Trauma bond as a buzz word, but what is it? It is an emotional attachment that is developed out of a repeated cycle of emotional, mental, or physical abuse, devaluation, and intermittent positive reinforcement. It is similar to Stockholm Syndrome and is a type of survival strategy. It commonly occurs in the narcissist and codependent relationship.
Two sides of the same coin, the bond between the narcissist and the codependent (i.e. echoist, empath, people pleaser) can both be derived from a trauma response in childhood. Narcissistic traits or NPD, can be formed from trauma in childhood, as well as, inherited genetics and personality traits. Children who experience trauma often gravitate towards a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response in order to survive.
Narcissism can just an elaborated defense structure of the fight response, while the codependent (empath, echoist) can be an elaborated defense structure of the fawn response.
The trauma bond is formed through intermittent reinforcement. When abuse from a narcissist or any other abuser occurs, we move into a stress response. When that same person who has caused the trauma provides comfort intermittently, an attachment can form. We then look to the same person who caused our abuse for comfort and emotional support.
The codependent often has a strong fear of rejection and abandonment, hence a need to be chosen. The hot and cold behavior of a narcissist or abuser, creates an endless loop of addiction to the person who is hurting you, thus making it incredibly hard to leave the toxic or abusive cycle.
Understanding the psychology of addiction to an abuser is important in order to validate your experience and to remove guilt and shame from staying “too long” or questioning “why you even were in the relationship in the first place.”