Abuse and emotional trauma can “implant” emotional pain into a child where there was no pain before. The child then carries the psychological burden of this emotion for as long as the pain remains within–hidden, repressed, unacknowledged, and therefore unexpressed.
Expression of the pain, however, frees the person from both its burden and the toxicity that it causes in that person.
Time and Toxicity
The longer the pain festers, the more toxic it becomes. The deeper it gets “buried” by layers of subsequent experience and memory, the more difficult it is to access and release. If not dealt with, it simply lies dormant and waits until an experience triggers it and calls it back to the surface, to NOW.
The child may carry this baggage all the way into adulthood, creating a “cycle of abuse” as the abused child, now grown, abuses others when triggered. The child harbors or carries this implanted emotion, just like the abuser did. Also like the abuser, the grown child now implants it into others.
The “cycle of abuse” is simply the harboring and spreading of emotional pain, like one might carry and spread herpes or lice. Negativity is highly contagious, and harm is remarkably easy to inflict on the innocent or the unsuspecting.
If not for the experience of having suffered abuse as a child–and the subsequent years of not releasing the resulting emotional pain–the grown child would not have toxic negativity hidden within…and thus would not tend to abuse others as an adult.
If past emotional pain were not present, there would be no triggers calling it forth NOW. Tragically, the new abuser’s own children tend to trigger the abuser’s emotional pain…by calling forth memories from the abuser’s own childhood, when he (or she) was implanted.
And so the past becomes the present; long-dormant toxic pain comes to the fore; and the cycle is repeated again as the emotional burden is unloaded from one onto another.
5 Ways to Analyze the Spread of Negativity
The emotional implantation that leads to future toxicity (if not released) can be analyzed in at least five ways. Each of these mechanisms may eventually become a repressed and subconscious part of the child’s developing personality:
1) Injected emotion–The abuse injects into the child’s psyche the same type of emotion that the abuser displays during the abuse, like receiving a vaccination that spreads illness.
2) Imprinted experience–The abuse imprints the abusive interaction onto the child’s psyche as a highly emotionally-charged memory, like being held down and branded with a hot iron.
3) Adopted identity–The child identifies him/herself as the “loser” in the abusive interaction and the abuser as the “winner.” To avoid being the “loser” in the future, the child adopts the emotions and behaviors that the abuser displays.
4) Unexpressed reaction–Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction. The appropriate and natural reaction of the human psyche is to reflect in kind (and thus to “deflect” negative) actions and emotional energy directed towards it. In the moment of abuse, the child is unable to reflect/deflect the abuser’s actions or emotional energy, and the resulting “unexpressed reaction” remains in the child, seeking an outlet.
5) Psychic break–The overwhelming emotional energy of an abusive interaction breaks (or fractures, or splinters away) a part of the child’s psyche, which then “contains” the residual (and always negative) emotional energy from the experience, keeping it hidden from conscious awareness and protecting the child from its contents.
Experience shows the tendency of abused children to abuse others later in life. As children, emotionally wounded people may abuse animals and/or other children; as adults, they may abuse other adults, too.
Thus, as “they” say, hurt people hurt people. Unfortunately, the most toxic, negative, harmful, and abusive people are often those who have been hurt the most as children. Though heartbreaking to consider, the “cycle of abuse” does not excuse grown people from spreading their emotional pain to others, most especially to children.
Abuse corrupts the child’s personality development–unless and until the emotional effects of the abusive incident(s) are corrected. This happens when the injection is extracted, the imprint is removed, the identity is disowned, the reaction is allowed, or the break is mended.
This correction happens after the pain resulting from abuse or trauma is expressed through emotional release.