alive, it doesn’t mean that they will get very far.
After mustering up the courage to talk about what they went through, they may find that it falls on deaf ears. As far as their caregiver/s is concerned, what they talk about could be seen as having no basis in reality.
At this point, one could find it hard to understand what is going on; they might even doubt their own experiences and feelings. This could even end up being a time when this person ends abusing them all over again.
What they went through as a child will have pushed them to the limit and the same person/people won’t be able to acknowledge what took place all those years ago, causing them great pain in the process. Now, while their behaviour will seem strange, it could be said that it is not much of a surprise.
The reason for this is that one of the reasons why they were abused during their early would have most likely been due to the fact that their caregiver/s lacked the ability to repair their shame. As a result of their inability to handle their own shame, they would have been out touch with their own shame and projected it into others.
This would have taken place by seeing other people as bad and treating them like dirt. The other part of not being able to own their own shame is that it would have caused them to be shameless, meaning that they would have lacked the ability to take responsibility for anything.
A Deeply Wounded Human Being
If their caregiver/s was diagnosed, they would in all probability be labelled as having a narcissistic personality disorder. Through having an inability to repair their own shame, someone like is able to act in ways that are inhumane.
The false-self - the inflated self - that they have created plays a big part in what allows them to keep their own shame at a bay. The other part of this is to continually dump it onto others.
At the beginning of their life, they probably also have at least one caregiver that also lacked the ability to repair their own shame. In other words, their caregiver could have also had a narcissistic personality disorder.
The ability to repair shame is said to be something that is developed around five years old, providing they receive the right care. This takes place if a child is not continually shamed and when they do experience something that causes them to experience shame, a caregiver is typically at hand to soothe them – making it clear why they shouted at them (they might have been about to do something that would harm them) and that they are still loved, for instance.
Destined To Happen
Taking all this into account, if their caregiver/s lacked the ability to repair their own shame all those years ago, with this being one of the reasons why they were abusive, why would they be any different now? In order for them to acknowledge what took place, they would have to show remorse and this would require them to experience shame.
They will still have weak, if not nonexistent, connection to their shame and this will prevent them form be able to act like a normal human being. Trying to get someone like this to acknowledge what took place, to apologise and to display empathy and compassion, will be like trying to get blood out of stone.
So, if someone can relate to this, they will need to find another way to receive the validation that they need. This is something that can take place with the assistance of a therapist or healer, for instance.
By doing this, they will gradually let go of the need for their caregiver/s to validate what they went through. It is important that one focuses on the fact that they didn’t deserve to be treated badly and what they went through wasn’t their fault.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.