Experiencing developmental trauma can have a devastating effect on someone’s life, impacting the way they interact with others, view themselves and the world, and meet their needs. Developmental trauma occurs during early development, when the individual is exposed to life-altering events, such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment. These events can cause a person to become disconnected from their needs and may impact their ability to effectively meet them.
The effects of developmental trauma begin early on in life, during the stages of infancy and childhood, when the individual is still forming basic ideas and beliefs about the world and themselves. These events often cause feelings of powerlessness, instability, and insecurity, which can have long-lasting impacts on the individual’s well-being. During developmental trauma, the individual is unable to process the emotions associated with their experiences and may therefore disconnect from their needs.
When we are disconnected from our needs, we may struggle to recognize and meet them, leading to further difficulties. We may find it difficult to understand our own thoughts and feelings and consequently lack the tools needed to satisfy our needs. As a result, we may turn to activities that may temporarily provide a sense of comfort, such as drug and alcohol use, self-harm, or risky behavior. Alternatively, we may simply ignore our needs in an attempt to avoid feelings of discomfort and vulnerability.
Developmental trauma can also impact cognitive functioning, thus making it difficult for us to process potential solutions to meet our needs. We may find it hard to problem-solve and make decisions, weighing our choices or create plans for the future. This can lead to feelings of a lack of direction, helplessness and slow emotional and mental healing.
Likewise, we may be highly reactive in our approach to meeting our needs, finding ourselves acting without thought in a bid to get our needs met, or to maintain emotional or physical safety. We may forgo long-term solutions in favour of instant gratification, ignoring our needs in the moment, only to find ourselves facing similar problems in the future.
The good news is that it is possible to reconnect with our needs and to develop the capacity to meet them. Working with a qualified therapist can give us the opportunity to identify and talk about our needs, to learn alternate ways to meet them effectively, and to process and make sense of the trauma we have experienced. Additionally, getting to know ourselves better, including exploring what we like and dislike, can help increase our sense of self and equip us with the necessary tools to address our needs.
In summary, experiencing developmental trauma can most certainly cause someone to disconnect from their needs. Recovery from this type of trauma is possible and can be achieved by engaging with a qualified therapist and getting to know ourselves better. By doing so, we can learn effective ways to address our needs, enabling us to lead a meaningful and satisfying life.