Life After The Trauma Bond

A trauma bond is one of most damaging and challenging things to get past in a humans life. The trauma bond is a result of a abuse, toxic and traumatising experiences initiated by an abuser. The trauma bond is also known as “Stockholm Syndrome”. Its odd because the trauma bond will be present even if you are not in the relationship with that person anymore.

This session really looks at you having worked through the trauma bond, knowing what it was and having worked through the nasty clasp of its horror. The trauma digs deep into our ability to value ourselves, its inbuilt self-doubt that comes as a side affect of having gone through this. We doubt ourselves, we have a small shred of self esteem, we lack confidence and our ability to make the correct judgements and we become scared, scared of success because we believe that we don’t serve it.

So, why do we feel like this? Why are the lasting affects of a trauma bond so severe? What can we do stop this from affecting the whole of our lives?


1. What is a trauma bond

2. How can someone become attached - toxic individuals, narcissists

3. Neurological processes involved in the trauma bond & PTSD

4. How to break free

5. How we change as a result of a trauma bond/ experience of a narcissist in our lives.

1. What is a trauma bond?

Trauma bonds are exactly what they sound like:

Bonds that are formed between people by trauma. And they are strong. Unlike love, bonding is both a biological and emotional process. Bonds don't fade over time. You can't "fall out of bond" the way you can fall out of love. Bonding survives, even when you don't love the person anymore, or even don't like them.

And its painful

These bonds have to be broken in order to move on and heal. It is very difficult to stay away from a person you have bonded with, which is why people stay in abusive relationships even after they know they should leave, and even after they actually want to leave. It's a dirty trick, really. Love is easier to release than a trauma bond, and, an even dirtier trick, the longer a relationship involving a trauma bond goes on, the harder it is to leave.

This is especially true when enmeshment occurs, which is the break down of boundaries between people. Enmeshment is when boundaries are so poor, people cannot tell where they end and the other person begins.

2. How can someone become so attached to toxic individuals & narcissists?

Why are Trauma Bonds So Strong?

Trauma bonds are caused by inconsistency in relationships. Love bombing followed by abuse, followed by more love bombing, for example. That's inconsistency. It keeps people off-kilter and continuously looking for a way to get back the good feelings. This type of Bullshit occurs in relationships with narcissists, with alcoholics and drug addicts, and in abusive relationships in general. People who have grown up in an abusive environment are especially likely to have this type of thing. It may be that along with, or in the place of, the natural bonds that happen between parent and child, abused children develop trauma bonds with parents and as adults, without a trauma bond to their partner, they are unable to feel satisfied by the relationship. It doesn't feel like love without abuse, in other words.

There's no understanding of peace without war.

That's likely why we often see people who have narcissistic parents that then go on to marry a narcissistic person. They've been conditioned that this is how relationships should feel, and this is not just a cognitive thing. It's not just a learned behaviour.

3. Neurological processes involved in the trauma bond & PTSD

How Trauma Can Alter The Brain

Traumatic events can actually alter the structure and function of people’s brains resulting in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When remembering the trauma, often in vivid flashbacks, or reacting to everyday stressors in life, the brain of a person with PTSD actually functions differently, but it can reset itself. This is also the case with trauma bonds.

Although a trauma bond is at the basic level a chemical fusion of hormones such as cortisol and oxytocin, then you experience trauma, your brain’s fear center, the amygdala, sounds the alarm, and your body instinctively responds almost immediately with a sequence of hormonal and physiological changes. Your brain isn’t busy preparing you to think about what’s going on. It’s getting you ready to run or do battle and ceases all non-essential body and mind processes. Your sympathetic nervous system floods the body with stress hormones and according to fMRI studies, parts of the brain shut down.

Ideally, when the immediate threat subsides, the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and calms and restores the body. This process would reduce stress hormones and allow the brain to resume the top-down structure of control. However, some trauma survivors’ brains never fully shift from reactive back to responsive mode. Instead, their brains stay on alert, primed for threat with dysregulated activity.

Neuroanatomical studies have identified changes in brain structures of those with PTSD which can lead to depression, substance abuse, personality and other mental disorders, and health problems.

  • Overstimulated amygdala: The amygdala is responsible for survival-related threat identification, plus tagging memories with emotion. After trauma the amygdala can get caught in a highly alert loop in which it looks for and perceives threat everywhere.

  • Underactive hippocampus: Research has shown that people with PTSD have smaller hippocampi. Because the hippocampus is crucial to storing and retrieving memories and distinguishing between past and present memories, people with PTSD can lose the ability to discriminate between past and present, resulting in flashbacks that seem real.

  • Ventromedial prefrontal cortex shrinkage – Due to this brain region shrinking, the ability to regulate emotions is reduced in people with PTSD. The smaller size results in fear, anxiety, and extreme stress responses when the brain is triggered – even by things not connected to the original trauma.

  • Ineffective variability: With PTSD, the hormones get out of whack and interfere with a body’s ability to regulate itself, and the sympathetic nervous system stays highly activated. For example, tests show cortisol levels to be lower than normal in some studies of patients with PTSD, however, corticotropin-releasing factor in cerebrospinal fluid is increased. This state leads to fatigue of the body and many of its systems, especially the adrenal.

4. Healing The Brain After Trauma

The good news is that the changes in the brain can be reversed. The amygdala can learn to relax again; the hippocampus can resume proper memory consolidation, and the nervous system can heal to flow between the reactive and restorative modes again.

Medications, hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, neuro feed back, cognitive behavioural therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and other brain-related modalities — even virtual reality, ketamine, and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy) — have proven helpful in treating PTSD.

The bottom line is that the mind has to reframe and release the trauma so that the brain can reset itself.

Recovery is a gradual process accomplished over time with successful methods of treatment being as varied as individual trauma survivors. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but evidence suggests that when people commit to a process of exploring and testing treatment options they can, reduce the effects of trauma and even eliminate symptoms of PTSD. Studies show therapies to be most effective when applied during the disorder’s critical first few months.

Here are some methods of Somatic Experiencing Therapy for healing from trauma:

  1. Create a sense of security. – A person must feel secure to be able to stay present with the trauma related sensations within the body.

  2. Gently explore the sensations. – A person learns to tolerate the sensations while staying present.

  3. Become aware of the process of “pendulation”. – This is the fluid rhythm of expansion and contraction of sensations. When a person acknowledges this fluctuation, it doesn’t feel so threatening as they move through the process of resetting the nervous system.

  4. Practice “titration”. – Experience the smallest arousal of the nervous system possible while exploring the sensations and keep decreasing.

  5. Insert corrective experiences. – Replace the old ways of responding – panic and helpless “freeze” mode – with positive and empowering reactions. A person with PTSD still need the fear response but needs to turn it down.

  6. Discharge the residual energy from aroused states physically. – This frees energy for higher level brain functions and life preservation when really needed.

  7. Restore dynamic equilibrium and relaxed alertness. – This is restoring the nervous system back to a state of calm and allowing it to self-regulate again.

  8. Teach the mind and body to be present in the here and now. – Connect with the physical environment and reestablishing the capacity for social engagement and interaction.

5. How we change as a result of a trauma bond/ experience of a narcissist in our lives.

Experiencing a narcissist in our lives causes us great distress and changes our neurological and emotional compass. There is no doubt we are not the same person we were when we entered into a relationship with a narcissist, nor are we the same people as when having narcissists as parents.

Our self esteem, confidence and trust in others is diminished. We tend to believe that we are undeserving and that sometimes this can cause us to be afraid of life and it may seem that our fears are all too overwhelming.


Intrusive thoughts of the event that may occur out of the blue


Visual images of the event

Loss of memory and concentration abilities



Mood swings


Avoidance of activities or places that trigger memories of the event

Social isolation and withdrawal

Lack of interest in previously-enjoyable activities


Easily startled

Tremendous fatigue and exhaustion




Chronic muscle patterns

Sexual dysfunction

Changes in sleeping and eating patterns

Vague complaints of aches and pains throughout the body

Extreme alertness; always on the lookout for warnings of potential danger


Overwhelming fear

Obsessive and compulsive behaviours

Detachment from other people and emotions

Emotional numbing


Guilt – especially if one lived while others perished


Emotional shock





Panic attacks


This can cause to question ourselves our sense of ourselves because we feel instead or unable to make the right decisions for ourselves. We tend to question ourselves too. Sometimes it can be that we try so hard and we always tend to end up questioning and having that inch of doubt because we feel that we are not deserving or not able enough. But these are all past conditionings and the thing is, its not actually true, we are more than that, we are more than that abusive and toxic experience. What were not given, unconditional regard, we can give to ourselves. Our brain’s are malleable, so what I mean is that we can shape them anyway that we want - like plasticine - we can be who we want to be - its called neuro-plasticity. If we allow ourselves to look deep inside ourselves we can be, do and achieve so much more. With being able to cognitively restructure our brains we can do this emotionally too.

It does take determination and will power, but you have such a great option to be able to do this.

#survival #narcissticabuse #emotionalabuse #acceptance #introspection #therapy

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