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Trauma and the compulsion to repeat: Here’s what you need to know


When we have trauma and traumatic experiences that haunt us for a long period of time, we often feel the compulsion of repeat trauma. It may come as a strategic response to the memories of traumatic experiences and the urge to repeat it as the only way of responding to it. “Developed during moments of extreme stress or danger, these patterns served as essential survival strategies, allowing individuals to navigate their trauma in the only way they knew how. As adults, recognising that these once adaptive behaviors are no longer beneficial represents a significant step towards healing. It’s crucial to emphasize that this realization and the journey to break free from these patterns should not be seen as an indictment of one’s character but rather as a testament to their resilience and strength,” wrote Therapist Andrea Evgeniou.

This refers to the strategic response of trauma survivors to reenact the traumatic experiences through their behaviours and relationships. (Unsplash)

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Re-enact: This refers to the strategic response of trauma survivors to re-enact the traumatic experiences through their behaviours and relationships.

Mirror their past: This behavioural pattern is a way of mirroring their past traumas and experiences, even though the trauma survivors may not be sure of their role in such repetitions.

Gain control: This often is an attempt to gain control over the original traumatic experience. Through replay and re-enactment, the survivor often tries to change the outcome or the emotions from the experiences.

Comforting: Contrary to what we believe, often reenactment of past trauma can be comforting for the survivor on some levels. That’s because they are able to predict the outcome of such situations, rather than going for healthier new experiences where they are uncertain of the end result.

Euphoria: Such re-enactment of past trauma can boost the release of neurochemicals such as Adrenaline and Dopamine. This creates a temporary feeling of euphoria or stress high that can make a person feel better.



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