Childhood Trauma in Development

I’ve been reading an interesting blog of one practicing psychiatrist and one of his posts talks about childhood trauma and what it means when we apply it to actually treating and dealing with patients’ problems. According to him, a lot of psychoanalysis deals with how what happened in the past influences the current psyche of the person and also that it’s been massively popularised which leads people to form false assumptions about the nature of their problems.

Figuring out what and why happened in the past is not what always makes sense now. What’s important is to figure out why something isn’t working right NOW. Clearing up the past doesn’t change the present.

When I read any of the psychology or development books there’s always something that mentions how this or that problem comes from the childhood, and I briefly close the book and start wondering whether something similar has happened to me and if figuring it out would help me now. Hint: it never does.

When I started writing this post, I was meaning to admit that here I am, a firm believer in the concept of “childhood is the most important time”, thinking whether it was all wrong. However, I see now that this new piece of information doesn’t actually undermine any of my previous beliefs. It just deals with them from the point of view of therapy — treating rather than preventing — instead of completely discarding them.

Now, back to now. We have a person, full of issues stemming either from childhood, or genetics, or previous experiences. To fix some of those issues that pose a threat to this person’s well-being (determined by them or people around them) we need to consider a bunch of other factors, and not only childhood trauma. Perhaps what should be taken into account is how this trauma affected the life of the person and what other things are present in their head at the time. How it manifests itself now and how it can be improved or got rid of. Therapy is about treating what is there now: it’s about dealing with symptoms together with the root cause of the problem. It’s a sphere of medicine, after all.