The Micro Behaviors Of A Trauma Bond

Understanding and recognizing a relationship bonded by trauma.

Annie Tanasugarn, PhD
Mar 27 · 9 min read
idooley/Unsplash

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.” — Carl Jung

Most of us have probably all heard the words, Trauma Bond. If you’re lucky, you’ve never experienced its mindfuck and heartfuck.

The more the cycle of rewarding activity plays out, the stronger the addiction.

This is why traumatic bonds are said to be like kicking a bad habit. Only, in this case, the habit is not external to us; it’s based on our neurotransmitters, our hormones and our emotions.

Historical Backdrop

Dutton and Painter (1981) are the theorists who initially coined “traumatic bonding” which is formed from two specific dynamics within a relationship: an imbalance of power and intermittent reinforcement. This theory is counterintuitive to earlier theories on attachment such as Bowlby’s, which argues that attachment bonds are strengthened through consistency and positive reinforcement.

Unmet Needs

When relationships are healthy, we’ve likely already done damage control regarding our own unmet needs, are aware of where our needs may be lacking and are doing the legwork to empower ourselves. Ideally, this legwork happens before we even embark on a relationship, so that anything our partner offers complements us; it’s not about completing us.

The Subtle Signs

Now that the major signs and historical backdrop have been introduced, I want to explain some of the subtle warning signs and red flags of a trauma bond. However, just because some of these signs may trigger your radar to start going into overdrive, it doesn’t necessarily mean you and your partner are trauma bonded.

Hello, Love

Love changes us. Love makes us human.

Annie Tanasugarn, PhD

Written by

Psychologist. Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Certified Trauma & Addictions Specialist. Specializes in BPD, cPTSD & emotional/behavioral addiction.

Hello, Love

Love changes us. Love makes us human.

Annie Tanasugarn, PhD

Written by

Psychologist. Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Certified Trauma & Addictions Specialist. Specializes in BPD, cPTSD & emotional/behavioral addiction.

Hello, Love

Love changes us. Love makes us human.

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