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  • Damien Bohler

Trauma Entanglement



A trauma entanglement occurs when your own trauma (attachment) history mingles with anothers' trauma (attachment) history to create an intense mutual projection event.


The entire event is generally based on significant misunderstanding, and yet through the pre-frontal cortex shut down in trigger, and the amagdyala induced implicit memory plastered over the other... such an event tends to lead to high degrees of explosive and relationally damaging altercations.


Projection occurs as both parties have entered a memory. A past event, or entire series of events (that creates a 'condition') has laid down a primitive survival based memory. The energetics of this other triggers that memory forward into the present moment. The person we are relating to ceases to exist as who they are, and instead becomes a symbol to represent the one that hurt us before.


We can tell we are in a mutual projection event by the inability to understand each others world, the need to assert our 'rightness', the heightened intensity within the interaction (side note - sometimes these projection events are romantic and sexual in nature, see the series on polarity and attachment) and the frustration at just not feeling seen or heard.


Knowing that such a phenomena exists - what do we do about it!?

I think our attachment signalling anxiety is able to tell us when such an event is forming.

Attachment anxiety is the underlying state of insecure attachment - whether more on the anxious or avoidant side.


For those on the preoccupied side of insecure attachment it occurs through a narrowing in on the other in some sort of fixation, accompanied by an awkwardness in expressing needs/desires (boundarylessness states) and an increasingly intense desire to be close.


For those on the avoidant side of insecure attachment it occurs through either a desire to get as far away from other as possible (fearful avoidant) or a desire to push the other way (dismissive avoidant), in either case generally there is some sort of revulsion at the increasing feelings of being smothered and focused upon so intensely and awkwardly. Walls of distance/disappearance (fearful avoidant) or walls of anger/disgust (dismissive avoidant) tend to occur in order to keep the imposition away and keep self safe.


Relationship rupture, and potentially complete destruction, is the inevitable result of when a trauma entanglement takes hold.


It seems such an entanglement can happen within relationships at any stage - from first meetings to those we have known for years.


Essentially it is any event in which we find ourselves both triggered.


The answers to resolving these issues lie in developing self-regulation, and eventually co-regulation, and the communication capacities to soothe the inflammation of the amagdyala while supporting the frontal-cortex to come back online.


In many ways these events are potential gifts, for it is when we can metabolise such an event in the moment of it's occurring, or soon after, the alchemical discharge of stress and the resultant relationship repair lays down new neural nets moving us further towards inner and relational security.

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