Trauma Reenactment

Recovery From Trauma Reenactment Cycles

Traumatic experiences can negatively affect your mental health in a variety of ways. These negative effects often resolve not long after your trauma exposure.

However, they may also linger for long periods of time. If this happens, you may find yourself trapped in unhealthy behaviors that harm your ability to function. One such possible behavior is something called traumatic reenactment. 

If you are affected by traumatic reenactment, you may end up recreating your traumatic experiences in your current life. In turn, you may end up damaging your relationships or even yourself.

Fortunately, with help from specialists who understand your situation, you can break the cycle of traumatic reenactment. In turn, you can make major strides toward regaining your sense of well-being.

What Is Trauma Reenactment

What Is Trauma Reenactment

The term trauma reenactment describes a recreation and reliving of a past traumatic event. This reenactment may only happen once.

However, it often occurs repeatedly over time. It can also take a wide range of forms. Possible examples include:

  • Being abused as a child and then getting involved with abusive partners as an adult
  • Having a history of childhood abuse and then abusing someone else as an adult

Other forms of reenactment may also occur. For example, you may react with extreme fear to anything that reminds you of a past event. That can be true even if the event itself poses no realistic threat.

If you were neglected, you may react to minor misunderstandings  or rejections with extreme anger as an adult.

You may also be so fearful of abandonment that you develop a suffocating or controlling relationship style. 

Trauma Reenactment and Relationships

Trauma reenactment in relationships is common for affected people. Those relationships may be intimate in nature. However, you may also reenact past trauma in non-intimate relationships. 

The Trauma Reenactment Triangle

Mental health experts sometimes use the concept of the trauma reenactment triangle. This concept states that survivors of trauma may take one of three roles within a relationship. These roles are:

  • Victim
  • Perpetrator 
  • Rescuer

The victim role typically leads to feelings such as helplessness, weakness, hopelessness and self-blame. A perpetrator may feel a sense of control, mastery and freedom to act without respect for boundaries.

Rescuers tend to feel like saviors or caretakers. They may also feel guilt for their perceived effect on other people’s behavior. 

The roles of victim, perpetrator and rescuer are not fixed. People affected by trauma may play any of them, sometimes within short spans of time.

In addition, they may perceive others as playing any of the three roles at various times. 

Breaking the Cycle of Trauma

Breaking the Cycle of Trauma

Unaddressed trauma can ultimately contribute to the development of mental illness. The most common illness of this type is posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. You may also develop other trauma-related conditions.

In addition, you may develop something called dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis occurs when you have two simultaneous mental health issues:

  • PTSD or some other diagnosable mental illness
  • Additional problems caused by drug or alcohol abuse or addiction

You may also hear this overlap of conditions referred to as co-occurring disorders. Trauma and co-occurring disorders are not rare. Every year, millions of Americans suffer from either or both of these mental health concerns. 

Breaking the cycle of trauma is not easy. To have any chance at doing so, you may need professional help. This help often takes the form of psychotherapy. You may also benefit from other forms of treatment.

Therapy Methods for Trauma Survivors

Therapy methods for trauma survivors affected by traumatic reenactment must be carefully considered. Many times, affected people have no idea that they are reenacting anything. Only in therapy do they gradually come to understand what is happening. 

Once you are aware that you are reenacting a trauma, you can begin to learn why this is occurring. Together, you and your therapist will explore your past experiences.

Over time, this process can help you connect your current reactions to specific incidents or events. You therapist can then help you begin to undo your harmful reactions. You also learn how to create healthy alternatives to those reactions. 

Treatment for PTSD and Dual Diagnosis

Treatment for PTSD and Dual Diagnosis

If your trauma reenactment occurs in connection with PTSD, you will need treatment for this disorder. Therapy also forms the backbone of this treatment.

Today, many of the available options are forms of something called CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy. In CBT, you:

  • Increase your knowledge of the underlying nature of your trauma reactions
  • Learn how to recognize when those reactions are affecting you
  • Develop new ways of reacting that help you escape the effects of trauma

Specific CBT-based methods of achieving these goals include:

  • Prolonged exposure therapy
  • Cognitive processing therapy
  • Stress inoculation therapy

Other forms of therapy may also help you. That includes such options as psychodynamic therapy, supportive therapy and interpersonal therapy.

Medications used to treat PTSD may include sedatives, anti-anxiety meds or antidepressants. 

Treatment for dual diagnosis tends to be even more extensive. This is true because trauma and co-occurring disorders typically produce more problems than trauma alone.

To recover, you need more than just treatment for your trauma-related symptoms. In addition, you need appropriate substance treatment. 

Modern treatments for trauma, PTSD and dual diagnosis are evidence-based. This means that they have backing from the results of well-designed scientific studies. No one treatment proves useful for everyone.

Still, many people do benefit from any given treatment. 

These facts impact your trauma recovery in a couple of important ways. First, it may take time to find the right treatment(s) for you.

In addition, your treatment will need to be customized. In other words, it must fit your specific needs. Effective programs take both of these factors into account.

Learn More About Recovery From Trauma Reenactment Cycles at Emerald Isle

Need more information on recovery from trauma reenactment cycles? The specialists at Emerald Isle can help. No matter your question, we can provide answers that further your understanding.

Emerald Isle also features treatment for trauma-related conditions. That includes treatment for PTSD and dual diagnosis. Contact us today for details on our available services.