Naomi Halpern is our brilliant Trauma Specialist, on board Mum’s the Word to give parents and young people an insight into the common responses and behaviours people have during family separation. Naomi has over thirty years’ experience working with complex and developmental trauma and provides consultation and training for mental health professionals, government departments, law firms and the United Nations.
Here is an excerpt from our ‘Survival Responses’ chapter:
ATTACHMENT TO THE PERPETRATOR
Children have two basic survival needs. Firstly, they need to attach to their caregiver(s) for food, shelter, safety, emotional, and mental development. Secondly, children need to withdraw from a threat to protect themselves. The child in an abusive, neglectful, or chaotic family is caught in a double-blind, with two opposing survival needs. Firstly, the child needs to maintain attachment to their caregivers. Secondly, he/she needs to defend him/herself from those same caregivers, who are meant to offer protection. Children have no capacity to defend themselves physically or to protect themselves emotionally or mentally. Invariably, a parent is not abusive all the time. Episodes may come and go, which leaves the child in a constant state of tension, trying to anticipate what they will be faced with when they get home. Will it be ‘good’ mummy or daddy or ‘bad’ mummy or daddy?
To maintain survival the child needs to develop a range of defences. Dissociation of unacceptable feelings and experiences allows the child to maintain attachment and mask deep, inner conflict of both love and hate for the abusive parent(s). This behaviour can set the stage for destructive attachment and relating patterns later in life.
The chapter also discusses:
FIGHT, FLIGHT, FREEZE OR SUBMIT
TRIANGULATION – KARPMAN’S ‘DRAMA’ TRIANGLE
A CHILD CAUGHT BETWEEN PARENTS
STEPPING OFF THE TRIANGLE
NARISSITIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
The Delphi Centre – delphicentre.com.au