The Trauma Bond: The Hook of Narcissists, Psychopaths, & Abusers
Answers to the following scenarios can be explained, at least in part, by the trauma bond.
- Why do I feel a connection to someone who is awful to me?
- I see that she lacks morals, boundaries, and stability, yet I feel addicted to her.
- Why does she (he) stay?
The “trauma bond” is a psychological phenomenon that has a complex neurological process behind it.
Having a traumatic bond is an extremely tough spot to find yourself – Feeling connected and self-sacrificing toward a person who is not emotionally safe or healthy can lead to disastrous life consequences. For some, due to this bond, their lives can get destroyed.
In this video, I take a small component of the neurobiology of the trauma bond by focusing on the neuropeptide oxytocin. This is the one of many chemicals in the brain that can cause us to feel content, safe, connected, and relaxed.
I want to go beyond some of the basics with oxytocin and discuss my theory regarding how I think it’s associated with the trauma bond.
Why does brain chemistry matter?
Brain chemistry can lead us to feel connected to someone who is unsafe and a downright unlikable, nasty person. There are certain individuals that create trauma bonds with their partner and loved ones … abusers. People who do not have violating personality disorders do not have extreme behavior and mood ranges.
But that is untrue of abusers, particularly those with pathological narcissism.
They can be kind, funny, and gregarious, however have an extremely dark, cruel, and dangerous side that we would never find within a normal individual. Shifting between these behaviors (kind to you/ cruel to you) is a very inconsistent and unstable way to interact. However, even worse is that this style is very reinforcing and can easily connect others to them. It can lead the most logical person to wonder, “Why can’t I just walk away and forget him?”
If you want a full discussion and review of the trauma bond, please check out this article at Psychology Today after you watch this video.
All my best,
Dr. R. Freeman
© Rhonda Freeman, PhD | Clinical Neuropsychologist