Continuing with the fascinating topic of trauma bond, here is my take on it in the context of how it manifests in the backdrop of our daily life.
To recap, trauma bond, aka Stockholm Syndrome, occurs when we feel so tied to someone or something that we are unable to leave, despite the hurt it causes. It’s like an addiction.
The distinctive feature of a trauma bond is the kind-cruel cycle. On one hand something gives us comfort and on another, it causes hurt.
The Larger Scope.
The world is full of temptations, charlatans and salesman trying to feed you junk and negative thoughts, sell you gadgets, and pull you away from what’s important to you. They all compete for a sliver of your precious attention.
These people and messages to which we are exposed daily, can be actually damaging to our brain. According to MD J. Douglas Bremner, traumatic stress has negative effects on the brain. Repeated stress and trauma trigger and bolster the amygdala (responsible for aggressive or flight/flight reaction) while impairing the seat of memory in our brain — the hippocampus — and lowering the output of our neocortex.
Here is how television, advertising and even too much social media, could be subconsciously tripping you up and keeping you stuck — acting as an intentional break to your healing and personal empowerment.
What the media feeds us is not normal. It is a subnormal reality with a specific goal. What’s the agenda of the media? To control your thinking and behavior by evoking in you an array of emotions, mostly primal negative ones, like fear and insecurity. This softens up your defenses and makes you highly influenceable, as in trance induction, to the suggestions coming from the tube.
Everytime we impose our will on another, it is a n act of violence. — Gandhi
You might be surprised to hear this, but trauma bond does occur when we expose ourselves to the media. Scandals, scenes that raise our blood pressure and shock us, followed by snippets of amusement or segments showing happy people, such as in medication commercials, can be as addictive as cigarettes. They work in the subconscious domain. Content creators know this and cycle material in such way to take you on an emotional rollercoaster.
When I was studying mass media in college, one of the things I learned early on was: ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ So the more blood and gore, the more conflict and pain, the hotter the news. What this means is that the information that gets the most exposure comprises only a slice of reality.
Tech leaders of our world know this and impose strict rules in their homes to protect the developing brains of their children from the harmful exposure. Evan Williams, a founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, would not let his two sons have an iPad. Instead, he built a book library for them. Game designers of the highly addicitive War of Warcraft refuse to let their kids play it.
TV is trash. My kids don’t watch it. — Madonna
Attention, attachment, willpower, focus… Those are the things we trade when we give our precious hours to the television. The very creators of the apps, games and gadgets that keep us hooked, know the dangers of letting your mind go down the rabbit hole. Check out the 2.5 minute trailer below on why ditching television might be one of the healthiest moves you’ll make.
Another source of trauma bonding occurs in advertising. Some of it is obvious, but a deeper layer of of mind manupulation escapes most people’s awareness. The noise, the clammering, the straight sale… we see it and accept it for what it is. Some mute it out. But the subtle shift that takes place in our mind when our eye catches the image of a stunning model in a designer outfit or a handsome guy in a Bugatti is much more subtle and insidious. It douses our pleasure centers only to leave us feeling shitty.
The desire to possess what we don’t have, and to be who we are not creates inner dissonance and can even trigger toxic shame. It is an ingrained mechanism that typically gets encoded in our psyche early on by repeated acts of punishment when we didn’t match the parent’s expectations of us. Such punishment could range from subtle critique to an all out physical assault. And because it was repeated over and over, it got so deeply implanted, that even when the abuser is no longer present, we can still feel the echo of those old emotions. It’s a from of CPTSD. Our bodies flood with a chemical brew made of dopamine (the ‘more’ chemical) and cortisol (the stress chemical) robbing us off our peace and making us feel inadequate.
From billboards and adverts to their company website, my research shows that emotions such as shame and guilt can be used to create a favourable response from consumers. — DaHee Han, MarketingTech
Shame, guilt, fear, insecurity…you name it. The only thing that can override the negative emotion is buying the product. And that is precisely the point.
Unless you are aware, limit your exposure and know your inherent value.
The effects on our brain by the media and ads are similar to what happends after too much social media exposure. Those portals comprise another form of subreality. Of course people want to share their best memories. And it is fine if you approach the feed with awareness and caution. But when such data is gobbled up mindlessly, it can predispose us to feeling crappy about our average, grey existence.
According to an article on Psychology Today, for people who are struggling with low self-esteem, Facebook can magnify their anxiety. Psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh released a study confirming that too much time on Facebook, while seemingly connecting us, can actually make is feel more lonely and isolated. Here again, we see the clear dichotomy between benefit and harm, comfort and distress.
We’re witnessing narcissistic abuse being played on a global scale in the political arena. It is no longer people against people. It is entire nations and religions fighting against each other. It’s ideas against ideas.
War is the most extreme form of narcissistic abuse.
Unfortunately, we live in times where enough personality disordered people have reached the upper echelons of power. Government, business, finance, religion are not inherently negative. But in the wrong hands they can become tools of oppression.
This is where again, we are on the rollercoaster of fear and appeasement. Terror and safety. Through a repeated exposure to carefully crafted messages, we get entrained to the thinking that trading our freedoms for a vague sense of security that always seems below par is just part of life.
Never let a serious crisis go to waste. — Rahm Emanuel
True safety and peace can never result from conflict. Conflict begets conflict and only peace begets peace.
What to do?
The more you are aware of the mechanisms trying to pull you into a trauma bond, the freer you’ll become. It’s best to remove yourself from as many sources of emotional and mental manipulation as you can. Turn off the television. Sharpen your intuition. If it feels bad to you, it’s because it is bad for you. It will be much more beneficial for you in the long run to use your precious time on self-care and self-advancement. This is it. Be the master of your destiny.
I hope this post was helpful to you and look forward to meeting you in the comments. Your 👏🏻 are the rocket fuel that inspires me to keep up this work.
Feel free to share this article and spread the love.
If you are suffering from the shock of being subjected to narcissistic abuse, have a look into my FREE three-step SOS program available on my website.