Abuse is defined as the cruel and violent treatment of a person or an animal. Abuse results in trauma. Trauma, is a type of damage that occurs, as a result of an extremely distressing event. In order to understand the effects of abuse, one must understand trauma.
A mental disorder, is a behavioural or mental pattern, that causes significant distress, or impairment of functioning. Examples of mental disorders are; personality disorders like borderline personality, mood disorders like bipolar, and a wide variety of other things.
The cause of these mental disorders varies, and has resulted in a branch of psychology called abnormal psychology. People have studied these disorders for centuries, trying to figure out why they occur, and how to cure them.
We know more now, than we did a hundred years ago.
However, progress in this field has been very slow. And consensus on how to cure these illnesses, has been hard to reach.
Some disorders, are a response to trauma.
For example, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD, develops when people fail to recover from a traumatic event. People with PTSD, experience flashbacks of the trauma, have trouble sleeping, they develop negative feeling and beliefs, and they become hyper-aroused.
PTSD, is a side-effect of abuse.
However, not everyone who’s abused, has the luxury of experiencing it once. Some people are raised in abusive environments. Some people live in abusive homes, and they date abusive people.
What happens when the abuse is chronic?
The effects of Chronic trauma, may result in symptoms that appear similar to other mental disorders.
PTSD, is caused by a single traumatic event. However, when trauma is chronic, its effects are pervasive, harder to detect and difficult to cure.
Recently, psychologists started studying the effects of chronic trauma. What they discovered was that, the effects of chronic trauma are pervasive. They hijack our personality, and they result in dysfunction in all areas of a person’s life.
Furthermore, the symptoms a person experiences, may result in a misdiagnoses.
The symptoms of chronic trauma are similar to PTSD. However, they aren’t linked to a single event.
Sufferers of chronic trauma, tend to develop negative feelings and beliefs. However, these feelings wont be a response to a single traumatic event. Because, the trauma they experience is repetitive. This could be misdiagnosed as clinical depression.
A few researchers believe that, most of the personality disorders listed in the DSM, are not disorders, but responses to chronic trauma. Due to how medical health professionals view mental illnesses, as problems within a human being, our attempts to cure them have been futile.
We treat symptoms and not the cause. We prescribe medicine and therapy.
Then, we send people back, to experience more trauma.