Childhood Trauma Splitting

Childhood Trauma Splitting is a trauma response that offers a refuge for a person to handle difficult and overwhelming feelings derived from a traumatic event, that often involves family members. Trauma splitting, also known as Structural Dissociation or fragmentation, occurs when the “Self” divides into distinct sections, each with its own identity, feelings, and behavior. This often results in internal conflicts and severe dissociative symptoms that increase a sense of vulnerability, lack of control, and the inability to self-recognition.

While the symptoms may begin at a young age, childhood trauma survivors will experience the consequences of this coping mechanism as young adults, and later on in adulthood when there’s a lack of professional advice on the matter.

Symptoms like migraines and frequent stomachaches are common in such cases where self-awareness is lacking regarding the impact of traumatic events in daily life. While everything may seem a normal part of your life, childhood trauma and splitting may be affecting you in such a way that’s almost unperceivable for you.

Experiencing a full and healthy life begins from the inside, from properly managing painful emotions, and caring for our mental health. Understanding what we’re dealing with is the first step to avoiding self-harm and developmental trauma disorders.

What is Trauma Splitting?

Trauma splitting occurs as a reaction to unbearable feelings most likely resulting from traumatic experiences. Splitting, allows a person to face overwhelming situations or emotions by creating an alternate character within themselves.

Trauma splitting and dissociation translate to developing a different personality and character, one that presents itself in specific situations. It is not surprising that this leads to internal conflict that alters a deep sense of self.

The false self: The price of self-alienation

While splitting can be an effective process that allows trauma survivors to continue to function effectively while facing continuously stressful events, in the long run, it can be harmful if it’s not dealt with correctly. These intense feelings and distorted perceptions are symptomatic of fragmentation.

People tend to confuse the deep feelings and recollections of their severe trauma as something external to them, something that may even happen “to someone else”. People must recognize all of the real sides of their persona as part of their own to avoid impairment in day-to-day life.

Understanding Childhood Trauma Splitting

Most relationships in life begin in our first years of living. Increasing data on childhood attachment patterns have influenced how humans process knowledge throughout their lives. A child whose attachment is secure can learn from the earliest on to know not only that he can trust others but also how he feels inside himself. As adults, when trouble arises, a child trusts his own ability to regulate his state. In many of these situations, there is an imbalance in the child’s attachment patterns.

Childhood trauma splitting is a psychological mechanism that enables a child to tolerate challenging emotions when facing abuse or trauma such as domestic violence. It is most common among highly sensitive persons. Traumatic splitting or structural disassociation signifies dividing ourselves into different personalities, feelings, and behavior.

By doing this, our feelings and characters become entirely distinct at different moments or situations. Since sensitive people react strongly to complex trauma splitting, it can cause an underlying relapse and provoke confusing symptoms that translate into harmful and “unusual” child behavior. Our childhood experiences impact deeply how we evolve and develop, what can be useful when dealing with complex situations as children, may translate into dysfunctional and mental health issues later on.

How does childhood trauma cause a split?

Considering that the brain is not fully developed until the age of 12 when children experience or are exposed to trauma, their left and right hemispheres cease the usual exchange of information. This allows for a part of the mind to focus on daily tasks, while the other one enters into survival mode. In turn, emotions may be experienced, but not fully recognized as part of the Self by a child.

Like any circuit breaker of any electrical system, the split has been built into your body and nervous system for protection. When a child is unable to physically remove themselves from the traumatic situation, this mechanism causes children to split. The left brain simply ignores what the right brain has processed emotionally.

Unfortunately, when we dissociate our psychically induced damage from ourselves and others, we can’t escape from ourselves. In some cases, traumatic shock or traumatic stress disorders affect sensitive and complex psychological processes. Symptoms include structural dissociation a term commonly used in psychology.

Childhood Complex Trauma Splitting

Below we list some symptoms of complex traumas. The symptoms may not always be apparent or only occur if your personality takes over. Selective memory loss – Whether you are unable to remember parts of your memory or may understand what happened intellectually.

Emotional numbness may translate into being unresponsive and unable to communicate with others. You learned to move beyond your body and see life events passing without “being” in your body. You might understand what happens to yourself, but have to believe they belong to another person. All of these increase the difficulty of processing and moving on from the splitting event you had.

Splitting Symptoms

While splitting can manifest in various ways, the following are the most common symptoms to look out for:

  • Intense conflicts between trauma-related perceptions and impulses versus here-and-now assessments of danger.
  • Experiencing paradoxical symptoms, such as the desire to be kind and compassionate toward others, on one hand, and intense rage or even impulses to violence, on the other.
  • Somatic symptoms, such as unusual pain sensitivity or uncharacteristically high pain tolerance, eye blinking or drooping, stress-related headaches, etc.
  • “Regressive” behavior, such as body language that seems more typical of a young child than an adult of their chronological age
  • “Regressive” thinking, such as black/white thinking, words or style of expression more typical of a child than an adult (using shorter sentences, expressing themes related to separation and caring), feeling empathic failed when not well understood.
  • Patterns of indecision or self-sabotage manifest in frequent changes in job, career, or relationship, and a history of success in life alternating with self-sabotage.
  • Inexplicable failure, and difficulties in daily life choices like what to wear or eat
  • Memory symptoms that manifest in memory gaps and “time loss”
  • Patterns of self-destructive and addictive behavior activated by fight and flight-driven parts.

Childhood Trauma Splitting & Emotional Effects

In child trauma splits or structural dissociation, you have to avoid traumatic memories. The symptoms from trauma become worse as the brain relates to the trauma. Elements in implicit memories like sound, people, or other words, places can accentuate the splitting. Your already sensitive systems may be overwhelmed.

While it is commonly referred to as an invisible trauma, splitting can provoke some very real disorders and manifest into emotional pain that impedes an individual from developing correctly. Mental health affections are the most common way this pain will manifest.

Coping with Complex Trauma and Splitting

Even though your healthy brain understands, childhood trauma splitting or dissociations don’t do much to help you feel uncertain about changes. Your fear of stability has waned. Even when dissociation leads you to an isolated place, it is what you know, and you feel safe.

Normal parts help you to stop hunger, fatigue & other hunger problems. For some minutes your body feels strong and you feel capable to tackle anything. You may have gotten more career successes or convenience but your soul needs assistance. You are a human, not a robot, and not a machine.

Dealing with the consequences of splitting is especially difficult if you are a highly sensitive person. You’re probably dealing with a complex PTSD manifestation that you haven’t recognized.

Hyper-sensibility and splitting

The splitting composes of two main situations, the assessment, and the reaction. Having a split may cause you to evaluate a situation incorrectly. When you look around your environment with different lenses you are at risk of revealing an incorrect picture. The combat part can be hyper-vigilant and does not search for safety signals.

The attachment part sees the friendly smile and calm words, and no warning signals. Mindful interest instead of attachment helps identify the lens through which one looks. You ensure that your emotions are never overwhelmed and are free of reaction to be a part of any moment. This leads to an intense splitting experience.

Trauma Treatment and Solutions

Recognizing the trauma, in general, can be very useful, even if it does not activate the details. Memory recounting details triggers memory connections, dysregulated the neurological system, and may result in recurrence. These are important steps to moving towards a healing path.

Is there any medical treatment for trauma?

While medical professionals that can help you unpack childhood trauma and splitting are essential to overcoming this disorder, currently there is no medical treatment specifically for aiding splitting. There are medical solutions to some of the symptoms like anxiety or depression, but the core solution will most likely come from therapeutic and self-care practices.

Working with a therapist specializing in trauma may be incredibly successful to heal your inner child and make peace with the emotional turmoil you’ve probably been suppressing.

Why therapy hasn’t worked for you

In its early years, our mind is undergoing a delta-theta brainwave, frozen memories can be created here and prevent you from moving forward. Every moment is preserved at the child’s thinking level before anybody can think or speak sensibly. This becomes troublesome if memory is negative since the original painful condition is kept in the brain in its original form.

Emotions are commonly repressed for so long it’s difficult to make them surface and handle them professionally. Leaving therapy will certainly help, it just means patience is required to succeed.

Dealing with Childhood Trauma Splitting Symptoms

It might be challenging to maintain peace and present when trauma-related components are reflected in emergency and survival reactions. If you can dispute your subjective beliefs that your symptoms suggest a current threat that might reveal your shortcomings, then examine these reactions more closely, noting that they constitute communication between components.

You create a new reaction and a capacity for self-regulation and a safe space at the moment if you become interested but more alert to triggers.

Some exercises that may help

When working towards healing our inner child, we must take into consideration all that it entails and do it in such a way that it does not overwhelm us or takes us further into our trauma. There are many recommended ways to deal with this, and here are some of our favorites:

  • Seek comfort in knowing you did the best you could at the moment. Writing down and reminding yourself that what you’ve endured allowed you to survive will guide you towards inner peace
  • Incorporate grounding rituals into your everyday life, such as meditation and deep breaths to help you focus on the present moment.
  • Practice reframing your thoughts and the way you react to things by journaling and incorporating positive statements into your daily activities.
  • Join a community of something that you enjoy to find additional support in your life. It doesn’t have to be a trauma community, it can be an online group, an athletic team, or taking a class on something you like.

Conclusion

Those things that shock our minds, leave us overwhelmed, or freeze us, might lead us on a lifelong psychological or physiological journey through traumatization and death.

Experienced trauma affects us individually, and collectively, which is why it is so crucial to have a support system in place before diving into the healing process.

Reach out to us

Find a supportive community in Mindful Prism and connect with others. You can even contact us directly to share your experience and tell your story. You never know who it may help.