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Developmental Trauma / Attachment Trauma

The multiple importance of the primary bond in early development – the necessity of the child’s stable supportive relationship with one (or more) significant caring person, attuned to his/her needs – has been explored and described in detail in psychoanalytic-psychodynamic thought and theory.

At what age does a child “sense” when he/she is traumatized?

Early traumatic experiences, such as the lack of a stable bond, neglect or abuse, are reflected in the primary physical sense of the child, and affect the developing self formation. Modern neuroscience research in the field of developmental psychotraumatology (2) has shown that the traumatic experience is held in the nervous system and the body, affecting the brain development and the natural biorhythms in the nervous system function. Thus, science steps in, with its new research tools, to confirm the old knowledge that human vulnerability starts long before speech and the ability of thought is developed, and that the place, where the traumatic experience leaves its traces, is the body-psyche unity.

“Trauma and attachment relationships we experience at early age, form the psychological, physical and relational models that we will develop throughout our lifetime. The pain caused by early trauma affects decisively the identity formation. The difficulties encountered at this early developmental stage of Connection undermine the natural maturation and smooth development of all the subsequent stages, affecting self-image, self-esteem and ability for healthy relationships. Trauma in this connection phase is the basis of many seemingly unrelated cognitive, emotional and physical problems. ” (3)




“Over the past decades, research on brain and nervous system and their relation to psychology was intensely accelerated. The amount of accessible knowledge during these few years is greater than the amount of such knowledge of all previous centuries. This explosive expansion of knowledge has led to a growing literature on the contribution of neuroscience research to the trauma and Bond / Attachment issue”. Babette Rothshild, author of “The Body Remembers – The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment”.

Laurence Heller Ph.D., Aline Lapierre Psy.D.

Healing Developmental Trauma:
How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image,
and the Capacity for Relationship
North Atlantic Books 2012 (Greek translation in preparation)

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